From chapter three of The Ministers in the Lord’s Recovery – Genuine Ministers of the New Covenant
THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION
In 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 the apostles as ambassadors of Christ beseeched the believers, “Be reconciled to God” (v. 20). They regarded their ministry as a work of reconciliation involving two steps that correspond to the two aspects of God’s full salvation: bringing sinners back to God through His judicial redemption, and bringing believers into God to make them fully one with Him through His organic salvation. The first step is mentioned in verse 19: “God in Christ was reconciling the world to Himself, not accounting their offenses to them.” This refers to sinners being reconciled to God through the objective aspect of Christ’s death on the cross, where He died that we might be forgiven of our sins and justified by God (1 Cor. 15:3; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18). The second step of reconciliation is mentioned in the following verse, in which Paul beseeches the believers in Corinth (not unbelievers in the world) to “be reconciled to God” (v. 20). Here, reconciliation refers to believers living in the natural life being brought to God out from the flesh through the subjective aspect of Christ’s death. Christ died not only for our sins but for us, the sinners, that is, for the termination of our fallen nature; He was made sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:14-15, 21). To be fully reconciled to God is to be saved in His life to the uttermost (Rom. 5:10; Heb. 7:25), until there is no trace of enmity, separation, or discrepancy between God and us but complete peace, oneness, and harmony (Rom. 5:1; 8:6; 1 John 3:2).
These two steps of reconciliation are signified by the two veils of the tabernacle in the Old Testament. The first step is portrayed by the screen, the outer veil at the entrance of the tabernacle. Through the reconciliation of the propitiating blood a sinner could pass through this screen and enter into the Holy Place of the tabernacle, which signifies the dwelling place of God (Exo. 26:36-37). The pillars attached to this screen signify evangelists who provide an entrance for sinners to come into God’s dwelling place (Acts 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9-10). The second step of reconciliation is portrayed by the second veil, the veil within the tabernacle separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies (Exo. 26:31-32; Heb. 9:3). This inner veil signifies the flesh of Christ that was rent through His death on the cross to open a new and living way for man to contact God in Christ as the propitiation place in the Holy of Holies, which typifies the regenerated human spirit (Matt. 27:51; Heb. 10:19-20; Rom. 3:25; Heb. 4:12, 16; cf. Exo. 25:22). The pillars attached to this veil signify the overcoming believers who live in union with the crucified Christ, those who no longer live in their flesh (that is, in their soul, their natural life) but bear the testimony of having been crucified with Christ (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 2:20; 5:24; cf. 2:9; Rev. 3:12). Such believers, having passed through the second veil to dwell with God in their regenerated human spirit, seek to bring their fellow believers from the Holy Place into the Holy of Holies to enjoy God Himself in His fullness (Rev. 1:10; 4:2; John 14:19; 2 Cor. 13:4; 1 Thes. 5:10).
Paul and his fellow apostles were such pillars, fully reconciled to God in their inward being through a thorough experience of Christ’s death and ushering God’s people into their spirit as the true Holy of Holies that they might abide in God and live with Him (1 John 2:27-28; 4:13). Because they themselves were abiding in the Holy of Holies, they could call others to come forward to join them there (Heb. 10:22; cf. 4:16). It is crucial to see that God entrusts the ministry of reconciliation to those who themselves have been fully reconciled to God through Christ. Apart from the pillars there is no entrance—signifying that only by the ministry of such ones who co-work with God can we be fully reconciled to Him (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1; Mark 16:20). If we do not receive their ministry, we will unavoidably be severed from this work of bringing the believers fully back to God and presenting every man full-grown in Christ (Col. 1:28-29).
In carrying out the ministry of reconciliation, Paul exhorts the believers to no longer live to themselves but to live to the crucified and resurrected Lord (2 Cor. 5:15, 18, 20). This means that they would no longer live in their flesh (as fleshly men) or in their soul (as soulish men) but in their spirit, the practical Holy of Holies (as spiritual men) (1 Cor. 2:14-15; 3:1-3). Regrettably, many teachers in traditional Christianity are not able to carry out this ministry, because they consider man a dichotomous being of only body and soul, neglecting the biblical revelation that man is a tripartite being composed of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thes. 5:23). The soul was created as an organ to express God but became corrupted through Adam’s fall to become the self, an entity independent of God with its own expression (Luke 1:46; 9:23); the categorical demand of the Lord Jesus is to deny this mutated part of our being (Matt. 16:24). The spirit, which was created to contact, receive, and contain God, is born of the Spirit at the time of a believer’s regeneration to become the place of fellowship and service to God (John 3:6; 4:24; Rom. 1:9; 7:6; 12:11); the unequivocal teaching of the New Testament is to walk by this regenerated spirit (8:4). Those who maintain that man is bipartite are equally unaware of the peril of living according to the fallen soul and of the importance of living according to the regenerated spirit (1 Cor. 2:14-15). As a result, they cultivate the human soul as a means to serve God and thereby unwittingly encourage the development of fallen humanity. Under their erroneous teaching, countless believers remain in a soulish state (cf. Jude 19). Like the Israelites who spent forty years roaming the wilderness, these misguided believers tarry aimlessly in their soul and fall short of the promised land of their regenerated spirit (Heb. 4:8-12), where their divine inheritance, Christ as the life-giving Spirit, lies tragically untapped (Gal. 3:14; 5:16, 25; Rom. 8:16).
The ministry in the Lord’s recovery not only affirms the scriptural view that man is composed of body, soul, and spirit but also repeatedly stresses the pivotal importance of the mingled spirit—the human spirit mingled10 with Christ as the life-giving Spirit—as the focal point of the believers’ experience of the Triune God and the vital means by which God carries out His eternal purpose. It is in their mingled spirit that the believers are born of God to become His children (John 3:6; Rom. 8:16), and it is in their mingled spirit that the believers realize their organic union with God in Christ (1 Cor. 6:17), receive revelation from God to know Him and His economy concerning Christ and the church (Eph. 1:17; 3:3-5), worship the Father as true worshippers (John 4:23-24), serve God in newness and in the gospel of His Son (Rom. 1:9; 7:6), spontaneously fulfill the righteous requirement of the law (8:4), partake of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:18; Phil. 4:23), are renewed in their mind (Eph. 4:23; cf. Rom. 6:4; 7:6), and are built into God’s corporate dwelling place (Eph. 2:22). Further, the ministry in the Lord’s recovery has tirelessly exhorted the saints to walk according to their spirit, regarding this practice as the apostle Paul’s “unique commandment” (Rom. 8:4; cf. Gal. 5:16, 25).11 By encouraging the believers to live in their mingled spirit, this ministry has shepherded many to become spiritual men, those who live in their spirit as the Holy of Holies, enjoying direct fellowship with God face to face (1 Cor. 2:15; 2 Cor. 2:13; 6:7; 3:18; 4:6).
The overwhelming majority of believers today have been reconciled to God only partly, having passed through the first veil but still living mostly in their flesh, their natural life (1 Cor. 3:1, 3). This is largely because most of them are under superficial teachings that emphasize the objective aspect of Christ’s death as the price of their redemption; they are not taught concerning the subjective aspect of Christ’s death as the means of deliverance from the flesh. In contrast, the ministry in the Lord’s recovery unveils the death of Christ as the means by which God in Christ not only judicially redeems fallen human beings but also terminates the flesh of the believers for their full reconciliation to God. Further, the ministry in the Lord’s recovery provides a way to experience this vision. We see under the Spirit’s enlightenment that our old man was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6), we realize that the efficacy of Christ’s terminating death is an element of the all-inclusive, compound, life-giving Spirit (Phil. 1:19; Gal. 5:16, 24-25), and we put to death by the Spirit the practices of the body, thereby allowing the Spirit to execute the death of Christ upon our flesh (Rom. 8:13). By receiving the word of the cross presented by the Lord’s ministry in His recovery, numerous saints have learned to apply the death of Christ to their flesh by the Spirit, thereby experiencing the rending of their flesh that they might be fully reconciled to God, entering into a deep harmony and oneness with God in the Holiest of all.
In brief, the ministry in the Lord’s recovery has shepherded many saints to deny their soul and live in their spirit by remaining faithful to the word of the cross (1 Cor. 1:18). The word of God as a sharp two-edged sword divides soul from spirit (Heb. 4:12), exposing what is soulish and condemning the natural life. By releasing the word of the cross, this ministry has saved many from wasting years wandering in their soul and opened the way for them to enter into the highest enjoyment of Christ in their mingled spirit (Deut. 12:9; Col. 1:12). It is a great validation of Brother Lee’s ministry that under his perfecting many of his co-workers experienced the breaking of their flesh for the second step of reconciliation and have gone on to serve the saints with the ministry of reconciliation, ushering them into the Holy of Holies for their uttermost enjoyment of the Triune God.
10 The human spirit can be said to be mingled with the divine Spirit (cf. Lev. 2:4) because the former is joined to and indwelt by the latter without confusion or without producing a third substance (1 Cor. 6:17) while the distinction between the two spirits is preserved in their combination (Rom. 8:15).
>11 The Divine Dispensing of the Divine Trinity, p. 236
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