CHRIST AS LIFE
The second item of the spiritual charter of the church is Christ as life. On the negative side, the cross deals with all the negative opinions, thoughts, differing concepts, ideas, and desires and the things of the self, of the world, and of sin. On the positive side, the cross released Christ as life. The death of the Lord was His release. The more we pass through the cross, the more Christ is released. If we would learn the lessons of the cross, Christ the Lord will be much more released among us. This is something not negative but positive. We do not have regulations in letters, but we have the regulations in life, which is Christ. For us all to take Christ as life and to take nothing else is a wonderful rule, regulation, and bylaw for the church. By the sovereignty of the Lord, we have experienced this wonderful rule in recent years. Nearly every time that we have come together to serve the Lord, we have experienced Christ.
We must be careful to check whether or not we are according to this regulation of the spiritual charter of the church. We check ourselves by asking, “Is this something of Christ as life?” This is not a doctrinal matter but one that we must put into practice. When we, as the brothers and sisters who come together to practice the church life, discuss or suggest something, we must check and ask, “Lord, is this something of You? Is this something of life?” If it is not of life, we drop it. We do not insist on such things; we simply drop them. We must check ourselves by Christ as life. If we do this, we will save ourselves much trouble. We will not have troubles if we check ourselves by Christ as life.
After we pass through the cross, Christ is released as the reality of the church. If we do not have Christ as life, we do not have the church life. The church life is simply Christ realized by us in a corporate way. We are not a religious organization. We are a group of persons who are saved, regenerated, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, coming together to experience Christ in a corporate way. What we suggest must be Christ Himself as life to us. If we keep this regulation, how wonderful the church will be!
This is not merely a doctrine. Recently, some friends have come to me and asked, “Brother Lee, what kind of regulations and rules do you have?” This is hard to answer. I would not say that we have regulations, and neither would I say that we do not have regulations. To be sure, we have regulations, but they are not the regulations in letters. They are the regulations in Christ Himself. The first regulation of the church is the cross, and the second is Christ as life. If we would take this word and check ourselves, others, and the entire church by these regulations, we will see how wonderful the church life will be. This will save us from many things.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
The third item of the spiritual charter of the church is the Holy Spirit in our spirit. The Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of life, is the living regulation. Therefore, there is no need for us to have regulations in letters. A history of the creeds of the church, containing all the different creeds since the apostolic fathers, requires several large volumes. In the past years many people have asked me what kind of creed we have. I always like to tell people that we do not have a creed; rather, we have the cross, we have Christ, and we have the Spirit of God. These are the items of the spiritual charter of the church. When we come to practice the church life, we need the Holy Spirit as our living creed.
We may claim to know the Holy Spirit as our creed more than we know the cross. However, without the cross, we may even misuse and abuse the teaching concerning the Spirit. One aspect of the Holy Spirit in this age, or dispensation, of grace is illustrated in the holy Scriptures by the rain from heaven. Many people receive the rain, but they misuse and abuse what they receive. If we check ourselves with the cross, and we honor, magnify, exalt, and respect the Lord Jesus Christ, we are in the right position to properly experience the Holy Spirit. We must be checked by the cross, and we must be safeguarded by Christ. Then we will experience the Spirit in a proper and adequate way.
The Spirit is our charter. Whenever we come together, we must do everything in the Spirit. When we come to discuss something, we must discuss it in the Spirit. If we do not have the anointing Spirit within us, we should stop, be silent, and give up our idea. If there is no registration, confirmation, or seal from the Holy Spirit, we need to stop. In recent years, by the mercy and grace of the Lord, I have learned the lesson never to argue or quarrel with people. Many times people argue with me, but I ask them, “Do you have the inner anointing at this very moment while you are speaking?” This checks where we are. If we check whether or not we have the anointing, we will know what to do. If we do not have the anointing, we will stop.
There are no outward regulations among us; our regulation is the cross, Christ, and the Spirit. If we do not have the Spirit, we have nothing to do or to say; we are through. We may be right in everything, but we may be short of one thing; we may be short of the Holy Spirit with the anointing.
(Basic Principles for the Practice of the Church Life, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)