A second negative thing we confront after being saved is ordinances (2:15). The ordinances mentioned in Ephesians 2 refer to different ways of living and worship. As believers, we are part of the new man. However, ordinances are a hindrance to the formation of the new man. All the different nationalities have their particular ordinances, their own rituals, ways, and practices with respect to worship and daily life. The Jews have their ordinances, and the Moslems have their ways and practices. Those from the various countries in Europe have their ways, and the people in the Far East have theirs. Whenever those with different ordinances try to come together, there is friction, even enmity. How then is it possible for different peoples to become the constituents of the one new man? Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But in Ephesians 2 Paul declares that the ordinances have been nailed to the cross. This has made it possible for those of different nationalities to be one new man.
Even though the ordinances have been nailed to the cross, they may still be very prevailing among both believers and unbelievers. Do you have the assurance that you are no longer under the influence of ordinances? If you take the time to visit believers in other countries, you will no doubt be exposed as still having certain ordinances. However, although we cannot say that we are no longer influenced by ordinances, the situation among the saints in the churches is much better now than it was several years ago. Throughout the years in the church life, we have seen the gradual disappearance of ordinances among us. But there is still the need for more improvement. Ordinances certainly are contrary to the proper experience of the church life, the Body, Christ’s fullness.
WINDS OF DOCTRINE
A third negative thing in Ephesians is the winds of teaching, or the winds of doctrine (4:14). Doctrine has been a wind to blow believers away from Christ, the Head, and away from the church, the Body. Almost all Christians today are influenced by some wind of doctrine. When you meet another believer, often the first thing he will ask is what church you attend. Then he may go on to inquire about certain doctrines and teachings.
After I began the ministry in this country in 1962, I was invited to speak at different places. In almost every place I was asked questions about such doctrines as eternal security, absolute grace, baptism, and the rapture. In order not to offend those who asked, I answered very carefully. When asked about eternal security, I replied, "The best security is Christ." Regarding absolute grace, I said, "To me, no grace is more absolute than Christ." Likewise, concerning baptism, I answered, "The best way to be baptized is to be crucified with Christ on the cross." With respect to the rapture, I replied, "If you love the Lord and wait for Him to come back, He will certainly rapture you." These answers seemed to neutralize the doctrinal differences and to subdue the doctrinal winds.
The wind of doctrine has distracted Christians from the proper experience of Christ. Some who have been distracted by doctrine accuse us of confusing the doctrine of the Trinity. Actually, they themselves may not believe in the Trinity, but in tritheism, in three Gods, regarding the Father as separate from the Son, and the Son as separate from the Spirit. Thus, they believe in a kind of corporate God. What heresy! By contrast, we teach the genuine Trinity in keeping with the pure Word of God. According to the Bible, God is triune; this means that He is three-one. We may say that God is three-in-one, but it is more accurate to say that He is three-one. We are not able to figure this out. We were not created with the capacity to fathom the Triune God, but we were created with the ability to receive Him.
Shortly after we moved to Anaheim, some opposing ones distributed a mimeographed paper which said that the Father, Son, and Spirit were three distinct and separate Persons. Later we put out writings saying that the three Persons are distinct, but not separate. To claim that the Father, Son, and Spirit are separate is heretical. According to the Bible, the Father and the Son cannot be separated. The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father. How could it be possible to separate Them? In the light of the Bible, we believe in the co-inherence of the Three of the Godhead. We believe that the Three exist as one. Whereas we believe that the Father, Son, and Spirit co-exist mutually for eternity, many Christians teach tritheism, especially those blown about by winds of doctrine. Praise the Lord that in the local churches we are saved from the distracting winds of doctrine!
(The Secret of Experiencing Christ, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)