THE TRANSMISSION OF CHRIST TO THE CHURCH
We have seen in Colossians that Christ is everything, but we do not see much of the work of Christ in that book. Ephesians goes on to reveal what Christ has accomplished, attained, and obtained. Christ has a real attainment, a real success, and He has obtained something. Ephesians 1 tells us that God’s economy, His arrangement and plan, is to head up all things in Christ. This is something great. We do not know how many items there are in the universe. No one can exhaust telling of the billions of items that are there. All these will be headed up in Christ. Christ will be the Head to head up all these things. This is God’s intention, God’s purpose, and God’s economy. In order to do this, however, Christ had to accomplish something.
We know that Christ died for us. After His crucifixion, however, Christ was raised up, and after this resurrection He was uplifted, brought to the highest place in the entire universe. He was made transcendent above all things, the things not only in space but throughout time, since the universe is space plus time. Christ is so high and transcendent that He is above all the universe, not only the things in this age but also in the age to come. Moreover, He was made Head over all things. God ordained Christ to be the Head even before His incarnation, but He was brought into the position of Head, made to be Head, after His resurrection and in His ascension. After He ascended to the heavens, God put Christ on the throne to be the Head over all things.
Moreover, all that Christ accomplished, attained, and obtained is to the church (v. 22). Many of us may not be clear about the phrase to the church. We can compare this to an injection that imparts something into our whole body. What God wrought in Christ, what Christ attained and obtained, is not only for the church but also to the church. God resurrected, raised up, Christ. God lifted Christ up in ascension to the highest place, and God put Him on the throne as the Head of all things. Now all that God has done toward Christ is to the church, His Body.
It seems that we Christians are so poor. How high and transcendent we are, yet how low and mean we feel! We need a vision. If I ask you where you are, what will you say? Will you just say you are here in this room? We all have to realize that we are in the highest place in the universe. Christ has accomplished this. He has solved all the negative things and obtained all the positive things, so there is nothing left to do. We have been put into Christ, and we have been incorporated with Him. Therefore, all that Christ has done, all that He has accomplished, obtained, and attained, is to the church, that is, is transmitted to the church.
THE MINISTRY OF CHRIST
The ministry of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers is the ministry of Christ (4:11-12). They minister the unsearchable riches of Christ to people. Christ is the Head, and He is all-inclusive. He has accomplished, attained, and obtained everything. How can this Christ, who is so much and has attained so much, be ministered to us? It is through the ministry of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers. All the different kinds of ministry of the gifted persons are the ministry of Christ to others.
We thank the Lord that in the past five centuries He has recovered many teachings through His people. With those teachings there is some reality, but due to the weakness of the human instrument, people have been attracted to the teachings instead of the reality. In these last days, however, the Lord will recover not more teachings but more reality, that is, more and more of Himself. All the ministers, the gifted persons raised up by the Lord, must absolutely minister Christ, not doctrine, preaching the riches of Christ, the items of what Christ is, to the Gentiles. We have to minister the riches of Christ to people, such as life, wisdom, patience, and the humility of Christ.
In Taiwan in 1960 I shared with the young people all the names of Christ, denoting all that Christ is. I found almost three hundred different names, titles, or items of Christ. He is the temple, the tabernacle, and the Passover. As the offerings alone, He is many items: the burnt offering, sin offering, trespass offering, meal offering, peace offering, wave offering, and heave offering. Oh, the riches of Christ! All the ministers, all the gifted persons raised up by the Lord in these days, must learn to minister only the riches of Christ. Let us forget about doctrines, denominations, dispensations, predestination, and election. I do not like to hear these things. Let us learn how to minister Christ to others by the anointing of the Spirit.
Some among us have studied in seminaries and Bible institutes. I would ask them, “Have you ever learned that Christ is our wave offering and heave offering? Have you ever experienced Christ in this way?” We preach the riches of Christ, not the doctrines of Christ. Today the church needs the ministry that ministers Christ not as the menu but as food. Today’s Christianity is like a restaurant that serves only menus. In the so-called churches today we may learn to read the menu, but there is no food. There is doctrine about Christ, but there is no reality of Christ.
Sometimes when I go to a restaurant with the brothers, I am too tired to care for the menu. When they pass me the menu, I say, “I will just follow you. I don’t like to read; I like to eat. I don’t like to understand; I simply want to enjoy, so whatever you order for me is all right. I don’t care if it is sour or sweet; I will just take it.” We must learn to take the food. We must take Christ and not simply learn the doctrine of Christ. Learning doctrine exhausts us, but the enjoyment of Christ refreshes, strengthens, and satisfies us. After coming home from the restaurant, if someone asked me what I ate, I would tell them, “I ate a lot of things. I don’t know what they were. I just ate them. I don’t know their names, but I enjoyed them.” Even if I do not know the name of what I eat, I still digest it well. In a similar way, we must learn to know Christ, not knowledge, teaching, or doctrine.
Those who minister to the Lord’s people must realize that what people need today are the riches of Christ, not doctrine or teaching. Sometimes, of course, in order to convey Christ to others we need doctrine as a means, but what we give people is not the means but the Christ it conveys. In the book of Ephesians there is the ministry that always ministers Christ to others. The church today is not built up because there is too little nourishment, supply, and real material with which to build up the church. There is too little ministry of the riches of Christ to the saints, so the saints are starved to death. The church needs Christ as the building material. This requires the ministers and the ministry to minister Christ to people. The apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers all minister Christ to the saints to perfect them by this ministry.
(The Experience of Christ in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)