Christ versus Religion, by Witness Lee

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Anything without the presence of Christ is just a religion to us. The spiritual experiences of yesterday applied to today’s situation is just a religion. When we come to the Book of Revelation, suddenly everything is changed. There are even no more positions, no more titles. In the local churches of the Epistles, there are firstly the elders or bishops, and then the deacons and so forth. There are the titles—apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers. But when we come to the Book of Revelation, all these are gone. Paul wrote to the churches as "an apostle of Christ Jesus" (Eph. 1:1), but John in the Revelation speaks of himself as "your brother" (1: 9). By the time John wrote the Book of Revelation, he was close to one hundred years of age. He was really qualified and experienced as an apostle; he did have the position. At the time he wrote Revelation, he was the last of the original twelve apostles left on the earth, but he never referred to himself as such in this book. Have you seen this? "I John, your brother," he said. That is all. That was the position, that was the qualification he assumed in this book. Why? Because in the Lord’s economy in this book and in this age all these things—position, title, qualification—are over.

Today, in the age of the spirit, there is no position, no title, and no qualification. There is only one thing—the sevenfold Spirit. There are no elders; there are only stars. You may presume to be a proper elder, but you can never presume to be a star. If you are a star, you must shine. It is a shame today to claim the position of being an elder. It is a shame today to claim any position because of your many years of experience. It matters not how long you have been in the work of the Lord, but it matters very much whether you are shining or not. Are you shining? Are you living? Are you burning? The Lord today in the age of the Spirit does not care for anything—your experiences, your position, or your qualifications—but for the seven burning Spirits. Have you been burned by the seven Spirits? And are you burning in the sevenfold Spirit?

Today is not the day of the Epistles; today is the day of the Revelation. Today is not the day of the elders; today is the day of the shining stars. Oh, the deadness, oh, the deadness of claiming the position of an elder! That is a religion, and it will eventually become a part of the great Babylon. The position which you claim will never be in the New Jerusalem. Those who claim positions are as dead as doornails. There is no flow among them. There is nothing living, nothing burning, nothing shining. To claim a position, to claim a certain title, is nothing but a kind of religion. That is not life, that is not Christ—that is religion.

After reading so much concerning Christ versus religion, you may still not know what religion is. You may be criticizing other brothers, criticizing the responsible ones, criticizing the co-workers. What is this? This too is religion. "Oh, the Lord be merciful to us! O Lord Jesus! O Lord Jesus! How much we need Your rescue, Lord! We need Your deliverance! Deliver us from the positions, deliver us from the titles, deliver us from the qualifications, and deliver us from the criticisms." All of these things belong to Babylon the Great; they will never be in the New Jerusalem. In Babylon there are the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, etc.—many positions, many titles. But in the churches there are no positions, no titles, no qualifications. There is just the sevenfold Spirit with the shining stars.

You may claim that you are in the local church. But is that really the lampstand in your city? Is it shining? Oh, the Lord be merciful to us. Do not ask, "Are we not the house of God? Are we not the local church?" What about the shining? Where is the lampstand? Is there anything shining in the darkness of your city, in the night of this age?

(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)