The Building Work of God, by Witness Lee

More excerpts from this title...


The church is a very particular item. The church is neither solely human nor solely divine; rather, the church is the crystallization of the mingling of God and man. If there is only humanity, of course there cannot be the church. If there is only divinity, there still cannot be the church. Only when God is mingled with man and becomes one with man can there be the church.

Let me give a little illustration. Sometimes two brothers are at odds with each other and have a grudge against each other. One has a long face when he sees the other one, and the other one frowns when he sees that one. Sometimes they even have arguments. What is this? This is man’s poor situation. In this kind of situation you cannot see the church expressed. There is no church here. However, at other times you see another kind of situation. There may be two other brothers who love each other dearly. When one calls, the other responds right away. When they come together, they are all smiles. This may seem wonderful to you. But what kind of situation is this? It is still only human, and there is also no church here. When there is frowning, there is no church. Likewise, when there is a cheerful look, there is no church. With a long face, there cannot be the church; with a smiling face, there cannot be the church either. These are only human conditions. When there is human hatred, there is no church; when there is human love, there is also no church.

Then what is the church? Both of these persons, one with a long face and the other with a frown, have God in them, and both of them have a prayer life before God. When the long-faced one kneels down before God to pray, he will be conscious that his long face is not of God. Meanwhile, when the frowning one also kneels down to pray, he also will feel that his frowning is incompatible with the fact that God is within him. Therefore, both of them will confess to God and ask for forgiveness. As a result, they will genuinely touch God within them. Although they do not make a resolution to refrain from having a long face or frowning again, both of them meet God and are touched by God. Therefore, one will come to the other one and say, “Brother, I am sorry for my attitude toward you over the last few days.” And the other one will say, “Brother, it is I who should be sorry for my attitude toward you.” Now the condition between these two persons is neither hatred nor merely human love, but a love which is of God. As a result, these two brothers will have good fellowship and good coordination. What is this? This is the mingling of God with man. Not only is man here, but also God is here. This is the mingling of divinity with humanity. Hence, the church is here.

On the other side, the other two brothers who are so loving and are all smiles also have God in them. When they seek the Lord, God also will bother them and ask, “What kind of behavior is this? This is human love. This is the flesh. This is the corruptible honey of the Old Testament.” As a result, these two brothers will also be dealt with and restricted by God, and will no longer love one another loosely according to their own preference. In this way the church will also be expressed through them.

The above examples are somewhat superficial, but according to the same principle, many times the children of God are disciplined by God to the extent that neither crying nor laughing is right, neither speaking nor being silent is right, neither being still nor moving is right. They seem to be in a quandary and in a great dilemma all the time. This is the story of God in man. This is the particular experience of a Christian. Within man, God makes it possible for man to be what man cannot be and to live a life which man cannot live. God Himself being mingled with man—this is the church. The church is such a peculiar, wonderful thing. The church is the mingling together of two natures, the union of two lives together. God is mingled with man, and man is mingled with God. Furthermore, not only one person is mingled with God, but many people are mingled with God to become one entity. This is the building of God. This is the house of God. Here God has a home, and man has a habitation. Here God has a place of rest, and man also has a place of satisfaction. This is God’s building.


At the very end of the New Testament, all the building work of God is accomplished, and a city appears, which is the holy city, New Jerusalem. This city is produced by the union and mingling of all the saved ones throughout the generations. Therefore, the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are inscribed on the twelve gates of the city, and the names of the twelve apostles are on the twelve foundations of the city (Rev. 21:12, 14). This indicates that God has built both the people of God in the Old Testament age and the people of God in the New Testament age into this city. Furthermore, in this city there is the throne of God and of the Lamb, and God and the Lamb are the temple (22:1, 3; 21:22). The life flowing in the city is God Himself (22:1), and the light shining out of the city is also God Himself (21:23-24). Moreover, both the content of the city within and its glory without are God Himself. Therefore, the holy city, New Jerusalem, is a spiritual building as the issue of God being completely mingled with His redeemed people. Here God has an eternal dwelling place, and man also has an eternal habitation.

Thus, in this age, before that day arrives, God is building His house in every locality. This means that God intends to build His church in every locality. This is God’s building today, and this is God’s building in this age. God wants to build Himself into all the saints and to build all the saints into Himself. In the building the saints are not joined to Him individually; rather, all the saints are united with Him corporately. This is God’s building. This is God’s house. This is the dwelling place of God, and this is the habitation of all the saved ones. May we all have a share in this building.

(The Building Work of God, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)