Crucial Points of the Major Items of the Lord's Recovery

THE CRUCIAL POINTS OF THE MAJOR ITEMS OF THE LORD'S RECOVERY TODAY The Lord's recovery is the recovery of the divine truths as r...


THE CRUCIAL POINTS OF THE MAJOR ITEMS OF THE LORD'S RECOVERY TODAY


The Lord's recovery is the recovery of the divine truths as revealed in the holy Scriptures, the holy Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). The truths as revealed in the Scriptures have been lost, missed, misunderstood, misinterpreted, and wrongly taught throughout the ages. Hence, there is the need of the Lord's recovery. In the age of the early apostles, in the age of the church fathers, in the age of the church councils, in the age of Catholicism with the papal system, and in the age of the Protestant practice, the Lord has always recovered some of the lost, missed, misunderstood, misinterpreted, and wrongly taught truths through some of His saints who loved Him and His holy Word.
Among the major items in the Lord's recovery, some points are more crucial than others. In this small book we want to see the crucial points of the major items of the Lord's recovery today. These crucial points are the Triune God, the all-inclusive Christ, the consummated Spirit, the eternal life, the church, the oneness of the Body of Christ, and the local ground of the church.

I. THE TRIUNE GOD

The first crucial point of the major items of the Lord's recovery today is the divine revelation concerning the Triune God. Among Christians the truth concerning the Triune God has been lost, missed, misunderstood, misinterpreted, and wrongly taught. Thus, there is the need to recover this truth.

A. Two Basic Divine Titles:

Elohim in God's Creation and
Jehovah in God's Relationship with Man
The first time the Bible mentions God is in Genesis 1:1, which says, "In the beginning God created...." The word for "God" here in Hebrew is Elohim. In Genesis 1:1 the subject Elohim, used in relation to God's creation, is plural in number whereas the verb created is singular. The plurality of the word Elohim implies the Divine Trinity. Furthermore, Genesis 1:26a, 3:22a, and 11:7a all mention God, using the plural pronouns us and our. In Isaiah 6:8 God said, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us?" I is singular, but Us is plural, showing that God is "uni-plural." In John 17 the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father, "That they may be one, even as We are one" (vv. 22b, 11b). He also prayed, "That they also may be in Us" (v. 21). God the Father and God the Son are "Us"; They are plural, yet They are one (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). The title Elohim, denoting the unique yet triune God, is used more than two thousand five hundred times in the Old Testament.
Jehovah is another divine title of God (Gen. 2:4), which is used in God's relationship with man. This title literally means "He that is who He is; therefore, the eternal I Am." As Jehovah, He is the One who was in the past, who is in the present, and who is to come in the future. Revelation 1:4 speaks of "Him who is and who was and who is coming." For the past He was; for the present He is; and for the future He is to be. He is the great I Am.
The Lord Jesus told the Pharisees, "Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24b). Eventually, they asked Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus responded, "Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came into being, I am" (vv. 57-58). The Lord as the great I Am is the eternal, ever-existing God. Hence, He was before Abraham and is greater than Abraham (v. 53). The name Jesus means "Jehovah the Savior." Jesus is Jehovah, the eternal I Am.
When Moses was called by God, Moses asked God what His name was. Exodus 3:13 and 14 say, "And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you." As the I Am, He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (v. 15). In His person there is the Father like Abraham, the Son like Isaac, and the Spirit like Jacob. As Jehovah, He is the threefold yet one unique God. The title Jehovah, denoting the Triune God as the One who is not only eternally existing but also eternally being, is used more than seven thousand times in the Old Testament.

B. The Divine Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—in the Distribution of God into His Chosen People

According to the entire revelation of the sixty-six books of the Bible, the Divine Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—is for God's dispensing, that is, for the distribution of God into His chosen people. God's desire with His strong intention is to dispense Himself into His chosen people as their life, as their life supply, and as their everything. To carry out this dispensing He needs to be triune.
The Father as the origin is the fountain; the Son as the expression is the spring; and the Spirit as the transmission is the flow. The Spirit as the flow is the reaching, the application, of the Triune God for the distribution of Himself into His chosen people. A fountain is the origin, the source, of a stream, or river; a spring is the emergence, the expression, of the fountain; and the stream or river is the flow. In Jeremiah 2:13 God refers to Himself as the fountain of living waters; in John 4:14 Christ is the spring of water that gushes up in the believers into eternal life; and in Revelation 22:1 the Spirit is the flow, the river of water of life. The Father is the fountain, the source, and the Son is the spring as the course to express the source. This course, this spring, issues in a flow, which is the Spirit as the reaching, the application, of the Triune God. This shows that God is triune to dispense, or distribute, Himself into His chosen people.
Second 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." Here three things are mentioned: grace, love, and fellowship. This sets forth the reason why God is triune; it is thus that He can dispense Himself into us, work Himself into us for us to enjoy, and be our all. The love of God, that is, the love of the Father, is the source. The grace of Christ, that is, the grace of the Son, is the flowing out of the love of the Father. And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is the flowing into us of the grace of the Son with the love of the Father for us to enjoy. This is for our experience and enjoyment of the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. The love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit are not three different things but three stages of one thing for us to possess and enjoy. Likewise, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are not three separate Gods but three stages of one God for us to possess and enjoy. Second Corinthians 13:14 is strong proof that the Divine Trinity is not for the doctrinal understanding of systematic theology but for the dispensing, the distributing, of God Himself into His chosen people.

C. The Eternal Coexistence of the Divine Trinity

We must be clear that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit coexist simultaneously from eternity to eternity. Undoubtedly, the Father is God (1 Pet. 1:2; Eph. 1:17), the Son is God (Heb. 1:8; John 1:1; Rom. 9:5), and the Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). They are not three Gods, but one. The Scriptures tell us clearly and definitely that God is only one (1 Cor. 8:4; Isa. 45:5; Psa. 86:10), yet He is also three—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. He is the Triune God.
The Father is eternal (Isa. 9:6), the Son is eternal (Heb. 1:12; 7:3), the Spirit is eternal (Heb. 9:14), and They coexist simultaneously. John 14:16-17 says, "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may be with you forever, even the Spirit of reality." In these two verses the Son says that He will pray to the Father that the Father may send the Spirit. Hence, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit exist together at the same time. In Ephesians 3:14-17 Paul prays that the Father would grant us to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into our inner man, that Christ may make His home in our hearts. In this passage we have the Father, the Spirit, and Christ the Son, showing again that all three exist together at the same time. We have already mentioned 2 Corinthians 13:14, which speaks of the grace of Christ the Son, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, showing the coexistence of the three of the Divine Trinity.

D. The Eternal Coinherence of the Divine Trinity

The relationship among the Father, the Son, and the Spirit is not only that They simultaneously coexist but also that They mutually indwell one another. The Father exists in the Son and the Spirit; the Son exists in the Father and the Spirit; and the Spirit exists in the Father and the Son. This mutual indwelling among the three of the Godhead is called coinherence. In John 14:10-11 the Lord Jesus said, "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak from Myself, but the Father who abides in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; but if not, believe because of the works themselves." Here we have not only the coexistence of the Father and the Son but also Their coinherence. The three of the Godhead—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—are both coexistent and coinherent.

E. The Essential Trinity

The essential Trinity refers to the essence of the Triune God for His existence. In His essence, God is one, the one unique God (Isa. 45:18b; 1 Cor. 8:6a). In the essential Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit coexist and coinhere at the same time and in the same way with no succession. There is no first, second, or third.

F. The Economical Trinity

Essentially, God is one, but economically He is three—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). In God's plan, God's administrative arrangement, God's economy, the Father takes the first step, the Son takes the second step, and the Spirit takes the third step. The Father purposed (Eph. 1:4-6), the Son accomplished (vv. 7-12), and the Spirit applies what the Son accomplished according to the Father's purpose (vv. 13-14). This is a successive procedure or a succession in God's economy to carry out His eternal purpose. Whereas the essential Trinity refers to the essence of the Triune God for His existence, the economical Trinity refers to His plan for His move. There is the need of the existence of the Divine Trinity, and there is also the need of the plan of the Divine Trinity.
The Father accomplished the first step of His plan, His economy, by working to choose and predestinate us, but He did this in Christ the Son (Eph. 1:4-5) and with the Spirit. After this plan was made, the Son came to accomplish this plan, but He did this with the Father (John 8:29; 16:32) and by the Spirit (Luke 1:35; Matt. 1:18, 20; 12:28). Now that the Son has accomplished all that the Father has planned, the Spirit comes in the third step to apply all that He accomplished, but He does this as the Son and with the Father (John 14:26; 15:26; 1 Cor. 15:45b; 2 Cor. 3:17). In this way, while the divine economy of the Divine Trinity is being carried out, the divine existence of the Divine Trinity, His eternal coexistence and coinherence, remains intact and is not jeopardized.

G. The Three of the Divine Trinity

Being Distinct but Not Separate
Among the three of the Divine Trinity, there is distinction but no separation. The Father is distinct from the Son, the Son is distinct from the Spirit, and the Spirit is distinct from the Son and the Father. But we cannot say that They are separate, because They coinhere, that is, They live within one another. In Their coexistence the three of the Godhead are distinct, but Their coinherence makes them one. They coexist in Their coinherence, so They are distinct but not separate.
The Son never did anything apart from the Father (John 5:19). He came in the Father's name (v. 43) and with the Father (8:29; 16:32). He is in the Father and the Father is in Him (14:10-11). Furthermore, He was begotten of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35; Matt. 1:18, 20) and did everything by the Spirit (Luke 4:1, 18a; Matt. 12:28).
The Holy Scriptures also reveal that the Son is the Father. Isaiah 9:6 says, "A child is born to us, a son is given to us...and His name will be called...Mighty God, Eternal Father." The Lord Jesus as the child born in Bethlehem is the Mighty God, and the Lord Jesus who is the Son is also the Eternal Father.

John 14:7-11 says, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and henceforth you know Him and have seen Him. Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father and it is sufficient for us. Jesus said to him, Have I been so long a time with you, and you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how is it that you say, Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak from Myself, but the Father who abides in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; but if not, believe because of the works themselves." In these verses the Lord clearly reveals to us the mystery that He and the Father are one (John 10:30). He is in the Father and the Father is in Him; when He speaks, it is the Father who works; when men see Him, they see the Father; when they know Him, they know the Father, because He is the Father.
The Scriptures also reveal that the Son (the last Adam) became a life-giving Spirit. First Corinthians 15:45b says, "The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit." The last Adam, of course, is the incarnated Lord Jesus, and the life-giving Spirit, of course, is the Holy Spirit. There can never be another life-giving Spirit besides the Holy Spirit. The Lord was made flesh and became the last Adam, and later, after death and resurrection, He became the life-giving Spirit.
The words spoken by the Lord in John 14:16-20 confirm this point. Here the Lord tells us that He will pass through death and resurrection to become another Comforter, that is, the Spirit of reality, who will come to abide with us and dwell in us. In verse 17 the Lord said concerning the Spirit of reality: "He abides with you and shall be in you." Then in verse 18 He says, "I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you." The very "He" who is the Spirit of reality in verse 17 becomes the very "I" who is the Lord Himself in verse 18. The Lord said in effect, "When He comes, I come. He is I; I am He." The Holy Spirit is the Lord Jesus, and the Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit. Also, in verse 17 the Lord said, "The Spirit of reality...shall be in you," and then in verse 20 He says, "I in you." This also proves that the Holy Spirit who is in us is the Lord who died and rose and now lives in us.
Second Corinthians 3:17 says, "The Lord is the Spirit." The Lord spoken of here, of course, is the Lord Jesus, and the Spirit, of course, is the Holy Spirit. This verse tells us clearly and definitely that our Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit. He is the Father and He is the Spirit, the very God and the Lord. This clearly shows that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one God, not three; They are distinct but not separate.

H. The Triune God in Us
for Our Experience and Enjoyment

We need to see that the God who is dispensing Himself into us is triune. According to the New Testament, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all in us (Eph. 4:6; Col. 1:27; John 14:17). Although the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all in us, in our experience we sense that there is just One in us. This One who dwells in us is the Triune God.
The Lord charged us to baptize the nations "into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). There is one name for the Divine Trinity. The name is the sum total of the Divine Being, equivalent to His person. To baptize people into the name of the Triune God is to immerse them into all that the Triune God is. Once we believe into Christ and are baptized into the person of the Divine Trinity, we should daily enjoy the Triune God by participating in the love of God the Father, in the grace of Christ the Son, and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14). Eventually, we will enjoy the Divine Trinity in His divine dispensing to the fullest in eternity. Revelation 22:1 says that the river of water of life proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. This depicts how the Triune God—God, the Lamb, and the Spirit (symbolized by the water of life)—dispenses Himself into His redeemed people under His headship (implied in the authority of the throne) for eternity.
Martin Luther warned us not to approach the matter of the Divine Trinity by our natural reasoning. He said that those who approach this matter with confidence in their own mental power are "the teachers of God, not His pupils." No human being can explain the Divine Trinity adequately. We should simply accept and say Amen to whatever is recorded in the pure Word of God. We can only present the divine facts from the New Testament concerning this great truth so that we may be impressed that the Triune God is dispensing Himself into our being. Instead of exercising our mentality too much to try to figure out the Triune God, we should exercise our spirit to experience and enjoy the marvelous dispensing of the Triune God as the Father, the Son, and the Spirit within us.

Note—What is the heresy of modalism?

Modalism in the second and third centuries passed through several changes and then reached its clearest expression with Sabellius. Modalism teaches that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are not all eternal and do not all exist at the same time, but are merely three temporary manifestations of the one God. Modalism claims that the Father ended with the Son's coming and that the Son ceased with the Spirit's coming. The modalists say that the three of the Godhead exist respectively in three consecutive stages. They do not believe in the coexistence and coinherence of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. This, of course, is a great heresy.
Unlike the modalists, we believe in the eternal coexistence and coinherence of the three of the Godhead; that is, we believe that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit all exist essentially at the same time and under the same conditions. However, in the divine economy, the three work and are manifested respectively in three consecutive stages. Yet even in Their economical works and manifestations, the three still remain essentially in Their coexistence and coinherence.

Note—What is the heresy of tritheism?

Modalism stresses the side of God being one to a heretical extreme by denying the coexistence and coinherence of the three of the Godhead. Tritheism, on the other hand, stresses the side of God being three to a heretical extreme by teaching that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are three Gods. The Bible is not at either of these extremes; it stands in the center, testifying of the twofoldness of the truth of the Divine Trinity. Regarding the truth of the Triune God, we also should be balanced and avoid the heretical extremes of both modalism and tritheism.
It is a great heresy to say that there are three Gods. The Scriptures clearly, definitely, and repeatedly say that there is only one God (1 Cor. 8:4; Isa. 44:6, 8; 45:5-6, 21-22; 46:9; Psa. 86:10). The tritheists say, "If the Father, Son, and Spirit are not three Gods, then how can They be three persons?" Griffith Thomas in his book The Principles of Theology said concerning the Divine Trinity: "The term Person is also sometimes objected to. Like all human language, it is liable to be accused of inadequacy and even positive error. It certainly must not be pressed too far, or it will lead to Tritheism." Because the tritheists hold the side of the three and neglect the side of the one, they have no balance or safeguard.
Both modalism and tritheism go to an extreme, but we are in the middle and are balanced. When we say that the Son is the Father (Isa. 9:6) and the Lord is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17), we are simply quoting the Bible. Those who deny this fact fall into the danger of being tritheistic. But as we have pointed out, we believe all the verses in the Bible which reveal the eternal coexistence and coinherence of the three of the Godhead. We condemn both modalism and tritheism as heresies. We believe that God is uniquely one for eternity, yet He is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Some may ask, "How can the Father, the Son, and the Spirit be three and at the same time still be one?" My answer is, "I do not know. I cannot tell you. If you try to understand this, you will be, in Martin Luther's terms, 'the teacher of God.'" The Divine Trinity is a mystery which far transcends our mental apprehension.

Bible verses are taken from the Recovery Version of the Bible and Words of Ministry from Witness Lee and Watchman Nee.published by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA.

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