NO DOCTRINES, NO GIFTS, NO GIFTED PERSONS
Neither can we find in the Book of Revelation any doctrines, gifts, or even any gifted persons. There are no apostles, no prophets, no evangelists, no shepherds or pastors here; neither are there any elders or deacons. What we see here are the angels in the local churches. The angels are the stars, and the stars are related to the seven Spirits just as the seven churches are also related to the seven Spirits. The seven Spirits are for the seven churches, and the seven Spirits are also for the seven stars.
What is the meaning of all this? We must realize that by the time of the Book of Revelation the age has been fully changed from religion to the Spirit. Why in this book are there no more doctrines, gifts, gifted persons, elders or deacons? Because all these things have been so extensively utilized by the subtle enemy to form a religion. Thus, at this point in the Scriptures and in the Lord’s recovery, the Spirit does not mention all these things. Could anyone form a religion of the seven Spirits? I tell you, the seven Spirits will wipe out all religious elements.
In a certain place recently two young people were much helped by the fellowship of other young people in the meetings of the local church. The following day these two, a boy and a girl, stood together with their mother in the meeting to declare, "Down with Satan!" The father of those two youngsters was there and was greatly offended. He came to the front and told the whole congregation how grieved he was with such an exclamation, "Down with Satan!" He said, "If Satan were here, you would all be terrified." Upon this all the brothers and sisters in the meeting began to shout, "Down with Satan! Down with Satan!" The father then called the mother and, motioning for the children to follow, stalked out of the meeting. Later I learned that these parents were godly members of a certain group of Christians famous for knowing the doctrines of the Bible. But consider: what is wrong with Christians saying, "Down with Satan"? On the contrary, I would say that it is marvelous. Yet godly members of a certain group with a name for knowing the doctrines of the Bible were offended. This is religion.
Brothers and sisters, I fear that if you were living in the days of John the Baptist and were accustomed to offering sacrifices in the temple in a well-ordered way, you would be utterly shocked at John the Baptist. If you went to the wilderness and saw John wearing the camel’s hair and eating the locusts and wild honey, you would say, "What is this? Is this a man or an animal? Could such a person be God’s prophet? Why doesn’t he speak in the temple?" But who are you? Are you the Lord? I am not rebuking you. What I am saying is that we must all realize we have been trapped by religion, even by Christianity. Christianity is a subtle snare—it has ensnared all Christians. Let me say a word to you—I don’t mean others, I mean you. You still have at least a few drops of religion in your blood.
Have you realized by reading the record of the Lord’s birth in the four Gospels that it was absolutely different from the expectation of those who held the Old Testament in their hands? All the religious people were well aware of the prophecies concerning the birth of Christ and were expecting the Messiah to be born. But eventually, when He was born, it was utterly contrary to their expectation. Those who held the Bible paid no attention whatever to the actual event. And when the Lord Jesus came forth at the age of thirty for His ministry, none of the religious ones recognized Him. Do you not believe that the same situation will prevail at the Lord’s second coming? So many New Testament saints hold the Bible in their hands today, knowing and proclaiming the second coming of the Lord. Eventually, when the Lord Jesus comes, He will come utterly contrary to their expectation. They will be blinded by religion.
We have been indoctrinated with so many religious concepts—we do not know how many. They have been indoctrinated into our nature, into our life, into our blood. It seems easier for the young people to rid themselves of religious blood, but this is just the outward appearance. Don’t think that because you are released and shout that you are free from religion. The religious concept is not in your outward activity, but in your inward disposition. It is in your blood, your nature. For the older ones, breaking the ties and getting the religion out of the blood is even more difficult. We simply do not know how many religious concepts have been wrought into our being.
(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)