A PERSONAL TESTIMONY OF TURNING TO THE SPIRIT
What I would like to share with you now is a personal testimony of turning to the spirit. I hope that you will take it in and be impressed with it. I began to preach in Taiwan in 1949, and in 1958 I reached a turning point. At that time there was a storm in our midst. After observing the situation from many angles, I realized that although many had heard the doctrine of the cross and had even preached it, they still did all sorts of negative things. I was greatly troubled by this and asked myself whether or not the cross was truly effective. Furthermore, I also observed those who had learned about the principle of resurrection life. They preached the doctrine concerning this matter, but in the way they conducted themselves, in their daily walk they were void of resurrection and life. Hence, within me I had a big question mark concerning the doctrines of the cross and resurrection.
Because I was greatly disturbed by these matters, I did not trust in these doctrines anymore. Therefore, from February through April of 1958, in at least three or four consecutive conferences, the Lord began to release messages among us saying that doctrines are futile and that we must eat the Lord, drink the Lord, and enjoy the Lord. If you read the books put out by us, you will see that before 1958 we did not have such expressions and utterances as eating the Lord, drinking the Lord, and enjoying the Lord. These messages were later published in a book titled How to Enjoy God. [This book has not yet been published in English.—trans.] Ever since the Lord brought about this turn in me, I have no longer preached doctrines of knowledge. No matter how much you preach the dealing of the cross, and no matter how much you preach concerning resurrection life, it is of no profit. The only thing that is profitable is the Lord Himself in us becoming not only our life but also our life supply. When we live by Him, what we live out is the genuine life, the genuine spirituality, and the genuine church life. If we are not in spirit, what we do may be more evil than what unbelievers do. Regardless of how many years you have been saved, if you do not live in spirit, you are capable of doing any kind of evil thing.
Hence, in 1958 I had a turn within. I turned from expounding doctrines to paying attention to the spirit. The Lord has shown me that in our relationship with Him, in our spiritual life, and in our church life, everything hinges on Him as the Spirit entering into our spirit and upon our living by this Spirit to enjoy all His riches. From that time onward I have been constantly turning. Even until now I feel that the turning has not stopped but is still going on.
OUR NATURAL CONCEPT STRESSING NEGATIVE DEALINGS
Why do we so easily lean toward matters such as the dealing, breaking, and suffering of the cross? This is because these things correspond to, and are very close to, our natural concept. We must be cautious when learning the lessons of being broken and being dealt with. If we overemphasize them, we may easily fall into Hinduism, which mainly teaches people to suffer hardship and to be saved through suffering. There is a certain famous preacher in India who brought all these Hindu teachings on suffering into Christianity. As a result, today many Hindus have accepted Christianity, but their practical lives are still according to the Hindu practice of suffering. The Chinese people are similar. Chinese culture is a combination of Confucianism and Buddhism. Confucianism stresses the improvement of behavior, whereas Buddhism emphasizes suffering. These two “isms” form the Chinese ideology and philosophy. This kind of ideology and philosophy was passed down from our ancestors and has become deeply rooted in us so that we still have these things within us, more or less. Even many Westerners are like this. Church history tells us that in the beginning the Roman Catholic Church taught people to improve their conduct by enduring sufferings. They even had a special kind of chair with many spikes that people would sit on when they were aroused in their fleshly lusts.
Matters such as suffering, behavior improvement, being broken, being dealt with, and bearing the cross correspond to our natural concept but are lacking in revelation. The book of Ephesians, on the other hand, is not according to our natural concept but is full of revelation. In Ephesians the cross is mentioned only once in relation to the fact that Christ has slain the enmity through the cross (2:16). The cause of this enmity was the law of the commandments in ordinances. The enmity was slain not for redemption or for salvation but for the Jews and the Gentiles to be created in Himself into one new man. In Ephesians 4 there is a word concerning putting off the old man as regards the former manner of life and being renewed in the spirit of the mind (vv. 22-23). Chapter five speaks about cleansing the church by the washing of the water in the word and removing the spots and wrinkles (vv. 26-27). If you read Ephesians again, you will notice that this book, which speaks specifically concerning the church and the church life, speaks very little about negative things.
(The Revelation of the Mystery, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)