Holding to Truth

holding to truth in love for the building up of the Body of Christ

Why The Economy of God Is a Must-Read for Every Christian

To lay a good foundation for a normal Christian life, I’d highly recommend a deliberate and focused reading of the book, The Economy of God, by Witness Lee.

I know that “the economy of God” is not a very familiar term to most Christians. So to be brief, we can say that  God’s economy refers to God’s intention or plan to dispense Himself into a group of people to make them His dwelling place and the Body for His Son, Jesus Christ.

There are a lot of details in this economy, but the word I’d like to focus on at this point is this word “dispense.” Simply put, God wants to dispense Himself into us.

In this post we’ll briefly consider what is “the economy of God” based on the book by this title. Then we’ll go on to consider why it’s so crucial for us to see a vision of God’s economy and to focus the aim of our entire Christian life on such a divine economy.

What is “the economy of God?” 

In 1 Tim. 1:3-6, Paul charged his young coworker Timothy to remain in Ephesus so that he “might charge certain ones not to teach different things…rather than God’s economy, which is in faith.” Then Paul said,  “But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and out of a good conscience and out of unfeigned faith; from which things some, having misaimed…” (“Misaimed” here can also mean missed the mark, swerved, or deviated).

In the Forward of The Economy of God, Lee says,

The word “economy” used in the title of this volume may sound somewhat strange to the reader. “The economy of God” is a quotation from I Timothy 1:4, according to the Greek. “Economy” is the Greek word “oikonomia” which primarily signifies the household management, the household administration, arrangement and distribution, or dispensation (of wealth, property, affairs, etc.). It is used with the intention of stressing the focal point of God’s divine enterprise, which is to distribute, or dispense, Himself into man. (The Economy of God, p. 5)

Why do I think that it’s so important to read The Economy of God?

The answer is FOCUS.

A little further on in the Forward, Lee says,

“The Holy Spirit of God, dwelling in our human spirit to dispense all that God is in Christ into our being, is the focus, the very mark of this mysterious distribution of the Triune God. This is the battleground of the spiritual warfare. Oh, how much the subtle enemy has been and still is distracting the saints of God, even the seeking ones, from this mark of God’s economy by so many good and even scriptural things.” ( p. 5)

It’s possible for us to live a “good Christian life”—virtuous, “spiritual,” charitable, and full of good works, yet “misaim” as Paul said in 1 Tim. 1:6.

If we don’t know what God’s economy is, we’ll invariably “misaim.” And if we lose our focus or get distracted, it’s still possible for us to miss the mark, to swerve or to deviate. But we’ve got to see the focus first. We desperately need to see a clear view of God’s economy.

A Summary of The Economy of God

Beginning with a basic vision of the economy of God in chapter one, Lee goes on to show us that the Spirit’s residence is in our spirit. He also presents many important details concerning our inward parts, their functions, and the dealing with and discerning of these parts so that we can experience God’s dispensing.

In later chapters, Lee touches the principles of the cross and resurrection, as well as the fellowship of the divine life and the sense of the divine life.

Finally, Lee leads us to the building of God’s dwelling place, the church as the issue of God’s economy. He points out that if we do not have the experiences of Christ according to God’s economy in a practical way, it is impossible to build up the church, the Body of Christ.

Getting into The Economy of God

First, I hope that all the readers of this post will make a decision to read  The Economy of God. You can read it online at ministrybooks.org or purchase it from the publisher. (In the near future, I expect that you’ll be able to get a free copy from Bibles for America.)

Second, I hope you’ll not only get a copy, but read it in a very deliberate way, receiving all the messages with a praying spirit; always accompany your reading with prayer.

Third, I hope you’ll read the quoted Scripture verses with much prayer. You may also enjoy my previous post on pray-reading the Word.

Finally, I hope you’ll apply what you’ve read and prayed over to your daily Christian life, asking the Lord to bring you into the spiritual reality conveyed in these messages and sharing what you’ve seen with those you know. You may want to pray,

“Lord, show me a clear vision of Your economy. May I be narrowed down and even zeroed in on the divine Spirit in my human spirit that I may be kept from missing the mark of Your divine economy. Lord bring me into such a realization that I may practice it in my daily life, in all that I do.”  

If you’ve received help by seeing a vision of the economy of God or benefit from reading the book by this title, please share what has helped you in a comment to this post.

Additional resources:

  • For a more thorough definition of “the economy of God” you may enjoy reading the quotes on this website.
  • For a further appreciation of the book, The Economy of God by Witness Lee, you may enjoy reading a review “On the Economy of God” by Merrill at Ark and Architecture and “The Economy of God” by Don Martin at New Jerusalem—A Biblical View.
  • If you you’ve enjoyed these reviews of The Economy of God,  you will soon be able to  get a free copy of the book here, from Bibles for America.
  • You may also enjoy this hymn on God’s dispensing, His economy.

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

20 Replies

  1. Reading this book has helped me a lot. There’s this one diagram in the book. That diagram alone unlocked so much for me, I can’t even begin to describe it.

    Here’s the diagram: http://goo.gl/gsxd7

    Just look at it. The temple in the Old Testament corresponds to the parts of man corresponds to the children of Israel being brought from Egypt, through the wilderness, into the good land. It unlocks the whole Old Testament and shows the focus of the whole Bible. There’s just so much there! It blows my mind!

    1. Tom Smith

      I really like that diagram also. It helped me to see Christian progress in new light. We need to come forward from the outer court (our body) through the holy place (our soul) into the Holy of Holies (our spirit)–where Christ is today (2 Tim. 4:22). Every day we need to come forward to our spirit to enjoy Christ. Thanks for mentioning the diagram. It’s really a wonderful picture.

  2. Seeing the focal point of God’s plan is so critical. Without this it is so easy to misinterpret items of the truth, like “follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21) to mean trying to improve our human life vs. receiving of Christ in order to allow Him to live out of us (Gal 2:20). I’ve had conversations with other Christian friends on this. If we don’t see God’s economy, living a life of the highest Christian morality becomes no different than Confucianist or buddist living on a high moral plane, all of which inevitably fail because our human life runs out. If we don’t see God’s economy, Christians can be some so disappointed at our failures that we “give up” on the Christian life, saying “it doesn’t work”.

    1. Tom Smith

      It’s so good to see that our responsibility is not to try to do God’s will but to continually open to the One who fully did God’s will. We can receive His continual dispensing. In this way God is content and supply and we are His increase and expression. What an economy!

  3. I read this whole book once in Romanian and most of it in English. I can warmly recommend it also. It contains basic principles in God’s economy, which is focused NOT on our welfare or benefit, but on God’s plan, His heart’s desire. And our human spirit is the key to understand what’s going on – since God is Spirit!

    I especially like your recommendation to read the chapters in a prayerful way, especially all the verses. You may not see something at the beginning, but by praying over the Word and over these chapters, there’s a vision of God’s economy being infused into you….

    1. Tom Smith

      I’m glad you underscored the point of reading The Economy of God with much prayer. Since to see God’s economy requires the Spirit’s enlightening (Eph 3:9), we can’t grasp it with only a sober mind. We need a spirit of wisdom and revelation, with the eyes of heart having been enlightened. This only comes by means of prayer. That’s why the apostle Paul prayed for the believers (Eph. 1:16-18). May we also pray that we may have such a spirit, with such a heart. to see a vision of God’s economy. Thanks again!

  4. I would consider The Economy of God as an essential, foundational read. The Bible is a big book, but what is the overarching view? What is God’s plan? Through my reading of The Economy of God, I’ve been helped to see that God’s plan is to dispense Himself into us. For this plan, He is triune and man is tripartite (body, soul, and spirit). In short, the way that God carries out His plan is simply by dispensing Himself into us day by day, starting from our spirit and spreading gradually into our soul.

    If we don’t realize that God has an economy, a plan, it’s difficult for us to cooperate with God for His purpose. We may do many good things and may do our best to please God, but tragically we may miss the mark because we are ignorant of what God wants.

    It seems that the starting point is to see what God’s plan is; then we can cooperate with Him by opening to Him and allowing Him to dispense Himself into us. Through our opening to Him, God’s economy becomes experiential, not merely doctrinal.

    1. Tom Smith

      Yes, seeing the vision comes first. We need to see that God’s intention in everything is to dispense Himself into us (Eph. 1:17-23). Then based on such a vision we should go on to experience and enjoy this divine dispensing in every aspect of our lives with the issue that God fills us til we express Him corporately such that He is glorified in the church (Eph 3:14-21). What an economy!

  5. This book has definitely changed my life. I was particularly struck with the quote, “If we do not contain God and know God as our content, we are a senseless contradiction.” The essence of this book lays the most basic foundation of my life. For me, the need to read this book is to the point of choosing between living a meaningful life or a life of senseless contradiction.

    The return in investing some time to read this book is by all means priceless. Thanks for posting this.

  6. Jackline Mutunga

    i am happy to have known the church here in kenya through it i have been able to know God the way,i was really in the wilderness searching untill now my heart is slowly settling us my daily routine i check and read witness lee books n it has really helped me.Oh Lord Jesus Let YOUR WILL BE DONE!!AMEN

    1. Tom Smith

      Praise the Lord for making the vision so clear! We are not just redeemed ones living in Egypt, in our flesh and the world. Neither are we just separated one, wandering in the wilderness of our soul. We are now he the believing ones pressing into the good land of our spirit to enjoy Christ as our unsearchably rich land (Eph. 3:8). It is only here that God’s purpose is fulfilled and God’s dwelling place is being built up. Praise the Lord for such a revelation from The Economy of God!

  7. John

    Hi Tom, thank you for your posts they are really helpful. I really desire to get more into the ministry of Witness Lee and I have been enjoying so much already. Besides the Life Studies what would you consider to be the top ten W.Lee books which you would consider an absolute must read for every believer?

    1. Tom Smith

      John, Yes, the Life-studies are the most comprehensive teaching of Witness Lee covering every book of the Bible from the perspective of knowing and experiencing Christ as life for the building up of the Body of Christ, the church. In addition, there are hundreds of books that address crucial topics of Christian faith and practice. It is hard for me to narrow a selection down to ten titles by Witness Lee except to consider them as ten of his most basic writings to lay a foundation. As such, I would recommend:
      1. The Economy of God
      2. The All-inclusive Christ
      3. The Experience of Life
      4. The Basic Revelation of the Holy Scriptures
      5. Basic Lessons on Life
      6. The Knowledge of Life
      7. Young People’s Training
      8. A Brief Presentation of the Lord’s Recovery
      9. God’s New Testament Economy
      10.Lessons for New Believers

      In addition, I would add near the top of a reading list, The Glorious Church by Watchman Nee, Lee’s senior co-worker.

      1. John

        Hi Tom, thank you for this list…

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