THE RICHES OF CHRIST BECOMING THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST
The riches of Christ are the riches of God. When these riches are hidden in Christ, they remain the riches. When they are expressed without in Christ, they become the fullness. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, Peter, John, James, Mary, and many others came to Him. Of Him they all received. Let me ask you: what was it that they received? Was it the grace hidden in the Lord Jesus, or the grace expressed out from the Lord Jesus? It was grace expressed out from the Lord Jesus. This is why John said that of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace (John 1:16). This grace is expressed, and we have received it. It keeps coming again and again without stopping. It is grace upon grace. Hence, it becomes an expression.
The Riches of Christ, Who Is the Embodiment of the Processed Triune God, Experienced by the Believers, Overflowing to Become His Fullness
When the riches of Christ are in Him, they are the riches. When they are expressed, they become Christ’s fullness. When the riches that are in this Christ, who is the embodiment of the processed Triune God, are experienced by us, they overflow to become His fullness.
In 1962, at Easter, I spoke this message for the first time in the Bay Area in America. I remember that I used the riches of America as an example. I said that when I first arrived in America, I did not understand how the Americans could be so tall and strong. Later when I went to the supermarkets and saw all the rich foods, I began to understand. The Americans grow to their size because of the rich American food they eat.
In an American supermarket, there are all kinds of rich food. After the Americans eat these foods and have digested them, every one of them becomes a big American. The different kinds of food are the riches of America, and the individual big Americans are the fullness of America. The American food in the supermarket becomes the constitution of the Americans within a week after they eat it. Before being eaten, the American beef, chicken, fish, vegetables, and fruits are the riches of America. After they are eaten and digested, they become the fullness of America. The Americans themselves are the fullness of America. They express the riches of America.
In the same way, the riches of Christ were in Christ. After we have eaten these riches, they are digested in us, and we become the fullness of Christ. Christians are simply the fullness of Christ. This fullness is there to express Christ. Today, we are all Christians here. Although some are taller, whereas others are smaller, in their spiritual stature, we have all been produced through eating and enjoying the riches of Christ. When all the Christians are put together, the fullness that is expressed is the church. This fullness is the Body of Christ.
The Riches of Christ Overflowing to the Believers to Become the Fullness of Christ as His Expression and God’s Fullness— Ephesians 1:23
When the riches of Christ overflow in and over the believers, they become the fullness of Christ as His expression and God’s fullness. First, the riches of Christ become His fullness. Since He is the embodiment of God, this fullness also becomes the fullness of God. In John 1:16, the fullness of God is in Christ. By Ephesians 1:23, God’s fullness in Christ becomes the church. This fullness of Christ in the end becomes the fullness of God. Hence, we can see that the fullness of God is first expressed in Christ. Next it is expressed in the believers, who are the church. In the end, when it is expressed in the church, it is still the fullness of God.
This Fullness That Is the Expression of Christ Being the Body of Christ
The fullness that is the expression of the riches of Christ is the Body of Christ. This Body is the expression of Christ. If while I am standing here, I have only a head hanging in the air without a body under it, I will not at all be full. But if here is a big American who measures seven feet, one inch, and who weighs three hundred fifty pounds, his body will express his fullness. In the same way, the Body of Christ is the expression of the fullness of Christ.
This Body Being the Church Constituted of the Believers in Christ
First, this Body is in Christ and is constituted by the divine life of Christ. A false Christian may have the name of a Christian, but he does not have the life of Christ, and he has no part in the organic Body of Christ. Judas, the betrayer of the Lord, had the name of a Christian, but he did not have anything to do with the life of Christ. Hence, he had no part in the Body of Christ. Every one who has a part in the organic Body of Christ has the life of Christ.
Second, this Body comes out of Christ and is one in life and nature with Christ. All the members of the Body of Christ come out of Christ. In their spiritual life and nature, they are one with Christ.
Third, this Body is an organism begotten by God, rather than an organization made by man. This organism is the organic Body of Christ, and it is constituted of the riches of Christ enjoyed and digested by us.
(A message given by Brother Witness Lee in Quezon City, Philippines, on March 24, 1989)
(The Riches and Fullness of Christ and the Advanced Recovery of the Lord Today, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)