Life-Study of 1 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Scripture Reading: 1 Cor. 3:1-17
After referring to feeding, drinking, eating, planting, watering, and growing, Paul says in 3:9, “You are God’s farm, God’s building.” Paul could say that he planted, Apollos watered, and God gave the growth because the believers are God’s farm. Literally the Greek word rendered farm means cultivated land. The believers who have been regenerated in Christ with God’s life are God’s cultivated land, a farm in God’s new creation to grow Christ. As those who have believed in Christ and received Him, we are no longer like land that is uncultivated or wild. We are not people whom God has not touched. Rather, God has sown something into us, and we have been touched and cultivated by Him. Now we are God’s farm growing Christ.
The concept of sowing, cultivating, and growing is strongly emphasized in the Bible. The Lord Jesus Himself used the figure of a sower. In Matthew 13:3 He says, “Behold, the sower went out to sow.” We know from Matthew 13:37 that the Lord is the Sower: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” The seed sown by Him is also Himself. It is the Lord in the Word. This seed is God Himself. The Lord Jesus came as a Sower to sow God into us. We are the earth, the ground, the cultivated land, the farm, to grow God.
In the foregoing message we pointed out that the church is a restaurant. Now we are saying that the church is a farm. There is, of course, no contradiction here, for the church has many aspects. As the place for growing produce, the church is a farm. But as a place where the produce is prepared and served as our food, the church is a restaurant.
In verse 9 Paul says that we are both God’s farm and God’s building. There seems to be no logical connection between the farm and the building. What does the farm have to do with the building? No one has ever seen a building constructed of fruit and vegetables grown on a farm. Nevertheless, the church as God’s farm produces the material for His building.
As Christians, we are growing Christ. Now we must ask ourselves whether or not we have been built. Many of us may hesitate to say that we have been truly built up to become God’s building. If the saints were asked about this, most of them may reply that they have been built to a certain extent. Actually, this is the right answer. With a spiritual building, a building in life, the true building is the growth in life. The extent to which we have been built is the extent to which we have grown.
Growing here refers to growing foodstuffs. To grow is also to increase. For example, a certain brother may have weighed only seven pounds at birth, but now he weighs one hundred seventy pounds. This is growth in the second meaning of the word. To be built up in the church is to grow in the sense of increasing with Christ to have a certain stature. The increase of Christ is our stature. To be built into the spiritual building does not first mean to be connected with others. It means to have our natural life reduced and to have Christ increased within us. The more our natural life is reduced and the more Christ increases within us, the easier it will be for us to coordinate with others. In fact, we shall be able to coordinate with anyone. However, some saints have told me that they cannot move from their locality because they have been built with certain saints in the church there. According to their concept, because they have been built together with these ones, it is not possible for them to leave that locality. This is not real building. On the contrary, it is friendship or some kind of social relationship. If you have truly been built into the church, you have been reduced, and Christ has been increased in you. Then, wherever you may be, you can be one with the saints and coordinate with them. Once you have been built into God’s spiritual building, you can never be taken out of it.
As the church, we are God’s farm and God’s building. The farm is for the building. Whatever is produced on the farm and by the farm is for the building.
A building requires a foundation. Therefore, in 3:10 and 11 Paul speaks of the foundation of God’s building: “According to the grace of God given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid a foundation, but another builds upon it. But let each one take heed how he builds upon it. For other foundation no one is able to lay besides that which is being laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Christ, the unique foundation, has already been laid. This foundation has been established not only for the time of the apostles, but for eternity. However, during the past nineteen centuries, many Christian workers have tried to lay other foundations. Every denomination and group has its own particular foundation. Among Christians today there are thousands of foundations.
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