Instruction and Exhortation to the Trainees, by Witness Lee


According to our consideration those trainees who have been here for two terms have three choices. We may choose to go back to the church that sent us and has been supporting us, to serve the church there full-time. This is the first choice. Second, we may wish to return to the locality from where we came to work full-time or pursue our education. At the same time, we can still serve the Lord in the church there. We may also go to another place where there is a church, to work or to study at a school. Then we can spend our leisure time to serve God there. This is the second choice. Third, we may have the realization that we are still short of training. So our third choice may be to stay in Anaheim for another term.

It is easy for us to stay here for another term. But it is not so simple for us to leave the training and return to the church from where we came or go to another church to serve there full-time or part-time. It is not so easy because we have been trained. After being trained, we could never be the same as before. We could never remain the same. Our eyes have been opened, and our capacity has increased. On the one hand, we do have something, but on the other hand, we have been equipped to make trouble. As I mentioned already, on this earth there is not one place that can match our requirements. This is especially true during this time when all of the churches are still going through a transitional period. We are now in transition from the old way to the new. Three years ago there were some churches opposing and criticizing the new way. But thank the Lord, today it is very rare. Nearly no church is opposing or criticizing the new way.

There may be a few churches that would not oppose or criticize the new way, yet they do not have a heart to take the new way. Whether a local church is a church or not does not depend on what way it takes. We have been practicing this principle for years and years in other matters as well, such as in the matter of baptism. We have never insisted that people be immersed or sprinkled. Whether a group of people is the church or not does not depend on this. We practice the church life according to Romans 14. Whether others keep the Sabbath or not, or whether they eat only herbs or all kinds of food, does not have anything to do with whether or not they are the church. Now we have to apply the same principle to the new way. To be a genuine church is not a matter of whether the saints there go on with the new way positively or not, but a matter of whether they are according to what is revealed in 1 Corinthians. First Corinthians 1:2 says, "To the church of God which is in Corinth..sanctified in Christ Jesus." When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, the church there was a mess. According to their condition and situation, they were pitiful. Sin was there (5:1). Confusion and even divisions were there (1:10-13). The heresy of no resurrection was there (15:12). However, in spite of all these evil things, Paul still called them the church. That was the church of God in Corinth..sanctified in Christ Jesus. This is according to their nature. "Of God" denotes their nature, and "in Corinth" denotes the ground. "Sanctified in Christ Jesus" denotes the element of that church. In nature, in element, and in ground, the church in Corinth, regardless how evil and sinful, was still the church. We all must know the truth. Whether a church would take the new way or not, it is still the church because it is the church of God in a certain city sanctified in Christ. In nature, in element, and in ground, it is the church. Of course, in its condition a church may be a mess. However, Paul did not give up that church. Neither can we condemn any church.

(Instruction and Exhortation to the Trainees, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)