The Spirit and the Body, by Witness Lee

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In addition to these basic doctrines, the Bible contains many other doctrines. Although these other doctrines are necessary and important, they are not the basic doctrines which constitute the faith. From the time of the Reformation until today, a great many divisions have come into being. Nearly all these divisions have been caused by different doctrines. Not one division was created by a basic doctrine, for none of the basic doctrines divides the saints. The divisions have been caused by the various divisive doctrines. Thus, we must be careful regarding this. We in the Lord’s recovery insist upon the basic doctrines that constitute the faith. If anyone does not hold to these basic doctrines, he is not a genuine believer, and he is not saved. However, apart from the basic doctrines, we do not insist on any other doctrines. Are things such as speaking in tongues, pray-reading, foot washing, and calling on the name of the Lord basic doctrines? Certainly not. None of these doctrines constitutes the faith. Whether or not you practice speaking in tongues, pray-reading, or calling on the name of the Lord does not affect your salvation. As long as you believe that God is one yet triune, that the Son of God was incarnated as a man, that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, that He was resurrected on the third day, and that He is coming again, you are saved and you are a member of the church. Someone may never pray-read or speak in tongues; yet if he has the common faith, he is saved. But if you do not believe the basic doctrines, you are not saved, even if your feet have been washed a thousand times.

To take another example, the doctrine of the kingdom is not a basic doctrine in the Bible. Some Brethren teachers say that the kingdom has been suspended. But the Bible reveals that the kingdom is here today. But the young people must be warned not to go out and teach this particular view of the kingdom as a local church doctrine. Furthermore, the matter of exercising the spirit is not a basic doctrine. I am concerned that some of the young ones may insist that others believe that the kingdom is here today and that all others must pray-read, call on the name of the Lord, and exercise their spirit. If the young people do this, they will be sectarian. We should not insist on any of these things.

Recently, a brother told me that a few saints are concerned that the churches using the life-study messages may become life-study message sects. We have no intention of forcing the churches to use the life-study messages. If they do not have the appetite for these messages, they should not use them. Using them, however, does not make the churches a sect any more than eating chicken or drinking milk makes us sectarian. We eat and drink when we are hungry. It should be the same with respect to the life-study messages. Any church that does not use the life-study messages is still a church.

It is the same with pray-reading or calling on the name of the Lord. If you do not feel the need to pray-read, then don’t try to do it. No one will exclude you because you do not care to pray-read.

Likewise, if a church is very sleepy and sloppy, it is still the church. If those in a particular church believe that all Christians will be raptured at the same time, they are still the church. But others, including me, believe that the overcomers will be raptured first, whereas the defeated ones will pass through the great tribulation. However, those who believe that all Christians will be raptured at the same time and those who believe that the overcomers will be raptured first are both part of the church. It is not the case that those who believe in the early rapture of the overcomers are the church and that those who believe in the simultaneous rapture of all Christians are not the church. Whether a church is sober or sloppy, it is still the church.

We should not insist on any doctrines apart from the doctrines that constitute the faith. However, we still need to know the pure Word and walk according to it. We do not want to be sloppy or loose or remain under the influence prevailing among today’s Christians. I hope that we all can differentiate between these two categories of doctrines. The local church is built upon the oneness according to the Spirit and according to the locality. It is absolutely not built on doctrines such as the doctrines concerning the kingdom of the heavens, pray-reading, or the exercise of the spirit.

(The Spirit and the Body, Chapter 21, by Witness Lee)