The Experience and Growth in Life, by Witness Lee

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Originally in God’s creation there was only one man, Adam. Eve was not present in God’s original creation. God took one of Adam’s ribs and built it into a woman to be Adam’s counterpart (Gen. 2:21-22). As Adam’s counterpart Eve was his mate to match him. No other creature could be a mate to man to match him. God only needed a short time to build Adam’s rib into Eve, but to build the believers into the church He has needed almost two thousand years. God has been building and is still building, and the building up of the church has required a long period of time.

Because the building has lasted for so long, the believers, who are the building materials, have had the opportunity to fight with each other and create turmoils in the process of its being built up. All these turmoils are for the building up of the church. The building up of a woman from Adam’s rib was a type. The fulfillment of the type is the building up of the church, and the building of the church has passed through many turmoils. The turmoils in the church have been siftings. In Paul’s time there was a sifting. Paul said, “All who are in Asia turned away from me” (2 Tim. 1:15). The churches in Asia forsook his ministry. However, this does not mean that no one in Asia remained faithful to the Lord’s ministry. In Revelation 1 and 2, the seven churches in Asia were still remaining under the Lord’s ministry. The turmoil portrayed in Numbers 16 was also a sifting. In Numbers 16 Korah and all his household were swallowed up by the earth (v. 32). However, certain Psalms were written by the descendants of Korah (Psa. 42; 44—49; 84—85; 87—88). There were still some left of Korah’s family who became holy people and psalmists.

Those who cause the turmoils may not want to do so. However, their disposition causes them to do it. They may not be happy to make trouble, but they cannot help it. In the same way, we may not like to lose our temper with our husband or wife. When we lose our temper, we eventually regret it and may resolve never to do it again. However, after half an hour we may lose our temper once more because it is our disposition to do so. On the other hand, we may have been born with another kind of disposition. We may be those who can be very mad inwardly but are able to “swallow” our anger and not express it. We may be well-spoken of for our behavior, but within we are the same as those who lose their temper. Moreover, because of our disposition, it is difficult for us to be angry in a proper way as the Lord Jesus was with the moneychangers in the temple (John 2:14-17). We live too much by our disposition in the church life. Therefore, the church is not purely and absolutely a constitution of God, Christ, and the Spirit.

No one cares for turmoils. According to our feeling, they are not good. However, the turmoils are necessary to deal with our disposition. Apparently, our disposition is a part of us that nothing can break and nothing can change. For us to have a dispositional change is like changing our very bone structure. Therefore, because of our disposition, the turmoils, in a sense, are needed for the building up of the church. In the past, certain saints were strongly in their disposition. However, they have suffered much because of the turmoils and have cried to the Lord. Their tears have been the best “detergent” to wash away their disposition. Today they are less in their disposition than they were before.

When we first came into the recovery, we thought the church was marvelous. That was the time of our “honeymoon.” We may have expected that the honeymoon would last for our whole life. Eventually, however, the honeymoon became a “vinegar” moon. We may have asked ourselves, “Is this the wonderful church life?” Quite often the turmoils in the church life are like vinegar to us. The wonderful church life is a life not only with “honey” but also and more often with “vinegar.” Many times it seems that this “vinegar” is everywhere in the church life. However, at other times there is a sweetness in the church life. The Lord is the best Physician. He knows how much “honey” and how much “vinegar” to prescribe for us. I recently had a skin problem, and the dermatologist told me to wash the affected area with vinegar water twice a day. The vinegar was effective in killing the germs. Eventually, because of the purging through the turmoils in the church life, which are like the vinegar, the Lord will declare that the “germs” in the church have been washed away.

(The Experience and Growth in Life, Chapter 27, by Witness Lee)