In April 1974 Brother Lee began to conduct the life-study of the Bible, releasing messages in weekly ministry meetings and in semiannual trainings. He completed the life-study of the New Testament in December 1984 and the life-study of the Old Testament in July 1995. Based upon His completed life-study of the New Testament, early in 1995 he took an important step in the ministry of the Word—a crystallization-study of certain New Testament books and crucial truths, such as the humanity of Jesus and the complete salvation of God in Romans. According to the charge and the commission that Brother Lee gave to brothers who had been laboring with him for many years to continue the crystallization-studies that he had initiated, these studies have continued in faithfulness to the Lord and to the ministry of the age. Since Brother Lee engaged in crystallization-studies after he had finished the life-study of the Bible, it is important that we have a clear understanding of the meaning, significance, and purpose of a crystallization-study of the Bible. This is the subject of this article.
Since crystallization-studies follow and are based on the life-studies of the Bible, we need to see the difference between life-studies and crystallization-studies.
The Life-study messages are intended to be a guide. Whether we realize it or not, in reading the Bible we are like the Ethiopian eunuch who was reading Isaiah; when Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading, the eunuch answered, “How could I unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:31). Many of us can testify that through reading the Life-study messages we have been guided into the depths of the Word of God. As our guide, the purpose of the life-study of the Bible has four aspects.
Many of us can testify that through reading the Life-study messages we have been guided into the depths of the Word of God.
Once the mine has been opened and the treasure is exposed, it is easy for someone to dig out the treasures. I have left only this one matter of further digging to you.
The Life-studies open the Bible, expound the books of the Bible, and release all the unsearchable riches in the Bible. Brother Lee's goal in the life-study of the Bible was to open up each book of the Bible for our understanding and spiritual experience. For example, I had read the book of Hebrews repeatedly without having this book opened to me. The Life-study of Hebrews opened this book so that we could see, know, understand, and experience what is revealed in this Epistle. Brother Lee compared opening a book of the Bible to opening a mine to find the riches therein. Then he went on to say that we now have a clear way for our study, and every book is open to us. “In mining,” he said, “the hardest thing is to open the mine. Once the mine has been opened and the treasure is exposed, it is easy for someone to dig out the treasures. I have left only this one matter of further digging to you” (Elders’ Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision, pp. 92-93).
Nothing is more important in our Christian life than the truth. The Lord Jesus said, “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I would testify to the truth” (John 18:37). With this in view, the main purpose of the Life-study messages is to bring us into the truth by presenting the truth revealed in every book of the Bible. The Life-study messages open a particular book, and then these messages present the truth, a matter of tremendous significance. Consider the Lord's word concerning the Father's house in John 14. The common religious teaching is that the Father's house is heaven; the truth unveiled in the Life-study of John is that the Father's house is the church, the dwelling place of God universally and locally. The Life-study of Matthew emphasizes the truth concerning the kingdom of the heavens, and the Life-study of Revelation presents the truth concerning Christ in God's administration, the overcomers, the bride, the millennium, and the New Jerusalem in the new heaven and new earth. The life-study of every book in the Bible presents the truth in a clear and pure way. This is the study aspect of the life-study of the Bible.
The life-study of every book in the Bible presents the truth in a clear and pure way.
A crucial function of the life-study of the Bible is to bring us into life as an experiential reality in our daily, personal relationship with the Lord.
The life aspect of the Life-study messages is to minister life—life that is the Triune God in Christ as the life-giving Spirit dispensed into us. A crucial function of the life-study of the Bible is to bring us into life as an experiential reality in our daily, personal relationship with the Lord. This is why we use the term life-study—a study of the Word of God that brings us into both truth and life. The Life-study messages do not merely expound the Bible and present the truth; they also bring believers into the truth to enjoy and experience its riches in the way of life. Mere exposition of the Bible is simply an impartation of knowledge, which causes believers to know doctrines mentally. In contrast, the Life-study messages bring seeking believers into the depths of the Bible so that they can touch and enjoy the life within (cf. John 5:39-40). The underlying burden of all the Life-study messages is that we would take the Word seriously and realize the importance of knowing Christ as truth and Christ as life for the fulfillment of God's eternal purpose. As we study the Bible and read Life-study messages, we need to experience the Lord's word in John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
Serious readers of the Bible will encounter both common and hard problems. In nearly every book of the New Testament there are questions that are difficult to answer and problems and points that are hard to understand. For each of the questions, problems, and points, the Life-study messages give us proper interpretations to enable us to understand them properly and to clear the way for us to continue our journey through the Word of God; to know the truth, the Triune God in the Word; and experience the divine life, the processed and consummated Triune God in Christ as the Spirt who gives life.
...the Life-study messages give us proper interpretations to enable us to understand them properly and to clear the way for us to continue our journey through the Word of God.
The life-study opens the Bible in a general way, but we still need to touch the depths, the crystals, of the Holy Scriptures.
By such a crystallization-study, the Lord can reveal to us the intrinsic essence of the divine revelation, item by item.
In order to understand what is meant by a crystallization-study, we need to consider and grasp the meaning of Brother Lee's words regarding this aspect of his ministry of the Word. In message 8 of Crystallization-study of the Epistle to the Romans, Brother Lee says, “For twenty years I have been having a life-study of the Bible. Now our study has been uplifted to another level, a higher level. We have gone on from the life-study to the crystallization-study” (p. 85). Evidently, a crystallization-study is not a repeat of a life-study or an extract of a Life-study message but a study of the Word on a higher level. In chapter 1 of The Governing and Controlling Vision in the Bible, Brother Lee makes clear the difference between a life-study and a crystallization-study: “Last year the Lord led us to begin the crystallization-study of the Bible, a study which goes even deeper than the life-study of the Bible…The life-study opens the Bible in a general way, but we still need to touch the depths, the crystals, of the Holy Scriptures. Although we are acquainted with the book of Romans and I have expounded it several times, there are still many hidden things as the intrinsic essence of the divine revelation. By such a crystallization-study, the Lord can reveal to us the intrinsic essence of the divine revelation, item by item” (p. 13). A crystallization-study of a book or a subject leads us into the intrinsic essence, the intrinsic significance, of that book or subject. In chapter 1 of The Issue of the Union of the Consummated Spirit of the Triune God and the Regenerated Spirit of the Believers, Brother Lee says, “Every point in the Bible is mysterious, and the particular details in each point are inexhaustible. Hence, I have within me the leading from the Lord that after completing the life-study of the entire Bible this year, we still need a crystallization-study” (p. 10).
In order to deepen our understanding of the significance of crystallization-studies, let us compare the Life-study of John with Crystallization-study of the Gospel of John. In Message 1, the foreword to the Life-study of John, we see that the Gospel of John is a book concerning life and building, which is a way of speaking of Christ and the church. With this central thought as the basis, the messages in this Life-study cover life and building, life’s principle, life’s purpose, the needs of various kinds of people, the dispensing of the Triune God for the producing of His abode, the organism of the Triune God in the divine dispensing, the work of the Spirit, life’s prayers, life processed for multiplication, and life in resurrection. From beginning to end, the Life-study of John covers the entire Gospel of John and brings to light all the points regarding Christ, the Triune God, truth, life, and building. Instead of being a summary or an extract of the Life-study of John, the Crystallization-study of the Gospel of John is focused on the intrinsic essence and significance of particular points, bringing us into the depths of the divine revelation in John. The main topics in this crystallization-study include the crystals, the intrinsic significance of John 1 through 16: God, the processed Triune God, the further revelation of the all-inclusive Christ, the consummated Spirit, the consummation of the complete salvation of Christ, the glorification of Christ by God with His glory, and the organism of the processed and consummated Triune God and the believers’ oneness incorporated with the oneness of the Triune God. All crystallization-studies from 1996 until now have followed this pattern.
Crystallization-studies are not only of books in the Bible but also of certain subjects, such as the humanity of Christ. The six messages of the Crystallization-study of the Humanity of Christ cover the humanity of Christ in the prophecy concerning the eternal economy of God and the humanity of Christ in the fulfillment of the eternal economy of God. All these messages are crystals with intrinsic significance. The Crystallization-study of the Complete Salvation of God in Romans is focused on two divine transfers; one spiritual, practical, and experiential union; and reigning in life through the abundance of grace and the abundance of the gift of righteousness. These examples of crystallization-studies of topics are the pattern that have been and will be followed for any and all other subjects that the Lord, the Head of the Body, leads us to pursue.
Only the Lord knows how many more trainings will be crystallization-studies. All the books of the New Testament and most of the books of the Old Testament have been covered. As the Lord leads, we will have crystallization-studies of 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, and there may be such studies on various subjects that are of great importance in meeting present needs in the Lord's recovery and in participating in the fulfillment of God's eternal purpose. As usual, all the messages will be on the intrinsic significance of crystals in the Word of God, not mere extracts of life-studies.
The more we read and study the Word along with loving the Lord, opening our being to the divine dispensing and the divine light, and seeking to be brought into the depths of the truth, the more we will be prepared for and enabled to benefit from further crystallization-studies.
We prepare for a crystallization-study of a particular book by carefully and prayerfully reading that book and, as much as possible, the Life-study messages on the book. The more we read and study the Word along with loving the Lord, opening our being to the divine dispensing and the divine light, and seeking to be brought into the depths of the truth, the more we will be prepared for and enabled to benefit from further crystallization-studies. May we all receive grace and the life supply from the Lord so that our study of the Bible will be uplifted to another level, a higher level, and will go on from the life-study to the crystallization-study. If we diligently take this way, we will truly live under the vision of the age and be one with the ministry of the age—ministry that leads us into the depths of the Word of God. We have the written word of God, the life-studies of the Bible, and the crystallization-studies. How blessed we are!