The History of the Church and the Local Churches, by Witness Lee


In Philippians 3:5-6 the basic elements of being religious are mentioned. Paul told us that all these religious factors which had been a gain to him were counted a loss by him on account of Christ (v. 7). He also counted all things to be loss and even refuse that he might gain Christ (v. 8). "Refuse" in verse 8 is dregs, rubbish, filth, what is thrown to the dogs; hence, dog food, dung. Everything, including worldly things, fleshly things, and religious things, was counted as dung by the apostle Paul. To him everything other than Christ was dung. He counted everything as a loss that he might gain Christ. Anything that is not Christ Himself or that is a substitute for Christ, we have to count as dung. It does not matter whether that item is good or bad. As long as it is not Christ and as long as it is a substitute for Christ, it is trash. We should not bring anything other than Christ into the church. The church is not a trash can. Instead, the church is the new man and the habitation of God. In the church, nothing counts but Christ. Everything other than Christ is trash. This revelation is according to the holy and pure Word of God.

In Philippians 3:2 Paul said that we need to beware of the dogs. Dogs refer to the Judaizers, the religious ones. Paul said that he counted all things as refuse that he might gain Christ. Refuse is dog food. At one time Paul was a dog feeding on dog food, but then he became a member of Christ feeding on Christ. Only Christ is the real food. Anything other than Christ is dog food. All the worldly and the religious people are feeding on dog food. Only the proper church people are feeding on Christ. We need to be those who are feeding on Christ as the heavenly bread of life.


We also need to see the revelation presented in Colossians 1—3. Chapter one tells us that Christ is the Head of the Body (v. 18). As the Head of the Body, He must have the preeminence, the first place, in the church and in all things. He should have the preeminence. Chapter two tells us that Christ is God’s mystery (v. 2). Whatever God is, whatever God has planned and purposed, whatever God has accomplished, and whatever God intends to do are altogether embodied in Christ as the mystery of God. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (v. 9), and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him (v. 3). Christ is such a wonderful One. We cannot analyze Him or systematize Him. Christ is so marvelous, mysterious, and profound. We should not try to analyze Him because we cannot understand Him in full, but we can receive Him.

Colossians 2:6 says that as we have received Him, we should walk in Him. Verse 8 says, "Beware that no one carries you off as spoil through his philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ." Philosophy here refers to the teaching of Gnosticism, a mixture of Jewish, Oriental, and Greek philosophies, which is an empty deceit. The source of the Gnostic teaching at Colosse was the tradition of men, depending not on the revealed writings of God but on the traditional practices of men. The elements of the world refer to the rudimentary teachings of both Jews and Gentiles, consisting of ritualistic observances in meats, drinks, washings, asceticism, etc. We have to beware of this today. We should not receive or walk according to any worldly philosophy, worldly teaching, or any kind of worldly natural thought. We should walk only according to Christ. We have to walk in Him and according to Him because all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily, and we have been made full in Him (v. 10). Outside of Him, we will be empty, but within Him, we will be full.

According to Colossians 3:10-11, we have to realize that the new man, the church life, is upon us. It has been put on us, and now we have to practically put on the church life, the new man. In this new man "there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all and in all" (v. 11). Circumcision refers to religious people, whereas uncircumcision refers to unreligious people. A barbarian is an uncultured person, and Scythians were considered the most barbarous. In the new man there is no possibility, no room, for any natural person. There is only room for Christ. Christ is all and in all. He is all the members of the new man and in all the members. He is everything in the new man.

(The History of the Church and the Local Churches, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)