The Building Work of God, by Witness Lee

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We must see that all that matters is whether or not we have been built up. It is not a question of giving messages, nor is it a question of gifts. Rather, it is a question of whether or not there is a group of people who have been built by God into a spiritual habitation in which God can dwell. When people come into the midst of such a group, they not only sense the presence of God but also feel the warmth that is there. In addition, they feel that such a place is their spiritual home, a place in which they can rest. Brothers and sisters, is this the condition of the place where you are, the place where you meet? If it is not, then the place where you are definitely lacks building. I believe that these words are enough to show us that today what is needed most in every place is a builded church.

Today in any major city there are thousands of Christians. In addition, there are gospel activities throughout the earth and believers everywhere. However, it is difficult to find even one place where there is a group of God’s children who are being built into the house of God. We must not blame others, saying that they do not want to be built up. Neither should we say that there are no workers of God who are helping you to be built up. We cannot shirk our responsibility. Every one of us is responsible for the building; every one of us needs to be built up. I tell you, brothers and sisters, your most urgent need right now is to be built up.


I believe that by now we are clear that building and edification are vastly different. Although building includes edification, edification is not necessarily building. We may have been edified but not built up at all. Sometimes we see brothers and sisters who have been edified very much. Yet often the result is that the more they are edified, the more independent they become; the more they are edified, the more peculiar they become; the more they are edified, the more they despise others; and the more they are edified, the more they distance themselves from others. I have seen a good number of people who are like this. The more they receive this kind of edification, the more they become secluded and divisive. Therefore, if edification is not for building, it is of no benefit to the church. On the contrary, often it even damages the church.

Hence, as those who work for the Lord we have to be very careful! As we are ministering to the children of God, if our edifying of the believers only produces this kind of independent person, then our work is a complete failure. All the brothers and sisters who are co-workers need to seriously ask themselves what the goal and purpose of their work is. If we do not have the vision of building, I am afraid that the more we work and the more we edify people, the more the church will lack the building. For example, when a builder wants to build a house, he has a definite goal, and he also has a blueprint in his hand. He not only knows that he is building a house, but he also knows what kind of house he is building. Only with this understanding can he work according to his goal. He knows that the house needs doors and windows, so he takes some materials, including wood and glass, and makes them into doors and windows. This may be considered his work of edification. Then he sets these doors and windows into the house. This setting is the building. Thus, we can see that all the edification is for the building. When a builder is working, he has a goal, and he works toward this goal.

Suppose there is another builder who wants to build a house, yet he is making a table. May I ask you, is his work useful for the building of the house? He may work much harder than the previous builder. He may be more meticulous and able to build the unseemly pieces of wood into a very nice table. Nonetheless, let me ask you all, can you build this table into or onto the house? You cannot put it on the foundation, neither can you place it on the roof. You cannot use it either as a door or as a window. Yet the table standing there seems to be more beautiful than everything else. It seems to be saying, “Windows, none of you are as pretty as I am; doors, none of you are prettier than I. I am stronger than any one of you.” Do you see this? The table built by the builder becomes a problem to the building of the whole house. Naturally you will say that no builder would do this, but today many of those who work for the Lord are certainly like this. They are truly zealous for the work and genuinely zealous in edifying people, but they edify the brothers and sisters and make them into so many beautiful individual tables. The other brothers and sisters may be like broken doors, broken windows, broken beams, and broken pillars. Although they are unseemly, they can still somewhat be put together and built into a house as a dwelling place. However, the one who is a table, though very pretty, is all alone and is not built with others. Therefore, with respect to the building of the church, he is altogether useless. Moreover, he is often the cause of problems.

Forgive me for saying that I am afraid that for some brothers and sisters all their progress and all the edification they have received is this kind of edification. I am also afraid that many co-workers also edify people in this manner when they go forth to work. I have reiterated that if we do not have the picture of building before us, and if we do not have the building of the church as our goal, then I am afraid that the work that we do will be this kind of foolish work. The more we work, the less the church is built up.

(The Building Work of God, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)