Christ versus Religionby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Let us look now at the passage in Ephesians 4: “That we may be no longer little children tossed by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching in the sleight of men, in craftiness with a view to a system of error, but holding to truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things, who is the Head, Christ” (vv. 14-15). I do not know whether you have seen something here which is still of religion. Of course, the word religion is not mentioned, but something of religion definitely is mentioned. Paul said that we should no longer be carried about by “every wind of teaching.” Notice that it does not say “heresy,” but “teaching.” “Every wind of teaching” is undoubtedly something of religion. Contrasted with the winds of teaching in this passage are the words holding to truth. The truth is Christ. We must hold to truth in love so that we may grow up into Christ. So we see here that Christ is versus the winds of teaching, or in other words, Christ is versus religion.
In Ephesians 4 we read that all the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers were given by the Head to the Body for the perfecting of the saints. The perfecting of the saints means making the saints to grow. We feed the saints so that they may grow and thus participate in the work of the ministry. The end result is that the saints build up the Body of Christ. The building up of the church is not done directly by the apostles, prophets, evangelists, or shepherds and teachers, but by the saints, “until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). The saints are being perfected, and we are all going on until we arrive at three things: (1) The oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God. The oneness here is of two things—the faith and the full knowledge of the Son of God. (2) A full-grown man. While we are going on, we are growing until we all arrive at a full-grown man. (3) The measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. If we refer to 1:23, we see that the fullness of Christ is just the Body. The measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ is the measure of the Body.
Notice clearly at this point that 4:13 does not say, “Until we all arrive at the oneness of the doctrine and the teachings concerning the Son of God.” It does not mean that. It says, “Until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge [the knowing] of the Son of God.” If we care overmuch for the doctrines and teachings, we are indeed religious. We must see clearly the difference between faith and doctrine. Our Christian faith is entirely different from Christian doctrine. Simply stated, it is this: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who was incarnated as a man, who died on the cross for our sins, who was resurrected bodily from the dead, who ascended to the heavens, who now indwells our spirit, and is coming back soon. This is our faith, and we are all one in this. Besides this faith, however, there are many doctrines. Concerning even one matter, the second coming of the Lord Jesus, there are numerous teachings. Some say that Jesus will return after the tribulation, others insist that He will come before the tribulation, and still others say that He will return in the midst of the tribulation. We all believe that Jesus will come again—this is our faith. Every genuine Christian believes this, and there is no problem as far as that simple fact is concerned. But the matter of exactly when He will return divides Christians. We must see that all these doctrines or teachings concerning the exact time of the Lord’s return have nothing to do with our faith. Our faith is what saves us—if we do not have the faith, we can never be saved. Whether we believe in the pre-tribulation, post-tribulation, or mid-tribulation return of the Lord, it has nothing whatever to do with our salvation. It is not holding any specific doctrine concerning the Lord’s return that saves us. All we need to do is keep the faith, not the doctrines.
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