PRACTICING THE CHURCH LIFE
BY BEING STRONG AND RICH IN THE SPIRIT
Some young people among us have really been saved and they are members of the church. They are members of the Body in actuality, but according to their outward appearance they do not express much of Christ. They need some time for transformation. Perhaps some would like to "protect" the church by not receiving young people who are "hippies." By doing this we make a big mistake. If we have this thought or would do this, we have never seen what the church is. This does not mean that the church should be loose or worldly, but the church should not regulate people’s outward appearance. Both ways are wrong.
In order to practice the proper church life, we have to be in the Spirit, be strong in the Spirit, and be rich in the Spirit. Eventually, we will be neither loose nor outwardly regulated. Christ as the reality will be within us in a living, inspiring, revealing, subduing, and conquering way. Then the church will be neither loose nor demanding. Although the doors of the church are open to receive everyone, negative persons will be subdued. Some negative persons may come in among us, but eventually they will be subdued or they will go away.
The church is not a worldly organization or a human society. The church is something of life with power and impact. The elders should not regulate the church outwardly, but they need to get themselves sevenfold intensified with the Spirit. Then there will be neither outward regulation, nor outward demanding, nor any looseness. The church life will be full of liberty, yet there will be the demanding from the inner life and the inner control of the Holy Spirit. When some come in among us, they will either be convinced, subdued, captured, and wrecked, or they will stay away.
In these messages I do not have the intention of giving a detailed history of the church. My burden is that we would pick up some lessons so that we would learn not to repeat the mistakes of this sad history. We do not care for religion, philosophy, vain teachings, natural opinions, human authority, human organization, rank, position, hierarchy, or clergy. We do not agree with anything worldly, anything of the natural life, or anything fleshly. Although we do not agree with any of these negative things, we would not use any rules to regulate or to demand in an outward way. Then what should we do? We need to go to the Spirit to be burned and intensified with the sevenfold Spirit (Rev. 4:5; 5:6). Then we will have something living and burning with the impact, with the power, and with the way to minister the riches of Christ to people. There is no need for us to be anxious about guarding the church or watching over so many negative things. We believe that the power, the reality, the weight, and the impact of Christ as the life-giving Spirit is with the church.
(The History of the Church and the Local Churches, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)