Our Urgent Need - Spirit and Life, by Witness Lee


In 1943 I became very sick and could do nothing for two and a half years. During that time I was away from the meetings, my family, my home, and the work. Quite often I was alone with the Lord. It was at that time that the Lord showed me the two trees in Genesis 2. The first tree is the tree of life. Life is the processed Triune God; the tree of life indicates God, Christ, and the life-giving Spirit as one Person. The other tree is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Throughout those two and a half years, I repented very much of my work and ministry that was much according to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, with little of the tree of life. I was enlightened very much during that time.

In 1942 there was a turmoil in the church in Shanghai against Brother Nee, and he became the target of certain attacks. Due to this and the persecution by the invading Japanese army, the church stopped meeting there. A number of the lovers of the Lord still remained there. They did not leave the church, but there was no church life. At the same time Brother Nee’s ministry was stopped. He could not minister for four years. In the summertime of 1946 the churches in Nanking and Shanghai began again to meet with a small number, and I was invited to visit them. Some brothers came to me with the same question: “Could you say that Brother Nee was never wrong?” They wanted a yes or no answer. This was the right time for me. I had just seen something of the tree of life and had repented that my past had been so much in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, involving matters of right or wrong and yes or no. Therefore, I dared not to answer yes or no. I dared not to exercise anything of the tree of knowledge.

I had only one reply to their question. I asked, “Before you thought that Brother Nee was wrong, how was your spiritual life?” The questioners all answered that they had been very living. Then I asked, “How has your spiritual life been since you took the position that Brother Nee was wrong?” Some wept, saying that their spiritual life had been in chaos. I told them, “This is a strong indication that the Lord Jesus does not want us to pay attention to whether others are right or wrong. When you touch this matter, you touch death. Even if you were right, you were deadened, and when you spoke of such a thing to others, they also were deadened. Then there was a strong spreading of death in the church life. It is not a matter of right or wrong; it is a matter of life or death. It does not matter whether you spread the truth or mere rumors. Whatever you touch that deadens you also deadens everyone else.”

I pointed out to them the four cases from the Gospel of John. I showed them that when the Lord was on the earth, questions always came to Him, and people wanted Him to answer yes or no, right or wrong, good or evil. The Lord Jesus never answered in this way. Rather, He always pointed people to life. It is not a matter of right or wrong; it is not a matter of good or evil; and it is not a matter of yes or no. It is a matter of life. We must be enlivened, and we must enliven others and the whole church. We should avoid speaking anything that deadens us, the saints, or the church.

Our need is the very Triune God who was embodied to be our Savior, Jesus Christ, and who became through His death and resurrection a life-giving Spirit. Today we must take Him as our center, goal, and object, forgetting about all the religious things, such as the things concerning regulations and the worship of God. We do not care for anything but this one living Person, who is life, resurrection, God, the Spirit, and the reality of all the divine things to us. If we take Him, we will always be enlivened, and we will enliven others and enliven the entire church life. Our need today is to seek after this living Person.

(Our Urgent Need - Spirit and Life, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)