Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We have seen that God’s intention in His economy is to obtain a glorious church. Strictly speaking, God is not seeking a spiritual church, a heavenly church, nor even a victorious church. He wants a church of glory. Glory is the expression of God and it is altogether different from human morality and behavior. When God filled the tabernacle and the temple, both of them were filled with glory, with the very manifestation of God. The church should be characterized by glory—not by anything else, not even spirituality. I am not happy to hear talk about a so-called spiritual church. The only way God can have a glorious church is through Christ’s sanctifying, cleansing, nourishing, and cherishing. As we experience these things in a personal and practical way, the church becomes glorious.
The Bible does not speak of a spiritual church. But in Ephesians 5 Paul speaks of a glorious church. One of Brother Nee’s books is entitled The Glorious Church. Many Christians have as their goal a so-called spiritual church. Instead of seeking spirituality, we should seek to be filled with glory so that Christ may have His glorious church.
Because of religious teachings, many have been blinded to God’s desire for a glorious church. In a sense, some have been helped by those teachings, but in another sense, they have been frustrated by them. Religious teachings can keep the saints from seeing the revelation of the glorious church and can cause them instead to seek such things as spirituality, gifts, and victory. Ultimately, it is not God’s intention to have a church that is merely spiritual, victorious, or heavenly. His goal is a glorious church. Do not aspire to be like the angels. They may be spiritual, heavenly, and victorious, but they are not glorious, for they do not bear the glory of God. Praise the Lord that we who believe in Christ bear God’s glory! Religion actually brings people down to the level of angels. Under the influence of the religious concept, many Christians are envious of the angels. If we see God’s economy, we shall reject such an influence and desire to become filled with glory in order that God may reach His goal.
It is possible to be victorious without being glorious. For example, a brother may be pleased at his success in overcoming his temper. He may have been defeated by his temper for years and now at last he has gained victory over it. Such a victory, however, may be completely lacking in glory. God’s economy is not a matter of becoming victorious over such things as our temper. It is a matter of taking Christ as our life and our person and allowing Him to live in us. The result of this is the expression of God as glory. In ourselves we may be victorious, but in order to be glorious we need Christ to be our life and our person.
In a sense, religion is deceptive. While it is helping us, it is also deceiving us. The reason is that religion is part truth and part falsehood. This mixture of truth and falsehood is a subtle form of deception. For example, it is rather easy to preach the gospel to the heathen and to bring people to the Lord. However, it is very difficult to bring someone to the Lord who has had a background in Catholicism, for he has been cheated by the half-truths of that religious system. On the one hand, we have been helped by the religious teachings we received in the past. But on the other hand, these same teachings have veiled us in relation to God’s economy. Therefore, we need to discard religious concepts and teachings and come back to the whole truth of the pure Word of God.
According to the truth in the Word, God has no intention of gaining a group of spiritual beings. He already has myriads of angels. God’s goal is to have a glorious people as His expression. In the midst of this dark, evil age, God desires to have on earth a people full of His glory. If the meeting hall were filled with angels, we would probably think that the situation of the church is glorious. We perhaps would marvel at all the spiritual, heavenly, victorious beings. However, such a situation would not be a true manifestation of God’s glory. God expresses Himself not through angels, but through man. Although we are men in the flesh, we can take Christ as our life and our person. When we do this, even the angels will marvel at the expression of glory in us. The angels may say, “Look at these people. They are full of God’s glory!”
Do you still desire to have a spiritual church, a heavenly church, a victorious church? If you know God’s economy, your desire will be for a glorious church. We should be able to say to the angels, “Angels, we don’t envy your spirituality, victory, or heavenliness. We have Christ within us as our life and our person, and we are being filled with glory. Angels, do you have Christ as your life and your person? Gabriel could announce the birth of Christ, but he does not have the privilege of taking Christ as his life and person. Angels, we would like to tell you that Christ dwells within us. You may be spiritual, heavenly, and victorious, but we are glorious.”
Verse 27 of Ephesians 5 has been in the New Testament for centuries, but it has been lost as far as the experience of believers is concerned. Therefore, today the Lord is in the process of recovering the glorious church. Let us read this verse again: “That He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Christ is sanctifying, cleansing, nourishing, and cherishing us so that we may be a glorious church. He is not doing these things simply to make us spiritual, heavenly, or victorious.
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