Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, by Witness Lee

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[The Lord desires all the saints to be perfected (Eph. 4:13), but the Bible shows us that the Lord is calling for overcomers. In the seven epistles to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, the Lord is sounding the trumpet for overcomers. His call for the overcomers indicates that not all the saints will be perfected. Just some of them will be perfected. The ones who are willing to be perfected will be the overcomers. These overcomers will eventually constitute the bride of Christ, and this bride will be the fighting army, following Christ to fight against and defeat the Antichrist (Rev. 19:11-21). According to Revelation 17:14 the army of overcomers that follow the Lamb are “called and chosen and faithful.’’ The choosing of the Father in eternity past was for salvation, but the choosing in Revelation 17 at the end of this age is for overcoming. Thank God that we have been chosen by Him in eternity for salvation, but now we are under the test to be approved. If we are faithful to follow the New Testament teaching to run the course, to pass the test to be approved, we will be chosen to be the overcomers who constitute the army and the bride of Christ. The army is formed in Revelation 17. These chosen ones constitute a ready-to-fight army. Then these ready-to-fight chosen overcomers will be the bride in Revelation 19 to attend the wedding feast of the Lamb (vv. 7-9). After the marriage feast, Antichrist will fight directly against the descending Christ. Christ will fight him with His bride, who is the chosen army.

I am concerned for some of the saints because they are still not willing or ready to be perfected. By the Lord’s mercy and under the covering of His blood, I would ask you as you are reading this book—are you willing and ready to be perfected? If you are not willing and ready, you will make yourself a dropout. The door is open for everyone to be perfected. I hope that we all would have a hearing ear to hear the calling of the Lord. Everyone who is contented with the present situation of the church life is not ready to be perfected, to go on with the Lord. This means that they are in the risky situation of becoming a dropout. In these days, I believe that the Lord has given me a vision with a burden for His churches, His recovery. Our present situation is not something with which we should be contented. We should feel sorry for our present situation. The recovery has been in the United States for over twenty-five years. During this period of time, we may have heard many messages, yet our situation is not up to a level with which we can be satisfied. We have to realize that we are far off from the goal. We need to say, “Lord, I am ready and willing to be perfected by You. I will take the perfecting word through Your gifted persons.’’

All the members of the Body of Christ are parts of the one organism. What a privilege, what a mercy, and what an all-sufficient grace that we are now in the one organism of the Triune God! As living members of this organism, we need the organic perfecting. We need to be perfected to do what the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers do. We have to be perfected so that the entire Body of Christ functions in the same way that the gifted members do.

There is much hope that we can be perfected to do what the gifted members do. In a local church, some can do the apostles’ work to preach the gospel, teach the truth, establish churches, and appoint elders. The Lord needs many apostles, not just one or two. God’s intention is to perfect every saint to do what the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers do. Some saints will do the apostles’ work. Some will be perfected to do the prophets’ work to speak God, speak for God, and speak forth God, ministering Christ to all the people. They will be perfected not merely to give a testimony but to give a living word of revelation. Some of the saints who were not evangelists may be perfected to be evangelists. They will be those who are on fire and burdened for the preaching of the gospel. They will have the ability and the knowledge to talk to people about sin, the fall of man, the love of God, the person of Christ, redemption, forgiveness, and regeneration. Then there will be no need for the saints to bring their unbelieving contacts to a gifted person because the saints will have been perfected to do the work of an evangelist. Some of the saints also need to be perfected to shepherd. Today very few of the ones that we baptize are under the proper care because of a lack of shepherding. This is why we lose many of the ones that we baptize. But if the saints are perfected to be shepherds, every baptized one will have a nursing mother (1 Thes. 2:7). Immediately after the new ones are baptized, the saints will pick up the burden to care for them. They will care for the new ones as they would care for newborn babes, nourishing and cherishing them.

The saints in a local church must be perfected to do the same work that the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers do. Because the situation is not like this today, we have to strive and to struggle by fighting. There are many resistances that we have to fight through. We all should pray, “Lord, make me willing and ready to be perfected. I will receive the perfection from the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the shepherds and teachers. I am not content with my present situation.’’ This is my intimate fellowship with you all. I hope that you are willing to accept my fellowship.]

(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)