TRANSFORMATION NEEDED FOR THE BUILDING
To have the church is a matter not only of growth but of transformation. In order to build the church we must be transformed. Human beings were made from clay. Originally, Peter was a piece of clay, but when he received Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Lord immediately changed his name to Peter, a stone (John 1:42). The clay was transformed into stone. In Revelation 21 we see that Peter becomes not only a stone but a precious stone. The name of Peter is written on the foundation of precious stone (vv. 14, 19). When we are regenerated, we are first transformed from a piece of clay into a piece of stone. After this we are transformed in our soul, and eventually at the Lord’s coming we will be transfigured in our body. Then we will be precious stone. Even a pearl is something that has been transformed. We need transformation.
I did not make up the word transformation. In Romans 12, before the apostle brings us into the reality of the Body life, he tells us to do two things. The first is to offer ourselves bodily for the Body, and the other is to be transformed by the renewing of the mind (vv. 1-2). Our spirit has been regenerated, but our soul still remains old. We must have our soul transformed by the renewing of the mind. In these two verses we can see that the building of the church depends on our real consecration and the transformation of the soul. We can never be built up as pieces of clay. Even if we are stone within, the stone is still covered by clay; as such, we cannot be built together. Therefore, we need transformation.
The same word for transformation is in 2 Corinthians 3:18. Verse 17 says, “And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Then verse 18 says that we are being “transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.”
As we have seen, in the parables of Matthew 13 there is the view of life, growth, and transformation to produce the building materials. In 1 Corinthians 3, the apostle has the same thought that the Lord Jesus had in Matthew 13. Paul says that we are the cultivated land of God, that we need the seed to be planted and to grow (1 Cor. 3:6, 9a). Then on the other hand, he says we are the building of God, built with precious stones (vv. 9b, 12a). Therefore in Matthew 13 and 1 Corinthians 3 we can see the consistency of the divine thought: Life is sown into us to grow and to cause transformation.
THE PRACTICAL NEED TO PLANT AND WATER FOR THE BUILDING
Now I must speak something practical. As a local church, we must have Christ planted into people as the seed. I do not oppose teachings and gifts; I simply care for how much of Christ has been sown into us. How much of Christ has been planted? We need the sowing of Christ as the seed of life into us. There must be the planting of Christ. The apostle Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6). Do we have the watering and the growth?
Mothers know that after they have a baby, they must feed the baby. In the first week, she feeds the baby one way; then in the second week, second month, and second half year she still knows the right way to feed the baby. A mother knows how to feed a baby to make him grow, but in the church today do we know how to help people to grow? Do we ourselves know how to grow? I have learned much by visiting many places where there were many seeking ones coming together. In the first year of their coming together, the situation among them was not clear, but after two or three years everything was exposed and brought to the surface. In all these meetings almost no one has any idea or knowledge of how to grow. We praise the Lord, however, that He has brought many of these people to the point that they realize they need something.
There are only two ways to build up a church, or a so-called church. One way is to organize; this is the organizing system. All the denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, depend on the organizing system. As long as they have the best organizing regulations and a strong, proper character for organizing, this so-called church will flourish. It will be built up not by life but by organizing. This is the wrong way; it is the worldly, human way. The proper and spiritual way is to build up the church by life and the growth in life. This requires us to know how to sow Christ into people and know how to grow in Christ and how to help others to grow in Christ.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)