Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We have seen that Jacob twice set up a pillar in Bethel (28:18, 22; 35:14). Not only did he set up a pillar, but he called it "the house of God." As we have pointed out again and again, nearly every item in the book of Genesis is a seed of a truth developed in the following books of the Bible. Knowing this principle is basic to our understanding of the book of Genesis. If we would understand this book, we must follow the development of the items it contains throughout the following books of the Bible until they reach their ultimate consummation in the book of Revelation. In past messages we have considered the development of the pillar in 1 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Jeremiah. Now we shall trace this development into the New Testament, where we have a clear word regarding three aspects of pillars: the apostles as pillars of the church, the church as a whole being the pillar, and the overcomers as pillars in the New Jerusalem.
Galatians 2:9 says that James, Cephas, and John were reputed to be pillars. Here Peter is called Cephas. We know that Cephas was Peter and that Peter was Cephas. In using the name Cephas in this verse, the Bible reminds us of the change of Peter's name. When Peter was first brought to the Lord, He changed his name from Simon to Cephas, which means a stone (John 1:42). Undoubtedly, this change of name indicated that the Lord's intention was to transform him into a stone for God's building. Although we are accustomed to reading of Peter and John, in Galatians 2:9 Paul purposely speaks of Cephas and John to show us that, if we would become pillars, we need to be transformed. The natural Simon must be transformed into a Cephas, a stone.
Now we must consider the question of how a natural man can become a pillar of the church. This can only be accomplished through transformation. According to the New Testament, transformation depends upon regeneration. By regeneration a new life is put into us. This life is a life that will transform us. By our natural birth we inherited an old, sinful, natural life. This life is absolutely useless in making us pillars. But thank the Lord that regeneration imparts into us a life different from our natural life. This new life is the divine life, the very life of God. In the Gospel of John this life is called eternal life (John 3:16). The eternal life sown into us at the time of our regeneration is the seed of transformation. Hallelujah, all the regenerated ones have received this divine life! We all have this seed of transformation. However, although many Christians devote a great deal of attention to regeneration, very few pay attention to transformation. Few Christians have ever heard a message about transformation, and there may even be some among us who have never prayed for their own transformation. I strongly urge you to pray for your transformation. Formerly, we needed regeneration; now we need transformation.
A human being is composed of three parts: spirit, soul, and body (1 Thes. 5:23). When we believed in the Lord Jesus, called on His name, applied His blood, and received Him as our Redeemer and our life, the divine Spirit entered into our spirit as the Spirit of life. As a result, we were regenerated and received the divine life, which was sown into the depths of our being as the seed of transformation. But what about our soul, which is composed of the mind, the will, and the emotion? We have the divine life in our spirit, but we still need to be transformed in our mind. Romans 12:2 proves this: "Be transformed by the renewing of the mind." Transformation takes place through the renewing of our mind, emotion, and will. These basic inner parts of our being need transformation. This transformation will make us stones for God's building.
Through regeneration plus transformation we become stones for God's building. Today, God's building is the church, God's house, God's temple. First Peter 2:4 and 5 reveal that Christ is the living stone and that, when we, the regenerated ones, come to Him, we also become living stones to be built up into a spiritual house, which is the church as the temple of God. Today God's building is the church, but in the future it will be the New Jerusalem. If we read Revelation 21 carefully, we shall see that the New Jerusalem will be the enlargement of the temple of God. Today, the temple of God is a house, but in eternity the temple of God will be a city, which of course is much greater than a house. The New Jerusalem will be built with precious stones (Rev. 21:18-20); in it there will be no dust, clay, or wood. Our destiny is to be precious stones built into the New Jerusalem.
Now we come to the crucial matter of how clay can be transformed into stone. We were made clay (2:7; Rom. 9:21, 23), but the New Testament reveals that we are stones. There seems to be a contradiction here. From the natural perspective we are clay, but from the spiritual, transformed perspective we are stones. But how does this transformation from clay to stone take place? Transformation is the adding of Christ into our being. To be transformed is not only to have Christ imparted into our spirit; it is to have Him spread from our spirit into every inward part of our being. Very few Christians have seen this.
Recently, I was told of a group of Christians who argue strongly that Christ is only in the third heaven and that He is not in us. The Bible reveals and we also preach that Christ today is in the third heaven at the right hand of God. Nevertheless, He is also in us. Both matters are covered in Romans 8. Romans 8:34 says that Christ is at the right hand of God interceding for us, and Romans 8:10 says that Christ is in us. Hence, Christ is both in heaven and in us. But these Christians ask, "Was not Christ resurrected with a body of flesh and bones? Since Christ has been resurrected with a body of flesh and bones, how could He get into you?" According to the Bible, we definitely believe that Christ was resurrected physically with a body of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). But listen to this: On the day of resurrection the resurrected Christ, having a body of flesh and bones, came into a locked room (John 20:19-20). How did He get into the room? He certainly did not appear as a ghost (Luke 24:37, 39). We must reverently confess that we cannot figure out this matter.
Colossians 1:27 says, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Although Christ was resurrected with a body of flesh and bones, He became the life-giving Spirit in resurrection (1 Cor. 15:45). As the life-giving Spirit, Christ is in our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). Furthermore, Christ is growing and increasing within us. The more Christ is added into us, the more we are transformed from clay into stone. I doubt that those who refuse to admit that Christ is in them are able to be transformed. They surely could not deliver a message on transformation. But we are not simply concerned for messageswe are concerned for transformation. We need to be transformed, and transformation is only possible by having Christ imparted into us each day. Morning after morning, we need to gain more of Christ. Each day Christ must be increasingly added into our being.
Consider the example of Peter, a Galilean fisherman. Peter was rough, uncultured, and of a quick disposition. He was quick to talk, quick to act, and quick to make mistakes. Peter also had the good point of being quick to repent, to return. The Peter in the Gospels was eventually changed into another person called Cephas in the Epistles. We may take, as an illustration of this, Peter's slow response to the vision in Acts 10:9-16. There is a marked difference between the slow Peter in Acts 10 and the quick Peter in the Gospels. Furthermore, Peter's two epistles reveal that he had become a cautious person. By this we see that his disposition had been changed and that his being had been transformed. He had absolutely become another person. His word concerning Paul (2 Pet. 3:15-16) proves that he had been transformed and had become another person.
Recall that one day Paul rebuked Peter to his face (Gal. 2:11). If we put Galatians 2 together with 2 Peter 3 we see that the Peter who had been rebuked by Paul spoke kind words concerning Paul and positive words concerning his writings. In most situations today, if one brother rebuked another, the brother who received the rebuke would not forgive the brother who rebuked him. Because this is the practice, one brother rarely rebukes another. In today's Christianity we seldom hear of rebukes, but of political talk. Some may praise others' to their face, but criticize them behind their back. This is the political practice of today's Christianity. Most Christians are politicians. Paul, on the contrary, was not a politician; he was a frank, direct, and straight rebuker. He even rebuked Peter. According to our concept, Peter should have said, "Who are you? When I was the leading apostle, you were still a young man persecuting the church. Now, as a newcomer, you have neither the qualifications nor the position to rebuke me." Peter, however, did not react in this manner. In his word in 2 Peter 3 he acknowledged that he was inferior to Paul in writing of God's economy. He admitted that some things Paul said were deep and difficult to understand. This attitude indicates that Peter was no longer natural, but that he had been transformed into another person. I hope that after a number of years many of you will be so transformed that you will be honest, frank, and straight in rebuking others, and that those who are rebuked will be transformed to receive such a rebuke. By reading the New Testament we clearly see that Peter was transformed into Cephas, one of the pillars of the church. Peter, who himself was a living stone, said that we also are living stones. This means that in order to be pillars we must be transformed by having Christ added into us.
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