Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), by Witness Lee

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How did Paul deal with the problems in the church at Corinth? “The word of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18, Gk.). The word of the cross means the word of killing. This was the word that the Corinthians needed to combat their divisiveness, their confidence in knowledge, and their wild exercise of the gifts. The whole book of 1 Corinthians is the word of the cross. Paul applied the cross to kill what was natural.


How do you think the Greek mentality at Corinth would receive this word: “The soulish man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14, Gk.)? The Greeks were famous in the ancient world for their philosophy. Yet Paul here told them that the man who lives by the soul rejects the things of God as foolishness. Was not this belittling the Greek philosophical mind? More than that, Paul was beheading the Corinthians for their reliance on their clever mind.

As we pray over such a word, it will have the same killing effect on us. We may say, “The soulish man—am I not a soulish man? I surely trust in my shrewd mind. It says here that he receives not the things of the Spirit of God. Could that be why for all these years I have had so little spiritual understanding? The soulish man thinks the things of the Spirit are foolishness; he cannot know them. Oh, the soulish man must be broken.” This is the killing effect of the word of the cross.


How would you like to receive this further word from Paul: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto fleshly, even as unto babes in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1, Gk.)? Would you not be offended to be told that you are not spiritual, that you are a man of flesh, that you are just an infant in Christ? If you protest such labels, you are proving that that is exactly what you are. The word here again is a killing word. In fact, in every chapter of 1 Corinthians there is a killing of some aspect of your being.


In Philippians we have another kind of word: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life” (2:15-16). Here in this book on the experience of Christ is the word of life. In 1 Corinthians is the word of the cross, but in Philippians is the word of resurrection.

The Bible is composed of these two kinds of words—the word of the cross which kills and the word of life which brings resurrection.


Second Corinthians 4:10 through 12 says, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us but life in you.” Did you know that death works? This death is typified by myrrh and is one of the spices of the compound Spirit (Exo. 30:23).

Although we may not understand how death and life do their work, we get the benefit by daily coming to the Word. The Bible, as the word of the cross, is an “antibiotic,” killing all the negative things in us; at the same time, as the word of life, it supplies us with “vitamins” to keep us spiritually healthy.

(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)