Question: We advocate that there should not be denominations. This is very scriptural. But without large meetings, there will not be a general acquaintance with each other among the saints. Therefore, a suitable place, the organization, and other matters of the large meetings need to be discussed. (Pao, Nanking)
Answer: I am afraid the term denomination that you used will cause misunderstandings among many. Actually, what we advocate is not that there should be no denominations, but that there should be no sectarianism. Indeed, this is very scriptural. I have carefully read through the charters of every major denomination. I feel strongly that they have not shed all that was handed down from the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the rules and organizations in these churches are traditions from man and were created by man. The cardinal principle of Protestantism is that the church does not have any authority and that only the Bible has authority. But the work of the Reformation under Luther’s hand did not reach perfection. Lazarus was resurrected, but his hands and feet were still bound by grave clothes, and his face was still bound about with a napkin! I, for one, believe the Bible with my whole heart. To me, the Bible is the highest court. Whatever is shown in the Bible, we do not have the slightest right to doubt, even a little. The Holy Spirit knows how the church should be organized. He has revealed the matter completely in the Scriptures. However, some in the church feel that the church organization revealed in the Bible is immature and that there should be a better and more complete organization in this age of progression. Actually, this is to follow the same road that the Roman Catholic Church has taken. These are but haughty people who despise the will of God. Today, the churches in China are in a transitional period. Many talk about indigenous churches, but to be indigenous without being scriptural is not the will of the Lord. What good is it simply to have an empty name of the "Church of Christ in China"? May the Lord make us faithful in this age of apostasy. (As to the organization of the church, please read the entire fourth issue of this paper.)
THE THIRD HEAVEN AND PARADISE
Question: Please explain in detail 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. What is "in the body" and "outside the body"? (Pao, Naking)
Answer: Since the Bible does not state clearly, it is not definite whether Paul is talking about himself or others; but it is likely that he is talking about himself. Paul says that fourteen years ago this man was caught away to the third heaven and received extraordinary experiences. The expressions "in the body" and "outside the body" refer to Paul’s uncertainty about whether this person’s spirit went to heaven only, or the person went to heaven with his body. To be "in the body" means to be with the body; to be "outside the body" means to be in spirit only without the body. "Paradise" and the "third heaven" are two different things. Paradise is in Hades, at the center of the earth. Here it mentions being caught away into Paradise, which is different from being "caught away to" the third heaven. Moreover, this man "heard unspeakable words" in Paradise, not in the third heaven. What Paul was saying was that this man had received special experiences in heaven and had heard unspeakable words under the earth. Although he had received such grace, he should still humble himself (v. 5b). How all those who have received special gifts should humble themselves!
Question: If someone uses Matthew 5:39-42 to compel me until I can no longer bear it, how should I deal with it? (Pao, Nanking)
Answer: We should keep the Sermon on the Mount literally word for word. All that we can keep, we should keep. But this is nevertheless not a law. When the cross of the Lord does a deep work in man’s heart, keeping these words will seem to be a natural thing. There will not be a time when we "can no longer bear it," because there is 1 Corinthians 10:13. If we believe this verse, the Lord must open the way.
A CAMEL GOING THROUGH A NEEDLE’S EYE
Question: There is no such thing as a camel passing through a needle’s eye. The same is true regarding a rich man entering into the kingdom of the heavens. If that is the case, what hope is there for a rich man? Please show me the deeper significance of this parable. (Pao, Nanking)
Answer: There is a difference between eternal life and the kingdom of the heavens. To receive eternal life is what we ordinarily speak of as being saved. Entering into the kingdom of the heavens is to rule with the Lord in the millennium. The Bible does not say that the rich cannot receive eternal life. All those who believe on the Lord Jesus as their Savior have eternal life, but it is not so easy to enter into the kingdom of the heavens and to rule with the Lord. One must forsake all and pick up his cross and follow the Lord. I am afraid there is not such a thing as a rich man entering into the kingdom of the heavens, because if a rich man enters into the kingdom of the heavens, he will not be a rich man any longer. (Some feel that the needle’s eye here refers to a gate in Jerusalem, but this is man’s thought.)
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 07: The Christian (5), Chapter 15, by Watchman Nee)