GOD’S UNIQUE INTENTION
God’s intention is to have a church, to have a Body for Christ. His intention is not just to have a number of saved people. Nor is it His intention merely to have a number of spiritual people. Nor is it His intention merely to have some fervent and godly Christians. God’s unique intention is to have a church, to have a Body. All the previous items of recovery are for this ultimate item. The recovery of the church life is basically dependent on the recovery of the oneness and reality of the church. This is why oneness is the ultimate recovery of the Lord. Without oneness there is no proper ground for the church life.
In the past the Lord used different people to recover many items; yet, the sad thing is that nearly every item of the recovery caused a division. All the items of the recovery should be for the church, but the people who have been used by the Lord to recover the items built up some division with that respective item of recovery. Those opposing the recovery of the church are not indifferent Christians, but some of the Christians who are so much for the knowledge of the Bible, who are so much for the inner life, who are so much for evangelism, and who are so much for the Pentecostal, charismatic things.
The target of much of the opposition is the oneness as the ground of the church life. Satan always does his best to damage this oneness. All the arrows will turn toward one who is for this oneness. Today Satan, the subtle enemy, hardly attacks spirituality, holiness, or any kind of charismatic things; he mainly attacks one thing—the genuine oneness as the ground of the church, which is the recovery of the practical church life.
THE TEACHINGS AND THE PENTECOSTAL AND CHARISMATIC THINGS
I do not oppose the Pentecostal gifts, nor the emphasis of certain doctrines; yet, I am not for either. I do not oppose anything that is genuine. Why then am I not for these? Let me illustrate. Suppose a factory has a choice of different materials to be used to make its product. Each of the different materials may be good, but the foreman knows from experience which material will make the best product. In the same manner, as a result of experience I can tell you that the best way to build up a local church is to help the saints realize their human spirit and exercise their spirit to contact the Lord. By this way they will experience and enjoy the Lord, have the growth in life, and be preserved in the oneness as the ground of the church life. This does not mean that there is not another way to build up the church. There are other ways, but none is as good and proper as this way.
A local church might be built up by teaching, but if you use it as the basic way to build up a local church, you will suffer some loss. Also, a church might be built up by the Pentecostal and charismatic things, but if you use them as the basic way to build up a local church, you will suffer even greater loss.
A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
About thirty-seven years ago, a dear brother, who was very much for tongue-speaking, came to me, and had a thorough talk with me. During our fellowship I pointed out to him the real situation in China. Among the Christians in China at that time, there were some prevailing ones, but none of the prevailing Christian preachers and ministers spoke in tongues. Watchman Nee never spoke in tongues. He definitely disagreed with the teaching that tongues are the unique manifestation of the baptism of the Spirit. Yet, today Brother Nee’s teachings have become so prevailing, not only among Chinese-speaking Christians, but also throughout the whole world. Another prevailing one in China, Dr. John Sung the evangelist, also never spoke in tongues. He was strongly against anything Pentecostal.
Then I fellowshipped a second point with him. At that time two counties in China were full of Christians. One county, located in the province of Che-Kiang, was strongly against Pentecostalism. The other county that was in my home province was very much for the Pentecostal things. However, at the time of our talk, that Pentecostal work was nearly dried up, and the work in Che-Kiang that was against anything Pentecostal was prevailing. I told the brother that I do not mean that Pentecostal things are useless, but this situation proves that there is something better.
Then finally I pointed out to the brother that his Pentecostal group in our town had been meeting for a number of years, yet still did not have over a hundred people. Our meeting place was very close to theirs, yet our number had been increasing all the time. He was a faithful believer, and after I had spoken to him, he added that he also realized that the brothers and sisters with him lived a careless and worldly life, but the brothers and sisters with us were so much with the Lord.
Today in Taiwan no other work has become as prevailing as the work of the local churches. In Taiwan there are seminaries, people with doctor’s degrees, missionaries, fundamental people, and Pentecostal people, but no Christian work has ever become as prevailing as the local churches.
(The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)