IV. UNTIL WE (THE GIFTED PERSONS AND THE SAINTS) ALL ARRIVE
[The saints are perfected unto the work of the ministry, the building up of the Body of Christ, until we (the gifted persons and the saints) all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. The building up of the Body is a continuous matter. We are under the process of building and we are on the way of building until we arrive at the practical oneness.]
A. The Oneness of the Faith and of the Full Knowledge of the Son of God
[We need to arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God. The faith refers to the full redemptive work of Christ as the object of our believing (Jude 3b). The Old Testament ministry was a ministry of the law, whereas the New Testament ministry is the ministry of the faith. The law was the very center of all the teachings in the Old Testament. When the New Testament came, the faith replaced the law. The entire teaching of the New Testament is centered on the faith. Galatians 3 tells us that the law was there in the Old Testament but faith came (vv. 23-25). Now we are not under the law but in the faith. As the law is the center and reality of the Old Testament, so the faith is the center and reality of the New Testament.
The faith implies the entire teaching of the New Testament. The New Testament record is a record of the full redemptive work of Christ. The New Testament begins with the incarnation of Christ and continues with His death, resurrection, and second coming. His death and resurrection with His second coming issue in the New Jerusalem, which is the ultimate consummation of the church. We believe in Christ’s full redemptive work that is recorded in the entire New Testament. This full redemptive work is of Christ as a person.
We need to arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, which is the full knowledge of the person of Christ. The person of Christ is so marvelous and all-inclusive. This person is the embodiment of the Triune God and the perfect, transformed, tripartite man. He is also the processed Triune God as the all-inclusive, compound, life-giving, sevenfold, indwelling Spirit. He is the reality of every positive thing in the universe. We need to know in full the all-inclusive person of Christ.
When we arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of this all-inclusive person, we will not care for minor things. In Romans 14 Paul was very general in his attitude toward doctrinal matters that did not concern the faith or Christ’s all-inclusive person. Things such as whether to observe the Sabbath and whether to eat meat or vegetables did not matter to Paul. As long as a person believed in Christ, Paul recognized him as a brother in Christ and received him. When I was a young Christian, I was so much for the truth of baptism by immersion that it affected the way I received the believers. If a believer was sprinkled instead of being immersed, I did not care that much for him. Baptism by immersion was my first “Christian toy.’’ Children like to play with toys. Some Christians receive other believers on the basis of what they believe concerning the Lord’s second coming and the rapture. They will not receive those who have a different view than they do regarding the rapture. This is another “toy’’ that Christians like. Humanly speaking, an older person does not like to play with toys. Only the children like to play with toys. If we are still playing with minor doctrinal matters and practices other than the faith and the person of Christ, this is a strong sign that we are still babes. A grown-up person does not care for minor things. He only cares for the marvelous, full redemptive work of Christ and the all-inclusive person of Christ.
We have to learn the aspects of Christ’s person in His death on the cross and the things that He terminated and took away on the cross. We have to know Christ as the very embodiment of the processed Triune God, the complete God and the perfect, tripartite man. We also have to know how this wonderful One is being dispensed into His chosen and redeemed people for their full salvation and for His glorious expression. His chosen and redeemed ones are regenerated, they are being transformed, and eventually they will be glorified. Matters such as these should occupy us and be the subjects of our talk at home and with the saints. Anything other than these things are toys that divide us.]
B. A Full-grown and Mature Man
[Ephesians 4:13 tells us that we need to arrive at a full-grown and mature man. All of us need to grow up to reach this state. This full-grown and mature man is the church as the new man (Eph. 2:15b; 4:24). We are growing up in full measure through the direct building of all the saints perfected in the growth of life by the gifts. This means that each member’s growth is a part of the building. The growth of all the saints equals the building up of the Body.]
C. The Measure of the Stature of the Fullness of Christ
[Ephesians 4:13 also says that we need to arrive at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. The measure is the size, and this measure is of the stature. The stature is of the fullness of Christ. The fullness of Christ is the very expression of the Triune God, which is the Body of Christ (1:23). This Body has a stature, and the stature has a measure. We can arrive at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ by the growth in life.]
Christ, the Head of the Body, prophesied in Matthew 16 that He will build the church. But He cannot build the church directly. The way He builds the church is to recapture many men from Satan’s usurpation by the power of His crucifixion and resurrection. Then He brings these men to the heavens in ascension to offer them to God the Father. God the Father in turn gives them back to Christ to be constituted as gifts for the Body. These gifts include apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers. These gifts are not for the direct building up of the Body. They are given to the Body to perfect all the saints, not to replace the saints. Every saint perfected by the gifts directly builds up the Body of Christ. Therefore, all the young ones need to be willing to be perfected, trained, and equipped by the gifts to the Body so that they may participate in the great work of building up the Body of Christ.
(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)