Witness Lee

B. Childress
May 16 2011

Ephesians 4:3-32


We have seen that the issue of the dispensing of the divine Trinity is the Body of Christ for God's full expression.  God
made a plan, an arrangement, to carry out His dispensing, and this arrangement was hidden in Himself as a mystery to
His apostles, making them stewards with a stewardship to distribute the untraceable riches of Christ.  Their distributing
work is the divine dispensing.  To distribute the riches of Christ is to dispense the divine Trinity into God's chosen
people that God may have a church for the exhibition of His multifarious wisdom to the angelic rulers and authorities in
the heavenlies, especially to Satan and his angels.  On the one hand, God made a plan, a divine arrangement.  On the
other hand, He commissioned His apostles with a stewardship to carry out His plan to distribute all the riches of Christ.

The apostles distribute the riches of Christ by preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ to the God-chosen sinners.
These chosen sinners, after hearing the good news and believing in the Lord Jesus, received Him as their Savior,
Redeemer, forgiveness, justification, and reconciliation.  They were regenerated to participate in the divine life as one
item of the unsearchable riches of Christ.  When these believers come together, outwardly, they are the called-out
congregation, the church.  Inwardly, they are the organic issue of the Triune God to be the Body of Christ.

For these new believers to hear only the initial preaching of the riches of Christ so that they could receive Christ and
become His members is not complete.  This is why the apostles continued to teach the truth to the saved members of
Christ.  The apostles established them and raised them up as local churches in different localities.  After establishing
the churches, the apostles then returned to perfect the saints that they might grow in the life of Christ in order to
participate in the work of the ministry to build up the body of Christ.  The apostles must minister more and more riches
of Christ into the living members of the Body of Christ in order to perfect them.


The Apostle Paul prayed that the saints would experience Christ in all of His riches for the building up of His Body.  In
Ephesians 3, he prayed that the Father would grant these members of the Body of Christ to be strengthened through
the Spirit into their inner man (verse 16).  The inner man is our regenerated  spirit indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God to
become a mingled spirit.  Now we are one spirit with the Lord (I Corinthians 6:17).  How wonderful this is!  But we must
confess that we do not spend most of our time in our spirit.  Although we are the organic members of Christ, we still
spend too much time in our mind, emotion, and will.  After becoming members of the Body of Christ, we have been
bothered, troubled, and confused by our ugly mind, emotion, and will.  Because we spend so much time in our mind,
emotion, and will, we are troubled by anxiety.  The brothers are mostly in their mind, the sisters are mostly in their
emotions, and all of us exercise our independent will.

Our inward being is like a building composed of four rooms: our mind, our emotion, our will, and our spirit.  The spirit is
the unique room, the wonderful room, the room that joins earth to heaven and brings heaven to earth.  It is the room
that makes us one with the Lord.  We all have to admit, though, that we do not spend much time in this room.  This is
why Paul was so burdened to bow his knees to the Father to pray that the Father would grant us to be strengthened
with His divine power through His Spirit into the inner man.  Because we are mostly in the rooms of our mind, emotion,
and will and not in our spirit, the wonderful room, we need to be strengthened into our inner man.  To turn to our spirit is
to come back to our inner man.  Whenever we turn to our spirit, everything is ready for Christ to move, to work, to
spread, and to root Himself in our entire being.  Christ desires to spread within us, to work Himself and to root Himself
deep down into every part of our inner being, our heart (Ephesians 3:17a).

The three main rooms of our heart are our mind, emotion, and will.  Christ is now in our spirit, but our heart may be
devoid of Him.  The rooms of our heart are short of Christ.  They are full of other things such as anxiety, vain thoughts,
imaginations, and self-decisions.  What is in our heart?  Things other than Christ, such as department store sales, a
Master's degree, a better car, or modern fashions, may fill up our heart.  You are a Christian, a member of Christ, but
what are you thinking about?  
Do you have Christ in your mind, in your will, and in your emotion?  Where is
Christ?  He may be imprisoned in your weakened spirit.  You may be so strong in your mind, emotion, and will but so
weak in your spirit.  After rising up in the morning some may immediately be thinking about a sale at a certain
department store.  Their spirit is weakened by all of the things in the other rooms - their mind, emotion, and will.  This is
why Paul prayed for us.  His prayer was unique.

Not only did Paul pray for us but also our High Priest in the heavens is interceding for us and within us (Hebrews
7:25-26).  While you are thinking about other things, something is there reminding you to turn to the Lord and to call on
Him.  You may say, "O Lord Jesus, I do not love You, but Lord, make me willing to love You."  Then you may continue to
pray, "Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me.  Lord, fill me with Yourself.  Take me over, Lord.  Occupy me and spread
Yourself within me."  If you prayed in such a way for ten minutes, you would be strengthened into your inner man.  You
would no longer be in your mind, emotion, or will but in your spirit.  Your prayer would make a way for Christ to make His
home deep down in your heart.  In your prayer you have the sensation that you are rooted for growth and grounded for
building up in the divine love, the nobler love, the very
agape (Greek) of God (Ephesians 3:17b).

When you are strengthened into your inner man through prayer, Christ has a way to make His home in your heart and
you are strong to apprehend the dimensions of Christ, not individually but with all the saints (verse 18).  You have to
come to the meetings of the church to meet with all the saints so that you can apprehend the dimensions of the
universally extensive Christ - the breadth, the length, the height, and the depth.  No one knows how broad, how long,
how high, or how deep Christ is.  His dimensions are the dimensions of the universe!  They are immeasurable.  We
need to be strong to grasp with all the saints the extensiveness of Christ.  The Body of Christ, the church, is the result
of our being filled with the extensive Christ to be the very expression, the manifestation in full, of the Triune God.


The church as the Body of Christ is like a wonderful gem without any foreign particles, or blemishes.  Matters such as
autonomy, federation, organization, regulation, and control are foreign particles in the church, the wonderful gem.  We
should not bring in any foreign particles to the Lord's recovery.  The church as the Body of Christ is a gem as the issue
of the wonderful, marvelous, excellent divine Trinity.  Who can tell of the excellency of this gem? It is shameful to bring in
foreign particles to this gem such as autonomy, federation, organization, regulation, and control.  We need to reject
these foreign particles.  "Lord Jesus, thank You for such a gem, the Body of Christ as the very issue of the wonderful,
marvelous, excellent divine Trinity, the fullness of the Godhead embodied in You."


In Ephesians 1 and 2, Paul tells us what the church is.  The church is the desire of God's good pleasure that issues out
of Himself as the divine Trinity.  The materials of the church were sinners, dead in offenses and sins.  But God, through
His incarnation, went to the cross to accomplish an all-inclusive death, passed through resurrection, and entered into
ascension.  Through these processes, these chosen sinners were remade, re-created, regenerated, to be persons who
were made alive, resurrected, and ascended with Christ to be seated with Him in the heavenlies in Christ.  They were
made into God's masterpiece as the new man.  In Ephesians 3 Paul shows us that this masterpiece comes out of God's
plan with  God's stewardship.  Now in Ephesians 4, Paul shows us another aspect of the church.  He talks about the
Body of Christ from another angle, the angle of the building up of the Body of Christ.  This organic body of Christ needs
to be built up.

We must understand the Bible in an organic way.  The church needs to be built up organically in the same way that a
newborn child needs to be built up.  The child needs to be perfected, completed, and developed.  This babe is built up
by growing.  Mothers know that they cannot build up their children by organization.  A child's growth does not depend on
any outward arrangement or organization.  It depends upon life and the growth in life.  For a child to grow adequately he
needs sunshine, fresh air, and proper food and water.  As long as he is regularly fed with the proper food, he will grow.  
When he grows, he is being built up.  A child cannot be built up without growing.  In like manner, the basic factor, the
basic element, that is needed for the building up of a young church, a baby church, is for it to grow.  The church cannot
be built up by organization or arrangement.  The church can only be built up by being fed, not with doctrines but with
the riches of Christ.

Before the Lord's recovery came to the United States, we had not heard about such things as enjoying Christ,
experiencing Christ, or Christ's becoming a life-giving Spirit in His resurrection.  We did not know that Christ as the
life-giving Spirit is in our spirit.  We did not even know that we had a human spirit.  We also did not know about God's
dispensing, the mingling of God with man, or the crucial revelation of life in the Scriptures.  The Lord has brought us
into the realization and enjoyment of His unsearchable riches, and we are still on the way in the Lord's ministry to
distribute more and more of His riches.

We studied church history and the biographies of many spiritual saints.  We spent many years to study the teachings of
the church fathers and the top teachings throughout the history of the church.  The Lord has granted us a merciful
discernment to discern what we should receive that matches the divine revelation in the holy Scriptures.  We have
picked up the top positive, scriptural, and spiritual things to present to the Lord's children.  Some have gone back to
past writings and have pick up G.H. Lang's teaching of autonomy from his book
The Churches of God.  We were
warned in the past concerning this erroneous teaching of autonomy.  Is any part of a living person autonomous?  Can
we say that his eyes, ears, or nose are independently autonomous from the rest of his body?  Of course not.  There is
no possibility of either autonomy or federation in a person's body because they are organizational matters.  The initial
aspect of the church is that it is the called-out congregation, the assembly, the
ekklesia.  The church is also the
kingdom, the family, and the temple, the dwelling place of God.  But these aspects of the church are not the peak of the
revelation concerning the church.  
The peak is that the church is the Body of Christ, the fullness of the One
who fills all in all, and a masterpiece as the new man
.  The church is the new man!  The parts of a man's body are
not federated together nor are they independently autonomous.  Autonomy and federation have nothing to do with the
church, the organic Body of Christ and the new man.  We need to be warned concerning teachings that distract us away
from God's central purpose to build up the organic Body of Christ.


The Body of Christ is one unique Body with one Spirit, one Lord, and one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:3-6).  
This one Body is the expression of the all-inclusive Christ (1:23).  The one Spirit is the essence of the one Body.  The
Triune God expresses Himself in the one Body, and the essence of this body is the one Spirit.  The one Lord is the
object of our faith and baptism.  We believed into Him and we are baptized into Him.  Now we are in Him.  The one God
and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all, is the source of life and the object of our worship.  We came out
of the Father and now He has to be our unique object of worship.  The thought of the Trinity is implied in the fact that
the Father is over all, through all, and in all.   
"Over all" mainly refers to the Father, "through all" to the Son, and
"in all" to the Spirit.  One Spirit, one Lord, and one God and Father of all are the elements of the very
oneness of the Body


The Body is built by one ministry of many gifted persons perfecting the saints to do the same one building up work
(4:7-16).  The ministry mentioned in Ephesians 4:12 is referred to by Paul in II Corinthians 3 where he also told us that
the Old Testament had one ministry, the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of death, which is the ministry of the law
(verses 7-9).  In the Old Testament age, there were many priests, prophets, and kings, but they all participated in the
one ministry of the law, which was the ministry of condemnation unto death.  In the New Testament there is another
ministry, the ministry of grace, which is the ministry of the Spirit and the ministry of righteousness unto justification of life
(II Corinthians 3:8-9; Romans 5:17, 21).  All the ones who served the Lord and ministered Christ for the building up of
His Body throughout the centuries had different ministries which were all a part of the unique New testament ministry.  
The Body is built up by one ministry, the unique New Testament ministry.

For the building up of the Body, the Head has given some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some
shepherds and teachers (Ephesians 4:11-12).  Their work is "for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministry,
unto the building up of the Body of Christ" (4:12).  Therefore, the saints are perfected by the gifted ones to do the work
of the ministry also.  In Ephesians 4:12 "unto the work of ministry" is in apposition to "unto the building up of the Body of
Christ."  Thus, the work of the ministry is the building up of the Body of Christ.  The gifted persons have the same one
ministry to build up the Body of Christ.  The one Body is built up by one ministry.

In today's Christianity, so-called ministries that are different from the apostles' ministry build up denominations.  One
so-called ministry builds up the Presbyterian denomination.  Another so-called ministry builds up the Baptist
denomination.  Still other so-called ministries build up the Episcopalian and Methodist denominations.  In Christianity
there are many different ministries outside of and other than the one unique ministry, and these issue in division after

When I refer to "one ministry," I do not mean that this one ministry is my ministry.  But I would say that my ministry is a
part of the one ministry.  
Each member of the Body of Christ has a ministry that is a part of the unique New
Testament ministry
.  Some sisters may be burdened organically to clean the hall.  This cleaning of the hall is their
ministry, which is a service for the work of the building up of the Body of Christ.  The saints who go out to preach the
gospel are carrying out their ministry as a part of the New Testament ministry to build up the Body of Christ.  The Head
has given all the gifted persons to perfect the saints so that they may participate in the ministry which the gifted persons
are carrying out for the building up of the Body of Christ.  To perfect the saints is to develop their organs, equipping
and furnishing them with functions through the growth in the life of Christ.  Eventually, all the saints do the same one
building up work as the gifted members.  The saints are perfected to do the work of the ministry for the direct building
up of the Body of Christ by their growth in Christ.


Verses 17-32 of Ephesians 4 is another section showing us how to build up the Body of Christ by the growth in Christ.  
Verse 15 says that we need to grow up into Christ in all things, and then the rest of chapter 4 unveils the details of this
growth in Christ to have a life that is suitable and adequate for the building up of the Body of Christ.  Paul tells us that
we should no longer walk as the nations who walk in the vanity of the mind, estranged from the life of God (verses
17-18).  When we walk according to the life of God within us, we do not have a hardened heart, we are not in darkness,
we care for the consciousness of our conscience, and we would not give place to the Devil (verse 27).  We also need to
walk in truth, that is, in reality as it is in Jesus  (verse 21).  God is the truth, the reality.  Ephesians 4 also says that we
have put off, regarding our former manner of life, the old man,  which is being corrupted according to the lusts of the
deceit (verse 22).  Deceit is personified.  It refers to the deceiver, the Devil, from whom are the lusts of the corrupted old
man.  For the building up of the Body of Christ, we need to put off the old man and be renewed in the spirit of our mind
(verse 23).  This renewing is for our transformation to the image of Christ.  Our regenerated spirit is mingled with the
indwelling Spirit of God.  Such a mingled spirit spreads into our mind, thus becoming the spirit of our mind.  It is in such
a spirit that we are renewed for our transformation.

In our baptism we put off the old man and the old manner of life, and we put on the new man, which was created
according to God in righteousness and holiness of the truth (4:24; Romans 6:6, 4a; Colossians 2:11-12).  
Righteousness is being right with God and man according to God's righteous way, while holiness is being separated
unto God from anything common and being saturated with God's holy nature.  We need to live a life of righteousness
and holiness.  This is the way that Jesus lived on this earth to set up a pattern of One who lived a life of always doing
things in God, with God, and for God, ministering Himself as grace to others.  We learn from Him, according to His
example, not by our natural life, but by Him as our life.  We need to live to a life that gives grace to others for the
needful building up.  This is a life that ministers Christ to others as their enjoyment and supply for the building up of the
Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:29).  We should not let any corrupt word proceed out of our mouth but only the words that
give grace to others.  In all of our speaking, we should distribute the riches of Christ.

To build up the Body of Christ, we must also learn not to grieve the Holy Spirit so that He can keep sealing us for the
day of the redemption of our body (verse 30).  We should always make the Spirit happy.  Everything in our behavior
should be pleasant to Him.  The sealing Spirit is continuously sealing us with the essence and element of the Triune
God.  When a piece of paper is sealed with a seal, the paper receives the ink essence and also the likeness and the
shape of the seal.  The sealing Spirit brings the essence of the Triune God into us and causes us to bear the likeness
of the Triune God.

A life that builds up the Body of Christ is also a forgiving life.  To practice the Body life we need to forgive one another,
forgetting one another's offending, as God in Christ forgets our offenses (verse 32b; Hebrews 8:12).  To forgive means
to forget.  Because we are still in our old man much of the time, we make mistakes and offend others.  This is why we
need to forgive others by the life of God in the Spirit of God.

Ephesians 4:17-32 gives us a picture of a life that can carry out the work of the ministry to build up the Body of Christ.  
There is much, much, hope, promise, and potential that all the churches in the Lord's recovery could be built up in this
way.  May the Lord bring us into the reality of the one Body built up by one ministry with thousands of saints perfected
to live a life that is adequate and qualified to do the work of the building up of the Body of Christ.


THE BODY OF CHRIST, by Witness Lee, Copyright 1988, Living Stream Ministry.