ANSWER TO BROTHER LAN CHIH YI
Brother Chih Yi:
I received your letter. Thank you for your words of comfort to me! The slander of outsiders certainly means nothing. The Lord said, "Blessed are you when they reproach...you, and while speaking lies, say every evil thing against you...rejoice and exult, for your reward is great in the heavens" (Matt. 5:11-12). However, it is a pity that the outsiders do not understand that our motivation in the Lord is to express the presence of the Lord Himself. They misunderstand us, thinking that we are only trying to draw people out of the denominations. I will answer the three questions you asked me separately with the following:
(1) The church cannot help a polygamous brother by doing anything more than forgiving him. When the Lord said that He loved mercy and abhorred sacrifices, He was referring to this matter. If the believers sinned in the matter of polygamy before they were saved, the Lord does not pursue the matter. Because no matter what the sin, whatever was committed before our regeneration is under the blood. Of course, the sin of polygamy is under the blood.
The question that has arisen in the church is whether the concubine he had should be driven out of the house. The Bible gives us some very clear light regarding this matter. Paul told Timothy, "The overseer [the elder] then must be...the husband of one wife...deacons must similarly be..." (1 Tim. 3:2, 8). So we know that among the believers at that time, there were those who were the husband of two wives. For this reason, Paul said that only the husbands of one wife could be elders and deacons. The reason the apostle said this word was to show that if a man had two wives, he could still be a believer, but he could not bear any responsibility in the church.
Furthermore, the sin of polygamy is different from other sins. There are two kinds of sin. One kind of sin can be restituted, the other cannot. The sin of polygamy cannot be restituted. For example, stolen items can be returned to their owner. But if you have married someone’s daughter, you cannot return her. Therefore, if you want to send this woman away, you are telling her to be an adulteress. So it would be better if the husband bowed down under God’s government and bore this responsibility.
In the Old Testament, David married Bathsheba. God did not tell David to separate from Bathsheba. Furthermore, she bore Solomon. Our Lord Jesus came out of her. Exodus 21:7-11 speaks of the position of a concubine. In this passage, the other wife refers to the proper wife, the maidservant is a concubine. The position God gives the concubine is that her food, her clothing, and her duty of marriage shall not be diminished.
(2) Regarding the question about Acts 19:1-7, we should first see what this passage means when it refers to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not mentioned here in reference to regeneration or indwelling. Regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are not obtained through the laying on of hands of the apostles. From the following portion, which speaks of tongues and prophecies, etc., we see that the Holy Spirit spoken of here refers to the gift of the Holy Spirit. The disciples at Ephesus were already regenerated and already had the Holy Spirit indwelling them. They only lacked the gift of the Holy Spirit. Gift is related to the Body (1 Cor. 12). The baptism of repentance causes us to be related to the Lord Jesus. The baptism into the Lord Jesus causes us to have a part in His Body. Therefore, it was not enough for them to receive the baptism of repentance; they still had to be baptized into the name of the Lord before they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
(3) Regarding Revelation 3:5, it is possible to have one’s name erased from the book of life. We must differentiate between not being written in the book of life and having one’s name erased from the book of life. A person who never gets saved or regenerated does not have his name written in the book of life. A person whose name is erased from the book of life is saved and regenerated, but he is not an overcomer. The former perishes for eternity. The latter does not participate in the kingdom. The last part of Revelation 20 refers to eternity; Revelation 2—3 refers to the kingdom. (Parts omitted.)
The slave of Christ,
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 25: Collection of Newsletters (1), Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)