Christ versus Religion, by Witness Lee

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Let us look now at the passage in Ephesians 4: "That we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but holding the reality in love, may grow up in all things into Him, who is the head, even Christ" (vv. 14, 15 Gk.). I do not know whether you have seen something here which is still of religion. Of course, the word "religion" is not mentioned, but something of religion definitely is mentioned. Paul said that we should no longer be carried about with "every wind of doctrine." Notice that it does not say "heresy," but "doctrine." "Every doctrine" is undoubtedly something of religion. Contrasted with the wind of doctrine in this passage are the words "holding the reality." The reality is Christ. We must hold the reality in love that we may grow into Christ. So we see here that Christ is versus doctrine, or in other words, Christ is versus religion.

In Ephesians 4 we read that all the prophets, apostles, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers were given by the Head to the Body for the perfecting of the saints. The perfecting of the saints means making the saints to grow. We feed the saints that they may grow and thus participate in the work of the ministry. The end result is that the saints build up the Body of Christ. The building up of the church is not done directly by the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds or teachers, but by the saints, "until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (v. 13 Gk.). The saints are being perfected, and we are all going on until we arrive at three things: 1) The unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. The unity here is of two things—the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. 2) A full grown man. While we are going on, we are growing until we all arrive at a full grown man. 3) The measure of the fulness of Christ. If we refer to chapter 1, verse 23, we see that the fulness of Christ is just the Body. The measure of the fulness of Christ is the measure of the Body.

Notice clearly at this point that verse 13 does not say, "Until we all arrive at the unity of the doctrine and the teachings concerning the Son of God." It does not mean that. It says, "Until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge [the knowing] of the Son of God." If we care overmuch for the doctrine, we are indeed religious. We must see clearly the difference between faith and doctrine. Our Christian faith is entirely different from Christian doctrine. Simply stated it is this: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who was incarnated as a man, who died on the cross for our sins, who was resurrected bodily from the dead, who ascended to the heavens, who now indwells our spirit, and is coming back soon. This is our faith, and we are all one in this. Besides this faith, however, there are many doctrines. Concerning even one matter, the second coming of the Lord Jesus, there are numerous teachings. Some say that Jesus will return after the tribulation; others insist that He will come before the tribulation; and still others say that He will return in the midst of the tribulation. We all believe that Jesus will come again—this is our faith. Every genuine Christian believes this, and there is no problem as far as that simple fact is concerned. But the matter of exactly when He will return divides Christians. We must see that all these doctrines or teachings concerning the exact time of the Lord’s return have nothing to do with our faith. Our faith is what saves us—if we do not have the faith, we can never be saved. Whether we believe in the pre-tribulation, post-tribulation, or mid-tribulation return of the Lord, it has nothing whatever to do with our salvation. It is not holding any specific doctrine concerning the Lord’s return that saves us. All we need to do is keep the faith, not the doctrines.

(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)