ONE WHO IS SECTARIAN
Then Titus 3:10 says clearly that a man who is sectarian (lit.) after he is admonished once or twice, reject, because division damages the Body of Christ. God takes care of Himself. He also takes care of humanity. Third, He takes care of the Body of Christ. In a local church none should do anything that damages God’s Person, humanity, or the Body of Christ. If one damages any of these, we cannot continue to receive him. Either the church has to put him away, reject him, or turn away from him. We cannot keep company with such persons.
ONE WHO GOES BEYOND THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST
Second John 9 says, “Everyone who goes beyond and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God.” This refers to one who goes beyond, goes further than the teachings of the apostles concerning Christ. The apostles taught that Christ is the Son of God incarnated to be a man and that He is the One who gives us eternal life. They also taught that He is the One who died on the cross for our sins and was resurrected on the third day. These are the main points of the apostles’ teaching. Giving eternal life is for regeneration. Dying on the cross for our sins is for redemption. Resurrection is for life impartation.
Even in the first century, some so-called Christians, called antichrists, had gone beyond these points. Some said that Christ did not come in the flesh (2 John 7). In other words, they did not recognize the incarnation of Christ. Today in the same principle some of the so-called modernists who call themselves Christians say that Christ died on the cross as a martyr, suffering persecution, and that He did not die there for our sins. These say His death was not for redemption, only for martyrdom. They also say that Christ never resurrected. If one of those will admit that Christ was resurrected, he will say that He was only resurrected spiritually, not physically. All these persons have gone beyond what Christ taught.
We should not give this kind of antichrist or modernist a greeting (2 John 9-10). If we give them a greeting, we become partakers in their evils. Even the more, we should not receive them into our home. Someone might say that if we practice this, we are too specific and that we must be general. But we cannot be general with these kinds of persons. They are the ones who blaspheme Christ. We cannot keep company with blasphemers of the Lord. Anyone blaspheming the Lord Jesus must be put out of the church. We have to turn away from him.
I hope that this word has made it clear who are the persons with whom we cannot keep company. We Christians many times are specific when the Lord demands that we be general. Also, many times we are general when the Lord demands that we be specific. However, I believe that after pray-reading all these verses a few times, you will get the clear concept. In the church life, regardless of how general we are, there are certain persons that we cannot take. We have to be specific with these kinds of persons. We cannot keep company with any of them.
CARING FOR THE STANDING
Many times people have come to our meetings and have become excited. They proclaimed that our meetings are wonderful and that the way the Lord is moving among us is marvelous. However, after some days, they stopped coming because they heard something with which they disagreed. This kind of behavior shows that these dear ones had never seen what the oneness of the church is. If they had seen what the church is and what the oneness of the church is, they would not have cared about the things with which they disagreed. They would not have cared for the condition of the church, but for the proper standing.
Let me illustrate by using the captivity of the people of Israel as an example or as a kind of type. During the normal time in their history, all the Israelites in the Holy Land were one, taking Jerusalem as their unique center. Later on they became scattered. In other words, they became divided. First, some were carried to Syria. Then some were carried to Egypt. Eventually nearly all of the remaining ones were taken to Babylon. This was their captivity. This was also their division. After seventy years of captivity, the Lord commanded them to return. Not a large number, but only a small remnant, returned.
Nehemiah, Ezra, and Haggai show us that the returned ones were in a poor condition. Some had married Gentile wives. Suppose that in Babylon most of the remaining Hebrews were spiritual, godly, even having some giants of spirituality among them. Also, suppose that they always had good meetings. Furthermore, suppose that those in Syria and Egypt were not as good as those in Babylon, but at least better than the returned ones. Now my question is this: “Which of these four groups would you join?” Most of the people in Babylon were godly, spiritual, and lovable, and their meetings are high. Also many spiritual giants are there. Would you go to join them, or the returned group in Jerusalem whose condition was so poor?
The real situation today is that almost no Christians take care of the standing. Most care only for the condition. Why do Christians like to join a particular group? It is because those in it are spiritual, or their meetings are good. However, we have to realize that the standing is much more important than the condition. The standing can never be changed, but the condition may fluctuate. Today the meeting may be marvelous, but tomorrow it may be poor. I do not say that we should not pay attention to our condition, but this is not the first thing. This is not the primary thing. It is secondary. The primary thing is the standing. If we have seen what the church is and what the recovery of the oneness is, we would care mainly for the standing and pay some attention to the condition.
We like to improve our condition, but our burden is for the position, the standing. The people in Babylon might have been quite spiritual. They might have had outstanding teachers expounding the law and ministering the Word properly and richly. However, regardless of how spiritual they were, how much they knew the Word, or how much they were behaving in the proper way, they were not in the oneness, and they did not rebuild the temple. They were not the ones to accomplish this because they did not have the standing. They might have even had the ability and the capability, but they still did not have the standing. Therefore, they could not rebuild the temple. God’s desire on this earth is not mainly the spirituality of His people. His main desire is the rebuilding of His house.
History tells us that not long after the return from captivity and the building of the temple, Christ came the first time. He was born in Bethlehem, through a descendant of the house of David. Regardless of how spiritual those in Babylon were, they were not the people with the proper standing for Christ to be born through them. Christ was born in Bethlehem of one who was a descendant of the returned ones. Only the returned ones standing on the proper ground fulfilled God’s purpose to rebuild the temple and to bring Christ to this earth. If one comes to take the way of the local churches, to be a part of the Lord’s recovery, only because the meetings are good, I am afraid that someday he will leave, because the condition of the meetings will fluctuate. Today there is a clear sky, but tomorrow there may be a foggy sky, and the third day a stormy sky. Then he will be scared away. However, if he is clear about the standing, he will not care for the fluctuating weather.
A WORD OF SUMMARY
I encourage you to bring all these things to the Lord and pray. Have you really seen the church? Have you really seen what the recovery of the oneness is? Throughout the past years we have passed through many kinds of sufferings, persecutions, attacks, and criticisms, not from the Gentile world, but mainly from some in Christianity. By the Lord’s mercy we have never been shaken. The more we are attacked, the more solid we become. The Lord has gained the victory.
We who have been brought back to “Jerusalem” have to be clear what we are doing and where we are standing. Today the condition may be glorious, and tomorrow it may be pitiful. But do not be bothered by this. The third day may be wonderful. However, we need to stand in a balanced way. If we are not balanced, we will cause trouble. We will lose the impact and even allow some ground to be taken by the enemy. As long as we are standing on the proper ground with all the proper balances, we will be here until the Lord comes back. Nothing can surpass this way or this testimony.
(The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)