The Full Knowledge of the Word of God, by Witness Lee


I was raised in Christianity and participated in three denominations. I studied in a Baptist elementary school and also went to a Baptist Sunday School. Then I gained some further learning in the Chinese Christian Presbyterian Church. Later, I went to the Brethren Assembly to learn the truth in the Bible. At that time the Brethren Assembly was very famous in northern China. I attended their meetings five times a week, rain or shine, for seven and a half years. I heard many sermons, and in these sermons the phrase “God desires all men to be saved” was often repeated. However, I never heard anyone tell me that God not only desires all men to be saved, but He also desires all men to come to the full knowledge of the truth. In the Chinese Union Version, the translation of 1 Timothy 2:4 is, “Who will have all men to be saved and know the true principle.” The “true principle” here is the truth. We cannot say that “know” is a wrong translation, but it does not bring out the full meaning. In the original text this word, epignosis, is derived from a verb, epiginosko. The prefix of this word, epi, means “exactly, completely, through and through.” This word indicates not merely a little knowledge but a thorough and complete knowledge.

Many Christians pay attention only to “God desires all men to be saved” and neglect the other part of God’s desire. After we are saved, whether or not we will be useful vessels in God’s hand depends on our attitude toward the truth. If we know only a little of the truth, there will be a great lack. God surely desires all men to be saved, but He does not stop there. He also desires that all men come to the full knowledge of the truth. Not only in Christianity, but even among us, there are some who have been attending meetings for many years but who cannot give a complete message on any point of the truth. What a pity!


When brothers and sisters stand up to speak in the meetings, we can discern from their speaking the measure of the truth that is in them. It is often possible to determine a person’s educational level from his speaking. For example, even now I still recognize a few brothers and sisters who met with us in 1949. I am afraid that if you were to ask them to give a ten minute message on God’s justification, they would not be able to do it. Everyone is able to stand up and give a testimony, but when we ask many of the saints to speak the truth, they are not able to do it. It is for this reason that we must change the system.

In the United States I told some people that, during the time from 1962 until today, a period of almost twenty-three years, their sons had graduated from college, but they, the parents, could not even give a message. In the spiritual sense, they had not even graduated from elementary school. This is where we have failed. Brothers and sisters, here in Taiwan we also have been meeting together for more than thirty years. How many of you can stand up and speak concisely, clearly, simply, understandably, and thoroughly for five to ten minutes? I doubt very much that I can find even one.

If we cannot speak spiritual words, how can we go out to supply life, release the truth, and preach the gospel? We will only be able to tell people, “It is very good to believe in Jesus. If you believe, you will have joy and peace; therefore, you must believe.” If we need to speak further concerning the benefits of believing, we can only say, “Come and see. Come and listen, and you will know. You can only know these things by experience; I cannot tell you in words how good it is.” If it cannot be put into words, how can I tell you about it, and how did you hear about it? The reason that you cannot put it into words is that you did not learn how to do it.

Many brothers and sisters in the United States were moved by the Lord and began to form gospel teams. Two or three teams began to go out to preach the gospel on many university campuses in many states. I had told them before that, even though the United States is a country of high education, the gospel that has been preached there is still elementary. It speaks either about going up to heaven, about going down to hell, or about peace and joy. But the truth in the Bible is high. Because of this, I told them that they should go out to preach the high gospel, the gospel that people cannot help but receive. However, they always had a question: “Do you think that people will understand these things that we speak?” In answer to this I said, “Do not say that people cannot understand. It is not that they cannot understand but that you do not know how to speak. If you can speak, they will understand.” These words encouraged them. They formed gospel teams and preached the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—as the gospel. The result was wonderful. When they came back to give a report, they all were excited and said, “It is wonderful! The students on the university campuses welcomed this subject the most. One by one they were saved because of this subject.” How do you explain this? Therefore, we must change our concept.

(The Full Knowledge of the Word of God, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)