The first book that we will cover in this category is The All-inclusive Christ. Groundbreaking when first released, the truth unveiled in this book has been continually referred to and developed, as seen in the most recent International Training for Elders and Responsible Ones on “Knowing, Experiencing, and Living the All-inclusive Christ for the Genuine Church Life.” The contents of The All-inclusive Christ came from the first major conference given by Brother Witness Lee in the United States at the very end of 1962. Looking back near the end of his life, Brother Lee ranked this subject as one of his major burdens: “When I came to the United States, my burden was with three main items. The first item was the all-inclusive Christ” (The Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1994-1997, vol. 3, p. 273).
What is so special about this book? In The All-inclusive Christ Brother Lee draws attention to a largely neglected and yet conspicuous type of Christ in the Old Testament—the good land. The entire Old Testament shows us that God wanted to bring His people into this land so that they would live in this land, bring forth crops and materials from this land, and enjoy all the riches of this land. In Colossians Paul says, “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you for a share of the allotted portion of the saints in the light” (1:12) and, “As therefore you have received the Christ, Jesus the Lord, walk in Him” (2:6). This exceedingly rich land typifies Christ Himself as our God-allotted portion and the One in whom we walk day by day. Just as everything the Israelites needed for their existence and for God’s purpose came out of their experience in the land, likewise everything that we need for our Christian life and church life comes out of laboring on Christ as our real good land. This land and its riches, however, were not simply there for the taking. First, the children of Israel had to pass through many experiences and enjoy many God-given provisions, such as the Passover lamb, the manna, and the various offerings (to name a few). Then they had to be formed into an army to take possession of the land, and even after entering into the land, the children of Israel had not reached God’s goal. Actually, it was just the beginning. The Israelites had to labor diligently on the land to produce an abundance of crops and materials. This point related to labor on the land is highly significant, as Witness Lee explains:
We must be deeply impressed with this difference: to enjoy the manna requires no work, but to enjoy the produce of the good land depends very much upon our work. It is entirely different…When we enter into the all-inclusiveness of Christ, we enjoy much more of Him. But at the same time there is considerable responsibility that must be taken by us. The more we work on Christ, the more we will produce of Christ, the more we will enjoy Christ, the more we will have of Christ to share with others, and the more we can offer Christ to God. All this depends on the amount of our labor upon Christ. When we enter the land, we must work. (The Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1961-1962, vol. 4, pp. 354-355)
After laboring on the land, the materials produced were then used to build what was really on God’s heart—the temple and the city of Jerusalem.
Although there are many features that make The All-inclusive Christ foundational, we would like to point out two matters specifically. The first foundational point is that our labor on Christ should produce a surplus, the top portion of which we offer in worship to God for His satisfaction. Just consider for a moment how much work went into the production of the Israelites’ offerings. At that time, there were no fast-food stores from which an Israelite could grab an offering, or ready-made offerings for the Israelites to pick up on their way to a feast. How much labor went into raising an animal to be an offering! How much work went into producing flour for the meal offering! Diligent labor was the way ordained by God for the Israelites to produce offerings and bring them to worship God. If this is the type, what does it say concerning our worship of the Father? Can we merely grab some surplus quickly on our way out the door to a meeting or simply “pick up” an offering one morning during the week for our worship of the Father? Surely we need to labor on Christ diligently to bring forth some surplus throughout the week as the top portion for us to offer to God for His satisfaction. Surely the Father is seeking this kind of people to worship Him.
The second point is that our labor on Christ produces materials not mainly for our personal benefit and spirituality but for the building of God’s house. Ninety percent of the produce gained from the Israelites’ labor could be enjoyed by them whenever and wherever they desired, but the top ten percent was for God. Also, the stones they quarried and minerals they mined became construction materials for the temple, a type of the church. What does this tell us about the building up of the church? Our labor on Christ to produce Christ should not merely be for our personal spirituality and enjoyment. Even more, our labor on Christ should be for the sake of God’s building—for His house and His expression.
These two points, and many more that we cannot cover here, should be our experience through learning to labor on the all-inclusive Christ as our good land. Thank the Lord for such an astounding revelation of Himself as our real land. We hope that many will be inspired not only to read (or re-read) this great book but also that they will be enlightened by the Spirit to see how all-inclusive our Christ is. May the Spirit of reality bring us all into laboring on Christ, producing Christ, and offering Christ to God for the building up of His house as His expression for the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose.