Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the foregoing message we pointed out that the church has the same life and nature as Christ. This is revealed in the type of Adam and Eve. If the church did not have the life and nature of Christ, the church could not be Christ’s counterpart and could never be a match for Christ. If two halves of a unit did not have the same life and nature, they could not make a complete whole. Christ and the church as one entity share the same life and the same nature.
We have also pointed out that Christ nourishes and cherishes the church. He supplies the church and cares for the church in order that the church may grow. Although the church has received Christ’s own life and nature, there is still need for supply and for care so that there may be growth. Growth is implied in the formation of Eve, who is a type of the church. God created Adam as a full-grown man. Hence, with Adam, there was no need for growth. However, Eve was built from a rib taken out of Adam’s side. This building implies growth. Firstly, Eve received the life and nature of Adam. Then she grew into a woman by being built into a woman. The reference to nourishing and cherishing in Ephesians 5 indicates the need for growth. Nourishing and cherishing are not related to the initial impartation of life. They are related to supplying and caring for the life that has already come into existence so that this life may grow to its full measure.
Consider the vine tree as an illustration. The vine firstly receives nourishment from the soil and the water. The nourishing element is absorbed into the vine to supply life to meet the inward need of the vine. As the vine is nourished, it is simultaneously cherished by its environment, mainly by the fresh air and the sunshine. The wind and the sun regulate the atmosphere to promote the growth of the vine. If the weather is too cold, the sun warms the vine. If the temperature is too high, the wind cools the vine. This outward regulation of the environment is what we mean by cherishing, as distinguished from the inward supply of life, the nourishing. Today Christ is nourishing the church from within and also cherishing the church from without. He supplies us with life, and He regulates the atmosphere so that we may grow properly.
In this message we shall consider a third aspect concerning Christ and the church—the aspect of sanctifying by cleansing. Christ sanctifies the church by cleansing her (5:25-27). The purpose of Christ in giving Himself to the church is to sanctify her, not only separating her to Himself from anything common, but also saturating her with Himself that she may be His counterpart. This is accomplished by cleansing her with the washing of the water in the Word.
Verses 25 through 27 are actually one long sentence. In these verses Paul is saying that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. He did this that He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of water in the Word, in order that He might present the church to Himself glorious, without spot, wrinkle, or any such things. Christ’s purpose in loving the church and in giving Himself up for the church was to sanctify her by the washing of the water in the Word. Sanctifying is by cleansing, cleansing is by washing, washing is by water, and water is in the Word.
Christ is sanctifying the church so that He might present the church to Himself. In the past, Christ gave Himself up for the church; in the present, He is sanctifying the church; and in the future, He will present the church to Himself as His counterpart for His satisfaction. Therefore, loving is for sanctifying, and sanctifying is for presenting.
The first point in these three verses is that Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. The second point is the sanctifying in verse 26, and the third is the presenting in verse 27. The first point is for the second, and the second is for the third.
Christ’s loving the church and giving Himself up for her was for redemption and for the impartation of life. According to John 19:34, blood and water came out of the Lord’s pierced side. The blood was for redemption, and the water was for the impartation of life so that the church might come into existence. In Ephesians 5:25 we have the church coming into existence through Christ’s loving her and giving Himself up for her.
After the church has come into existence, the church needs the sanctifying. The process of sanctification includes saturation, transformation, growth, and building up. Although sanctification includes separation, the main aspect of sanctification is saturation. The church needs to be saturated with all that Christ is. Saturation is accompanied by transformation, growth, and building. Through such a process of sanctification with all these aspects, the church becomes complete and perfect, the reality of what is typified by Eve in Genesis 2.
After Eve had been prepared for Adam by being built out of Adam’s rib, she was presented to Adam, the source from which she came. In like manner, the church will be presented to Christ, who is her source. This presentation will be done not by God, but by Christ Himself. Verse 27 says that Christ will present the church to Himself glorious. Hence, He will be both the presenter and the receiver.
Without separation, saturation, transformation, growth, and building, the church cannot be perfected and grow into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Only through an all-inclusive process of sanctification can the church become complete and attain to the measure of the stature of Christ’s fullness so that Christ can present a perfect church to Himself.
In these verses we have three stages of the production of the church. Firstly, the church is brought into existence. Secondly, the church is sanctified and thereby perfected and completed. Finally, the church is presented to Christ as a glorious church without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing. It is presented to Him holy and without blemish. We are presently in the second stage of the production of the church, the stage of sanctification. When this stage is complete, we shall be presented to Christ as a glorious church.
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