Concerning the Christian Life
The Christian life begins with regeneration. To be regenerated is to be born of the Spirit in our spirit (John 3:6) through the redemption of Christ and thereby to have the life and nature of God imparted into our spirit. This makes our spirit alive with the very life of God.
The true Christian life requires a proper separation from this corrupt and evil world. This separation is not according to legalistic, man-made rules; it is according to the life and nature of the holy One who dwells within us. We are separated unto God by the redeeming blood of Christ, by the Holy Spirit, and in the name of the Lord Jesus. In order to live a proper Christian life, we must maintain such a separated position. Although we are not of the world, we nevertheless live a godly life in the world.
The Christian life is a life of consecration. To be consecrated to the Lord means that we are utterly given to the Lord, not to do something for Him nor to become something, but to make ourselves available to Him as a living sacrifice so that He may work on us and in us according to His good pleasure. We consecrate to the Lord because we love Him and delight to belong to Him. We also recognize that we already belong to Him because He has purchased us with His precious blood. We in the local churches are living not for ourselves, but for God and for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose.
LOVING THE LORD
In our Christian life we emphasize loving the Lord. Above all else, God desires that we love Him. We testify that our Lord Jesus Christ is the altogether lovely One, that He has won our hearts, and that we love Him, not with a love of our own, but with the very love with which He first loved us.
THE WORD OF GOD
The Bible occupies a very important place in our Christian life. All those in the local churches are encouraged to read the Word in a regular way, even to read it through once a year. We read the Word, we study the Word, and we take the Word by prayer as spiritual food. All teachings, inspirations, and guidance which claim the Holy Spirit as their source must be checked by God’s revelation in His Word. Although the Bible reveals the mind of God concerning so many matters, to us the Bible is not primarily a book of doctrine; instead, it is Homely a book of life. We come to the Word not merely for knowledge, but, through a prayerful reading of the Scripture, to contact the Lord Jesus, who is Himself the living Word.
The Christian life is also a life of prayer. In prayer we enjoy sweet, intimate personal communion with the Lord. By prayer we declare our dependence on God, our submission to Him, and our desire to cooperate with Him in the fulfillment of His purpose. All those in the local churches are encouraged to have a time of personal prayer every day.
THE EXPERIENCE OF CHRIST
We have seen from God’s revelation in the Bible that the Christian life is actually Christ Himself living in us. For this reason, we lay great emphasis on the experience of Christ. According to the New Testament Epistles, Christ is revealed in us, is living in us, is being formed in us, is making His home in us, is being magnified in us, and is becoming all in all to us. Instead of imitating Christ according to an outward pattern, we seek to live out Christ and to live by Christ by allowing the indwelling Christ to occupy our whole inward being and to express Himself through us in our daily living.
A CRUCIFIED LIFE
As genuine Christians, we are to live a crucified life. We are not ashamed of the cross of Christ, and we do not shrink back from following the Lord along the narrow pathway of the cross. If we would truly experience Christ and live by Him, we need to experience daily the subjective work of the cross in our lives. We have seen something of the ugliness of man’s fallen flesh in the eyes of God, and we agree with God’s judgment upon it. Moreover, we have seen that both the self and the natural man are opposed to God. Therefore, we welcome the inward working of the death of Christ so that we may experience Christ and live by Him in the riches of His resurrection life.
If we would live a normal Christian life, we need to be nourished daily with spiritual food and spiritual drink. For this reason, we emphasize the partaking of Christ as our spiritual food and drink. In the Spirit and through the Word, we enjoy Him as our life supply. As He Himself said, “He that eateth me, even he shall live by me” (John 6:57). The Lord is the living bread, the bread of life, and the bread of God who came down from heaven to give life to the world (John 6:33, 35, 51), and we are nourished by Him day by day.
THE GROWTH IN LIFE
In the local churches we emphasize the fact that in the Christian life we should grow normally in life. We are not content to remain spiritual infants. The divine life, like the human life, must have a normal development leading to maturity. Therefore, as seekers of the Lord, we pursue the growth in life. We desire to be a full-grown man to express the Lord, to represent Him with His authority, and to engage in spiritual warfare to defeat His enemy.
As Christians, we also live a normal human life, free from extremes and balanced in every way. We desire that our entire being, spirit, soul, and body, be maintained for the glory of God. We seek to express the humanity of Jesus in all our relationships and bear a worthy testimony of Him in all walks of human life: at home, at school, in our neighborhoods, and at our places of employment. To us, the Christian life cannot be divorced from our daily human life. We find that the more we grow in Christ, the more truly human we become, and the more we enjoy in a practical way the uplifted, transformed humanity of Jesus.
The Christian life is a life of walking according to the Spirit. To walk in the Spirit is to have our living and our being according to the Spirit. Therefore, we need to set our mind on the Spirit and put to death the practices of the body (Rom. 8:6, 13). When we walk according to the Spirit, all the righteous requirements of God are fulfilled in us spontaneously. Only by living in the Spirit and walking according to the Spirit will the divine things revealed in the Scriptures become real to us. Hence, to be a normal Christian we must know the Spirit, live in the Spirit, and walk according to the Spirit.
Many Christians know of the regeneration of the spirit and the transfiguration of the body, but they neglect the crucial matter of the transformation of the soul. Nevertheless the Bible says, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). Therefore, we recognize the need to be dispositionally transformed in our souls by the inward working of the Spirit of life. As we are transformed, an inward change takes place in our very being. As our soul is permeated with the element of God, it is purified and sanctified. It can thereby fulfill its God-created function to express the Lord who dwells in our regenerated spirit. This transformation of the soul is intimately related to our readiness to meet the Lord at His coming. Those who would dwell in His holy and glorious presence must not merely be positionally sanctified, but be dispositionally transformed. This transformation requires the operation of the cross negatively and the working of the Spirit of life positively.
Finally, at the culmination of the Christian experience in life, our body will be transfigured and made like the Lord’s glorious body (Phil. 3:21). In the Bible this is called the redemption of the body, the fullness of sonship. Therefore, the Christian life begins with regeneration, passes through transformation, and consummates with the transfiguration of the body.