THE BIBLE AND THE CURRENT OF THE AGE
Question: I have believed in the Lord for many years, but have not received much enlightening. Recently, I read a newspaper that said that under the tide of revolution those who are involved with missionary works in the church should join the anti-Christian movement. Some have even said that any fundamental biblical teaching that is not in conformity to the current of the age should be criticized. I feel that this is too much devaluating of the worth of the Bible. Our church is also much affected. Because I feel ill at ease at heart, I dare to ask about your opinion. (Wang Yu-ting)
Answer: After reading your letter, I know what you are talking about. The things that you described are commonly seen everywhere. Of course, there is no need for outsiders to oppose and investigate the sins in the church; we have to rise up to oppose them ourselves. As to the point that the fundamental teachings of the Bible do not match those of the current of the age, my opinion is that the Bible has never matched the current of any age! We should correct the unscriptural currents with the Scriptures, rather than criticize the Scriptures by the unscriptural currents. The truth is always the same and should not change with the current of the age. If Christians should follow the current of the age, does that mean that our faith and conduct should change with the ever-changing current of the age?
As far as the church itself is concerned, I think that the biblical teaching is that we should submit ourselves to the local government (Rom. 13). A Christian should "submit" to his government absolutely. But he does not necessarily have to "obey." The Bible only requires that we submit; it does not require that we obey. Whatever the reasons may be, we have to submit. But we can only obey what is not contrary to the commandment of God. Others can kill us or punish us, but we cannot rebel. However, we will only obey that which the Bible allows us to do. A Christian should be a follower of the Lord as well as a citizen of a state.
SALARIES OF PREACHERS
Question: Is it unscriptural for preachers to receive a fixed salary? How do you trust in the Lord in your preaching? How does the Lord supply your need? What is your experience? Please share with us so we can follow. If I do not have enough faith, can I conduct business, on the one hand, and preach at the same time?
Answer: Neither in the Old Testament nor in the New is there such a thing as God’s servant receiving a fixed salary. Even the priests in the Old Testament lived by the altar. If the Israelites were to become rebellious, the priests would suffer starvation. The apostles were those who had neither gold nor silver (Acts 3:6), much less money to hire servants. The question is whose servants we are. If we are God’s servants, surely we have to ask God for our salary. Otherwise, we should ask man or the denominations for our salary.
It is not convenient for me to go into my personal experience here. But one thing I can say: during the past few years, I have trusted only in God and have never suffered any lack. There is no excess, but there is also no lack. The heavenly manna comes every day, and it is never short of supply. The Father’s raven flies everywhere, and it comes uninvited.
Actually, it is more appropriate to conduct business and preach at the same time than to be a salaried preacher. But it would be a pity if anyone chooses to do it because of a lack of faith. God’s commandment is that we trust in Him. What we need to ask is whether God has called us to the work of preaching. If He has, He should be responsible for our supply. The waters in the Jordan do not separate first to expose the dry ground. Rather, you have to put your feet forward first, before the waters will part. The secret in the way of faith is to trust in God alone and not to worry about tomorrow. As long as today is cared for, we can praise the Lord. There is no need to worry about tomorrow, next month, next year, or ten years from now. If we worry about these things, we will be afraid. We should trust in God day by day.
One thing that grieves me today is that too little do believers receive answers to prayers. Perhaps it is because they pray too little. It seems as if it is a rare occurrence to receive answers to prayers and that it is normal for there to be no answer to prayer! We should know God. God should have the chance to daily prove to us how real He is and how real His promises are. We should see that God’s heart and His hands as well are for us.
THE CONDITION FOR RAPTURE
Question: Can believers who have reached the stage of sanctification and who have the Lord’s resurrection life still working in them be raptured? When the Lord comes, is it true that only the spiritual believers will be raptured and that the fleshly believers will go through the tribulation? (Kuo)
Answer: The condition for rapture has been clearly given in the Scriptures (Rev. 3:10; Luke 21:36). We also believe that a spirit of rapture is a forerunner to the actual rapture. We dare not say to what stage a person has to be before he can be raptured. But I believe that fleshly believers will have to go through the tribulation.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 07: The Christian (5), Chapter 20, by Watchman Nee)