Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Chapter seven is also part of the section in 2 Corinthians concerning the ministers of the new covenant. In this section Paul portrays the kind of life lived by the ministers of the new covenant. In this message we shall seek to touch the feeling in Paul’s spirit as expressed in 7:2-7. In reading 7:2-16, the crucial matter is to touch Paul’s feeling and also his spirit. However, it is not easy to do this.
What we have in 7:2-16 is the intimate concern of the ministering life. Every believer who loves the Lord and who wants to come up to God’s standard should become a minister of the new covenant. As long as we are believers in Christ, we should be New Testament ministers, no matter whether we happen to be apostles, evangelists, elders, or deacons. Such a minister is a person who supplies Christ to others for the building up of the church, His Body. When I was young I heard that every believer should be a preacher of the gospel. Now we see that we should be not merely gospel preachers, but ministers of the new covenant, those who minister Christ as life so that the church may be built up as the Body of Christ. This ministry should be carried out not only by apostles and elders; it should be carried out by everyone in the church.
The goal of the Lord’s recovery today is to recover this ministering of Christ by all the believers so that the church may be built up. This understanding is based on Paul’s word in Ephesians 4, where he says that the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers perfect the saints unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ. For us all to be church builders, to minister Christ for the building up of the church, we need a ministering life. In order to be new covenant ministers we need such a ministering life. We need to live a life of ministering Christ to others for the church.
Many years ago I read various books that encouraged believers to be spiritual, holy, and victorious. But I never read one book charging us to live a ministering life. Many of us have read books on how to be spiritual, how to live a holy life, or how to be victorious. But have you ever read a book telling you how to live a ministering life? I do not believe any of us has read such a book.
In my travels over a period of about fifty years, I have met many different kinds of Christians. In particular I have met some who had a reputation for being spiritual. But to my registration even these so-called spiritual ones did not have a proper ministering life. They lived in a very careful manner in order to be “spiritual,” “holy,” and “victorious.” But they did not live in such a way as to be ministering ones. By the Lord’s grace, not by our own efforts, we all should endeavor to live a ministering life.
The ministering life we see in 2 Corinthians is a fruitful life. We may be “spiritual,” “holy,” and “victorious” and yet not be fruitful. There are problems with that kind of spirituality, holiness, and victory. It is questionable whether those qualities are true and genuine. Is it not unusual that one could be “spiritual” without being fruitful? According to the Bible, being spiritual is for the purpose of being fruitful. In the Gospel of John the Lord does not tell us to be spiritual, holy, and victorious. Rather, in John 15 He charges us to bear fruit, even to bear much fruit, abiding fruit. This is to live a ministering life.
Around my home there are a number of fruit trees— peach, lemon, and orange. For quite a long period of time, certain trees did not bear any fruit. Because of the lack of fruit, we were considering whether we should remove them. Although these trees did not bear fruit, they continued to grow quite well. In fact, they were green and flourishing, full of leaves. Nevertheless, the more they grew in that way, the more bothered I was concerning them. Sometimes when I looked at those trees I said, “What are you trees doing here? You are full of green leaves, and your branches are spreading forth, but you are not bearing any fruit.” We may take this as an illustration of believers who may be “spiritual,” “holy,” and “victorious,” but are fruitless. They do not bear fruit because they do not have a ministering life. It is very important to see that we all must have a ministering life.
In my early days, I heard several messages on 2 Corinthians 7. The emphasis of those messages was on sorrowing according to God. Those messages pointed out that if we sorrow according to God, we shall not regret being sorrowful. But although I heard some messages on this point, I was not told anything about Paul’s feeling and spirit in this chapter. Here we see his intimate concern.
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