The Economy of God and the Building Up of the Body of Christ, by Witness Lee


The Lord Jesus is God becoming a man. He lived on earth for thirty-three and a half years, passing through the storms of the human life and tasting all the bitterness of human living. When He was on earth, He did not have much enjoyment. On the contrary, He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). Everywhere there were difficulties and trials. No one understood Him. But in His human life, He lived out God and expressed God (John 6:57a; Acts 10:38). Moreover, through experiencing everything of the human life, He was qualified to be the Captain of salvation and our High Priest (Heb. 2:10,17-18). He fully satisfied God and is qualified to be our Savior, saving us, solving all of our problems, caring for us, ministering to us, and interceding for us.


After the Lord Jesus passed through the test of human living for thirty-three and a half years, He went to the cross according to the appointed time. There He was crucified. He was hanged on the cross for six hours, from nine o’clock in the morning to three o’clock in the afternoon. The first three hours were mainly persecution, ridicule, blasphemy, and reviling from man. The last three hours were mainly judgment from God. God put upon Him the sins of us all. This God-man accomplished an all-inclusive death on the cross in the human flesh. First, this death is a death which redeemed the sinners (Col. 1:20-22). The Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross to redeem us, the sinners, that we may be reconciled to God. Second, His death is a death which released the divine life (John 12:24). His death on the cross was like a grain of wheat that fell into the ground and died. Through the breaking of the shell, the divine life was released. Third, His death is a death which produced the Body of Christ (John 12:24). He, as the unique divine grain that fell to the ground, brought forth many grains. These many grains are mingled together to form a loaf, which is the church, the Body of Christ. Hence, the church is produced out of the death of Christ in the same way that Eve was built out of the rib of Adam when he fell asleep (Gen. 2:21).

Fourth, His death is a death which created the new man (Eph. 2:15-16). Through His death on the cross, Christ abolished the ordinances that caused disharmony between the Jews and the Gentiles and created in Himself out of two one new man. Fifth, His death is a death that terminated the old creation (Rom. 6:6). Our old man, who was created by God and became fallen through sin, is the center of the whole old creation. He is terminated through crucifixion together with Christ. Sixth, His death is a death which annulled Satan (Heb. 2:14). Christ has destroyed the Devil who has the might of death and has made him of no effect. Seventh, His death is a death which judged the satanic world of darkness (John 12:31). When the Lord was lifted up on the cross, not only did He judge Satan, He judged the world, which is hanging upon Satan, as well.

How all-inclusive is the death of Christ! This all-inclusive death which He accomplished on the cross has on the negative side solved all the problems of sin, the old creation, and the world, and on the positive side it released the divine life and produced the new man, the new creation, and the Body of Christ, which is the church.

(The Economy of God and the Building Up of the Body of Christ, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)