THE NEED FOR THE OVERCOMERS
Eventually, both the Old and New Testaments end with the overcomers. In the age of typology, the overcomers were the prophets. The prophets took care of God’s oracle first. Based upon their oracle, they did exercise, to some extent, God’s authority. A number of kings listened to the prophets. Even Nathan was the authority over David. David was the king, and Nathan was the prophet. It was not Nathan who listened to David, but David to Nathan. In this sense, Nathan was God’s authority. Thus, all of the genuine prophets were overcomers. Surely, Daniel and his three friends were overcomers.
This is fulfilled in Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. The Lord Jesus realized that the church was a great and complete failure. Just by the church in itself, there was no hope for the carrying out of God’s economy. So in His seven epistles to the churches, He sounded the trumpet to call the overcomers. In that one book, in just two chapters, the Lord repeated the following word seven times: he who overcomes. This is repeated at the end of each of the seven epistles (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).
These overcomers are the fulfillment of the typology of the prophets. Therefore, when the apostle Paul was talking about how the church should meet, he stressed and uplifted prophesying (1 Cor. 14:1, 3-6, 24, 31, 39). Prophesying makes you an overcomer. Speaking Christ into people is prophesying. Prophesying is the function of the overcomers.
The overcomers in both the Old and New Testaments, in principle, are the same. Most of them were martyred. They sacrificed everything for the Lord. Paul was the leading one. He worked much for the Lord and wrote fourteen Epistles, but eventually he was martyred. Second Timothy tells us he knew that martyrdom would come to him, and he was ready to accept it (4:6-8). He was a man always living a life not by himself, but by Christ mingled with him. So he could say, “For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21a). He was a person like Jesus, a person who was always crucified. He was a person crucified to live, or dying to live, denying the self, the natural man, and living, acting, and behaving all the time by the indwelling Christ who had been mingled with him.
Today the Lord has raised up the recovery after all the failures. The Lord tried with Israel. Israel failed. The Lord tried with the church. The church failed. So this forced the Lord to call out the overcomers. Eventually, seventy-two years ago, the Lord went to China to raise up the recovery there with Brother Watchman Nee, and the first messages he gave were concerning the overcomers. He expounded the entire book of Revelation. Brother Nee stressed the same thing as Jessie Penn-Lewis, who published a paper called The Overcomer, and he translated into Chinese the important books written by Mrs. Penn-Lewis on the overcoming life.
It was a difficult thing, however, for Brother Nee to put out his ministry. His ministry, to most Christians, was like the playing of music to cows. What cow can understand the music? I was there with him. I realized that even some of his co-workers were cows. They did not know what Brother Nee taught. Then I came to this country. I found out that there were a good number in this country who were not cows, who had been prepared by the Lord. This was why in the early days of my time in this country, my ministry was warmly welcomed by these prepared people. When they heard this ministry, they immediately turned to the recovery.
Gradually, however, we have become somewhat dull, losing the real sense of the Lord’s recovery, not living a life under the cross by the power of resurrection, a life of denying the self and crucifying the flesh all the time by the resurrection of Christ. This is why I decided in 1984, after having been in the United States for over twenty years, to stop the work here and return to Taiwan to study our situation in order to bring us into the God-ordained way. Since 1984 I have published many messages on the New Testament economy of God. Many of us have read these messages, but I do not think that we really realize them. I believe that the Lord, because of this, has given me a further vision, a further revelation, to present as I am doing today. This further revelation began with the 1991 Thanksgiving conference in Reston, Virginia (The Intrinsic View of the Body of Christ) and continued with the following Thanksgiving conferences in Atlanta in 1992 (The Constitution and the Building Up of the Body of Christ) and in Anaheim in 1993 (The Issue of the Dispensing of the Processed Trinity and the Transmitting of the Transcending Christ). The messages in those three conferences are in principle the same as the messages I am giving today. The speaking of the ministry with the utterances and expressions is always improving, not by myself but by the Lord’s further revelation. So my burden is very heavy, and the Lord covers me with His prevailing blood against the enemy. I am full. I need more conferences. But my physical body has been under the enemy’s attack. Please pray for this.
We have to see the New Testament fulfillment of the top typology of God’s eternal economy. We all must be Nazarites. We have to live a life like Jesus did on the earth, denying the self, rejecting the flesh, taking the cross, which means bearing the cross to be crucified every day. We need to be a person crucified to live by another Person, another life, which is the embodiment of the Triune God mingled with us. This Person is the resurrection, and this resurrection is the power. When we live such a Person, we are today’s fulfillment of the typology of God’s economy.
We are today’s fulfillment as we live a life that can reach the kingship. This is according to what Romans 5:17 says: “Much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life.” In all of our situations, we should reign as kings in life. Dear saints, we must live a Christian life which is the overcoming life, the life of an overcomer. All the overcomers of the New Testament are kings who have received the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness to reign in life. These four words—grace, righteousness, reign, life—are together in this one verse, verse 17 of Romans 5. God has given Himself to us as grace, and this grace has abundance. Going along with His grace, God has given us a gift, and this gift is God Himself as righteousness. God as grace for our enjoyment and God’s righteousness are given as a gift to us. These two things will issue in a life to reign, a life to be kings. I hope that you could receive this word. Let God bless you to make you an overcomer today, living a life that is the life to reign.
(Living a Life According to the High Peak of God's Revelation, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)