Authority and Submission, by Watchman Nee


Today it is impossible for every member to be the whole Body. For this reason everyone should stand in his position as a member, receiving the function of the other members. When others see and hear, then I see and hear. Receiving the function of the members is receiving the riches of the Head. There is no one member who is independent. I am only a member. A member cannot do the work of the Body. What the other members have done is what the Body has done. It is also what each member has done. In today’s situation, the eyes have seen, but the hand says that it has not seen and that it is waiting to see. Man wants to have everything and to be able to do everything; he does not want to receive the supply of the members. This makes him poor, and the church is dragged into poverty. Authority is the riches of Christ. To receive others’ function, which means to receive their authority, is to receive the riches of the whole Body. If we submit to the authority of every member, we obtain the riches of every member. If we reject the authority, we have poverty. When the eyes are illuminated, the whole body is illuminated. When the ears hear, the whole body hears.

We always think that the purpose of authority is to suppress us, smite us, and embarrass us. But God does not have this thought. We are wrong. God uses authority to fill up that which is lacking in us. God set up His authority in order to dispense His riches to us and to fill up the lack of all the weak ones. God cannot wait until we reach a certain stage or until a certain number of years have passed before He shows us something. If that were the case, we would have to pass through a countless number of dark and painful days, and a countless number of people will be led into darkness. It would truly be the blind leading the blind. How much loss God would suffer! This is why God first works thoroughly on the people who are used by Him so that when He gives them to us as our authority to help us learn submission, we can receive what we never could have otherwise received. Their riches will become our riches. If we neglect this, we might have to pass through fifty years without attaining what they have learned.

God’s grace to us is twofold. On the one hand, it comes to us directly. This happens rather infrequently. On the other hand, there are indirect riches. In the church God has set brothers and sisters before us to be our authority. Through their discernments becoming our discernments we can receive their riches without going through their sufferings. In the church there is much grace which God will only give to others, not to you. Every star has its own glory. Therefore, authority is the riches of the church. Individual riches are riches for the many. To rebel is to take the way of poverty. To reject authority is to reject the way of receiving grace and riches.


No one dares to say that he would not submit to the Lord’s authority. But there is also the authority of the members in coordination that we have to submit to. We have to realize that all the members are joined together. If we do not receive help from other members, we are in rebellion. Sometimes the Lord uses one member directly. At other times, the Lord uses a member to supply another member. When the head directs the eyes to see, the whole body takes the seeing of the eyes as its own seeing because when the eyes see, the whole body sees. This delegated function, which is deputy authority, is also the authority of the Head. If any other members think that they can see for themselves, they are in rebellion. We cannot be so foolish as to think that we are almighty.

Never forget that we are just members. We need to receive the function of the other members. When we submit to the authority of the seeing function, we will have no barrier with the Head, because the supply is in the authority. Whoever has the gift has that ministry; and whoever has the ministry has the authority. No one else can see except the eyes. If we want to see, we have to submit to the authority of the eyes and receive their supply. God’s appointed ministry is His authority. No one should reject it. Everyone wants to receive God’s direct authority. But God wants us to submit to indirect authorities (i.e., deputy authorities) so that we may receive spiritual supply.

(Authority and Submission, Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)