On April 30-May 1, 2016, more than 4,300 saints from 52 churches came together to receive the ministering of the Word and to be charged by the Lord through the Spirit’s up-to-date speaking concerning the present condition and need of the churches in Southern California.
The general subject of the conference was: “The Primary Need for Increase in the Lord’s Recovery Through the Universal Practice of the Priesthood of the Gospel”
On March 14-15, 2015, approximately 4,000 saints from the 51 churches in Southern California (and Las Vegas) came together to enjoy the ministering of the Word.
The first three messages from the 2015 International Chinese-speaking Conference (held in Taipei, Taiwan) were digested by the speaking brothers in a blended way. Read more…
This past Friday evening a number of saints from Irvine, Lake Forest and San Juan Capistrano had the opportunity and privilege to have a time of fellowship with 8 saints who are living and serving in India and who had recently attended the Summer Training in Anaheim. Read more…
COMPLETING THE WORD OF GOD
We have pointed out that Paul’s intention in the book of Colossians is to complete the word of God. This was his main purpose in writing this Epistle. In 1:25 and 26 Paul says, “I became a minister according to the stewardship of God, which was given to me for you, to complete the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from the ages and from the generations, but now has been manifested to His saints.” These verses indicate that the word of God completed by Paul is the mystery now manifested to the saints. Furthermore, according to verse 27, this mystery is Christ in us, the hope of glory. The goal of this mystery is to produce the church.
At the time the book of Colossians was written, Judaism had been in existence for centuries, and the church had come into being. Nevertheless, even though the church had come into being, the word of God had not yet been completed. Paul was troubled by the situation at Colosse. The Jewish and Gentile believers were neglecting Christ and the church; they were focusing their attention on such things as Judaistic observances and heathen philosophy. Many people, Jews and Christians alike, claimed to know God and to worship Him. However, Christ was being neglected and the genuine church life was being set aside. Therefore, Paul wrote the Epistle to the Colossians in order to complete the word of God.
In principle, the situation today is the same as that in Colosse at the time Paul wrote to the Colossians. Judaism and Christianity have been on earth for centuries. Although the Jews have the Old Testament and the Christians have the entire Bible, very few people truly are experiencing Christ for the proper church life. Christ is still neglected, and the church life is still ignored. Hence, there is still the need for the word of God to be completed in a practical way.
What is the completion of the word of God, the completion of the divine revelation? In simple terms, to complete the word of God is to experience Christ subjectively and to enjoy Him in our daily living so that the proper church life may come forth to express God. This revelation is the completion of the word of God.
Christians today are involved in many different kinds of work for the Lord. But where is the experience of Christ, and where is the practice of the church life? Paul knew that neither Judaism nor any other religion could fulfill the desire of God’s heart. God’s desire is to have the church life produced through His people’s personal experience of Christ. God wants an organism, the Body of Christ, brought forth through the experience of Christ. At the time of Paul, there were many Jews and a good number of Christians as well. But as Paul considered the situation, he could have asked, “Where is the experience of Christ, and where is the church to fulfill the desire of God’s heart?” We should ask the same questions today.
We need to admit that we ourselves are short of the experience of Christ. We have been enlightened to see that God does not want anything other than Christ for the church life. However, in our experience we are still short of Christ. This means that, in a very practical sense, we also are short of the completion of the word of God. We lack Christ for the producing of the church. We know that only one thing matters—Christ for the church. However, we are still short of Christ. Before we can minister Christ to others, we need to minister Him to ourselves. In order to do this, we need to spend more time pray-reading and fellowshipping concerning the book of Colossians. If we do this, we shall begin to experience the riches of Christ contained in this book. Then we shall begin to have the adequate experience of Christ for the proper church life.
Because the Colossians did not have the adequate experience of Christ for the church life, things other than Christ crept into the church. It is the same among Christians today. God’s people have some knowledge of the Bible, and they know God to a certain degree. But very few experience Christ as the life giving Spirit in a living and practical way in their daily life. It is crucial that we have the practical experience of Christ revealed in Colossians. We need to daily enjoy the preeminent and all-inclusive Christ who is the constituent of the new man. We all need to pray to have more real and living experience of Christ daily. If we experience Christ in our daily life, we shall have more to share of Christ in the meetings of the church. Eventually, the church life will be enriched through our experience of Christ.
THE PROBLEM OF CULTURE
The problem in Colosse was not sinfulness, as in Corinth; it was culture. Asceticism and philosophy are two of the leading products of culture. Uncultured people are wild, altogether without any form of asceticism. Furthermore, those of a low culture do not have philosophy. The more cultured people are, the more highly developed their philosophy is. The Greeks are strong in philosophy, whereas the Jews are known for their religious observances. Most religious observances are related to the putting down of the flesh and to the suppression of the self. The church in Colosse was composed of both Greeks and Jews. With the Greeks the problem was philosophy, but with the Jews the problem was religious practices. This indicates that various cultural practices had invaded the church life and pervaded it.
In 3:10 and 11 Paul says that in the new man “there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all and in all.” To say that there is no room for Greek and Jew means that there is no room for philosophy and for religious observances. If you compare Colossians 3:11 with parallel passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Galatians 3:28, you will find that only in Colossians does Paul mention barbarian and Scythian. The Colossian believers devoted much attention to matters of culture and did not want to be like barbarians or Scythians. Hence, Paul pointed out that in the church as the new man, there is no room for either the cultured or the uncultured. There is no place for philosophy, asceticism, or observances. In the new man Christ is all and in all. The new man is constituted of Christ, not with any element of culture.
The Colossians were not sinful like some of those in Corinth. However, the believers in Colosse replaced Christ, the constituent of the new man, with various aspects of culture. Some treasured philosophy, whereas others treasured religious observances. These things were allowed to come into the church life as substitutes for Christ. But in the new man there is room for nothing other than Christ.
—Life-Study of Colossians, Message 32
Knowing and Experiencing the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob to Become the Israel of God Read more…
We need to know and experience the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob to become the Israel of God, the church in the Triune God. Read more…
THE LIVING OF THE SAINTS IN UNION WITH CHRIST:
RULED BY THE PEACE OF CHRIST AND INHABITED BY THE WORD OF CHRIST
After giving an introductory word in 1:1- 8, the book of Colossians unveils Christ as the preeminent and all-inclusive One, as the centrality and universality of God (1:9—3:11). Read more…
THE ECONOMY OF GOD’S SALVATION
In this message we shall consider the economy of God’s salvation as it is revealed in 2:13-15. As we shall see, this economy involves three things: making us alive with Christ, abolishing the ritual law, and stripping off the evil angelic powers. Read more…
MADE FULL IN CHRIST
Because all the fullness of the Godhead is in Christ and because we have been placed in Him (1 Cor. 1:30), we have been made full in Him. The New Testament reveals clearly that all those who believe in Christ have been put into Christ. Read more…
The Dispensation of God
Paul was also given the revelation concerning the dispensation of God (2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 3:14-19). The word dispensation has been damaged through misuse. To many Christians it refers simply to the ways in which God deals with people, ways that are called dispensations. When we use the word dispensation, however,we use it with the meaning of dispensing. In His economy, God is dispensing Himself into us. Paul was the first to speak of God’s dispensation, and his writings reveal that God is now dispensing Himself into our being. For example, 2 Corinthians 13:14 says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (Gk.). This is the dispensing of the Triune God into our being. Where else in the Bible can you find such a clear word concerning the dispensation of the Triune God into the believers? In this verse we have the Father as the source, the Son as the course, and the Spirit as the flow. What a dispensation!
—Life-Study of Colossians, Message 13