Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 099-113)

Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 099-113)by Witness Lee

ISBN: 978-0-87083-258-1
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 111 of 15 Section 1 of 5

THE CONCLUSION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

MESSAGE ONE HUNDRED ELEVEN

THE BELIEVERS—THEIR SYMBOLS

(5)

In this message we shall cover more symbols of the believers: threshing oxen, runners in a race and contenders in a game, workman in carpentry, nursing mother, father, wise master builder, ambassadors, stewards, captives of Christ in His triumphal procession, and incense-bearers.

T. THRESHING OXEN

We come now to another unusual symbol of the believers—threshing oxen. In 1 Corinthians 9:9 and 10a the believers are likened to laboring oxen that thresh the harvest: “In the law of Moses it is written: You shall not muzzle a threshing ox. Is it for the oxen that God cares? Or does He say it assuredly for our sake? For our sake.” Here Paul quotes the Old Testament in a wonderful way and applies it to the present situation, in particular, to the situation of those who labor in serving the Lord.

In 1 Timothy 5:18 Paul again quotes Deuteronomy 25:4, saying, “You shall not muzzle a threshing ox.” According to the context, those who labor in word and teaching (v. 17) may be fully occupied, devoting all their time to this. Therefore, the church and the saints should care for their living. For this reason, in verse 18 Paul refers to what the Scripture says about not muzzling a threshing ox.

1. Laboring with Their Mouth Not Muzzled

In 1 Corinthians 9:9 Paul likened himself to an ox laboring for Christ. However, the Corinthians wanted to muzzle him; that is, they wanted him to work without being fed. This is the reason Paul pointed out that while threshing oxen are laboring to thresh the harvest, their mouths should not be muzzled.

2. Eating What Is under Their Threshing

Instead of being muzzled, threshing oxen should eat what is under their threshing. This means that while they are laboring to thresh the harvest, they should be free to eat what they are threshing.

U. RUNNERS IN A RACE AND CONTENDERS IN A GAME

“Do you not know that those who run in a race-course all run, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may lay hold. And everyone who contends exercises self-control in all things; those, therefore, that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible” (1 Cor. 9:24-25). These verses reveal that the believers are runners in a race and contenders in a game. The Christian life is a race that we must run successfully and a game in which we must contend. The prize is a reward as an incentive; to “lay hold” is to obtain the prize.

If we consider verse 24 in relation to verse 23, we shall see that to run in a race-course is to labor, but to receive the prize is to have enjoyment. As we preach the gospel today, we are running the course. But to receive a reward, a prize, at the coming of the Lord Jesus is to have a particular enjoyment.

In 9:17 Paul speaks of a reward, and in Acts 20:24 he refers to the course: “I consider my life of no account as if it were precious to myself, in order that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus to solemnly testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Paul regarded his preaching of the gospel as the running of the Christian race. First Corinthians 9:24 indicates that all believers are running a race. Paul exhorts us to run so that we may obtain, lay hold of, the prize.

First Corinthians 9 reveals that the Christian course involves the preaching of the gospel. To preach the gospel is to dispense Christ into others. By dispensing Christ into those who are receptive to our preaching we run the Christian course. However, because many believers today are not running the race, we need Paul’s word, “So run, that you may lay hold.”


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