THE WAY TO STUDY THE TRUTH
I have recommended the book Concerning the Person of Christ for your reading. Although it is just a pamphlet, its discussion is comprehensive. It shows you both the wrong interpretations and the proper knowledge of men throughout the centuries concerning the Person of Christ, and it also cites numerous Scripture verses. It is truly worth your reading. The matters which it covers are not my own teachings. Rather, they are all based upon the Bible with the pertinent verses excerpted. You should read the book carefully. For example, in the Old Testament, one of the designations of the Lord Jesus is a “Shoot.” As the Shoot of David (Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Zech. 3:8; 6:12), He sprouted out of David. And as the Shoot of Jehovah (Isa. 4:2), He sprouted out of God. This means that as a Shoot, Christ has two origins: one origin is David, the human origin; the other origin is God, the divine origin. All these things are in the Bible and require your painstaking study. I have already done the foundational work on these items, and they are all listed in the pamphlet Concerning the Person of Christ.
Your training here may be compared to graduate school. There is no need for the professor to say too much; you just need to study carefully on your own according to the reading list, and if necessary, the professor will give you a little guidance. Moreover, there is no need for you to go to a “library” far away. The “library” in our midst is very convenient. As long as you are willing to spend your time and energy, you will be able to get all these things into you. I hope that all of the young brothers and sisters who have the desire to serve the Lord full-time permanently could learn an initial outline of the truth within a short period of a few months. At least you should learn and know which books you can go to so that you can find the material you need. This does not mean that you will be fully trained after four months. You still have a long way to go, and there are too many things that you need to study. What I hope is that after four months your field of vision will be widened to know a little bit about the way and at least know where to go to find the proper materials. Hence, in these four months I am trying to lead you only to the beginning of the road. But whether or not it will be a thoroughfare leading to great success depends on how you press forward on your own. You must continue to learn more and more.
II. THE SECOND ITEM OF THE VISION—THE ECONOMY OF GOD
In this chapter we will go on to see the second item of the vision, and that is the economy of God. In the recent ten or so years we have released many messages and published a number of books concerning this matter. If you really have the heart, you should spend time to study those books. In this training the outlines that I give you will serve only as a guide that you may know which route to take in order to know the economy of God. You need to spend more time to dig and find the rest of the riches.
A. Being His Household Administration, Dispensation, and Plan
There are over three hundred passages in the Bible referring to the economy of God either directly or indirectly. In this chapter we will mention only three passages: Ephesians 1:9-11; 3:9-11; and 1 Timothy 1:3-4. What is mentioned mainly in these three portions is the matter of “economy.” Ephesians 1:10 says, “Unto the economy of the fullness of the times”; Ephesians 3:9 says, “And to enlighten all that they may see what the economy of the mystery is, which throughout the ages has been hidden in God, who created all things.” First Timothy 1:4 says, “God’s economy, which is in faith.” The Greek word for economy in these three passages is oikonomia, which means “household law”; it denotes “a household management,” “a household administration,” and derivatively, “a dispensation,” “a plan,” or “an economy for administration.”
I would like to call your attention to some of the crucial vocabulary used in Ephesians 1:9-11 and 3:9-11, such as will, good pleasure, economy (or, dispensation, plan), and eternal purpose, which are all included in the matter pertaining to the economy of God; this indicates that what is implied in the economy of God is very rich.
The Greek word oikonomia is made up of two words: oikos, denoting a “house” or “household,” and nomos, denoting a “law” or “principle.” The meaning of these two words combined is “household administration.” This house is the house of God, including all the saved ones in the whole human race, all those who were chosen by God and have received God as their life (Eph. 2:19). They are a group of people who became the new creation by receiving God’s life through God’s selection. They are a big family of God. Furthermore, in this big family we are the masters and all the angels are the servants who wait upon us, ministering to us as those who inherit so great a salvation (Heb. 1:14).
In this universal house, there is the need for a household administration to arrive at a specific purpose. Whenever there is a household administration, it is necessary to have a dispensation and a plan. This is not a small matter. With the household administration, there is a dispensation; with the dispensation, there is the need for a plan. Hence, when God makes His dispensation, He designs a number of administrative procedures for the carrying out of His economy. For this reason, oikonomia may also be rendered dispensation, which means “arrangement” or “plan,” referring to God’s plan for His administration. In God’s administration, God’s plan, there are many dispensations and many ways.
At the end of the last century, Bible scholars found from the Scriptures the so-called seven dispensations. Actually, these seven dispensations are not seven ages but God’s seven administrative procedures. In each procedure God has a different way of dealing with man. For example, in the Old Testament age after the time of Moses, God’s way of dealing with man was according to the law; hence, that was “the dispensation of law.” In the New Testament age, God’s administration is according to grace, and He deals with man according to grace; hence, it is called “the dispensation of grace.” In the millennial kingdom, God will take the kingdom as His administration and as His way of dealing with man; hence, it is called “the dispensation of the kingdom.” Therefore, the word dispensation does not denote an age; it denotes a plan, an arrangement, a procedure. In all the dispensations and plans there are many administrative procedures. This somewhat explains the meaning of God’s economy.
(The Revelation and Vision of God, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)