what is faith

Living Stream Ministry Podcast ::

What is faith? Is it just to believe? Why do some have it and some do not? Does the Bible give us any direction on how to obtain more faith? Well, the questions concerning faith are virtually endless. Of course the Bible does have much to say about faith. Yet, in many ways it remains mysterious. One of the most mysterious references to faith is found in Philippians 2 where Paul talks about “the sacrifice and service of your faith.”

We want to get into this extraordinary expression today concerning the faith of the believers on this Life-Study from the book of Philippians. In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul uses several remarkable or extraordinary expressions, and they’re not found any place else in the New Testament…not even in his other writings…in his epistles.

We spent quite a bit of time on at least two of them in previous programs…and those are “the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” and the second one would be “holding forth the word of life.” This whole portion of the Bible…especially here in Philippians…really gives you more and more basic reasons for enjoying Christ in so many ways.

Philippians 2:17…”But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and I rejoice together with you all.” If you would pay some attention, you will see…in this one short book…three extraordinary expressions were used by Paul. In chapter 1, he used…”the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Then in chapter 2 he used, “holding forth of the word of life.” You could never find such expressions in the Bible…even in other books by the apostle.

“The sacrifice of your faith.” Hard for us to get into this expression. The secret to experience Christ in such a book is just relying on these 3 things. The bountiful supply of the Spirit, the word of life, and the sacrifice of your faith. Now…what is faith that can constitute a sacrifice to God. As long as you are a believer, you have faith. But the question is this: could you consider your faith a sacrifice good for some other one to offer to God?

Paul was a New Testament priest. In Romans 15:16, Paul says I offered you gentile believers as a priest…all of you I offered to God. Paul was a gospel priest. He offered his converts all to God as a kind of sacrifice. Not only the persons…Romans 15 refers to the persons as sacrifice, but Philippians 2:17 refers to the believers faith as sacrifice. This is much deeper.

Three extraordinary expressions used by the apostle in this book…(1) the bountiful supply, (2) holding forth the word of life, and now (3) the sacrifice of your faith. This is not an easy passage to understand, but surely it’s worth our while to get into it to try to see the kind of faith that Paul was considering to be an offering…a sacrifice.

We have to spend some time to get the right understanding of the matter of faith. The faith here is a little different at least from the faith even in the Bible in other places. What is faith? Ephesians 1:13 gives us a very clear definition. You have heard the word of truth. Then you believed in Christ. The result was that you were sealed with the Spirit. The Word came and the Spirit was there. When you heard the Word and believed, you got the Spirit. The Word, faith and the Spirit…these three are one. The first function of the Word is to infuse you.

The Word infuses you with faith. Faith is the issue of the word and the function of the Spirit. Why? Because when the Word comes to you…when you touch it…the Spirit is there. Rather, I would say…the Word comes and you touch it…this Word becomes the Spirit. I must tell you…from my youth, I loved to have faith. So I tried my best. By that time I loved two things…faith and regeneration. I spent dollars to buy books…I couldn’t get any book to tell me what is faith. As it should be. Some books tell you what is faith…but not actually as faith should be.

Until in the recent years…mostly by my experiences…I realized what is faith. Faith is just the Word infusing the very element of the Word into you. And this very element is just the function of the Spirit. So faith is the issue of the Word and the function of the Spirit. So when you have faith, spontaneously you have the Word and the Spirit. And actually…dear saints…eventually when you have faith you have the three things. When you have faith, you have the Word. When you have faith, you have the Spirit.

You can pick up any portion of the Word and dwell on it for a while. Then something burning…something boiling…something rising up with power. What is that? This is the mingling of the Word and the Spirit with your faith. And this always issues in the full enjoyment of Christ.

Living Stream Ministry

a stone with seven eyes for God’s building

Living Stream Ministry Podcast ::

The Old Testament prophet Zachariah tells us in chapter 3 that a stone with seven eyes will be engraved with an inscription. And by this engraving, the iniquity of the people will be removed in one day. The New Testament gospel of John tells us that the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the people. The stone with the seven eyes in Zachariah is this Lamb of God in John. And in the final book…Revelation…this Lamb-stone with seven eyes reappears.

This subject that we are going to consider in this broadcast is quite mysterious but very wonderful and very practical. Br. Witness Lee’s title for this message from 1976 was “The stone with seven eyes for God’s building.”

We want to review the matter of the lampstand because we’re going to see a definite connection today between the lampstand and this stone with seven eyes. The lampstand in the Bible is a tremendous symbol, and the first time we see this vision of the lampstand is in Exodus 25. There the lampstand is described in some detail, and it signifies Christ as the embodiment of the Triune God.

And then as we go on in the Old Testament again we encounter more details concerning the lampstand in the book of Zachariah which is where we are today. And there…in the mentioning of the lampstand…the main thing there is the seven lamps which are the seven eyes of Jehovah God. So here we see a further development. And these seven lamps are related to the Spirit of God. So in the Old Testament the lampstand is only one. But when we get to Revelation chapter one we can see a further development of this revelation or vision of the lampstand. Here we have not one lampstand but we have seven lampstands. And each lampstand signifies a local church.

So this is a tremendous progression in the vision of the lampstand, and it shows us that the one lampstand revealed in the Old Testament is eventually multiplied and reproduced to be many lampstands which are many local churches.

Zachariah 3 and 9. How can we say or how can we know that this stone with seven eyes is Christ? It is by the second half of this verse. “Behold, I will engrave the graving thereof says the Lord of host. I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.” It means that the Lord Jesus as the building stone…He was dealt with…engraved…on the cross by God for the iniquity of God’s people. In that one day by that one engraving on the cross, the Lord Jesus removed all the sins of God’s people.

The next half of this verse equals to John 1:29…”Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” This means to remove the iniquity of God’s people. So by this half of the verse we can know that the stone with seven eyes is Christ. Then we read chapter 4 of the same book (verse 2). Now in this verse we see the lampstand has seven lamps. If you would exercise your spirit, surely you would understand the lampstand here equals to the stone. The stone is Christ and the lampstand is also Christ. And the stone we can understand easily it is for the building. And the lampstand is for enlightening. And on the stone you have the seven eyes and on the lampstand you have the seven lamps.

This is a real clue and a real indication that this stone is Christ. And it is a little mysterious because it speaks about the stone being engraved with an inscription. And of course we know that to engrave a stone you need to cut that stone…you need to chisel a piece out of that stone. In many places in the Bible, Christ is referred to as a stone. He is a stone for God’s building. He is the foundation stone. He is the cornerstone. He is the living stone. He is the precious stone. He is the top stone. He is all these kinds of stones for the building of God’s house.

In Zachariah 3:9 we can see that this stone has seven eyes. And that it is engraved with an inscription so that the iniquity of God’s people can be removed in one day. Well, if we go on to the book of Revelation in chapter 5, we can see that there’s a Lamb there with seven eyes. In Zachariah, there’s a Stone with seven eyes. In Revelation, there’s a Lamb with seven eyes. And we know that the Lamb of God is Christ and that He is the one who removed the iniquity of God’s people in one day through His crucifixion…through His death on the cross. So when the Lord was crucified this was like the engraving of a stone. When He was crucified, He’s was cut on the cross and He was engraved. And through this engraving or through His death on the cross, all the sins of God’s people were removed by God so that God could then carry on…in His people…the work of building.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. Full of grace and reality. Behold the lamb of God. This One is the Word. And this One is God. And this One is the flesh. And this One is Jesus. And in this One is the life, and the life is the light of men. You have to add one thing. A stone. Then at the end of the same chapter, when Nathanael was attracted and this wonderful One told him, “…you shall see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Right away, we all can realize that this simple word brings us back to Bethel. So you can see even John chapter one covers from eternity past to eternity future. In eternity past was the Word, and the Word was God there. Now in eternity future there will be the Bethel the House of God. The dwelling of God. That will be the New Jerusalem.

After a number of years when he was very old…exiled to the island of Patmos…the Lord charged John to write the last book of the whole Bible. And eventually he developed to such an extent showing us that this seven spirits are the seven lamps and the seven eyes which were covered in Zachariah. He told us that these seven lamps which are the seven eyes are both the Stone and the Lord in Zachariah are today the seven Spirits of God. And this seven Spirits of God today are the seven eyes of the redeeming Lamb. And this redeeming Lamb is the overcoming Lion. He surely has defeated the enemy of God. So He was qualified to be the redeeming Lion. God engraved Him…dealt with Him on the cross. Just by that one dealing in that one day, all the sins of God’s people were removed. Because as the redeeming Lamb, He did this. So He became eventually the building stone. Today He is the Lion-Lamb-Stone.

And this stone seven eyes shining. Shining…burning before the throne of God. To accomplish God’s eternal economy.

Living Stream Ministry

for we are His masterpiece

Living Stream Ministry Podcast ::

Genesis chapter 1 tells us that God created all things: the heavens, the earth, the universe, man and all the living creatures. And how even a simple gaze at creation often fills us with awe as we consider His creation. But not until the New Testament book of Ephesians are we told what is at the very top of all that He has done and even all that He is doing. Or to use Paul’s language in Ephesians, what is His “masterpiece.” Listen to Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand in order that we would walk in them.”

WE are His masterpiece. “We” meaning the church. We will get into God’s masterpiece on our program today.

Only grace can produce this masterpiece. We in ourselves are not able to do anything that would result in the creation of this masterpiece of God. We must receive from God something which the Bible calls grace.

What do you understand by the term grace? What is grace: God dispensed into us. The very God who has been dispensed into us is the grace. “Saved by grace” means by God dispensed and still dispensing into us. Grace came through Jesus Christ. Grace came like a person. And here in Ephesians…from chapter one…you can see the very saving grace is God Himself in Christ wrought into our being.

We have stressed emphatically in chapter one the basic controlling factor there is the Triune God dispensed into our being. It is this Triune God that saved us. So “we are saved by grace” means we are saved by the dispensed God. The very God who has been dispensed into us…saved us.

The processed God transmitted into you in the grace. This is the abounding grace…amazing grace.

Living Stream Ministry

the priesthood and the kingship

Living Stream Ministry Podcast ::

There are two (2) basic ministries that characterize both the Old and New Testament. The ministry of the priesthood and the ministry of the kingship. It’s interesting that in Matthew chapter 3, we see two representatives of these two basic ministries together as the age is changing.

Well, we’re coming to the first part of Matthew chapter 3 today and the appearance of the ministry of John the Baptist. This chapter is very interesting, because in a very real sense the whole age is changing…some would say the dispensation is changing. This is a pivot point in God’s economy…in His divine revelation. And we see these two ministries…John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ…together in this chapter for the first time. It’s very interesting…John the Baptist’s heritage is one out of the tribe of Levi which was the tribe of the priesthood. And John the Baptist was somebody who ended the Old Testament economy which was of the law.

The law was lifeless…helpless…could cause no one to really experience the King…but only be exposed by the King. But this marvelous ministry of John the Baptist also introduced the King of kings and ushered people to the King and allowed the King to be brought to the people.

John the Baptist ministry therefore is something that terminated the Old Testament economy and ushered in the New Testament economy…which is an economy of grace. And grace is just God in Christ coming to us to be our life and our everything…even coming into us to be our “Inside King.”

So John the Baptist terminated that Old Testament priesthood and brought us into the New Testament priesthood which is a priesthood full of the experience of Christ. Full of the King of the kingdom of the heavens who wants to come into us as life and everything and be the “Inside King” within us.

We need to repent for the kingdom.

In the whole Bible, there are only two basic ministries that constitute the kingdom of God. And these two ministries are firstly the priesthood…then the kingship. In the Old Testament, the priesthood was with the tribe of Levi. John the Baptist was just a descendant of Levi. He is the consummation of the priesthood of the Old Testament. Then Jesus is the consummation of the Old Testament kingship. The kingship in the Old Testament was in the tribe of Judah, and Jesus came to be a descendant of Judah as the consummation of the kingship.

So you can see these two persons…John the Baptist and Jesus Christ…They, on the one hand, terminated the old priesthood and kingship. They also germinated the New Testament priesthood and kingship. When the priesthood brings people to God, the kingship brings God to man. Then there is the heavenly reigning…the heavenly ruling. That is the kingdom.

And this kingdom is just today’s proper church life. And this church life will continue till the millennium comes. Then in the millennial kingdom, there will be the priesthood and the kingship. The overcomers will be there…on the one hand the priests…and on the other hand the kings. So in the millennial kingdom, the priesthood and the kingship will be even stronger to maintain God’s kingdom on this earth. That the king may have the people and all the people may gain the king. This is the millennium.

Then after the millennium there will be no more need of the priesthood. What will be left for eternity will be only the kingship, because in the new heaven and new earth with the New Jerusalem, everyone is in the presence of God. So there’s no need any longer for the priesthood to bring people to God, because by that time God will be with man. God’s presence eliminates the priesthood by that time. But the kingship will be still there reigning over the surrounding nations.

Well, this is just a summary of the whole Bible in the light of the priesthood and the kingship.

Living Stream Ministry

we have the way to meet with God

Living Stream Ministry Podcast ::

After giving Moses the ten commandments, Jehovah God continued to unveil the details and plans for the tabernacle. In the center of the tabernacle was the ark, the preeminent piece of all the items in the tabernacle. And over the ark was placed a cover or a lid.

This very spot was to become the place…the unique place…where God would meet and speak with man. What does this cover represent today? This holy spot, the propitiation cover, is the focus of our Life-Study of the Bible today with Witness Lee.

The cover of the ark was a most important place in the Old Testament economy. But its importance is not limited to just the Old Testament, because in at least 3 New Testament passages its referred to in the context of our relationship and fellowship with God.

The Old Testament type…of course…is a picture, and the reality is our experience. Actually, the reality of being on this cover where God will meet with us and where God will speak to us…it equals what the New Testament calls the throne of grace.

Because of this cover, we have a way to meet with God.

Living Stream Ministry

living by the principle of faith

Living Stream Ministry Podcast ::

In the Old Testament you had to keep the law then you can have a good fellowship with God. But today, you need to have the Faith, then you can get into the fellowship with God. Today, God’s dealing with His people is based upon the principle of faith.

If you look into God’s dealing with Abraham, you could see God’s dealing with him was based upon God’s promise. God didn’t give Abraham any commandments. God only gave Abraham the promise. So God’s dealing with Abraham was according to God’s promise. So the promise given by God to Abraham became the principle upon which God dealt with Abraham.

Then later on Moses came and God gave the law through Moses to the children of Israel. Then that law given at Mount Sinai became the principle according to which God dealt with the children of Israel. In the New Testament, you could see that today God deals with the believers in Christ not according to the law…but according to the Faith.

So Abraham’s entire relationship with God was based on God’s promise.

If the children of Israel kept the law, then they were able to have a good relationship with God. If they broke the law, however, then they were in trouble in terms of their relationship with God. We see in the Old Testament many times the children of Israel had a big problem with God because they did not keep the law, and God had to come in and deal with them and judge them based upon the principle of the law.

Well this principle didn’t work well in the Old Testament so in the New Testament God brought in a new principle and that is the principle of Faith. So today, our relationship with God is not based upon our keeping of the law of the Old Testament, but it’s based upon our faith in Christ. Actually, this Faith is not just a kind of a mental agreement with the gospel or the teachings of the Bible. This Faith is a living Faith in a living person that joins us to that Person and that causes that Person to enter into us and to become one with us.

So now we have a relationship with God in the principle of Faith which makes us one with Christ and makes Christ one with us. God wants us to live our Christian life based upon this principle. Not on the principle of trying to keep the law by the strength and the effort of our natural life. God wants us to be joined to Christ by Faith and to live by the principle of Faith.

The standard of the kingdom of the heavens is to have no anger toward our brother and no lust. Who can keep such a standard? Actually, only one person in the entire universe is able to keep this standard and that is Christ Himself. And this is precisely the key thing here. What this shows us is that if we’re going to live in the kingdom and meet the requirements of the kingdom, we cannot rely on our own natural life. Because our life is not capable of living to such a high standard. This means that we must join ourselves to Christ every day and every moment of every day by Faith.

Christ today…He’s the life-giving Spirit, and He dwells in our spirit. If we are one with Him, then spontaneously we will live a life that keeps not only the requirement of the Old Testament law, but that also satisfies the requirement of the higher law of the kingdom of the heavens. This is a life that is just the living of Christ in us.

After we have been saved according to the principle of faith, we need to live a higher life. …You are qualified to be judged at the judgement seat of Christ. And that judgement at the judgement seat of Christ is described here three times by three (3) kinds of judgement.. All 3 levels of judgement refer to that one judgement, the judgment at the judgement seat of Christ. We Christians…we the saved ones according to the principle of faith will be judged…not at the white throne recorded in Revelation chapter 20…but will be judged at the judgement seat of Christ, and this will be 1000 years earlier than the white throne.

Yes to be saved it is absolutely by Faith through Grace…that is right. But after you have been saved, be careful. You need to live a life that is higher than what the old law requires. It not only touches the outward doing…but it touches the inward moving. Such a high standard. What should we do then? The Lord’s word warns us, if you would not be serious, you’ll be put into the fire. Don’t think this is to be lost. We have to be fearful and trembling.

I must keep myself to the resurrected Christ. I must be one with Him. I must trust in Him. I must rely upon Him. I must stay in Him. I must remain with Him because the standard of morality of the kingdom of the heavens is too high for me. And this is too serious. We have to flee your temper…flee your lust. This not a small thing to lose your temper. This serious word may force us to keep ourselves to Christ.

Living Stream Ministry

His ministry was the ministry of Jubilee

Living Stream Ministry Podcast ::

In Luke, the start of the ministry of the Man Savior was chapter 4 with Jubilee, and the Jubilee concept should govern the writing of all the following chapters.  Now you come to chapter 9, 5,000 men with their wives…children, if they would be dismissed with hunger, there would be no more Jubilee. This one and than one would complain. “Nearly the whole day, I didn’t get any food.” Would this be Jubilee? This would be famine. The people would be full of hunger. But after the feeding there was real Jubilee.

The Lord sent the 12 to spread His ministry. What was His ministry? His ministry was the ministry of Jubilee. There would be no poor ones. All poor ones would be filled up. There would be no more captives. All captives would be released. And all would be brought back to the enjoyment of God. What is this?

This is Jubilee declared in chapter 4. Twelve (12) baskets of leftovers. This is Jubilee. In the kingdom of God could there be some kind of hunger? No! Jubilee. In the Jubilee there would be no hunger, but satisfaction. Everybody would be satisfied and there still would be some left over.

The disciples approach…in Luke chapter 9…was to ask the Lord to send the crowds away so that they could provide food for themselves. This approach really is in the principle of the law. The law places requirements on man. In order to fulfill the law, man has to do something out of himself to meet those requirements. There is no supply from God to meet the requirements of the law.

But the principle of Grace…which is the New Testament principle…is that God supplies man with everything that man needs to fulfill the requirements of God and also to satisfy man’s inner hunger. God doesn’t ask us to do something; He asks us to receive what He supplies.

So in this story here (Luke 9), the Lord asked the disciples to make the people recline in groups of 50, and then the Lord proceeded in a wonderful way…under Gods’ blessing…to feed this great crowd of people…to supply every one of them so that not one of them was hungry. Everyone was fully satisfied. And there was an overabundance of supply. This is the real Jubilee. When everyone has his hunger fully satisfied and still there is something left over. This is God’s New Testament Gospel. This is God’s New Testament economy.

Living Stream Ministry

The Lord cared more the relief of the suffering than He did the ritual of religion

Living Stream Ministry Podcast ::

By the time Jesus was ready to begin His earthly ministry, a well established God-ordained religious system was firmly entrenched in the land of Palestine. But as the very God Himself who was the fulfillment and reality of all of the components of that established religion, you would think that He would have taken great care to approach the leaders of that religion and to bring them into His ministry. But the record of the New Testament reveals quite the opposite. The gospels, and particularly the gospel of Mark, reveal that Jesus showed no interest in maintaining the old religion with its traditions and rituals…even those that were among the ones that God had originally instituted such as the Sabbath.

Rather Jesus offended the religious community to the uttermost by breaking the Sabbath regulations repeatedly. It is apparent that the Lord cared more the relief of the suffering than He did the ritual of religion.

What a beautiful picture of the kind of salvation He is here to provide.

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In New Testament terms to have an exodus is to get out of the world

Living Stream Ministry Podcast ::

In New Testament terms to have an exodus is to get out of the world. However without the graphic picture in the book of Exodus, it is difficult to say just how we are to get out of the world…We need to realize that experientially many MANY believers today have experienced Christ as their passover. God has passed over them. The blood of the Lamb has redeemed them from the righteous judgement of God…But they remain in Egypt still needing to make an exodus so that God’s purpose to have a dwelling place can be fulfilled.

If we care only for the benefits that come to us through salvation, we may be content to remain in Egypt with Christ as our passover lamb. But if we care for God’s economy, not only will WE make our exodus from Egypt, we will be burdened that ALL of Gods people be released from Egypt and to serve God and be one with Him for the building up of the Church as His body to consummate the New Jerusalem.

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