THE ABOLISHING OF THE ORDINANCES
We may say that the book of Ephesians is a biblical lexicon, for it contains many new terms. One of these new terms is "the new man." In Ephesians 2 we see that the Body is the new man. Ephesians 2:15 and 16 put the Body with the new man, telling us that the new man is the Body and that the Body is the new man. In order to create this new man and to produce this Body, Christ abolished on the cross all ordinances, rituals, and different ways of living. Both the Jewish manner of life and the Gentile way of life have been abolished by Christ on the cross in order to create the one new man, the Body of Christ. In order for the Body to come into being, all the ordinances had to be done away with. All the different ways of living—Jewish, British, American, Brazilian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino—must go. As long as we have the Chinese way of life, we do not have the Body. In New York there is a group of Chinese Christians who emphasize the fact that in their meetings they have a Chinese flavor. This is not the Body; it is a Chinese sect. Likewise, if we insist upon having an American flavor, we are an American sect, not the Body. In the Body there is no Jew or Greek, bond or free, but Christ is all in all.
According to the Bible, the ordinances are the various ways of living. It is very difficult for Jews to eat pork with Gentiles. All our ordinances must be abolished. This is for the Body. If all the ordinances are done away with, only Christ will remain. This matter of ordinances is not a simple, superficial matter. If some are bothered by the shouting in our meetings, it proves that they have certain ordinances. In their opinion, Christians should be silent in the meetings.
In 1932 I went with Brother Nee when he was invited to speak at a Southern Baptist seminary in China. That was my first experience attending a Pentecostal meeting. In that meeting some were jumping, some were shouting, and some were even rolling on the floor. I was very bothered; to me, it was like a circus with everybody doing something on his own. Eventually, the pastor rang a bell to stop the meeting, and Brother Nee gave a message on the prodigal son. After the meeting I said to Brother Nee, "I cannot tolerate such a meeting with all that shouting, jumping, and rolling." I thought that Brother Nee would be in full agreement with me. However, he said, "Brother, in the New Testament there are no ordinances telling us how we should meet." Although Brother Nee did not care for that type of meeting, he realized that there should not be any ordinances among Christians. If you are troubled by certain types of meetings, it indicates that you still have some ordinances. Although I might not participate in certain activities in a meeting, I would not be bothered about them. We need to give up our ordinances. On the cross Christ crucified all the ordinances. Therefore, we should not be troubled by them any longer.
If you still keep the ordinances, the Body disappears. As long as you have any ordinance, there can be no Body. We have seen that the Body issues out of Christ’s transmission. In this transmission every ordinance is done away with. This matter of ordinances was a problem to Peter. On the day of Pentecost Peter was bold. But when it came to the matter of eating, he had difficulty, for he still observed the eating ordinances. In Acts 10:9 through 16 Peter saw a vision of a great sheet and heard a voice saying, "Rise, Peter; kill, and eat" (Acts 10:13). This voice seemed to be saying, "Peter, you should not keep your ordinance about eating. If you do, the Gentile believers will be cut off from the Body. You must give up your ordinance and eat what you never ate before."
We must not make any ordinances. If you know the Body, you will never keep any ordinance or be troubled by any practice. Every practice is permissible as long as there is no sin or idol involved in it. In order to have the proper Body life, we must abandon every ordinance. This, however, is not easy to do. For example, we like our way of meeting. Eventually our way of meeting becomes an ordinance. If we shout and others do not, or if we call on the Lord’s name in a certain way and others do not, we may be troubled. According to our opinion, the more shouting and the more calling the better. No doubt we have received benefit from shouting and calling on the name of the Lord, but we must never make this an ordinance. Because we are in the Body, we should not have any ordinances.
(The Spirit and the Body, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)