NEEDING THE AUTHORITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ADDITION TO THE PROPER GROUND
Nevertheless, we should not think that once we have the proper ground everything is all right. It is one thing to have the proper ground, but it is another thing to have the authority of the Holy Spirit. In addition to standing on the proper ground, we also need to allow the Holy Spirit to exercise His authority among us. One necessity is a matter of the ground, and the other is a matter of the authority of the Holy Spirit. Even if we have the proper ground here in Taipei, if the Holy Spirit does not have authority among us, the condition here will surely be improper. Suppose you have the proper ground in Pingtung, but you do not allow the Holy Spirit to have the authority. If this is the case, your situation will also be bad. This requires our flesh to be dealt with by the cross of Christ. This kind of dealing will allow the Holy Spirit to have the authority in the church. All God’s children have to learn to give God the authority. You should never say, “We are the responsible brothers in the church, so the authority is in our hands.” Every one of us has to learn to accept the dealing of the cross because there is no place for the flesh in the church.
Every time we meet together we have to hang ourselves on the cross. Otherwise, the Holy Spirit will not have the authority in the church. Instead, the flesh will reign instead of the Holy Spirit. If our flesh has been dealt with, we will be like those in Acts 15. Even though there was much discussion among them, they did not quarrel. The saints will be able to sit down together and have a discussion only if their flesh has been dealt with. Otherwise, they will quarrel as soon as they begin their discussion. Even though they may have different views, the responsible brothers can discuss something for several hours without quarreling, because their flesh has been dealt with. For the Holy Spirit to have the authority in the church, there must be the proper ground and the proper condition of the church. One requirement is the ground, and the other is the proper condition.
JUDGING A CHURCH NOT ACCORDING TO ITS CONDITION BUT ACCORDING TO ITS GROUND
Nevertheless, we should not judge a church according to its condition, but according to its ground. One time I met a believer in Manila. He told me that he could not come to the meetings because he did not agree with the practice of a certain brother in the church. This is wrong. Regardless of whether or not the practice of a particular brother is correct, his condition has nothing to do with the ground of the church.
If we want to find out whether or not a church is of God and whether or not we should join it, we should make our judgment according to the ground of the church and not according to the condition of the church. After a man is married, his wife may find several faults in him and want to divorce him, but can a wife decide whether or not her husband’s home is her home according to the present condition of her husband? Can she say that because her husband is not proper, his home is not her home? She cannot say this. We cannot judge whether or not a church is of God based on the condition of the responsible brothers. For example, when your temper is good, your wife acknowledges that your home is her home, and when you lose your temper, she still has to admit that your home is her home. We cannot say that because the responsible brothers in a certain place are more spiritual, the church there is of God; neither can we say that because the responsible brothers there are too fleshly, the church there is not of God. We can only say that because the responsible brothers are fleshly, the Holy Spirit does not have the authority there. Hence, the ground of the church is one thing, and the condition of the church is another. The ground is local, and upon the ground of locality the church should allow the Holy Spirit to have the authority.
A church should have a good condition as well as the proper ground. If a church does not have any outward signboard but inwardly has the authority of the Holy Spirit, this is the best. Some among the seven churches in Revelation were in a poor condition. Although they were in an improper condition, the Lord still addressed them as churches. From this we see that we should judge a church not according to its condition but according to its ground.
(The Path of Our Growth in Life, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)