Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, by Witness Lee

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[The second item of the purpose of God for the church is to deal with His enemy. In chapter one of Ephesians there is the positive side of God’s purpose for the sonship; and in chapter three there is the negative side against the enemy, that the enemy may be subdued and come to know God’s manifold wisdom. God is not sorry that there is such an evil one as Satan, because without such a one, God’s manifold wisdom could not be manifested. It is through all the troubles originating from Satan that God has a chance to show forth His wisdom. Suppose you have a car, and this car never gives you any trouble. If this is the case, no one could know how wise you are. A car without problems would not demonstrate your wisdom. But if you have a car which needs wisdom to handle, your wisdom will be brought to light, and all of your passengers will marvel. It is a problem car, but what a wonderful driver! The whole universe has been damaged by Satan, but God needs such a one in order that His wisdom might be shown.]

In Ephesians 3 verse 10 [Paul declared that God’s multifarious wisdom is made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenlies through the church. The church is the Body of Christ, the joint-heirs, and the joint-partakers. The church is composed of those who once were ruined, corrupted, and damaged. Before we were saved, we were vipers, poisonous serpents. Furthermore, we were dead in trespasses and sins. Moreover, we were scattered and divided, utterly unable to be one. Thus, all the members of the church were in a hopeless situation. Nevertheless, God in His wisdom is able to make us the church. Now we are not only redeemed, saved, cleansed, freed, liberated, and regenerated—we are also united. We are one with God and with one another. Therefore, we are the church.

The church is God’s greatest boast. Although you may not care that much for the church, God cares very much for the church. Sometimes God may say, “Look, Satan, I have taken the very people whom you have ruined and I have made them into the church. Do you have the wisdom to do such a thing? You do not have this wisdom, but I have it.’’]

[God created man in His own image and gave him authority to have dominion over all the earth. The image is related to the sonship, to the expression of God; and the dominion is related to dealing with God’s enemy. The sonship is the fulfillment of God’s image, for it is by the sonship that we will eventually be in the full image of God to express Him.]

[But God not only created man in His image to express Himself, He also committed His full authority to man for the purpose of subduing His enemy. So the second item of the purpose of God for the church is related to the second aspect of God’s creation of man.

The church was predestinated to the sonship of God, and it was also purposed to subdue the enemy. The church is built up by the sonship, and through the building up of the church, the enemy is subdued and God’s wisdom is displayed. There is a real order here. The more life we have, the more built up we will become as a display to Satan. This is a real challenge to the enemy, a shame to him and a glory to God.

Satan is so subtle. He causes many children of God to think that it is impossible to have the church built up on this earth. He persuades them to believe that it is not to be built up on this earth, but far away in the future. But is Ephesians 3:9 only for the future? I believe it must include this present age. In this present age and everywhere on this earth, the Lord must work out something as a challenge to Satan. Then God will say: “Satan, look! Even in the territory which you are utilizing, I have built up many lampstands which shine with the light of my life and bring things into order.’’ This display is a challenge and a shame to Satan, but a glory to God. If our eyes are really opened, we will be ready for this at any cost. We will pray, “Lord, I am willing at any cost for the building up of your church in my locality.’’ This is not a small matter, but something very strategic. All of the struggling of the enemy is over this strategic point. Satan will allow people to be saved, as long as they are not built up. Satan will even allow them to seek spirituality, as long as they are not built up. Satan will allow them to be anything, as long as they are not built up. This is because God’s ultimate consummation is a building.]

[In the eyes of the Lord, Satan has already been defeated. If we have this insight, day by day we will sing, “Hallelujah for the victory!’’ We can tell Satan that even his small victory is just a preparation for our greater victory. Eventually, he will be the one that is completely defeated. We do not care how much he attacks and damages. The Lord Jesus said if people destroyed His body, He would build it up in three days (John 2:19). The more Satan destroys, the more Christ will build up. His destroying is just a preparation for the Lord’s building up. We need the vision of how the Lord will use the church to defeat His enemy and to recover the whole earth.] In this way, God is using His church to display His multifarious wisdom to His enemy.

(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)