The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Lifeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
These are the six main items of the proper Christian faith. All real Christians do not have any disputations about these items. Some may disagree with the point concerning one city, one church, but as a proper Christian we have to believe that the church is both universally one and locally one. As the Body of Christ, the church is universally one; as the expression of the Body of Christ, a local church is locally one. This does not mean, however, that a real believer in Christ who does not agree with one city, one church is not saved. He or she is saved, but there is something lacking, not for salvation but for the proper church life.
The faith is the speciality of the church life. This is something very specific, very special. Concerning these points of our Christian faith there should be no argument. If we are going to fight for something, we have to fight for this. There is no need for us to fight for other things. We have to fight the good fight of such a faith (1 Tim. 6:12). We have to contend for such a faith (Jude 3). We have to teach and preach such a faith.
When Paul, who was then called Saul, was persecuting the church, he was attempting to destroy this faith. However, the Lord caught him, and he then became a preacher of the faith which formerly he ravaged (Gal. 1:23). Our fighting must be for this faith. We have to differentiate this faith from other kinds of teaching. Ephesians 4:13 says, “Until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith,” and then in verse 14 there is the wind of teaching. In these two verses there is the faith, and there is teaching. The keeping of the Sabbath and circumcision are teachings. Head covering is a certain kind of teaching. Foot-washing is another kind of teaching. Sprinkling or immersion is also another kind of teaching. There is also the eating and drinking of Christ, pray-reading, tongue-speaking, and divine healing, as well as other kinds of teachings and practices. We should not think that any of these teachings or practices are included in the speciality of the church life.
What time should we have the Lord’s table, morning or evening? This is a kind of teaching. How many times should we have the Lord’s table, once a week or every day? This is also a kind of teaching. Should we use leavened bread or unleavened bread? This is another kind of teaching. When one prays, should he shut his eyes, or should he lift up his eyes toward the heavens? This also is a type of teaching. All these are teachings and have much disputation.
During the last five centuries, since the time of Martin Luther and the Reformation, Christians have been divided by all kinds of teaching. The divisions have resulted almost totally from the overemphasis of the teachings. For example, John Nelson Darby took the lead to say that all the miraculous, supernatural gifts are dispensationally over, but the so-called Pentecostal people and today’s charismatic people believe that they are still here. Even among these Christians there are different beliefs. Some say that a person may be regenerated, but he could never be baptized in the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues. Others even say that one cannot be regenerated without speaking in tongues.
With the matter of divine healing, there are schools of opinion. Some, like George Müller, believe in divine healing, not in the way of the gifts but in the way of grace. In his autobiography he told us that when he was young, he was very weak, yet he lived for ninety-three years. He experienced the Lord’s healing by grace, but the charismatic or Pentecostal believers say that healing is by the gifts.
Just the matter of what name to baptize people in has schools of opinion. Some say that we must baptize people in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Others say that we should baptize people in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Concerning the rapture, there are different schools of teaching, such as pretribulation rapture, posttribulation rapture, and partial rapture. These are teachings. Not one of them is an item of the faith.
There have been teachings upon teachings, and all the Christians have been divided and are still being divided by the differing teachings. Among the Brethren today there are hundreds of divisions. They began from 1828 or 1829, and by 1919, according to a record that we read at that time, the statistics showed that within those ninety years the Brethren were divided into one hundred fifty divisions, mainly because of so many different teachings.
All Christians are the same in the faith, but we may be very, very different in the teachings. Do you believe that we all will be the same in the teachings? When will that time be? I can hardly believe that any two of us could ever be absolutely the same in teaching. Then what shall we emphasize? Shall we emphasize the teachings? If so, we will become divisive and eventually will be divided. We should not emphasize the teachings but only our Christian faith. We can emphasize this because with the faith there is no argument. In the faith we have no problems. We all are the same.
However, we all have been infected, influenced, damaged, distracted, and even divided by all kinds of teachings. Therefore, we need to grow, and as we grow, we will arrive at the oneness of the faith (Eph. 4:13). The more we grow, the less we emphasize the teachings. All the teachings are like toys. The more childish we are, the more we like to play with the toys of teaching. A full-grown man, especially a grandfather, has no interest in toys. The more mature we are, the less toys we have. So we all need to grow until we arrive at the unique oneness of the faith.
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