THE GROWTH IN LIFE
AND THE TRANSFORMATION IN LIFE
FOR THE BUILDING UP OF THE CHURCH
We have been essentially regenerated, and we have also been economically baptized. Now we are in the church enjoying the Spirit, drinking of the Spirit, contacting the all-inclusive Spirit, and being transformed. If children do not grow, they can never be metabolically transformed. Month after month and year after year, children are growing to be transformed. Spiritually speaking, we are the same.
First Corinthians 12 and 14 deal with the manifestation of the Spirit, but 1 Corinthians was not written for this purpose. First Corinthians was written to give the Corinthians a way to grow. In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul said that he planted and Apollos watered, but God made to grow (v. 6). This means that Paul’s intention in writing 1 Corinthians was not to develop the manifestation of the Spirit. Paul especially wanted to restrict their excessive speaking in tongues. The apostle’s illustrations in 14:7-11 indicate that the Corinthian believers abused speaking in tongues by doing it in a nonsensical way, uttering an "uncertain sound" (v. 8) of "no distinction" (v. 7), "without significance" (v. 10). They also overused it by practicing it in any place, in any way, and in any situation. Hence, Paul corrected and restricted them from their abuse and excessive use of such a small gift of the least profit, that they may seek the greater gifts and abound in the building up of the church (v. 12).
The goal of 1 Corinthians was to motivate the Corinthian believers, who were soulish, fleshy, and fleshly, to aspire to the growth in life that they may become spiritual (2:15; 3:1; 14:37) for the building up of the church. Paul’s burden was for them to grow. He told them that they were God’s farm, God’s building (3:9), and as God’s farm they needed to grow. Paul planted, Apollos came to water, and God was giving the growth. The Corinthians needed to grow in the Spirit of life. By this growth, they could be transformed into gold, silver, and precious stones (v. 12).
Paul told them that he as the wise master builder had laid the foundation, but that all the believers have to build upon this foundation, taking heed how they build, either with wood, grass, and stubble or with gold, silver, and precious stones. Wood, grass, and stubble are natural things, but gold, silver, and precious stones are transformed material. We the believers are natural persons, but we have been regenerated with the divine life. Now we need to grow in this life that we may be transformed to become gold, silver, and precious stones. Then we will be the temple of God (vv. 16-17). In this temple of God dwells the Spirit, not as the Spirit of power but as the Spirit of life. We must be transformed and built up together to become God’s temple with the Spirit of life dwelling in us. The temple of God, which is the church, is a house with materials built together and firmly fitted (Eph. 2:21-22).
In our natural man, we are so individualistic that we cannot be one with one another. Even husbands and wives cannot be one. We can only be one by the growth in life and by transformation in life. By growth and by transformation we are built together. In a husband’s relationship with his wife, he needs more growth and more transformation. The more he grows, the more he is transformed in the Spirit of life, the more he is one with his wife. The more the wife grows, the more she is transformed and the more she is built together with her husband. Because we are so natural, we have our own desire, our own intention, our own likes and dislikes, and our own way. Therefore, it is really hard for a husband and a wife to be one. The husband may be a quick person and the wife a slow person. How can a quick person be one with a slow one? At night the husband may want to close the window, and the wife may want to open the window. What shall they do? Shall they fight with one another? Both of them need to call upon the name of the Lord. When we call upon the name of the Lord, the Spirit moves in us, causing us to grow in life. By the growth in life we are transformed and become one with one another.
(The Divine Economy, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)