How to Be Useful to the Lord, by Witness Lee


The purpose of paying a price is to afford God the opportunity to do in us what He intends to do. The significance of paying a price is that we allow God to have a place in us so that He may come into us to be our life and even to be fully mingled with us without any hindrance, limitation, or difficulty. Our living, preference, inclination, future, and interest must be given up in exchange for Christ because Christ wants to replace everything that we have. We need to hand over all that we have. If we hand over more, we will receive more. If we hand over less, we will receive less. If we hand over nothing, we will receive nothing. If we hand over everything, we will receive everything. We must pay the price and deny ourselves, forsaking our family, career, and future and discarding everything that replaces God. In this way God will come into us to be our life, power, nature, and content.

If someone believes in the Lord yet is not willing to pay a price to gain Christ, then the salvation he receives will consist only of the forgiveness of sins and the receiving of eternal life. The aspect of salvation that includes forgiveness of sins and the receiving of eternal life has been prepared by God for you, and all you need to do is to receive it. However, for God to be mingled with you, you must forsake all that you have. Hence, Matthew says that we need to buy the oil (25:8-9), and Revelation says explicitly that we need to buy gold, white garments, and eyesalve (3:18). The word buy in these two passages was spoken by the Lord Himself. Paul did not use the word buy; instead, he said, “I have suffered the loss…that I may gain…” (Phil. 3:8). In principle, suffering loss and buying both involve paying a price. The extent of your suffering loss determines the extent of Christ’s coming into you. If you hold on to what you already have, you have no way to gain Christ.

The early Christians sold all that they had for the Lord’s sake (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32). They once had been under the usurpation of those things, and God therefore had no opportunity, no ground, and no way in them. However, eventually they realized that all those things should not be the goals of their pursuit but that God Himself should be their unique goal. Hence, they hated all those things and suffered the loss of them. The rich young man in the Gospels loved the Lord and wanted to follow the Lord, yet eventually he went away sorrowing (Matt. 19:16-22). Why did he go away sorrowing? It was because he would not sell his possessions. Since he was usurped by all those things, Christ had no place in him.

Whenever a person is usurped by his reputation, future, position, power, and relatives, there is no way for Christ to have the first place in him. The Lord said that no one can serve two masters (6:24). This means that no one can have two loves. This matter cannot be resolved merely by faith. Therefore, at the end of the Gospel of John, a book that frequently refers to faith (1:12; 3:15-16, 18, 36; 6:40; 20:31), the matter of love is mentioned. Many Bible readers acknowledge that John 21 was added by the author as an afterthought. The Gospel of John obviously concludes with chapter twenty, yet the writer added another chapter—chapter twenty-one, which is of another nature. The first twenty chapters of John speak about faith, but the last chapter, chapter twenty-one, speaks about love (vv. 15-17). Peter and John had no problem with the matter of faith. However, unless they left their fishing boats and nets, they could not gain Christ. Today there are so many believers who are in John 20, but how many believers are there in chapter twenty-one? Phrases such as more than these (v. 15) and when you grow old (v. 18) indicate that we are required to pay a price that Christ may have the opportunity to fill us richly with Himself.

Although in John 20 Peter had already been saved, inwardly he did not have much room for Christ. He had received the eternal life abundantly, but he had not been sufficiently filled with Christ. Therefore, the Lord said, “Do you love Me more than these?” (21:15). To have more love for the Lord would require him to pay a price. If we only have faith, we still cannot say that for us to live is Christ, we still cannot know the power of Christ’s resurrection, and we still cannot say that it is God who operates in us both the willing and the working. The Lord said that anyone who does not forsake all that he has cannot be His disciple (Luke 14:26, 33). If merely having faith were enough, then Paul would not have needed to run the race (1 Cor. 9:24, 26; Gal. 2:2; 2 Tim. 4:7), nor would he have desired to receive the reward in the future (Phil. 3:14).

(How to Be Useful to the Lord, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)