Messages in Preparation for the Spread of the Gospel, by Witness Lee


I would like to mention to you in passing that some Brethren teachers say that only those who have seen the Lord Jesus can be considered as the apostles. This kind of saying is not correct. Not only was Barnabas who had not seen the Lord called an apostle, but even Timothy, Titus, and Silas were also called apostles. None of these persons had seen the Lord. In addition, none of the three, Timothy, Titus, and Silas, received direct revelation from the Lord. They were all apostles produced by Paul. They were apostles produced by other apostles. I mentioned during the elders’ meeting three weeks ago that there are different kinds of apostles. Some are produced directly by the Lord. Others are produced by other apostles. This question has been studied for over two hundred years, since the time of Zinzendorf. When the Lord raised us up in China, we considered the matter afresh. As a result we arrived at the light and revelation which we have now. Every one of you needs to have a fearful and sober attitude. The scope of truth is too broad. Our understanding is too limited. We should not make judgments based on our little understanding.

Do not receive rumors, hearsay, and lies. I have met a lot of these kinds of situations during my time of co-working with Watchman Nee for twenty years. Today you should receive grace to be one who serves the Lord. You must keep yourself preserved and live in the spirit. Although it is not easy to turn to the spirit when you are angry, you still have to do it. Paul prayed in Ephesians 3: “I bow my knees unto the Father…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man” (vv. 14-16). Paul prayed that the Lord would strengthen the believers with His power through His Spirit into their inner man. When we are angry we are in the soul and in ourselves. To turn back to the spirit in an instant requires the apostle’s prayer for us. There is the need for God to strengthen us according to the riches of His glory with power and through the Spirit into our spirit. This is a lesson that we must learn.

In a situation like today‘s, all the rumors outside should not be taken. Actually, since the time of Paul, the church has been in confusion. We can see this from the Epistles which the apostles wrote to all the places. When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, there were many problems in the church there. When John wrote to the believers he said, “Do not believe every spirit” (1 John 4:1). Do not think that today is a clear day. There are indeed clear days in the church life; but there are also dark days. Sometimes there are even stormy days. For this reason you have to learn to walk constantly in the spirit. Only by being in the spirit can you touch God. Only by being in the spirit can you be preserved. In the same way, only when you are in the spirit can you touch others’ spirits during your contact with them. Only when you speak in the spirit will you be able to touch others’ spirits and enliven them. Whatever you do apart from the spirit, whether it be good or bad, produces the same result. Whatever you do outside the spirit is done in the natural man. When you hate others you are being natural, but even your love for others is natural. Your pride is natural. Your humility is also.

The opposite of being natural is being in resurrection. God is never natural. God only wants resurrection. The natural being is represented in the Bible by the first one. The firstborn is the first one. Hence, God does not want the firstborn. At the Passover, the angel of destruction smote the firstborn (Exo. 12:29). Were all the firstborn of Egypt bad? It was not a question of being good or bad. As long as it was a firstborn, it was natural and had to be smitten. By the end of Revelation, John said, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (21:1). The first heaven and first earth are of the old creation. The New Jerusalem, the new heaven, the new earth, and everything that is new are second. The book of Hebrews calls the old covenant the first covenant and the second covenant the new covenant (9:18). Everything that is old is natural. If you are not in the spirit, even your good deeds are natural. I am afraid that even in preaching the gospel you may not be in spirit. If that is the case, then even such a good thing may have the possibility of being in the natural realm. There is only one realm we should be in, the realm of resurrection.

(Messages in Preparation for the Spread of the Gospel, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)