The Spirit and the Body, by Witness Lee

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By these examples we can see that in the book of Acts there is nothing of a movement. There is just the living move of the living Person of Jesus, and this living Person is the Holy Spirit. When Barnabas and Paul were confronting a sorcerer, a false prophet, we are told that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak to him (Acts 13:9-10). Acts 13:2 mentions Barnabas before Paul. However, it was Paul who took the lead to speak. Barnabas and Paul did not hold a conference in which Barnabas said, "Paul, you have studied at the feet of Gamaliel, and you are more learned than I. Now that we are on our mission, let us make the decision that from now on you will be the speaker and I will be the helper." Instead of the record of such a discussion, we are simply told that in a certain situation Paul was spontaneously filled with the Spirit and took the lead to speak. There was no human discussion or decision; rather, there was the move of the living Person, the Holy Spirit. If we had been Barnabas or Paul, we would have discussed who should be the speaker. But the one who was filled with the Spirit did the speaking. If you have the Spirit, you may speak. But if you do not have the Spirit, you should be quiet.


The only conference in the book of Acts took place in chapter fifteen. The apostles and elders came together to take care of a certain matter. Acts 15:28 says, "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us." Whenever we have a conference, we must have the assurance that whatever we decide is the decision of the Spirit. We must be able to say, "It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us." I read the Bible for years without ever paying any attention to this verse. The decision made in chapter fifteen was not made only by the apostles and the elders with the whole church; it was made also by the Holy Spirit, and the apostles and elders followed the Spirit to make a decision. Hence, it was a decision made by the Holy Spirit and the apostles and elders.


We must learn from the experience of the apostles and elders in Acts 15 never to make decisions on our own. Furthermore, we should not make suggestions to others or give instructions to them. None of us is qualified to do this. At the time of the Acts, Peter, Paul, and the other apostles were not qualified by themselves to make decisions or give instructions. Then what about us? We must honor the Lord. We are not the Lord or the Master, and we are not the Lord of the harvest. Only the Lord Jesus is the Lord of the harvest. He is the Master, and we must honor Him by not making decisions in ourselves. Suppose I am your servant, and you are my master. Suppose that without you I make certain decisions and then give instructions to others, making decisions for them as well. This would be a great insult to you. You are the master, but who am I? Nevertheless, we have all transgressed in this respect in the past, for a lot of decisions have been made among us. Some decisions were made by individuals and others by groups. In certain cases some even made decisions for others. But where is the Lord? When we make decisions in this way, it seems that there is no Lord among us. It seems that we do not have the Spirit, but only ourselves to depend on. We make decisions and we give instructions. Instead of doing this, we must pray, fast, and wait on the Lord. We need to honor Him. He is our Master, and we are His slaves. We should say to Him, "Lord, You are my Master. I am neither qualified nor do I have the position and the authority to make decisions or give orders to others. Lord, I am waiting on You. I want to know Your will and Your heart. Lord, I want to know what You want me to do and what You want my fellow-workers to do. Lord, I ask You what You want the churches to do." We all must have this attitude; otherwise, we shall insult the Lord, and eventually He will give us up.

This is exactly the situation in today’s Christianity, and this is the reason Christianity has lost the Lord’s presence. Many of those in Christianity have made themselves the Lord of the harvest, the masters of the work. They hire some, lay off some, give orders, and make decisions. They form mission boards, hold conferences, and make decisions about where to send their workers. We must not repeat the tragedy of the history of Christianity.

(The Spirit and the Body, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)