Living in a Most Privileged Time
Some might say that the Western world is entering into a post-Christian age. For many believers this may seem to be a most discouraging time. It may seem like things are daily going from bad to worse. If we consider our current situation to that of the church in China in 1939-1942, we will realize that the believers there, where the church was still young, were facing many serious threats and could have likewise been discouraged. China was in the midst of a devastating war. It was a time of hunger, death, and destruction. People were being uprooted and displaced. Communism with its anti-God agenda was in ascendancy. It seemed to be a time of little hope and much despair; yet, in the midst of this situation Watchman Nee gave a series of messages that became the book The Glorious Church. In this book he claims, “We live in a most privileged time; we can do the most for God” (p. 157). This indicates that not only was he not discouraged but that he realized a great opportunity was presented before them in which the church could do something of great strategic significance for God!
The Glorious Church presents the triumphant church, the glorious Body of Christ, seen in four stages: in Genesis 2 the church is typified by Eve as a type of the woman purposed in God’s heart in eternity past; in Ephesians 5-6 the church is being prepared for Christ by God; in Revelation 12 the church is the woman who brings forth the man-child at the end time; and in Revelations 21-22 the church is the woman who fulfills God’s purpose in eternity future. These four portions of the Scripture reveal that God’s purpose is altogether related to the church.
In Genesis 1:29 God made a corporate man, consisting of Adam and Eve, in the image and likeness of God and gave them dominion. Later in the New Testament, we see that Adam typifies Christ and Eve typifies the church (1 Cor. 15:45; Eph. 5:31-32). This type is presented prior to the problem of sin and the fall, showing that God’s eternal purpose related to the church is not merely to redeem her but that she as the Body of Christ would become Christ’s enlargement and expression on the earth and that through her the kingdom of God would come to the earth to subdue Satan and cause God’s enemy to suffer loss. In Revelation 21-22 this purpose is fully fulfilled. In these final chapters of the Bible there is a universal couple, the divine Trinity (21:2, 9; 22:1, 17) and the New Jerusalem, the bride, the wife of the Lamb (21:9).
In between these two portions we have Ephesians 5-6 and Revelation 12. Ephesians 5 shows that the church as the Body of Christ and as the wife of Christ is the enlarged expression of Christ:
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even Christ also the church, because we are members of His Body. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to His wife, and the two shall be one flesh. This mystery is great, but I speak with regard to Christ and the church. (vv. 29-32)
Ephesians 6 also shows that the church is a warrior standing in Christ’s victory and through whom Christ is able to exercise His dominion on the earth. Although God is omnipotent, He has chosen to limit Himself to the church both for His expression and His dominion. In this age, if you want to know God and know the kingdom of God, you must know the church.
Finally, in Revelation 12 we see that for God’s final move on the earth to close this age, the church is revealed again as woman. This woman is travailing in birth to bring forth a man-child (vv. 2, 5), who represents the overcomers within the churches (Rev. 2-3) as the stronger part of the woman. When this man-child is produced, the great dragon, the ancient serpent, he who is called the Devil and Satan, is cast out of heaven to the earth (v. 9). Moreover, it is said of these overcoming ones, “They overcame him [the great dragon] because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they loved not their soul-life even unto death.”
Both Ephesians 5-6 and Revelation 12 reveal clearly that our portion as the church is not to wait passively for God to deal with Satan and close this age. Rather, we see that the church plays a crucial role in representing God and subduing His enemy. We are not here to express ourselves; rather, we need to learn to be one with Christ and with one another through a practical and daily experience of Christ’s death and resurrection, so that like Paul we could say, “For to me, live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). In this way Christ will be practically expressed and glorified on the earth. Also, we (not individually but corporately) need to take up the whole armor of God to stand against God’s enemy. Those who see this need and have an ear to hear what the Spirit is speaking to the churches (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26-29; 2:5-6, 12-13, 21-22) will rise up to overcome and as such will cooperate with God to deal a decisive blow to God’s enemy, shaking His kingdom, and causing Him to be caste to the earth. May we be such ones. As stated in the concluding words of The Glorious Church, “Light will show us the way, but strength and power will enable us to walk the road. A great price must be paid in order to be used now” (p. 157).