Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Concerning the Christian life, the New Testament reveals that firstly we need to receive the Spirit of God into our spirit so that we may be regenerated. Following this, we need to grow. To grow is to be transformed, and to be transformed is mainly to be renewed in the spirit of the mind. Transformation and the renewing of the mind issue in the infilling of the Holy Spirit in our soul. Our mind is the leading part of our soul. To be renewed in the spirit of our mind is to have our mind filled and saturated with the Spirit. Then the Spirit that has saturated our mind will renew our whole being. Thus, our being, our soul, will be saturated with the infilling Spirit. This is the way to have the extra portion of oil in the vessel.
As we pointed out in the foregoing message, to be regenerated, to have the new birth, is to have the Spirit in our spirit, that is, to have the oil in our lamp. To have the Spirit in our soul means that we grow in life, are transformed, are renewed in our whole being, and have our soul saturated with the Holy Spirit of God. This is to have the oil in the vessel. This is the way to be watchful and to be ready for the Lord’s coming. It is also the way to be prepared to be raptured into the Lord’s presence.
Having covered the parable for watchfulness (25:1-13), we proceed in this message to the parable for faithfulness (25:14-30). The parable of the virgins is for watchfulness, but the parable of the talents is for faithfulness.
When we were on chapter twenty-four, we pointed out that concerning the believers, there are two aspects: the aspect of watchfulness and readiness and the aspect of faithfulness and prudence. The believers have these two aspects because they have a dual status. The first aspect of this dual status is related to life, and the second aspect is related to service. No Christian should neglect these two aspects; rather, we must pay the proper attention to both, becoming proper in life and in service. Regarding life, we are virgins; regarding service, we are slaves. This means that in watchfulness we are virgins. This relates to what we are. But in faithfulness we are slaves. This relates to what we do.
Although we may like the term “virgins,” we may not like hearing that we are slaves. Nevertheless, we are not only virgins, but also slaves. To the virgins, the Lord is the Bridegroom, but to the slaves, He is the Master. Thus, not only we have a dual status, but the Lord also has a dual status. On the one hand, He is our pleasant Bridegroom and, on the other, our strict Master. Sometimes He is very pleasant with us, but at other times He deals with us in a strict way.
The virgins need something inward—the inward filling of the oil in the vessel. The slaves, however, need something outward—the spiritual talent. The infilling of the Holy Spirit is inward, but the talent, the spiritual gift, is outward. As vessels we need the oil inwardly, and as slaves we need the talents outwardly.
The oil that fills the vessel reaches the very bottom of the vessel. It is from within that the renewing of our being takes place, and it is from within that transformation transpires. There is a great lack of this inward working among Christians today. Rather, many Christians are striving to improve their outward appearance in order to make a show. Religion is concerned with outward show, but God’s grace in the infilling of the Holy Spirit gets into us and transforms us from within. The inward oil is very different from outward makeup. Makeup changes our complexion immediately. But God’s way is that we drink of the Spirit and let the Spirit saturate our being. Then our appearance will change from within. For example, I eat and drink well, and nourishing food saturates my being. This gives me a healthy complexion.
The fact that we need to be renewed from within does not mean that we do not need outward activities. The one who received five talents traded with them diligently and gained another five talents. This indicates that we need both the inward renewing and the outward service, the inward growth and the outward actions. We need to be deeply impressed with this principle. Regarding the aspect of life, we need to be renewed from within, and regarding the aspect of service, we need to be very active outwardly. Sometimes we may be so active outwardly that we neglect the inward renewing. But at other times we may care so much for the inner life that we do not work adequately. To be like this is to be an unturned cake (Hosea 7:8). On one side we are burned to charcoal, and on the other side we are raw. Neither side is good for eating. We need to be a turned cake. If we work too much, the Lord will tell us to rest. But if we rest too much, the Lord will tell us to work.
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