(Student of Watchman Nee, co-laborer with the "little flock" in China and spiritually impacted by T. Austin-Sparks)-------------------------------------------------1957 - Special talk on the Locality Law betweenTAS and Witness Lee I had earlier recommended to WL that we collaborate with TAS, so that together we could build a worldwide spiritual testimony with his spirituality and our local church methodology. Therefore one Friday evening in 1957, WL asked me to stay in Taipei when all the other co-workers had gone back to their respective cities of service, because he would talk to TAS about the Locality Law (or church ground). A total of five people were at that meeting: TAS, Poul Madsen, Witness Lee (李常受), Zhang Wu-chen (張 晤晨), and Zhang Yu-lan (張郁嵐). I stayed downstairs in the Worker’s Home waiting to hear the report. The meeting ended before 9:00 pm. WL came to the Worker’s Home immediately afterwards to talk to me. He said, “I (Lee) asked TAS, ‘If there are five different Christian groups in Taipei City, which one is the real church?’ TAS thought for a little while and said, 'If those in the five Christian groups are really born again by the Holy Spirit (i.e. they have Christ in their hearts), then they are all churches, because the church is measured by Christ.’” The three Chinese brothers in the meeting were deeply influenced by WN’s Locality Law or Church Ground teaching and TAS saw by their facial expressions that they did not agree with what he said. So he asked, "What do you mean by Church Ground?" WL said, "Drawing from the ‘type' in the Old Testament, Israel could not build the temple in Babylon, nor in the desert, but only in Jerusalem on the original ground." TAS said, "Yes. But what is Jerusalem's original ground?" Lee said, "It is where the Holy Spirit built the church for the first time in Acts on the ground of one locality, one church." TAS immediately knew that was the teaching from WN’s book "Rethinking of our Mission" (English version published in Honor Oak, England 1939), so he said, "This is your interpretation! As far as I know, the real Church Ground is not one locality, one church, but is Christ Himself!" When I heard this it was a shock to me because I also held fast to Nee’s teaching at that time. It was really a great shake-up to me personally to realize that Jerusalem's original ground is not one locality, one church, but is Christ Himself! Then WL argued with TAS saying, " We say that the Church Ground is one locality one church, which means Unity in one city." TAS said, "If you mean that the Church Ground means Unity in one city, it means that you agree with me, and disagree with yourselves! One locality one church teaching or other teachings cannot bring Unity among Christians. Only Christ Himself can bring Christians true Unity, not only in one place, but also in all other places! The truth is: Things divide; Christ unites!" When I heard this, it was a second shock to me; in fact, the Church Ground teaching collapsed within me and I totally abandoned that teaching from that moment! WL wanted to argue further, but TAS said, “If you follow the Holy Spirit's leading and do certain things according to the examples in the New Testament, that is good, but don’t say 'this is the only way!’ The Holy Spirit is too vast to comprehend.” Then TAS said, "There really is no need to continue this meeting!" And immediately the meeting ended right there! After WL told me all of the above, he said, "We will never invite TAS into our midst again!" However, because my viewpoint on the church ground was totally changed through what I had heard, I argued with him till after midnight – in fact until 1:00am. One thing I remember saying was, “TAS never intended to control or to seize our work, he only ministers Christ to us! If you don’t work with TAS or you refuse his ministry, which is Christ Himself, then that means you are shutting out Jesus Christ (Rev. 3:20)! That is a very serious and dangerous matter!” Finally, Brother Lee seemed to be convinced by me and said, “I will work with him (TAS) again!” and I was appeased. I said to brother Lee, “ If brother Watchman Nee were here tonight, he would have changed his position on the Locality Law”! But Brother Lee seemed to disagree with me. (This conversation was on the Friday night.) The next Monday morning, brother TAS continued his messages on “The Persistent Purpose of God”. When he spoke (chapter nine, page 69 of the book by the same title) he said, “We must be very careful not to make Christ or His Church smaller than it really is. We must not make Christ smaller than what God has made Him. We may not make Him just our Christ, our little Christ, the Christ that belongs to us, the Christ of our particular locality!” WL didn’t like translating this passage into Chinese! On the same day, at around 3:00 pm, WL came to the Workers’ Home to see me. He pounded on the table angrily and shouted at me, “We hold fast to the Church Ground, why does that make us a Little church, a Little Christ?” I was astonished and kept silent! It seemed to me that WL would no longer work with TAS in the future! This conversation was in private, not in public. At that time I said myself, " Whether WL works with TAS or not, it no longer mattered to me because I was no longer interested in the locality law! Through TAS’ ministry, I have been given a new Bible by the Holy Spirit, in which I see the living Christ everywhere. The greatest need of every local church is spiritual food (the living Christ). The elementary principles of Christ (spiritual milk) are good but not enough; we must go on and learn obedience through sufferings (solid food) to reach full maturity. If the elementary principles become merely traditions, we would lose the freshness and impact of life: ‘The grapes of Eshcol became raisins’ (Num 13:23). We have to abide in and minister new light and life (the new living Christ from the Bible) and feed Christians with solid food." Now I had begun to get this spiritual food directly from the Bible! 1958 - WL sent me to Gao-Xiong (the second largest city in Taiwan) to serve. 1959 - A Tragic year for Watchman Nee’s Groups 1959 - In the sovereignty of God, 1959 was the beginning of a tragic and terrible year for WN’s groups (including WL). The reason: In April, after one of the Thursday evening Bible study meetings on John chapter 4, at around 8:40 pm, WL (his face red with anger ) made a public (not private) announcement when all the co-workers of the Taiwan churches and the local saints were gathered together in Taipei. This announcement consisted of: (1) His formal proclamation: "From now on, I will no longer work with TAS." This contradicted with his public announcement and comment in 1955: “We are going to work with TAS! He is like refined pure gold and a pressed diamond! In 1934 WN introduced TAS and spread his ministry to the whole of China!” We were all glad to hear that in 1955, which was the first time TAS visited the Far East. WN also referred to TAS as a spiritual man several times while I was in Shanghai in 1947. This meant that in effect, WL had stated that he would no longer work with spiritual people from 1959 onwards. (2) He spoke evilly against TAS. He used the Shandong dialect in speaking against TAS, which basically meant, "TAS’ message (little church, little Christ) in 1957 was like passing gas"! (1957 那天晚上[拜五] 我叫他吃了一口氣﹐他第二天 [其實是第三天﹐拜一] 就放出來了.) When I heard WL’s terrible words, my whole being was shocked and I was shaken right to the core. I sighed in my heart: “O dear brother Lee, what are you doing?! Why?! Those dirty words... let it not even be named among us, as is fitting for saints – Eph. 5:3!” (3) He cursed himself: Using Jacob's words he said, “If there is a division among us due to my refusing to work with TAS, I shall go down to Sheol in mourning!” (Gen. 37:35). (如果因為我不與史弟兄同工﹐而使我們中間發生分裂﹐我就悲悲慘慘的下陰間!) This was the first time ever that a meeting ended without a concluding prayer, and everybody went home sad! The day after, WL became sick. He could not do any public speaking for the next six months. After this public announcement, I went back to Gao-Xiong the very next morning. Following the leading of the Holy Spirit I prepared to leave brother Lee’s co-worker relationship. Thanks be to the Lord, my wife got a teaching job in Gao-Xiong high school. From then on, I ceased to participate in brother Lee’s co-workers’ meetings. At the time, some leading brothers and sisters came to my home and wanted to support and follow me. I said to them, “No! Don’t follow me! I am nothing! If you follow me now, in a little while, you would want to kill me because I am not your ideal Christian! You and I need to pray that God reveals His Son in us, so that we will all follow Him! Because of TAS’ ministry, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and I have really begun to see the revelation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. My life has been changing and in a revolutionary way! Please study TAS' books and receive the revelation by the Holy Spirit of God’s Son! Then we can work together in that day with a heavenly vision!” 1960 - I started to publish the “Overcomer” periodical in Gao-Xiong and later in Manila. Most of the messages in it were TAS’ messages translated into Chinese. On July 29, 1961 I received official permission from TAS to translate his messages. Now these can be read in Chinese at www.austin-sparks.net and also www.geocities.com/heraldhsu. 1961 - WN’s (including WL’s) groups began the long history of repeated divisions. First it was the church in Manila, subsequently, churches in Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Taiwan, all suffered breakups. Even today, forty years after these initial divisions, those who followed Nee’s Locality teaching and work, continue to divide and be exclusive! It’s a tragedy! In principle, those who followed WL’s co-workers and elders, including many of the second generation were, and are, really experiencing “going down to Sheol in mourning”. Finally some of them separated from Witness Lee! In the midst of all this great turmoil, TAS wrote to this Author on 7/26/1961: "The great enemy does not give up his determination to interrupt fellowship and to spoil the work of the Lord by bringing division among His people. Everywhere this evil work is being pressed with increasing intensity. The enemy is set upon destroying anything that will result in the Lord Jesus coming into His full place. We must stand and withstand and do all in our power to keep this ground from him. It is costly, and it demands that we let go all that is only personal, and that we stand for the glory of our Lord's name and His interests alone... I am sure that you will never make me or my ministry a ground of division. There is no need to fight for me; the Lord is on the Throne, and He can order things to His Own Will - while we pray and trust Him." After WN’s group (including WL) in Manila divided, God’s servants Simon Meek (繆紹訓) and Luke Wu (吳仁傑) invited me to Manila to serve. When I arrived in Manila at the end of 1961, the first thing that I asked them to do was to write an invitation letter to TAS inviting him to come to Manila to help us, because only TAS' ministry (Christ Himself) could solve the Far East problems. Upon receiving the letter, TAS shared it with other servants of the Lord. Brother C.R. Golsworthy and his wife were led by the Holy Spirit to accept the burden. TAS confirmed it. Brother and sister Golsworthy came to Manila in 1962. Finally in 1964, TAS and his wife also came to Manila where they stayed and ministered to us for a month. TAS held two special conferences and also spoke in regular meetings. He delivered 42 messages in all, leading us and the whole body of Christ into the spiritual and heavenly realms. Thanks be to God! Now these 42 messages have been published in two volumes titled “That They May All Be One, Even As We Are One”. These books are available free upon request by writing to: Emmanuel Church, 12,000 East 14th Street, Tulsa, OK 74128-5016, USA. Or they can be viewed at www.austin-sparks.net. Concerning the "Locality law", TAS wrote to us in Manila from London on April 12, 1962: “Dear Brother Wu: Your letter addressed to me in London has been sent on to me here in U.S.A. Thank you for writing so fully regarding the situation there in Manila, I came to America near the end of February, and have had a very full time in various parts of this country. Now I am preparing to return to London in four days from now, to be there for the special meetings that we have always had at Easter. I have carefully read all that you have told me as to the reason for the division with brother Lee and those who have formed another assembly on the special basis of “Locality”. Soon after I arrived here I had a long talk with brother Lee in which he gave me his own views on the matter. He read to me many letters, which had passed between you, brother Herald Hsu, and himself. He also told me of the serious event in Manila when armed guards took charge of the Assembly Hall to lock the doors and keep people from meeting there. He showed me the copy of the official letter of the lawyer demanding that the property, finances, etc. be handed over to you and brother Meek. I still refuse to take sides in all this. Knowing very well that there are always many things on both sides, which I do not know nor understand. I can only take any position on what I believe to be fundamental. For me, the basis (or ground) of the Church is quite fundamental. I cannot accept that the basis is what is called "Locality". I believe that where Christ truly is, even if it be in only "two or three" there the Church is in effect. Christ is the "foundation" (or ground), and "other foundation can no man lay". But when I have said that, brother, I feel that you are, perhaps unconsciously, involved in the "Locality" position. Do you know that that is precisely and positively the teaching and position of the people called "Exclusive Brethren"? This teaching first went to Shanghai with the leading Exclusive Brethren who tried to capture the whole work of brother Nee. Brother Nee refused to be made an official part of that body, but the teaching got in, and has gone on ever since. When I came to Manila and Hong Kong I was very sorry to see that in both Assembly Halls there were for sale many of the books from the Stow Hill Bible Dept. in England. I feared that this would lead to both exclusiveness and division, and as late as last year one of the biggest divisions took place among them. Their whole church teaching is based upon this "Locality" law. (That is, the church ground.) Brother Lee is the strongest exponent of it in the Far East. I love brother Lee and will do all possible to avoid separation from him. We must all fight hard to prevent divisions, and our ground must be Christ in all His own... I shall continue to pray for you all, and that the Lord will get a great victory over all the evil powers which are working so hard to bring dishonor upon His name everywhere... Give my greetings to all the brothers and sisters. Yours in the love and grace of our Lord Jesus,T. Austin-Sparks" Forty years ago, the Holy Spirit forbade me to write down these historic facts because at that time, I was learning the lessons of the Cross (obedience through sufferings, and subjecting myself to the disciplines of the Holy Spirit). Men may have been wrong, things may have been incorrect, situations may have been difficult etc. but God allowed them to happen to bring my self-centered life to light (my self-conceit, self-righteousness, self-murmuring, self-discontent, self-arguments, my spiritual work, my ministry, my zeal for the Lord, etc.) That was good! When I willingly denied myself, the measure of Christ was spontaneously increased. Thanks be to the Lord! Although at that time the Holy Spirit did not allow me to work with brother Lee, the Christ in my heart still loved him and prayed for him and that has never changed! In fact, all the followers of the Lamb are going to repudiate the things of the flesh, the things of the world, this natural life, legalism; even so-called spiritual works, but the living Christ in their hearts not only loves the brethren, He also loves their enemies! When under the disciplines of the Holy Spirit I discovered my self-centered life, by God’s grace I was always led to repent and to be corrected accordingly! Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny” (Matt. 5:26). Thanks to God, in February 1997 at a special conference, our dear brother WL showed public repentance before he died, (in Chen Xing Sheng Yan - 晨興聖言 1997, page 50) “I have sinned against the Body of Christ, I have sinned against many brothers and sisters. For this, I have deeply repented before the Lord!” (對不起基督的身體, 對不起許多弟兄姊妹﹐為著這件事我在主面前有很深的悔改!) (Author’s note: According to the Author’s knowledge, these included elder brothers and sisters such as TAS (史百克), London; Simon Meek (繆紹訓), Manila; Faithful Luke (陸忠信), Singapore; Luke Wu (吳仁傑), Manila; Chen Ze-Xin (陳則信), Hong Kong; Stephen Kaung (江守道), USA; Ma Kui-Chun (馬葵春), Taiwan; Hou xiu-Ying (侯秀英), Taiwan; and many other dear brothers and sisters.) Although brother WL had repented, many of his followers have not! This is to serve as a warning and a challenge to us! We need to repent immediately, and not wait! We have to be “buying up the opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16 Gk)! Satan wants us to spend all our time engaging in Christian activities, but never to learn obedience through sufferings in our homes, in our businesses, in our service, and manifest Christ Himself in our mortal bodies! Isaiah and other saints were allowed by the Spirit to write the history of King Uzziah, how he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and God made him prosper. But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction! He became leprous, and remained a leper until the day of his death (Isa. 6:1; 2 Chr. 26)! What a tragic story it was! Paul and Luke were allowed by the Spirit to write down the history of Barnabas. He was a Levite, a son of encouragement, and sold his land for the Lord. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. He was sent out to Antioch to help Saul of Tarsus and he worked with Paul. But in the end he played the hypocrite. “Even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy” (Gal. 2:13)! Forty years later, the Holy Spirit urged me to write down these facts. Why? The Holy Spirit says,"For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we... might have hope." (Rom. 15:4). Our hope is in Christ, not in men, even great men of God. Out of the Old Man comes praise of man and glorification of man. Out of the New Man, any reference to historical happenings should be seen as simply increasing the measure of Christ. The lessons are not only for our learning, but also for the succeeding generations. The Bible treats a number of God’s servants in an unusual manner: Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, John and Paul were all crucified men and greatly used by God, but there are no records about their deaths, funerals and graves. Why is this? Because they themselves were all nothing and don’t need to be remembered. They were called by God only as instruments and their vocation or function was ministering Christ; which was important and eternal. And so the Bible only records their vocations or functions. Why did God allow those things to happen? (1) The Holy Spirit leads us to “see His glory”, and shows us that men (even those greatly used by God) are nothing. (Please read: “Because He Saw His Glory” and “Even Barnabas” on the www.austin-sparks.net website) (2) The Holy Spirit used the divisions of WN’s groups as a background and opportunity for TAS to minister the invaluable spiritual and heavenly messages to the whole body of Christ, from 1957 through till this very day; even though the servant of the Lord has passed away, yet Christ still ministers abundant life through His servant’s words! Truly His name is Wonderful. HE has set free those who were in legalism and exclusiveness! In the sovereignty of God, there were many who opposed Paul. His opponents included the Galatians, the Corinthians and the Ephesians. But Paul learned obedience through sufferings and his wonderful testimony shines through: “Now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ”! For two thousand years, Christians have been ministered to through him! We have to thank those who opposed Paul! Today we have to thank those who oppose spiritual people! We have to recognize that through all ages and generations those who have chosen the spiritual and heavenly way and stuck to it, were opposed by earthly and soulish people! This was, and is, the woman (all saints in the Old and New Testaments) who cried out in labor and in pain to give birth to the Man Child (overcomers) (Rev. 12:1-5; 2:27; 3:21). But God’s eternal purpose will be fulfilled! “The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and He shall reign for the ages of the ages, Amen” (Rev. 11:15 VM)! From 1962 until today - I spent an additional 13 years in Manila before moving to the USA in 1973. After 17 years in New Jersey, I relocated to California with my family where we have been living for more than 13 years. In all those years I have served Christians according to Paul’s words: “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phi. 1:29)! By the mercy of God, may all the Christians everywhere enter into the full revelation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, so that God’s eternal purpose might be fulfilled! Herald HsuLos Angeles February 2004Chinese website: www.geocities.com/heraldhsu--------------------------------------------------The Complete Article:[url=http://www.geocities.com/heraldhsu/testimony_grace_of_god.htm]http://www.geocities.com/heraldhsu/testimony_grace_of_god.htm[/url]--------------------------------------------------Vasile - Praise the Lord!
Dear vasilef,This is truly astounding! The rivers of ink and mountains of pulp that might have been saved just by this that you have brought forth. It is not very far removed from us that much of this very discussion took place here.This is a testimony to itself and more so to the Lord Himself. The spiritual honesty would be a great difficulty to miss, the love shown forth [i]regardless[/i] ... what a devastating blow to the whole argument! I cannot see anything other than the whole of this to be a challenge not only to the issue at hand but more broadly to what we ought to be as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.My sincere appreciation for bringing this to the light of day. May this manner of Spirit burn within us all!
"The great enemy does not give up his determination to interrupt fellowship and to spoil the work of the Lord by bringing division among His people. Everywhere this evil work is being pressed with increasing intensity. The enemy is set upon destroying anything that will result in the Lord Jesus coming into His full place. We must stand and withstand and do all in our power to keep this ground from him. It is costly, and it demands that we let go all that is only personal, and that we stand for the glory of our Lord's name and His interests alone... I am sure that you will never make me or my ministry a ground of division. There is no need to fight for me; the Lord is on the Throne, and He can order things to His Own Will - while we pray and trust Him."
I just wanted to present Witness Lee's own teaching consering the ground of the church:CHAPTER TWOPRACTICING THE BODY LIFE ON THE PROPER GROUND OF ONENESSScripture Reading: Deut. 12:5, 11, 13-14, 18a; 14:23; 15:20; 16:2, 6, 15-16Some may ask why we pay so much attention to the ground of the church. It seems that it is not something related to the gospel, the inner life, the growth of life, or the Lords glory. When we deal with anything, however, we need to have the insight to look into it, not only outwardly but even at its root. To see anything only outwardly is too childish and superficial. We do not want to be like children. If a wooden object has paint on the outside, it is not right to call that object paint. The real item is wood, not paint; the paint is only on the surface. This illustrates that we must have the proper insight.The enemy Satan is very subtle. Throughout all the past years he has been frustrating, blinding, and distracting Gods people and even making many counterfeits. In these days, however, we are clear that Gods intention, eternal purpose, and hearts desire are to work Christ into a group of people, to mingle Christ with them, and to build them up to be the living Body of Christ, His living expression, in all the communities where human beings live. God began this work after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and He will realize it on this earth in this age. Of course, the ultimate consummation of the divine plan is the New Jerusalem. Before that time, however, Gods intention is to have a living expression of His Son in this age, here and there in all the cities on this earth. This should not be hard for people to grasp; if we are not preoccupied, this vision from the Scriptures will be very clear. Regrettably, though, many Christians are not willing to be clear about this because they are preoccupied and distracted by something else.THREE CATEGORIES OF SATANS FRUSTRATIONS TO THE CHURCHSubstitutes for ChristThe church has almost two thousand years of history. In these two thousand years we can see many things that the enemy has done. From the beginning of the church life, the enemy came in to frustrate, damage, distract, and make counterfeits of Gods plan. All the things the enemy has done fall into three categories. The first category is the substitutes for Christ. Consider how many substitutes for Christ there are. Christ is the center, the reality, and all in all to Gods chosen and elect people. The book of Colossians, however, was written because at that time human philosophy had become a substitute for Christ. Of all the human inventions, the best item was philosophy, including Gnosticism. Gods intention is to work Christ into His chosen people, but the enemy utilized the best invention of human civilization to substitute for Christ. Therefore, the apostle Paul told the Colossians that Christ is the allotted portion of the saints and that Christ must be all in all to us (1:12; 3:11).Similarly, the book of Hebrews was written because the enemy Satan utilized even Judaism, the religion ordained and appointed by God, to replace Christ. Judaism was ordained, appointed, established, and used by God. We may illustrate Judaism by a medicine bottle. A mothers intention may be to give medicine to her child, but the naughty child may care for the bottle, not the medicine. Gods intention is not to work Judaism into His chosen people. His intention is to work Christ into His chosen people, but the enemy of God utilized Judaism to replace Christ and substitute for Him. That is why the writer of Hebrews wrote that book, telling us that Christ is above all and better than all. Christ, not Judaism or anything religious, is the goal.Similarly, Galatians was written because at that time the Judaizers were utilized by the enemy to make the law a substitute for Christ. The law was given by God, but even something given by God can be used by the enemy to replace Christ, to take the place of Christ among Gods chosen people.Paul wrote the first Epistle to the Corinthians to adjust the Corinthians concerning teachings and the use of the gifts, including speaking in tongues. The enemy utilized even the New Testament dispensational gifts to replace Christ. In 1:22 and 23 Paul said, For indeed Jews require signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified. Even gifts, signs, and wisdom can be certain kinds of substitutes for Christ. All these thingsphilosophy, religion, law, and giftswere substitutes for Christ in the first century of the church.Then from the second century down to the present time there have been many other substitutes. Forms, teachings, and many other things have substituted for Christ. Many people, for example, stand not for Christ alone but for a certain kind of teaching. Roman Catholicism itself is a great and evil substitute for Christ. Even theology substitutes for God; the -ology, the study, substitutes for Theos, the reality. The enemy is subtle to use something that is very close to but not the real item. He injects it into us, and we are poisoned by it without being aware of it. Unconsciously we are distracted by something which is very close to Christ. Today in the so-called Christian churches there are choirs and solos, and there are also certain sinful things. There are all kinds of substitutesgood, evil, spiritual, and secular. Satan does not care what kind of substitute it is; as long as he can distract us from Christ, that is good enough for him. The System of Clergy and LaityThe second category of Satans frustrations and damage to the church is the system of the clergy. According to history, Satan not only used many substitutes to replace and usurp the place of Christ, but he also invented the clerical system. Today there is a difference between the clergy and laity. This kills the functions of the members of the Body of Christ. Originally all the members of the Body, without exception, were functioning, but gradually the enemy set up the system of the clergy to limit the function to a small number of believers while the majority of believers were put out of their function. In this way the Body became paralyzed. This is the subtlety of the enemy. Satans first frustration is to kill the life of the Body, which is Christ, by substituting many other things for Christ. The second frustration is that the enemy invented the system of the clergy.Divisions in the Body of ChristSatan is not satisfied to have only these two frustrations. The third item of his frustration and damage is divisions, sects, and denominations. These not only replace the life and kill the functions of the Body, but they cut the Body into pieces. In this way the expression of Christ is damaged. The life is replaced, the functions are damaged, and the whole Body is cut into pieces. There are many real Christians in a large city, perhaps at least fifty thousand genuine believers. If these fifty thousand real believers were not divided, they would have a great impact. It would be easy to conquer and subdue the whole United States.The enemy is very subtle. He has replaced Christ by usurping His ground and place, killed the functions of the members, and divided the Body. How poor and pitiful this is! Many Christian are not related to one another. They are merely independent, isolated, individual believers. Because of this, there are many members, but we do not have the Body. The enemy is still doing this work today. He utilizes many good things to isolate us. The enemy works in our reasoning, but regardless of the reasons, as long as we are isolated, this is good enough for the enemy.By the above three categories of means, Satan has almost completely damaged the church life. The United States is a nation of Christianity. The forefathers of this country came over to this land mostly because of their Christian faith. But today, even in this country, where is the church? We have substitutes for Christ, we have the clergy, and we have the divisions, but we do not have the church. There is no need to argue with this; the facts are apparent. The church has been damaged by these three categories of things. This is why in all these days we have stressed Christ as our life, content, and everything to usnot the substitutes for Christ, but Christ Himself. This is also why we help one another to function as members of the Body. We do not want to have either the clergy or the laity. Rather, we have the brothers and sisters as functioning members. We all have to function. If you say that I am a pastor, I will say that you are a minister. We encourage all the brothers and sisters to minister in order to express Christ. Why then do we pay so much attention to the ground of the church? It is to deal with the divisions.FIGHTING THE BATTLE FOR THE LORDS RECOVERY OF THE ONENESS OF THE CHURCHThe Lords recovery today consists of three main items. It is the recovery of Christ as life and everything to us, the recovery of the universal priesthood with the functions of all the members, and the recovery of the proper oneness of the church. It is when these three items are recovered that we will have the proper and adequate church life. There must be a group of believers who take Christ as their unique life and content, who realize that each one of us must function not as clergy or laity but as living members, and who give up the divisions, sects, and denominations to come to the proper ground to practice the proper oneness. If there is a people like this, they will realize the Lords recovery in a full way.In some places certain dear friends have advised me, saying. Praise the Lord, you have a ministry from the Lord. As long as you expound the Word, we appreciate it, but do not talk about the church. As I spoke in a certain city recently, my hosts treated me honorably, but they said, Everyone appreciates your ministry about the inner life, but this is not the right time to touch the issue of the church. They did everything they could to stop me from speaking anything about the church, but on the last night I was there, I said, I do not take care of this restriction. I have to speak something about the church. When I began to read from Romans 12 in order to say something about the Body, all those dear friends were grieved. The next morning when we were leaving, no one came to see us off. Praise the Lord, I like to be treated in this way! I like to suffer for the Body of Christ.Many dear friends in the Far East and Europe advised me in the same way, not only face to face but also in long writings. They said that the Lords work among us is good, but the matter of the church is like dead flies that cause the perfumers ointment to stink (Eccl. 10:1). I have the notorious title of being the strongest exponent of the church in the Far East. I am not worthy to have this title. I am nobody and nothing, yet certain people have given me such a big title. This is the subtlety of the enemy. I praise the Lord that I am counted worthy to suffer in this way.We published a book in Chinese by Brother Watchman Nee that originally was entitled Holy without Blemish. When we translated that book into English, we felt that the title should be changed to The Glorious Church. When the book was published as Holy without Blemish, it sold very well. Many people ordered it. However, when we changed the title to The Glorious Church, there were no further sales, even though it was the same book. This is because it spoke about the church. The church is the stumbling stone. Oh, how subtle the enemy is! We have to fight the battle for the church. The more I am advised not to speak about the church, the more I do speak about the church. The more someone tries to shut my mouth, the more I wish I had two mouths with which to speak. PRACTICING THE BODY LIFE WITHOUT DIVISIONIn a large city such as Los Angeles, there are many denominations and divisions. When someone is saved and becomes a member of the Body of Christ, he must live the Body life. How then can he realize the Body life? Should he place himself in the Roman Catholic Church? Should he go to the Presbyterians, Baptists, or Episcopalians? Where can he practice the Body life? This is a real problem; it is not a small matter. This is why we need to have the proper ground of the church without any denominational element, a ground without any division. The proper ground is the ground of the locality, the local ground, the unique ground of the oneness of the church.The one who is saved should try his best to find other believers in his city, and he should meet with them, help them, and be helped by them. Then these believers, who are not in the denominations but simply living in this city, should come together not to form anything, not to create another division, but to stand on the ground of the locality where they are. If any others who are in the small circles of divisions realize that they have to give up the circles, they should do it. If they do not, however, there is no need to proselyte them. There are many unsaved ones to whom we can testify, minister Christ, bring to Christ, and bring into this proper church life. To practice in this way is to practice the unique ground of oneness.If this brother one day moves to another city, he should first realize that he is simply a brother in that city. Then he should do his best to find others there who take the same standing of the local ground, the ground of oneness. When he meets with them, he should try to help them and try to be helped by them. These who come together become a group of believers standing on the proper ground in that city. If in that city there is already a group of believers standing on this proper ground, the brother has to be willing to submit himself to them. He should not say, Those people seem peculiar to me. When I pray, I pray in a very silent way, but those people pray too emotionally. I do not want to join them. I will start another meeting in my home where I can pray silently. If he says this, he will eventually raise up a praying silently church. He may not declare or claim to be doing that; he may proclaim that he is not sectarian or denominational. In actuality, however, that is what he is doing. This is the problem with divisions. If the brother finds a group of genuine believers standing on the proper ground, then regardless of the way they have their meeting, practice their service, or pray, he has to join them.To say this is easy, but within only the past two years we have been tested in this regard. Certain brothers heard about our meeting in Los Angeles and came to us imagining that we must be something in the third heavens. When they came, however, they realized that we were actually something in the valley. They began to ask, Why this? and Why that? in a divisive way. As long as someone asks in this way, he is sectarian. The answer to Why this? is that we are simply the church in Los Angeles. The answer to Why that? is that we are, in principle, the church in Jerusalem or the church in Antioch. If someone does not care to meet with the church on the local ground, he should not raise up another meeting in this city. To do so would be sectarian. Someone may say, These poor people in Los Angeles pray in the valley. I want to meet where I can pray in the heavens. He may do so, but he should go to another city to do that. When he gets to that city, however, he may find that there is already a group of people standing on the proper ground. If he tries to move away to yet another city, he still must take the standing of the proper ground in that city. Eventually, he must submit himself, or he will create a division. We have no right to make a division.THE UNIQUE CENTER FOR THE WORSHIP TO GODSomeone may ask us, If you have no right to make a division, then why do you not join our circle? Why do you separate yourselves from all the circles? Is that not a division? We cannot join those circles because they are divisions. To join any one of them is to join a division. How can we do this? We must keep away from divisions. Consider the picture of Israel in the good land. When God brought all His people into the land, He chose Jerusalem as the unique place for them to come together to worship Him. According to Deuteronomy 12 through 16, Jerusalem was the one unique center. Verse 5 of chapter twelve says, But to the place which Jehovah your God will choose out of all your tribes to put His name, to His habitation, shall you seek, and there shall you go. All the people of the twelve tribes had to come to this one place. No one had the right to set up another place of worship, regardless of the reason. It is by the unique center for worship that the oneness of the twelve tribes was constantly kept throughout all the centuries.Suppose that the Israelites had the right to set up other centers for worship. After five years another small center may have been set up in the north, and after another five years, more centers may have been set up in other regions. By all these centers, the people of God eventually would have been divided. However, they were not allowed to do this. They had no right to do this. One Israelite may have fought with his neighbor just before the Feast of Tabernacles. When the time of the feast came, however, both he and his neighbor, as males of the people of Israel, had no other choice but to go to Jerusalem. If one saw the other on the way to Jerusalem, he had no right to say, Are you going there? Then I will not. I will set up a center for worship right here. If he did this, he would be cut off from the people of Israel. To be cut off was to suffer death. This was very serious. All the males of the people of Israel had to go to the one unique place three times a year. In order not to be cut off, each one had to go to the same place, even if his enemy was there. Not only did they have to go to that place; they also had to worship God by offering the peace offering and sharing it with one another. This would compel each one to say, Brother, forgive me. Then they would experience Psalm 133: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is / For brothers to dwell in unity! (v. 1).According to Deuteronomy 12 through 16, there was no possibility to have division. There was no alternative, no choice. They were bound and limited. God already had chosen a place for them to go, and they had no right to choose for themselves. Ninety percent of the produce that they reaped from the good land they could enjoy in any place of their choice at any time. However, they had no right to choose the place to enjoy the tithe of ten percent. To enjoy that portion of the rich surplus of the land, they had to go to the only place chosen and appointed by God. This is a type of our experience today. On the one hand, we have the right to enjoy and experience Christ at any time and in any place that we like. However, as long as we are going to have the church life to enjoy Christ in a corporate way as a worship to the Father, we have no choice. We have to do this to keep the oneness of the Body.A REMNANT RETURNING TO SEPARATE THEMSELVES FOR THE ONENESS, BUT NOT TO MAKE A DIVISIONThe people of Israel did as God commanded, but once they were captured, they went into exile in Babylon and other places for seventy years. After the seventy years, the Lord came in to call them to come back to keep the oneness. However, not all the people in exile came back; only a small number, a minority, returned. When this small number returned to the place of oneness, spontaneously they separated themselves from those who did not return. This was a separation, but it was not a division. They simply came back to realize the proper oneness on the proper ground. It was those who still insisted on remaining in Babylon who made the division. Those who came back had the oneness, but those who remained in exile kept the divisions.Someone who remained in the exile might have said, Ezra and Nehemiah, you preach that we have to keep the oneness of the people of the Lord. Why then do you separate from us? Why do you not stay with us and join us? On the one hand, you preach oneness, but on the other hand, you create division. If someone asks us in this way, we should say, Brother, come along with me. We can keep the oneness only on the proper ground. As long as you are outside the proper ground, you are in division. Therefore, it is not lawful for me to join you. If I join you, I join the division.Someone may ask, What about Daniel? Daniel remained in Babylon and did not return from exile. It is true that under the Lords sovereignty Daniel did not go back. Still, Daniels heart and his eyes were always going back. Day by day he opened his window and prayed toward Jerusalem (Dan. 6:10). We should not take Daniels case as an excuse not to return to the oneness. It is not right to stay back. We cannot have the real oneness on the wrong ground. We have to come back to the proper ground. We cannot have real oneness in a denomination. To join a denomination is to join a division.Some Israelites left Babylon, but they stopped midway in the Arab lands before they reached the proper ground. In doing this, they created another division. Others who left Babylon came back to places very close to Jerusalem, but they stopped short. This created yet another division. We have to come back to the unique ground, the ground of oneness, the local ground. Some may say, We have given up the denominations. We now have free groups in our homes. However, that ground may be in the Arab lands or even close to Jerusalem, but it is not yet the proper ground. It is still in division.In the present day, the nation of Israel has only a few million people. In New York, however, there are even more millions of Jews. Who are the ones in division, those who went back to Palestine to form the nation of Israel or those who are in New York? It is those who remain in New York, simply because they are on the wrong ground. If they want to practice the Jewish oneness, they have to go back to Israel. They can never practice the proper oneness in New York. New York is a ground for division, not for oneness.We may also use the illustration of a university with several thousand students. The school may call all the students to be assembled in the auditorium. Most of the students, however, may not like to go there. Some would prefer to assemble in another hall, some in a dormitory, some in their small rooms, and some outside. They all have their own choice and taste, and most of them would not follow the rule of the school. Only a small number, perhaps twenty or thirty, may consider that since they are students of this school, they have to take the order of the school and assemble in the proper place. Then they would call the others and say, Friends, let us come together. Who are the ones taking the proper ground, and who are taking the wrong ground? All the other assemblies are wrong; they are divisions. Only a small number of students are endeavoring to keep the oneness of the school. One of the other meetings may have twenty thousand students, but they are still a division because their ground is wrong. We have to keep the oneness on the proper ground.CLOSING THE BACK DOOR TO DIVISIONSAs human beings, we have to be Christians. To be a Christian is to be a member of the Body. As members of the Body, we must have the Body life, and to be in the Body life, we must find the proper ground, put ourselves on it, and practice the proper church life. This is very important; it is not a small matter. Without the proper ground there is no safeguard against further divisions. If we do not realize the proper ground, we may be happy today, but after two months we may all feel unhappy. We may start another meeting in another place and feel that there is no difference between the two places of meetings. Then after five months someone may start a third place of meeting. This can go on endlessly if there is no safeguard, standard, or limitation. However, if we all realize the proper ground and have the vision, the light, concerning the church ground, we will be limited. The back door for divisions will be closed. No one among us could make any divisions because we know that in order to have the oneness in the church life, we must keep ourselves on the proper ground.TURNING TO THE GENTILES WITH FAITH AND A VISION OF THE PROPER ONENESSWe cannot remain in the denominations, because they are divisions. However, if someone desires to stay in the denominations, there is no need to argue with him or to try to convince him to come out. Many times both in the Far East and in the Western world, Christians came to me and said, Brother Lee, I do not feel that it is necessary for me to give up the denominations. I said to them, Brothers, do what you feel in peace. If they want to stay there, let them, but eventually they will suffer a loss.Some may think that we should go to the denominations and fellowship with them so that they can see what we have. We have done this many times. In 1937 I traveled throughout almost all the northern provinces of China for this purpose, but very little resulted from that. In Acts 13 the apostles did their best to minister the word to the Jews, but the Jews rejected it. The apostle then said, Behold, we turn to the Gentiles (v. 46). If we are rejected, we should do the same thing. I can never forget how in May of 1934 Brother Nee and I talked together as we drove from Shanghai to a little city nearby. While he was driving, he turned to me and said, Brother Lee, now we have no other way but to turn to the Gentiles. He said this because at that time we were rejected by Christianity in China. People used our writings on the gospel, edification, and life, but in one matterthe churchthey could not get through. We were rejected because of this. People came to us secretly to buy our books; they liked those books and they used them, but they would not take the way of the church. Therefore, Brother Nee was forced and compelled to say, Let us go to the Gentiles.We praise the Lord that after a few years the work began in a prevailing way among the Gentiles. A good number were brought into the church life. Hundreds of new converts were baptized daily. Our success depends on how faithful we are to the Lord. Do not look at the environment, at the present situation. We must have faith, and we must have the vision. Ground of the church and meetings of the church by Witness LeeGraftedbranch
GB did you read the one prior to this?
In some places certain dear friends have advised me, saying. Praise the Lord, you have a ministry from the Lord. As long as you expound the Word, we appreciate it, but do not talk about the church. As I spoke in a certain city recently, my hosts treated me honorably, but they said, Everyone appreciates your ministry about the inner life, but this is not the right time to touch the issue of the church. They did everything they could to stop me from speaking anything about the church, but on the last night I was there, I said, I do not take care of this restriction. I have to speak something about the church. When I began to read from Romans 12 in order to say something about the Body, all those dear friends were grieved. The next morning when we were leaving, no one came to see us off. Praise the Lord, I like to be treated in this way! I like to suffer for the Body of Christ.
Someone may ask us, If you have no right to make a division, then why do you not join our circle? Why do you separate yourselves from all the circles? Is that not a division? We cannot join those circles because they are divisions. To join any one of them is to join a division. How can we do this? We must keep away from divisions.
GB -Are you in the Local Church Movement currently?
his still is circular reasoning, this whole thing and it is still unecessary division irregardless of how much it is stated that it is not.
Are you in the Local Church Movement currently?
It is a denomination and it is called the Local Church, it's headed by the teachings of Witnees Lee, it is separate and distinct and it is what it says it is not.
IN practical terms, this means that in any given city, there is only one church and every regenerated believer is a member of this one church which is the body of Christ.
But we do not isolate ourselves from other believers
There is only one church period. In "any given city" is precisely where the distinction and division is cut and no amount of word twisting is going to make it any other thing.