Life-Study of 1 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall see from Hebrews and 1 Corinthians that we need to grow into the full possession and enjoyment of the all-inclusive Christ.
Paul applies the history of the children of Israel to the New Testament church life. In Hebrews and 1 Corinthians he points out clearly that what happened to the children of Israel is a type of us. The entire history of Israel is a story of the church. As we have seen, in 10:6 Paul, referring to the children of Israel, says, “Now these things occurred as types of us.”
The situations of the believers addressed in Hebrews and 1 Corinthians were different. The Hebrew believers were infants in doctrines concerning Christ, and they were frustrated from entering into the full rest of the promised land because of their shortage of faith (Heb. 5:11-14; 3:6-19; 6:1). Thus, they needed the growth in faith. They were short of adequate faith in the proper knowledge of the truth. Paul refers to this deeper truth as the word of righteousness, as solid food (Heb. 5:12-14).
The Corinthian believers were infants in the experience of Christ and were frustrated from entering into the full enjoyment of Christ because they were soulish and fleshly. Thus, they needed the growth in life (1 Cor. 3:1-3, 6-7; 2:14). With the Hebrews there was a shortage of faith, and with the Corinthians there was a shortage of the growth in life. In both Hebrews and 1 Corinthians Paul encourages the believers to go on, to progress. The one group, the Hebrew believers, needed to progress, to increase, in the proper faith in the deeper truths; the second group, the Corinthian believers, needed to progress in the growth in life.
The Corinthian believers had Christ as their portion (1:2), for they had been called into the fellowship of Christ (1:9). God had made Christ to them power and wisdom: righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1:30). Furthermore, the Corinthian believers had experienced and enjoyed Christ as their Passover (5:7), their holiness for sanctification (6:11), their righteousness for justification (6:11), the unleavened bread for their Christian life as a feast (5:8), their spiritual food (10:3), their spiritual drink (10:4a), and their spiritual rock (10:4b). Their experiences of Christ were all by their regenerated spirit mingled with the Spirit, who is the resurrected Christ (2:14; 6:17; 15:45b). In the future, they will enjoy Christ as their glory for glorification (2:7-8). That will be the redemption of their body (1:30). They were in the participation in Christ’s blood and Christ’s body (10:16). Nevertheless, they were admonished not to fall in the Christian race, as most of the children of Israel did in the wilderness, but rather to grow into the full possession and enjoyment of the all-inclusive Christ, God’s promised land.
The history of Israel can be divided into three sections. We may call the first of these sections the section of salvation. According to the book of Exodus, the children of Israel, although they were God’s chosen people, were in a fallen condition and were under the tyranny of the Egyptians. But they were saved out of that fallen situation and brought to the mountain of God and to the dwelling place of God. They also received the divine provisions to supply their need. When they needed food, the heavenly manna came. When they needed drink, the living water flowed to them out of the cleft rock. All their needs were met by God. Thus, they had the divine provisions which enabled them to enter into the good land. After coming into the land, they enjoyed the riches of the land. In Deuteronomy 8:7-9 we have an excellent view of the riches of the good land. Every aspect of these riches typifies an aspect of the riches of Christ.
In the previous message we gave a word of warning. In that message not much encouragement was given. Now in this message we shall consider something very encouraging. Actually the history, or the type, of Israel is not disappointing. Yes, it is true that only two who came out of Egypt entered into the good land. Of the more than two million who came out of Egypt only Joshua and Caleb, along with the body of Joseph, entered into the good land. However, along with them, all those of the new generation came into the good land. On the human side we see failure, but from God’s side we see victory. We must take note of the fact that eventually God’s chosen people entered into the good land; conquered, subdued, and drove out the usurpers; gained the land; and enjoyed all the riches in the land. They established the kingdom, and within the kingdom a temple was built. Therefore, among His people in the good land with the kingdom and the temple, God had His expression. This marks the end of the section of the history of Israel called the section of salvation.
In the Bible God’s full and complete salvation includes the Passover, the exodus, the crossing of the Red Sea, the journey in the wilderness, the supply of the divine provisions, fellowship with God at His mountain, receiving divine revelation, and the building up of God’s dwelling place.
As we consider the scope of this full and complete salvation, we must realize that God can never be defeated. We may think that it is impossible for God to gain one hundred forty-four thousand overcomers (Rev. 14:1). To us this may seem impossible. But what is impossible with man is altogether possible with God. Our God is a victorious God. He cannot be defeated, and His purpose, His plan, cannot be defeated either. God is great, and His view is vast. He had a way to bring His people out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and into the good land.
Were the children of Israel defeated, or did they gain the victory? The correct answer to this question is that they were defeated temporarily, but ultimately they were victorious. They gained the good land and received God’s full salvation.
It is common for Christians, under the influence of traditional theology, to ask others if they have been saved. To give a proper answer to this question, we need to consider the scope of God’s complete salvation and to realize that it includes the entire experience of the children of Israel from the Passover to the building of the temple in the good land. The enjoyment of the Passover certainly was an aspect of God’s salvation. However, it was simply the beginning of full salvation; it was not the completion of this salvation. Only after the children of Israel had crossed the Red Sea, journeyed through the wilderness, gained possession of the good land, and built the temple, which was filled with the glory of God, did they have the completion of God’s full salvation.
The next time someone asks you if you have been saved, you should answer in a wise way. You need to inquire what is meant by God’s salvation and what this salvation includes. You may reply, “You ask me if I have been saved. Before I answer, I would like you to tell me what is the span, the scope, of God’s salvation.” Yes, the children of Israel experienced salvation at the time of the Passover. A member of the tribe of Benjamin, for example, could have testified confidently that because he had enjoyed the Passover, he had been saved. God’s salvation, however, includes much more than the Passover. As we have pointed out, it includes God’s habitation, His dwelling place. Not only is salvation for God’s habitation; it even includes this habitation. If we have not yet experienced God’s dwelling place, our salvation is not complete. To be saved in a full and complete way means to enjoy the Passover, to experience the exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea, to be supplied with the divine provisions, to gain possession of the good land, and to be built up as a temple of God, His habitation on earth. God’s glory will then fill this temple. This is full salvation. The entire history of the children of Israel from the Passover to 1 Kings 8 is a type of the church. However, many Christian teachers take only particular aspects as types, not the complete history.
In this message we are not concerned with the second and third sections of the history of Israel. Thus, it is sufficient simply to say that the second section includes everything from the degradation that followed after the building of the temple until the recovery of Jerusalem in 1967. The third section, the millennium, will not begin until after the Lord’s coming back. The first and second sections of Israel’s history are a type of the church. In the sight of God, Israel and the church are on a parallel course.
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