Salvation in Life in the Book of Romans, by Witness Lee


Six months ago, a brother insisted on seeing me and tried to fellowship with me concerning the present problem in the Lord’s recovery. I told that brother that I have been in the church life for fifty-eight years and have become very familiar with these kinds of things. They are like the cycles of metabolism of the body; after a while the body gets sick for a time.

During the eighteen years that I was in mainland China, Brother Nee was responsible for the ministry of the word. During those eighteen years, I saw at least four storms. In 1949 we moved to Taiwan and began the work here. During this period of forty years, the cycle of storms has been a little farther apart. But the storms have still occurred about once every ten years. The seed of the first problem was sown as early as 1957. By 1959, the seed had almost sprouted. This incident had much to do with my burden to go to the West.

In 1962 I was clear that the Lord wanted me to pick up the burden to begin His recovery work in the United States. I remained there until 1965 before coming back to Taiwan to clear up the situation. At that time the church was pursuing the life messages on the Gospel of John. In chapter two the Lord told the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up’’ (v. 19). At that time I told the brothers and sisters that if the work in Taiwan was of the Lord, even if man were able to destroy it, the Lord would raise it up again in resurrection.

We have to see that there is no sea that does not have storms, and there is no human being who is never sick. Some sicknesses make men weak. Other kinds of sicknesses can eventually make a person strong. All parents know that children have to go through sicknesses before they can grow up well. If a child is rarely sick, he could die of a sickness when he does become sick. This is because he does not have a defense system built up within him against sickness. For this reason, though it is not a good thing to be sick, we do not have to be afraid of it. Today I am eighty-six years old, and I have passed through many serious sicknesses. First, I had tuberculosis, then I had a stomach disorder, and eventually I had an ulcer. After passing through a few serious illnesses, I have become even stronger than before. Hence, do not be afraid of difficulties. Difficulties are very beneficial to the organic growth of the church.


During the past few decades, the problem among us has been that some have the ambition, but they do not have the capacity. If a man does not have the capacity to reach the goal of his ambition, he will be like a disgraced politician. Whether in the church or the work, the problem lies in this point. In addition to capacity, there must also be the proper heart. We should be pure in our heart and single for the Lord’s recovery. Only then will we be a help to the recovery. This is like a person engaged in world government. If he has the ambition and the ability to do something for his nation and his people, and if his motive is pure, he can become a hero to the nation and a savior to his people. But if he has the ambition and the ability, yet lacks a pure motive, he will become a problem. The same principle can be seen in the Lord’s recovery.

In 2 Corinthians 5:9 Paul said, “We are ambitious…to be well-pleasing to Him.’’ At that time, Paul was also very capable. He not only received gifts from the Lord, he was also very well-educated in Greek and Hebrew. He was taught at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) in the city of Tarsus, a city which had the highest academic institution of the time. He had a strong academic foundation. Fourteen Epistles in the New Testament were written by Paul. His Greek was fluent, and his logic was sound. Peter and Mark’s writings could not match his. In their writings we cannot find terms such as economy, mystery, the eternal purpose of God, etc. John was a Galilean fisherman. His style was to express the mysterious things with simple words. For example, he said such things as: “I in them, and You in Me’’ (John 17:23); “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’’ (1:1); and “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men’’ (1:4). All these are simple words, but these words contain mysteries within them. This is the characteristic of the books of John.

Paul, however, wrote in Romans, “But I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind…’’ (7:23). In chapter eight he said, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and of death’’ (v. 2). Because Paul wrote of such deep things in his Epistles, we sometimes wonder whether or not the believers who received his letters were able to understand them. Today we are able to understand what a law is because modern science has advanced so much. In Paul’s writings, there are indeed many mysterious things.

I encourage you young ones to have ambition. But we still have to look to the Lord to give us the capacity as well as a pure motive. Only when we have all three can we become useful in the hands of the Lord. Otherwise, sooner or later, we will become a problem. May the Lord be merciful to us.

(Salvation in Life in the Book of Romans, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)