By The Book #23: The Church and God's Work
If we really understand the nature of Gods work, we shall readily admit that the outward man is truly a formidable hindrance. It is true to say that God is much restricted by man. The people of God should know the ultimate purpose of the church and also the inter-relationships among the church, God’s power and God’s work.
God’s manifestation and God’s restriction
In our day God commits Himself to the church. His power and His work are in the church. Just as in the gospels we find all of God’s work is given to the Son, so today God has entrusted all of HIs works to the church and will not act apart from it. From the day of Pentecost up to today, God’s work has been carried out thru the church. Think of the churches tremendous responsibility. God’s commitment to the church is like His commitment to Jesus Christ, without reservation or restriction. But the church may restrict God’s work or limit His manifestation.
Jesus of Nazareth is God Himself. His whole being from within to without is to reveal God. His emotions reflect God’s emotions; His thoughts reveal God’s thoughts. While on this earth He could say; “Not that I should do my will, but the will of the one who sent Me….The Son can do nothing of Himself save what He sees His Father doing….For I have not spoken of Myself, but the Father who sent Me has Himself given Me commandment what I should say and what I should speak”(John 6:38; 5:19; 12:49). Here we see a Man to whom God is committed. He is the Word that became flesh. He is God becoming man. He is perfect.
The basic teaching of the gospels is the presence of God in one Man, while that of the epistles is God in the church. May our eyes be opened to the glorious fact: God formerly dwelt in the Man Jesus Christ, but now God is only in the church, not in any other thing?
When this light dawns on us, we will suddenly lift up our eyes to heaven saying, “O, God! How much we have hindered You” In Christ, the Almighty God was still almighty without suffering and restriction. What God expects today is that this same power may remain intact as He remains in the church. He should be as free in manifesting Himself in the church as He was in Christ.
Any restriction or disability in the church will invariably limit God. This is a most serious thing; we do not mention it lightly. The hindrance in each of us constitutes a hindrance to God.
Why is the discipline of the Holy Spirit so important? Why is the dividing of the spirit and the soul so urgent? It is because God must have a way thru us. Let no one think we are only interested in individual spiritual experience. Our concern is God’s way and His works God free to work through our lives? Unless we are dealt with and broken thru discipline, we shall restrict God. Without the breaking of the outward man, the church cannot be a channel for God.
How to know man
This is an invariable fact! Our spirit is released according to the degree of our brokenness. The one who has accepted the most discipline is the one who can best serve. The more one is broken, the more sensitive he is. The more loss one has suffered, the more one has to give. Wherever we desire to save ourselves, in that very thing we become spiritually useless. Whenever we preserve and excuse ourselves, at that point we are deprived of spiritual sensitively and supply. Let no one imagine he can be effective and disregard this basic principle.
Only those who have learned can serve. You may learn 10 years lessons in one year or take 10 or 20 years to learn one year’s lessons. Any delay in learning means a delay in serving. If God has put a desire in your heart to serve Him, you should understand what is involved. The way of service lies in brokenness, in accepting the discipline of the Holy Spirit. The measure of your service is determined by the degree of discipline and brokenness. Be assured that human emotion and cleverness cannot help. How much you really possess is based upon how much God has wrought in your life. Therefore, the more you have been dealt with, the keener is your perception of man. The more you are disciplined by the Holy Spirit, the more ready your spirit can touch another.