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Message Two

CONCERNING THE CHURCH


A MYSTERY

The church is a mystery (Eph. 3:4; 5:32). This mystery was in the Triune God, in the Father, in the
Son, and in the Spirit. With the believers there is also an amount of mystery, but not as much as with the
church. The mystery of God in Colossians 2:2 is Christ; whereas the mystery of Christ in Ephesians 3:4 is
the church. God is a mystery, and Christ, as the embodiment of God to express Him, is the mystery of
God. Christ is also a mystery, and the church, as the Body of Christ to express Him, is the mystery of
Christ. The divine mystery is much more with the church corporately than with the saints individually.
The church is a corporate unit which is produced out of Christ who is the mystery of God. This all-
inclusive Christ is a mystery of the mysterious God and such a Christ as the mystery of God produces a
unit which is the church. By this we can realize that the church is the continuation of the mystery which is
Christ. Mystery surely produces mystery. Whatever you are, you bring forth. Christ, who is the mystery
of God, brings forth the church, the mystery of Christ.
To see and to understand such a mystery our human mentality is altogether inadequate. This is why the
apostle Paul prayed that God would give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph. 1:17) that we may
understand the church which is the mystery of Christ.

A PURE PRODUCT OUT OF CHRIST

The church is nothing more than a pure product out of Christ. This is typified by Eve in the book of
Genesis. Eve was fully, completely, and purely produced out of Adam (Gen. 2:21-24). Within Eve there
was nothing else but Adam. Besides the Adamic element, there was no other element in Eve. Whatever
was in Eve and whatever Eve was was Adam. Eve was a full reproduction of Adam. Adam and Eve are a
type of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:30-32; Gen. 2:22-24). The church must also be one element—the
element of Christ. Other than Christ’s element there should be no other element in the church. Such a
vision will cause us to mourn over today’s situation. Within Christianity today there is very little of the
element of Christ. Instead, innumerable elements other than Christ can be seen. In the Lord’s recovery,
however, the church must be the pure element of Christ. Anything that is other than Christ is not the
church.

“CHRISTLY,” “RESURRECTIONLY,” AND HEAVENLY

After Christ terminated the entire old creation through His all-inclusive death, the church was
produced in His resurrection (1 Pet. 1:3; Eph. 2:6). The church is an entity absolutely in resurrection; it is
not natural, nor is it of the old creation. The church is a new creation created in Christ’s resurrection and
by the resurrected Christ. We must see this vision. In addition to seeing that the church was produced in
Christ’s resurrection, we must also see where the church is. The church today is in Christ in ascension.
Ephesians 2:6 tells us that the church has been resurrected with Christ, and now the church is seated in the
heavenlies with Christ. Therefore, the church is absolutely and purely of the element of Christ, absolutely
in resurrection, and absolutely remaining in the heavenlies with Christ. The English language does not
give us adequate adjective forms for the nouns Christ and resurrection. We must, therefore, invent some
new vocabulary words to communicate such a vision of the church. We may say that today the church is
“Christly,” “resurrectionly,” and heavenly. These three adjectives describe the fact conveyed in the Bible.
The church is of Christ; the church is of resurrection; the church is of the heavens. The church is Christly,
resurrectionly, and heavenly. With the church there is no element other than Christ. Such a vision will
govern you to the uttermost and will rule out everything that is not Christly (of Christ), resurrectionly (of
resurrection), or heavenly (of the heavens). With the believers there is still the flesh of sin, but with the
church there is no flesh of sin because the church was born in resurrection (1 Pet. 1:3). The church is a
matter in Christ, in resurrection, and in Christ’s ascension in the heavenlies.
THE OUTWARD ASPECT OF THE CHURCH

The church, outwardly speaking, is a congregation called out of the world unto God for God’s purpose.
The Greek word for the church is ekklesia which means a “called-out congregation, a meeting, a
gathering, or an assembly, called out for a purpose” (Matt. 16:18; 18:17). It is much better to translate this
word ekklesia into assembly. The Brethren teachers insisted on translating ekklesia in this way, so they
were known as the Brethren assemblies. The church is God’s ekklesia, which is composed of all the
believers as a congregation called out of the world by God for His purpose. This is why we must gather
together. We must assemble and meet in order to have a congregation, a composition, for God to work
and to move among us. This is the outward aspect of the church.

THE INWARD ESSENCE OF THE CHURCH AND ITS FUNCTION

We must also see the inward essence of the church. Without the inward aspect, the church is a mere
organization. The church, however, should be an organism. We believers are not only composed together,
but we are organically united together. As a result, we are not an organization but an organic composition
which is an organism. We are not merely together, but we are growing together. We do not grow together
separately like the trees in a forest, but we grow together organically like the members of a person’s
physical body. A particular member of a person’s body organically grows together with all the other
members. In like manner, we, as members of the Body of Christ (Eph. 5:30), are growing with the growth
of God (Col. 2:19).
It is essential that we go further to see the inward essence of the church and its function. First, the
church is the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 2:19; 1 Pet. 2:5), God’s dwelling place, God’s temple,
which is in Christ, in resurrection, and in the heavenlies. The church is also the Body of Christ (Eph.
1:22-23a) because Christ Himself is God’s temple, God’s dwelling, God’s house (John 2:19-22). To be
the Body of Christ is to be God’s dwelling, God’s house, God’s temple. Jesus told the Jews in John 2:19:
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” In this verse the Lord was speaking of the
temple of His body (v. 21). In resurrection, this temple has been enlarged (1 Pet. 1:3; 1 Cor. 3:16-17).
Now the house of God is in its expansion. God’s dwelling expanded is Christ with His Body (Eph. 2:19-
22; 1 Cor. 3:16). This Body is in Christ, in resurrection, and in the heavenlies so this Body is the
composition, the constitution, of all the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8). Such a constitution, such
a composition, becomes the fullness, the expression, of the One who fills all in all (Eph. 1:23b). The
church is also the new man, which is corporate and universal (Eph. 2:15). There are many believers, but
there is only one new man in the universe. All the believers are components of this one corporate and
universal new man.
This one in function is Christ’s Body, and in love, in satisfaction, this one is Christ’s counterpart, His
wife (Eph. 5:25, 29, 32). His Body is for His expression. His wife is for His satisfaction. This church is
also a warrior, fighting with Christ against God’s enemy to destroy him (Eph. 6:10-17). According to the
vision we have seen concerning the church, the last aspect of the church in this age is the lampstand
which is the very embodiment of the Triune God (Rev. 1:12-13, 20). The house, the Body, the fullness,
the wife, and the warrior eventually are the very embodiment of the Triune God. The lampstand embodies
the Triune God in His divine essence, in His divine shape, and for His divine expression.
When the church arrives at the state of being the very embodiment of the Triune God, the church will
be ready for the marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7); this is the readiness of the bride for the bridegroom to
come to marry her (John 3:29). This wife will be a composition of all the faithful, overcoming, matured
believers who will inherit the kingdom of God and Christ in the millennium to share Christ’s joy and feast
with Him for a thousand years (Rev. 19:7-9). These ones will be the wife of Christ in the millennium and
will not include the defeated ones, the unfaithful ones, since the unfaithful ones still will not be matured
during the millennium. Their maturity will be built up during the millennium. After being dealt with by
the Lord during the millennium, they will participate in the New Jerusalem for eternity. After the
millennium, in the new heaven and the new earth, this church who is the wife of the Lamb in the one
thousand years of the millennium, will consummate in the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem will be the
consummation of the church which includes all the Old Testament saints. This is a vision concerning the
church in its essence and in its functions.

THE PRACTICALITY OF THE CHURCH

In its practice the church exists in different localities on this earth during this age, so the universal
church in its practicality becomes local. In its universal nature it is one, but in its local practice it is many.
There is one universal church in essence, but there are many local churches in practice. In any locality
there should only be one church (Rev. 1:11). In its universal aspect (Matt. 16:18) the church is composed
of all the believers in all places at all times (1 Cor. 12:13). In its local aspect (Matt. 18:17) the church is
composed of the believers in one locality at one time (Phil. 1:1; Acts 8:1; 13:1; Rom. 16:1). Anything
more than one church in one locality is not proper.

BEING GOVERNED BY THIS VISION

We must see the church in its essence, its function, and its practicality. This vision will govern us and
rule out all other elements. Any natural, fleshly, or ambitious element will be ruled out by this vision.
Under this vision we do not have the boldness to exercise anything of our natural man. In this respect,
such a vision paralyzes us. Most Christians realize that the church is a constitution, a composition, of all
the believers in Christ. By the Lord’s mercy, however, what we have seen in this message is a higher
vision concerning the church. We have seen that Eve as the wife of Adam is a type of the church as the
wife of Christ. Just as Eve was a pure product out of Adam so the church must be a pure product out of
Christ. Someone may ask how the church today could be such an Eve, a pure product out of Christ. This
is why we all need to see the vision. When you see the vision, you are Eve. Without the vision, it would
be hard for you to be Eve. All things other than the pure element of Christ are ruled out by this vision.
This is why we should not remain under the influence of the traditional teachings. We need the vision.
When we see the vision that the church is in resurrection, in Christ, and in the heavenlies, it will rule out
everything other than Christ, resurrection, and the heavenlies.
We all need to praise, thank, and worship the Lord for His mercy in showing us such a vision. It is
absolutely the Lord’s mercy that He has opened up His Word to us in such a way. The light we have
received from the Lord’s holy Word is nothing but His mercy. (Elders’ Training, Book 2: The Vision of
the Lord’s Recovery, pp. 36-42)

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE BODY OF CHRIST


BEING CONSTITUTED WITH THE BELIEVERS WHO ARE REDEEMED, REGENERATED,
SANCTIFIED, RENEWED, AND TRANSFORMED BY GOD
AS ITS OUTWARD FRAMEWORK

The Body of Christ is the constitution of the processed Triune God with the transformed human
beings. It is constituted by the union of God and man. The Triune God has passed through the processes
of incarnation, human living, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. The Body of Christ is the
constitution of such a processed God with His redeemed people. This constitution has the believers who
are redeemed, regenerated, sanctified, renewed, and transformed by God as its outward framework. In
other words, the constitution of such a building of God and man has man as its outward framework.
However, it is not ordinary men who are the framework, but the believers whom God has redeemed,
regenerated, sanctified, renewed, and transformed.

ALSO HAVING THE PROCESSED AND CONSUMMATED TRIUNE GOD


AS ITS INWARD ELEMENT
The constitution of the Body of Christ has not only the believers whom God has redeemed,
regenerated, sanctified, renewed, and transformed, as its outward framework, but has also the processed
and consummated Triune God as its inward element. Our human body has an outward framework and an
inward element. The outward framework plus the inward element are a living and organic body. It is the
same with the Body of Christ. The redeemed people are the outward framework; the redeeming God is the
inward element.
The Father of the Triune God is the source of the inward element of the constitution of the Body of
Christ. The Son of the Triune God is the inward element itself. The Spirit of the Triune God is the essence
of the inward element. From Ephesians 4:4-6 we can see the source, element, and essence of the Body of
Christ. Verse 4 speaks of one Body and one Spirit, verse 5, of one Lord, and verse 6, of one God and
Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. The one Body is the framework; the inward
element is the Father as the source, the Son as the element from the Father, and the Spirit as the essence
of the element. The Body of Christ is constituted with the Triune God and His redeemed people, with His
redeemed people as the outward framework and the Triune God Himself as the inward element.
Most Christians today do not speak concerning the Body of Christ. Even if they do, they do not speak
of it very clearly. Even among us, our way of presentation in the past has not been very clear. We
commonly say that the Body of Christ is universal, whereas the church is local. However, the Body of
Christ is not a matter of being universal or local, but a matter of the outward framework and the inward
element. If there were only the outward framework without the inward element, the Body would be a
dead corpse. With the outward framework, there must also be the inward element; then it is a living and
organic Body. Today God has made those whom He redeemed, regenerated, and transformed to be the
outward framework. God Himself, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, is the inward element. The Father is
the source, the Son is the element, and the Spirit is the essence. These four—the Father, the Son, the
Spirit, and man—blended and built together become the Body of Christ. (The Issue of the Union of the
Consummated Spirit of the Triune God and the Regenerated Spirit of the Believers, pp. 50-52)

THE BODY BEING THE INTRINSIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHURCH

We need to see the way Paul presents the Body of Christ in Ephesians 1. Paul said that God raised up
Christ, seated Him in the heavens, subjected all things under His feet, and gave Him to be Head over all
things to the church. Right away in the following phrase he said, “Which is His Body” (v. 23a). The
church is the Body. This indicates that the Body is the church’s intrinsic significance. The church without
the Body means nothing. In Greek the church is the ekklesia, the called-out ones coming together. But the
significance of this gathering is the Body.
In the recovery today there are over twelve hundred churches around the globe, yet we all are one
Body. If we consider ourselves as individual churches or as individual believers, we are through. We
should consider ourselves as one Body. If the parts of our physical body would keep their own
jurisdiction and be autonomous, our body would be finished. But thank the Lord that all the members of
our physical body are submissive to one another so that our body can act and operate smoothly. Suppose
that we wanted to go somewhere and that all the parts of our body agreed except our feet. If the feet could
talk, they might say to the other members, “Don’t you know that we are tired. You have no love. You
don’t sympathize with us. You want to go, but we will not go, because we do not have the strength to go.”
What kind of physical body would this be? In practicality, there would be no body. This is to be
“disbodied.” Today among the Christians concerning the Body of Christ, it is like this. They are
“disbodied.”
At least I can testify for myself and for my senior brother, Brother Watchman Nee. We always
behaved, acted, and took action in the recovery as one Body. This is why the Lord’s recovery could exist
on this earth over these past approximately seventy years. We do not have any organization to keep
anything, but the recovery is still here. The recovery is still existing and has been kept by the principle of
the Body. While I was ministering the word, I often considered Brother Nee. I considered what he spoke;
I did not like to speak anything which was contradicting with his ministry. If I had spoken in a
contradicting way, where would the recovery be today? We must know the Body.
I would like to say again that the Body is the intrinsic significance of the church. If there were no
Body, the church would have no meaning. The church makes no sense without the Body. But hallelujah,
there is the Body! Without the Body, the church makes no sense, but with the Body, there is the intrinsic
significance of the church. (The Issue of the Dispensing of the Processed Trinity and the Transmitting of
the Transcending Christ, pp. 90-91)

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