Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 07: The Christian (5)by Watchman Nee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Question: Is the Christian and Missionary Alliance the same in nature as all the other denominations? (Kuo)
Answer: In order to answer this question, one must first know what is a sect. There are a few elements to a sect: (1) a name, (2) a charter other than the Bible (whether scriptural or not), and (3) not including all regenerated believers. When Mr. Simpson founded the Christian and Missionary Alliance, we know that he was full of spiritual power. Even today, the Christian and Missionary Alliance is one of the best denominations. But unfortunately, it is still a denomination, because (1) it has a name, (2) it has a special fourfold gospel, and (3) its system does not include all regenerated believers. Brothers, what we are concerned about today is not a question of good denominations versus bad denominations, but a question of sectarianism versus nonsectarianism.
Question: Since many organized denominations are hated by the Lord, why does the Lord bless them still, work with them, and even save many through them? Please explain. (Kuo)
Answer: It is a pitiful fact that God's children do restrict Him. God's work with His children is according to the measure of ground His children afford Him. God can only work as much as He is given the ground to work. Hence, although many organizations (and many other things besides organizations) are not approved by Him, the fact that there is still need for saving people means that God will still work with these organizations to save people. We know that God fully disapproves of Roman Catholicism. But there are those in Catholicism who are saved and are even saving others. However, we cannot become Catholic believers just because of this. We have given the Holy Spirit too much limitation! May God be merciful to us.
Question: If there are to be organizations or systems, how should we institute them without acting contrary to the Scripture and being entangled in human organizations? (Kuo)
Answer: The Bible has decreed all institutions of the church in a clear way already. We must never have any decrees, whether they are creeds, constitutions, rules, charters, or ordinances outside the Bible, no matter how scriptural they may appear. Otherwise, we will become a sect right away. We may be more scriptural and more knowledgeable than other sects but still be a sect. We should only have one open Bible now for men to follow. If we institute anything outside the Bible, no matter how scriptural it may appear, we are causing others to despise the Bible and turning their attention to the instituted ordinances. In this way, those who are "of our group" must abide by the teachings of these ordinances before they can meet together. Of course, if anyone sees any ordinance that is contrary to the Scriptures, he should reject it. Of course, we should teach others the teachings of the Bible. But if anyone follows these teachings, they are following the Lord's word, not any kind of authority in our word. If we institute anything, our institution will become the standard of our faith. This means that we will be setting up another standard of faith besides the Bible, no matter how scriptural such a standard may appear.
The institution of any ordinance carries with it one of two characteristics: either it is authoritative, or it is nothing. Something that is authoritative means that it ought to be observed and that it is unalterable. If such ordinances are to be authoritative, what happens when they contain mistakes? Even if they do not contain any mistakes, can they possibly be perfect? On the other hand, if such ordinances are non-authoritative, and someone can correct whatever is wrong and add whatever is lacking, what good will these ordinances do? Is it not redundant to have another page outside the Bible?
The only scriptural way now is to allow God's word to lead the believers personally. Of course, human opinions and ideas can never be the same. But the Holy Spirit will never give two contradicting interpretations to anyone. If there is any mistake, it lies on man's side. John 7:17 is the root of all problems. If believers would reject their self-will, submit to the Holy Spirit, and respect one another and wait on one another, the one accord can be achieved. If there are self-will and self-opinions, even when a person has outwardly left the sects, he is inwardly still in the sects, and there will still be disputes.
Question: If there should not be any organization or system in the church, how can the church be administrated? (Wang)
Answer: What we propose is that everything invented by man and not instituted by God should be removed. We should not follow anything other than the Bible.
We are not saying that the Bible tells us that the church is without any organization or system. We are merely saying that the present church organizations and systems are not scriptural. According to the Scriptures, the present church organizations and systems contain the following errors: (1) a denominational name, (2) different methods of organizations, (3) the system of a pastor presiding over a church, (4) meetings in which one man replaces the function of everyone else, and (5) ordination. These are only the major items.
With respect to the question of church administration, in the beginning this was under the Lord Jesus as the Head and carried out through the Holy Spirit and by means of the apostles and the elders (see Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22; 16:4; 21:18; 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-2). The elders are appointed by the apostles (read Acts 14:23; 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:5). If we cannot prove the existence of apostles today, how can we have elders? Although we cannot find any reason from the Bible to show us why there are no apostles today, it is almost certain that there are no more apostles today. If this is the case, surely there are no more elders today, because they are appointed by the apostles. If there are no apostles and there are no elders, does this not mean that the church administration is over? This is what you are concerned about. God's provision and arrangement, however, are not only for normal times, but for the times of failure and the degradation of the church as well. Please read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7; 1 Corinthians 16:15-16. These few verses do not mention the office of eldership, but they mention the work of the elders. Hence, in the present age of desolation we do not have official elders. However, the Lord will raise up among those who are meeting under His name in all the places men who can be elders. They will oversee and will manage, but they will not have the title of elders.
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