TWO ASPECTS OF THE PRICE
The price we must pay has two aspects. One aspect concerns our inner sense, and the other aspect concerns the light of the truth given to us by the Lord. Ordinarily, what we sense within is mostly related to trivial matters. The significant, rich, and profound things are mostly found in the truth. The latter aspect is seen mostly in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew is a book concerning the kingdom. The kingdom has a twofold significance in relation to us. On the one hand, it involves the ruling of the heavens, and on the other hand, it requires the paying of a price. Nearly the entire book of Matthew is concerning the requirement of paying a price. However, the most important chapters are five through seven, thirteen, and twenty-four and twenty-five.
Matthew chapters five through seven, consisting of the teaching given on the mountain, concern the reality of the kingdom. Chapter thirteen, consisting of the parables spoken beside the sea, concerns the appearance of the kingdom. Chapters twenty-four and twenty-five, consisting of the prophecies spoken on the Mount of Olives, concern the manifestation of the kingdom. Both the reality and the manifestation of the kingdom were spoken on a mountain. This was because only those who “go up to the mountain” can participate in the reality of the kingdom today and enter into the manifestation of the kingdom in the future. Although a multitude of people followed the Lord, only a small number of them heard the word concerning the reality and the manifestation of the kingdom. Those who heard were those who followed the Lord up to the mountain and who came near to Him. In other words, they were those who paid a price and had fellowship with the Lord. The word concerning the appearance of the kingdom was given beside the sea, which signifies the world usurped and corrupted by Satan. Those who are in the world can only hear the word concerning the appearance of the kingdom. They cannot see the reality and manifestation of the kingdom because they have not paid the price by going up to the mountain and coming to the Lord.
Although the teachings covered in these three sections of Matthew differ in their content, they have one point in common. In every section there is the requirement that a price be paid. In Matthew 5—7 the price required of us is that our whole being and entire human living be completely given to the Lord, so that we may attain to the surpassing righteousness, enter the narrow gate, and walk on the constricted way. Matthew 13 requires us to be delivered from the great tree and the leaven and to be the wheat and mustard seed. It requires us to be ground and crushed so that we may give the life supply to others. Chapter thirteen also requires us to be the treasure (including the precious stones) and the pearl. In other words, this chapter requires us to pass through the burning of the Holy Spirit and the pressure of sufferings so that we may be valuable before the Lord. In chapters twenty-four and twenty-five the price that we are required to pay has two aspects—the aspect of life and the aspect of work. The aspect of life is that we need to buy the oil, and the aspect of work is that we need to be faithful. To buy the oil—the aspect of life—is to forsake all outward things in our daily life and to care only for the indwelling Spirit. To be faithful in the aspect of work is to use the gift that we have received to supply others.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PAYING A PRICE AND RECEIVING SALVATION
We all know that God’s salvation consists of two parts. In the first part we receive forgiveness of sins and the eternal life by faith, and in the second part God intends to work Himself into us that we may be mingled with Him as one. The prerequisite to receiving the first part of God’s salvation is faith. Strictly speaking, the prerequisite to receiving the second part of God’s salvation is the paying of a price. Because God’s salvation consists of these two parts, there are two requirements for receiving these two parts. To receive forgiveness of sins and obtain eternal life, it is enough just to have faith. However, if we want God to work Himself into us and mingle with us, we must fulfill the second requirement—we must pay a price.
(How to Be Useful to the Lord, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)