THE VISION OF CHRIST IN GALATIANS, EPHESIANS,
PHILIPPIANS, AND COLOSSIANS
For a long time I have felt that we must come together to see the vision of Christ in four short books: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Galatians and Ephesians each have six chapters, and Philippians and Colossians each have four, for a total of twenty chapters. More than thirty years ago, in 1933, I was surprised to realize how these four books relate to one another. At that time I gave some messages on these books in Shanghai, and since that time the Lord has continually opened my eyes to see more and more. In all my Bibles this portion is the most worn out. It is easy for me to find the book of Ephesians, because after I have a Bible for only fifteen months, the pages around Ephesians are already worn. In a training in Taipei in 1953 we had a study of the book of Ephesians, which comprised more than five hundred pages, almost one hundred pages for each chapter. We cannot exhaust reading these four short books. They are short but truly profound. If we would take them out of the Bible, we could not know Christ adequately. The full revelation and complete vision of Christ is in these four books. I am sorry that many Christians do not speak much about these books. They talk about Ephesians a little but in a very doctrinal, objective way.
The Gospels Being a Full Record
of the Life of the Lord Jesus
The arrangement of the books of the New Testament is under the sovereignty of the Lord. Matthew is first, and Revelation is last. To put Revelation first and Matthew last is like putting the feet on the top and the head on the bottom. The four Gospels first give us a full record of the life of the Lord Jesus, a full biography of the Lord Jesus on the earth. They tell us who the Lord is and what He did for us.
Acts and Romans Revealing the Body of Christ
After the history of the Lord Jesus in the Gospels, Acts is a record of the preaching of Christ to others. By this preaching people were saved to be the members of the Body of Christ, so after Acts there is Romans to tell us what the members of the Body are. All the members of the Body of Christ were originally sinners. The first two and a half chapters of Romans tell us that we were sinful and under the condemnation of God, but we were justified through the blood of Christ. Then the subsequent chapters tell us that we were transferred out of Adam and into Christ. Now we are in Christ, and we need to walk in the Spirit of Christ. In this way we become the members of the Body to live the Body life.
The Epistles to the Corinthians Unveiling Christ
as the Solution to All Problems in the Church
After Romans, the two Epistles to the Corinthians tell us the way to solve all the problems in the church, the Body. First Corinthians speaks of doctrines and gifts. The Corinthians, like theologians, discussed many matters, such as marriage, going to law courts, sacrifices to idols, and resurrection. They even argued about Paul’s apostleship. They were the experts in studying and discussing the teachings and doctrines. On the one hand, they liked to talk about doctrines, but on the other hand, they also liked to exercise all manner of gifts. These were the peculiar characteristics of the Corinthians. However, all their troubles and problems came from the doctrines and the gifts.
According to the two-thousand-year history of the church, all divisions, confusion, denominations, and problems come from these two sources: doctrines and gifts. If we are frank and honest, we will admit that the more doctrines and gifts we have, the more divisions we have. Every division and denomination is built upon either a certain doctrine or a certain kind of gift. I am standing here to challenge this. Recently, I received some letters from the Far East in which some brothers insisted on nine points and wanted to know my attitude toward them. I replied that my attitude is toward Christ, not toward doctrine. I do not like to talk about doctrine. I told those brothers that we simply need to help people to believe in the Lord Jesus, to personally receive Him as their Savior, the Son of God who was incarnated as a man, died on the cross for our sins, and resurrected on the third day. Then we need to help people to love this Christ, know this Christ, experience this Christ, and be built up as the church to express this Christ. As long as we do that, that is wonderful; that is good enough. Let us forget everything else.
We are not here for a certain kind of doctrine. Some may say, “But, Brother Lee, you are here for the doctrine of Christ.” Praise the Lord, that is right! We all have to be for the “doctrine” of Christ. Then some may say, “You are not only for Christ; you are also for the church.” That is right also. We are fighting for nothing other than Christ and His Body, the church. We cannot solve the problems in the church by teaching and gifts; it is only by Christ, and this One crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). We, the members of Christ’s Body, have been put on the cross, and now we are in Christ. Christ is the answer to solve all the problems.
At the beginning of 1 Corinthians Paul says, “Indeed Jews require signs and Greeks seek wisdom” (1:22). If we seek signs and miracles, we are following the Jews. The signs are related to the gifts, and knowledge, wisdom, is related to teaching and doctrine. In contrast to this, the apostle said, “But we preach Christ crucified” (v. 23), and in the following chapter he said, “I did not determine to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and this One crucified” (v. 2). Then in the following book, 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul tells us about his own experience. He experienced Christ under any kind of circumstance.
(The Experience of Christ in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)