Newsletter September, 2006



September 2006

Relationship, Testimony and Church (II)

In creating man, God's purpose was to manifest His glory through man. He wanted to receive not only individuals but a body of men and women, namely His church as the bride of Christ (Eph 5:32), or called the body of Christ (as symbolized by the forming of Eve out of Adam's rib). The apostle John described this raptured church in Revelation as "the holy city Jerusalem descended out of heaven from God, made ready as the bride adorned for her husband (Rev 21:2, 19:7f)". Paul was clear that Christ is the Rock as well as the builder of the church (Mt 16:15f, Heb 3:1-6). Therefore, the cross of Christ must be the center of His church, and the basis of Paul's inter-personal relationship. He died to self and did not hold on to his own right or glory, but count all but loss. In all things he was mindful of the Spirit and the will of God, so he edified others for the building up of the church of Christ (I Cor 10:23f).

May the Lord have mercy upon us. He Himself fully manifested the glory of God as the incarnated Son, the only true sinless one. No one has ever seen God, but the Son manifested the Father (Jn 1:18). He could truly say, "he who has seen me has seen the Father (Jn 14:9). By the eternal Spirit He gave Himself as the sin offering to reconcile man to God and to form the foundation of the church. Paul can therefore proclaim, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20)". "I buffet my body and make it my slave," said he (I Cor 9:27) Sin could no longer hold Paul in hostage, for "to me the world was crucified; and to the world I am crucified, (Gal 6:14)". The king of this world had lost its control over Paul, and the world's temptation had no effect on him. With the new life in Christ, Paul pursued a life of edifying others, building the church and damaging no one in his relationships.

When reflecting upon ourselves, we find ourselves often coming down from the alter to follow the old self and losing the reality of union with Christ. Naturally, we live as sinners, hurt others and damage the church. Only when we look upon the holiness, love and righteousness of God, and learn well of His law, can we fully sense our own sins and be less self-righteous and judgmental of others. We shall show less prejudice toward those different from us. We may put off the old way of speech and thought, but show more thanksgiving, meekness and humility in love. We can appreciate more of the love of God, who forgave us through the mercy at the cross and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, just as Paul proclaimed that no one can accuse us (Rom 8:33f). May we live in the grace of the cross, overcome the depression and discouragement in the childish immature of our growth. Let the righteousness of Christ be our breast plate, so the Satan cannot accuse us. Paul said that he did not even judge himself, for he knew that the Lord was his judge: "do not pass judgment before the time, but wait until the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God (I Cr 4:3-5)". Paul did not say some be judged and some praised; he said each man will be.

When we clearly see who we are but forgiven sinners, we realize the great grace of God. Christ has come so we may have life and have it more abundantly (Jn 10:10). Through faith in the grace of Christ we can make the death and resurrection of cross our reality of life (Col 2:12). When the old self die to the sin and the world, the new life in Christ can live out the glorious nature of God, for "the fullness of God lives bodily in Christ, in whom we receive the fullness (Col 2:9-10). Furthermore, the blessing promised to Abraham (Gen 12:2f, 18:18f) has come to us: "in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Gal 3:14)". This is the call, the promise and the will of God to all who were justified (Mt 28:19f), and the basis of our relationship with others. By faith we receive life, and by faith we enjoy abundance. We hence influence others to know the triune God, and turn to Him for Christ's Kingdom. This kind of influence in our relationships come from the liberty in the brokenness of the cross, and is developed through the pursuit of godliness. Our selection of speech, reaction to situations and arrangement of matters based on our natural life can never compare with those coming from the fullness of life of God in us. "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," said the Lord (Zach 4:6). Look full upon the Lord, and do not "be boastful, challenge one another, envying one another (Gal 5:26)", but "with humility regard others more important than oneself (Phil 2:3)"

May the Lord truly have mercy upon us the sinners. Let us make our goal that we do not injure the others in our relationships. In a difficult one, we learn to be quiet and do not sin (I Tim 5:24). More importantly, do not make the same mistake of Eden. The fruit of good and evil can only lead us to self-righteousness, self-pity and judgment. Only the fruit of life can provide the divine life, which overcomes darkness and evil and give forth the love of the Lord Jesus. Others can then be blessed and God's will for His church fulfilled. We thank God who truly knows us. He desires that we "do not let kindness and truth leave" us, so we "find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man (Prov 3:3-4)". With each command, He has blessing and promise unto us. May we obey Him and be blessed. Glory be to our God in the highest! (Bei)

Know the Father Better

Our son is a very likable person. He has many friends. While he was away in college, he kept close touch with his old buddies. Every time before he came home, we invariably became his secretaries, taking phones calls from his buddies and writing down messages for their intended activities. Consequently, when our son did come home, he was never home.

Our son has been working for a few years now. He sent me a card for fathers’ day last year asking me to clean up his old room for he would be coming back home. His intention - he wanted to spend more time with his father so that he could get to know his old man better. It came as a surprise to me. I remember telling myself, “Well, our son finally grows up and recognizes the value of his father.” However, I was not elated for long before I heard a voice from within, “Enoch, you are supposed to be the author of this letter. Your son merely wrote the letter on your behalf.” You see, I ought to recognize the need to spend more time with my heavenly Father in order to get to know our heavenly Father better.

I would like to believe that most of us already knew the answer to the first question of “Who is the builder?”, prior to the conference. I suppose nobody would doubt the Lord’s ability to build, either. The spotlight seems to fall on the building materials, whether the Lord could gather enough living stones. To become living stones, we were repeatedly reminded throughout the conference that we must first know the Father’s heart, His will and purpose.

When Jesus began His ministry on earth, He called His 12 disciples with intention to send them out to preach. However, before sending them out, according to Mark 3:14, the Lord wanted the disciples to first spend time with Him. For 3 years the disciples watched Jesus in action. The Son of Man spent morning hours with His Father. Jesus taught what His Father was saying and did what the Father was doing. As Jesus says in John 14, He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. They somehow are truly One.

The table before us reminds us our privilege in the Lord as well as our responsibility in the Lord’s construction of a living house. How do we learn about God’s heart, His will and purpose? If it were true that the Son should spend time with the Father, how much more are we required to spend time with the heavenly Father and to get to know Him better? (Enoch W)