CONCERNING THE ASCERTAINING OF MINISTRY
Brother Witness Lee asked: How does a person know what kind of ministry he has?
Brother Nee answered: It is better that he does not know. Whether or not you have a ministry is up to the Head to know; it is not up to you to know. This is the reason we have to accept the judgment of the whole Body. Only the knowledge of the Body is reliable. Whether you think you have a ministry or do not have a ministry does not count.
It is useless for a brother or a sister to tell others in the meeting that he or she has a ministry. If you have a ministry, you have it, and it will be manifested through your exercising it. Concerning the ascertaining of ministry, we have to realize that the judgment of the whole Body is more accurate than the judgment of an individual.
CONCERNING PURSUING THE GIFTS
Brother Weigh Kwang-hsi asked: What kind of attitude should we take concerning the pursuit of the gifts?
The Ministry Being Constituted
of the Death of Jesus,
whereas the Gifts Being Bestowed upon Us Outwardly by the Holy Spirit
Brother Nee answered: First and Second Corinthians tell us the difference between the gift and the ministry. First Corinthians is on the gifts, whereas 2 Corinthians is on the ministry. The basis of the ministry is the death and life of Christ. A gift is merely a power that the Holy Spirit bestows outside of us. The word "death" in 2 Corinthians 4 is a special word in the original language. There is more than one word for death in Greek. One of them means the opposite of life. It is used to describe a person as being dead, as opposed to being alive. This is the word commonly used. Another word means a kind of killing. It is used in the sense of killing a person, as opposed to begetting a person. The death in 2 Corinthians 4 has the sense of killing in the Greek language. Hence, it can be translated as the killing or the slaying of Jesus. While I was in London, I told the Western brothers and sisters that for the word death in 2 Corinthians 4, we can use a new word deathize. This death is a death that kills you. What this is saying is that the positive death of Jesus is being wrought into us. It refers to that death which issues from Jesus and which causes us to die. A ministry of life comes from God and is produced through repeated dealings. Spiritual gifts, on the other hand, are but elementary matters in the church. What the Lord cares for today is that we serve the church with the ministry, and not with the gifts.
The Church Needing Life Ministry
More Than Spiritual Gifts
The minute a brother stands up to speak, one can tell right away whether he is a brother with a gift or a brother with a ministry. In Southeast Asia, men cut the rubber tree with a knife. The life of the tree flows out through the scar of the knife-wound. This is a picture of one who serves with a ministry. When a man passes through fiery trials, he can give life to others. This is very different from merely giving gifts to others. In order to have a strong church, what we need is not gifts, but the ministry of life. When you walk into an immature church, there may be much activity, but there is not much life. On the other hand, you may see a brother who is not eloquent; you may be concerned for him and may wonder if you should do his job for him. Yet with him, there is the ministry. What is manifested in him is not the gifts. When a church is mature, many ministries will be produced, and there will be much life supply. Every brother should learn to touch the difference between gift and ministry. The church needs more ministries to be raised up. An immature church requires the presence of gifted brothers. But we cannot allow such a situation to go on forever. Gifts are temporary, whereas ministries last forever.
Gifts Being What One Uses,
whereas Ministry Being the Person Himself
Brother Yu’s fellowship: The life of Christ is His deposit within the believers. This life is a real entity from Christ. It is a reality from heaven. Gift is only a thing; one can borrow it and use it for a while, but the user may not know what it is. It is like Balaam’s donkey speaking human words; one cannot say that because of this, the donkey has become human. Those who exercise gifts are like children speaking grown-up words. God has raised up some people with a ministry. On the one hand, they have to have the gifts, because otherwise they cannot do the work of perfecting. However, those who speak merely according to their gifts are entirely different from those who speak according to a ministry that is produced in the course of twenty years or more. Some say, "If others can speak, why can’t I?" The problem is that while a child can speak grown-up words, he does not therefore become a grown-up. It is like the donkey who can speak human words; it does not mean that the donkey can consider itself a human being just because it speaks human words. Outwardly, the speaking of those with gifts and the speaking of those with a ministry are the same. But inwardly, the two are different.
When a church is strong, the spirit of the saints is clear. Although there may not be many outward activities, men will learn the proper lessons before the Lord. When a church is young, there may be the gifts, but there will not be the ministry. If we know God, we will see that a person may say something, but this does not mean that he is what he says. Some gifted ones fall much faster and easier than those who have no gifts.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 65, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)