The Kingdom, by Witness Lee

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Within the process of transformation is the shaping of life. In every form of life there is the life essence, life power, life law, and life shape. The element of Christ has the divine element within it. The more you enjoy Christ by eating Him and taking Him into you, the more the divine element will saturate you. This element, the life of God, has an essence, a power, a law, and a shape. As it grows within you, it will regulate and shape you, conforming you to the image and form of Christ. The more you are transformed, the more you will be conformed to the image of Christ. Ephesians 4:22 says, "Put off..the old man." How can we put off the old man? The more we try to put him off, the more he comes back. Only the element of Christ can discharge the old man. The more the element of Christ discharges the old man, the more we put off the old man. The best way to rid yourself of the old man is to eat something new of Christ. This will discharge all the oldness. This is what it means to put off the old man. The practical way to put off the old man is to take Christ in. The more He comes in, the more He will discharge the elements of the old man.

The result of this process will be something new—the corporate Christ, Christ as the corporate new man. The new man is the church and is the reality of the kingdom. The putting on of the new man is the putting on of the kingdom; the putting on of the church life is the putting on of the kingdom. The kingdom is the spreading of the Lord Jesus. After He comes into us, He spreads Himself within us and discharges all our oldness. Then we are in the kingdom. Ephesians 4:24 says that the new man is created according to God. Not only is the old man discharged but a new man comes to replace him. This new man is a corporate man created according to the image of God.

Genesis 1:26 says that man was created in the image of God, but it is only through the spreading of Christ within us that we will have the real image of God and exercise God’s dominion. If we do not express the image of God, it will be difficult for us to exercise God’s dominion. The image of God is for the kingdom of God. If we have His image, we can represent Him. We can become the representative of God. That is the kingdom. Therefore, the image is for the kingdom.

When we come to the book of Revelation we see there is a throne in the universe and God sitting upon it. His appearance upon the throne is like a jasper and a sardius stone (Rev. 4:2-3). The jasper is a shining, transparent, light-green stone, signifying God Himself, and the sardius is a red stone, signifying Christ as the redeeming lamb. In Revelation 22:1 we see God on the throne and the Lamb.

Eventually the wall of New Jerusalem is built with jasper and the city has the appearance of jasper (Rev. 21:11, 18). This means the city has the appearance of God, because the glory of the city and the shining of the city are the glory and shining of jasper. Also, of the twelve layers of foundation stones, the first layer is jasper (Rev. 21:19). Thus, the whole city has the appearance of jasper, that is, the appearance of God. This is not only transformation, but also conformation. God’s building, New Jerusalem, will be conformed to God and bear His image.

Today some teach that each local church should have its own distinctiveness and appearance. If they would read the last two chapters of Revelation, they would see that the whole city, from every direction, has the same appearance. The city has one expression and bears one image—the image and expression of God. The city faces four directions, yet it has only one appearance.

In the same principle, there are many local churches, yet all of them are golden lampstands. None bears its own expression, such as silver or copper or bamboo or mud. However, some say that each local church should be distinctive. If one expresses gold, the other should express bamboo. If one is golden, the other should be copper. According to Revelation 1:12 and 2:1, each lampstand is a golden lampstand. If you were to change the position of the lampstands, it would be difficult to identify them. Because of pride, people love to be independent, different from others, and individualistic.

John the Baptist proclaimed, "the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near," and the Lord Jesus repeated the same words (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). The situation is quite different today. If one should preach that the kingdom of heaven has drawn near, another, refusing to use the same term, might preach that the church has drawn near. People like to speak something new to display how smart they are. This is not the way of God’s kingdom. In God’s kingdom all the lampstands are golden. Eventually, all the lampstands will lose their identity. When the seven lampstands are placed together, we should not be able to see a difference between them. Eventually, the whole city of New Jerusalem will express the one image and appearance of God.

(The Kingdom, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)