Four Short Books Providing Us with
the Full Vision of Christ
After the two Epistles to the Corinthians, we have the four short books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. These four books reveal Christ in a full way. After the two Corinthians, we need these four books to give us a full revelation, a full vision, of the very Christ who is the answer to all the problems in the church life. These books tell us first who Christ is. Second, they tell us how this Christ must be very subjective to us, that is, how Christ has to be worked into us to be the inward, indwelling Christ. Third, they tell us the secret of experiencing and partaking of Christ. Then fourth, they tell us what is the result, the issue, of the experience of Christ.
Thus, these four books cover four points. As the basis, Colossians tells us who Christ is. In order to know who Christ is, we must read the short book of Colossians. Then Galatians tells us that the all-inclusive Christ has to be wrought into us. He has to live in us and even be formed in us. Following this, Philippians tells us the secret of how to experience this indwelling Christ, who is the all-inclusive One. Finally, Ephesians reveals that the issue, the result, of the experience of Christ is the church.
CHRIST AS THE FOCUS OF GOD’S WILL AND ECONOMY,
AS THE MYSTERY OF GOD,
AND AS THE PORTION OF THE SAINTS
Colossians speaks of the eternal will of God, the economy of God, the mystery of God, and the God-given portion to us. What is the will of God? What does God intend to dispense to us in His economy? What is the mystery of God? And what is the portion God gives to us? The answer to all these questions is Christ. God’s will is to work Christ into us, in His economy God intends to dispense Christ to us, Christ is the mystery of God, and Christ is the portion God gives us. That is why in this short book we have such great terms as His will, the stewardship (economy) of God, the mystery of God, and the allotted portion of the saints (1:9, 25; 2:2; 1:12). All these are Christ.
God has one will in the universe. Romans 12:2 speaks in the singular of “the will of God..., that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.” Some may say that the will of God is to go to a certain college or to get married. However, if our going to college is not for Christ, that is not the will of God. Likewise, if we marry without Christ, that also is not the will of God. Whatever we do in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ is the will of God, because God’s will is simply Christ and nothing else. God’s will is to make Christ everything to us. It is that we take Christ as everything, that we take Him as life to live by Him and give Him the first place, the preeminence, in all our life.
For something to be the will of God, it must be in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ. Even if I minister here, yet not in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ, this ministry is not the will of God. God has only one will. There is no need to check something in another way; simply check whether or not that thing is in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ. There is no need to wait and analyze. If we can boldly say with full assurance that we are doing something in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ, then it is of the Lord.
I say again, God’s economy is to dispense Christ into us, and this very Christ is the portion of the saints. We have no other portion. If you ask me what I have, I will tell you that I have nothing, yet I have everything because I have Christ as my portion. If we receive something other than Christ as our portion, we will be cheated. In the Old Testament, Solomon the wise king told us that all things under the sun are vanity (Eccl. 1:1-11), and in the New Testament, Paul counted all things as refuse, as dung (Phil. 3:8). Even a Ph.D. degree is dung, and all the tall, attractive buildings in the affluent part of this city are dung. God would cheat us if He gave us these things as our portion. These are not our God-given portion. The portion God gives us is the reality, that is, Christ, the Son of God. All things are vanity of vanities; only Christ is real. He is grace and reality (John 1:17). Praise Him, He is our portion! I am satisfied because I have the unique, universal portion, the portion of the saints, which is Christ Himself. God’s intention is simply to give us this portion.
WHAT CHRIST IS TOWARD GOD
Who is this portion? Colossians first tells us that Christ our portion is the image, the expression, of the invisible God (1:15a). What God is, what God has, and what God has done and can do are all embodied in Christ and expressed in and through this Christ. Christ is the very expression of the very God. We may think that we need Christ only to be our Savior to save us from hell and take us to heaven. However, Christ being the image of the invisible God is much higher than this.
Within Christ as the image, the expression, of God dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (v. 19; 2:9). The fullness of God is in Him, and He is the very embodiment of God. Without Him, or outside of Him, we do not have God and we cannot find God.
This Christ is also the mystery of God (v. 2). As the mystery of God, Christ is also the history of God. The whole “story” of God is in Christ and is Christ. Whatever God has been, is, and shall be is in Him. Moreover, all that God planned and purposed to do is for Him so that He might have the preeminence, the first place, in all things (1:18). This pertains to the relationship of Christ toward God. With God, everything is Christ and is in Christ.
(The Experience of Christ in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)