The Experience of Life, by Witness Lee

More excerpts from this title...


Since knowing the Body is such a practical thing, how may we ascertain whether or not one knows the Body as yet? We can prove it in at least three ways.

A. Being Unable to Be Individualistic

The first proof of knowing the Body is that we cannot be individualistic. In all the seven points we have mentioned— in God’s plan, in God’s creation, in God’s redemption, in Christ, in the Holy Spirit, in life, and in fellowship—all is oneness, inseparable and non-individualistic. If we really know the Body and realize the oneness contained in these seven matters, there can be no individualism. Before one knows the Body, he is an individualist and can be individualistic. His life, his actions, his work, and his service are all individualistic. Outwardly he appears to be one with the brethren, but there is no real coordination nor knitting together. Not until he grows deeper in life and knows the Body to a certain extent does he see that being a Christian is a corporate matter and that he cannot go on without fellowship in the Body, nor can he depart from the coordination of the members. The Body of Christ becomes a practical matter to him. In the church life he can no longer serve alone. In the innermost part of his being, he feels that he needs to be a Christian together with others. Not only in great and important actions and work does he need the brothers and sisters, but even in Bible reading and prayer as well, he cannot do without other members. He cannot work without the coordination of the brothers and sisters, and he cannot live without the support of the church. It is at this stage that he is being knit together spontaneously with all the saints to become one Body, no more to be separated. All those, therefore, who can still be individualistic do not know the Body, and all those with a true knowledge of the Body definitely cannot be individualistic.

B. Discerning Those Not in the Body

The second proof of our knowing the Body is the ability to discern whether others are in the Body or not. One who has come to know the Body not only lives in the Body in a very practical way, but also can clearly discern whether or not others are living in the Body.

This discerning ability after one knows the Body is absolutely due to the extent of the deep degree of fellowship he has in the Lord. Our fellowship with the Lord grows in depth in proportion to our experience of life, beginning with the initial stage of our spiritual life and continuing through the fourth stage. The degree of depth of fellowship differs greatly as we progress in the experience of life. When two people in different degrees of fellowship in the Lord come together, the one having the deeper experience can go on with the one who has the shallower experience and have fellowship with him, but that fellowship is limited in proportion to the experience of the latter. Should this fellowship go beyond the limit, it will become rather incongruous and incomprehensible to the latter. The one having deeper experience, therefore, can go on with the one who has the shallower experience, but the shallower one cannot go along with the deeper one. This is a great principle in spiritual fellowship.

It is because of this principle that those who are deep in the Lord recognize those who are shallow, but those who are shallow in the Lord do not discern those who are deep. If we have been brought by the Lord to the fourth stage and are having a deep fellowship in this stage, we can by fellowship know whether others also have been brought to this stage and as yet know the Body. But if we have not reached the fourth stage and do not know the Body, we then have no way of discerning others.

Let us use a most shallow illustration. When others spoke regarding regeneration before we were born again, it sounded incongruous to us. In addition, we were unable to know whether others were born again. If we are already born again, we not only can talk with others about regeneration, but we can easily discern whether others have been born again. This proves that we have indeed been born again.

Another illustration: If we have already consecrated ourselves and have had the experience of dealing with sin, we can very readily recognize those who have not had this experience. Since their fellowship with the Lord has not reached this stage, they will have no idea what we are saying nor will they be able to respond. Conversely, if we have not had this experience, we will also not be able to recognize whether they have been consecrated or have dealt with sin.

Not only can we through fellowship ascertain whether others know the Body, but the experience of knowing the Body is also in itself a matter of fellowship. If one is in the Body, he is in fellowship; if one is not in the Body, he is not in fellowship. Most Christians have lost the position of fellowship, the reality of fellowship. This implies that they do not see the Body and do not live in the Body. Living in fellowship, therefore, proves that we know the Body. If we really know the Body, we can ascertain whether others are in it or not. When others have not come to live in the reality of the Body, they are not in the fellowship of the Body. There is no possibility of fellowship between them and us regarding this point. We need only a contact, and we know it. Conversely, if we never sense that others are not in the Body, we demonstrate that we are not in the Body. We have not come to know the Body. Our inner feelings when contacting others, therefore, reveal to us whether we know the Body or not.

(The Experience of Life, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)