THE COMPLICATED SITUATION
SURROUNDING THE MINISTRY
Today we are in a situation that is more difficult than what Paul faced. At Paul’s time the situation was already complicated. At a certain point Paul had a problem with Peter. Because Peter practiced hypocrisy in relation to the truth of the gospel, Paul had to rebuke Peter to his face. At that time Barnabas joined Peter in his hypocrisy (Gal. 2:11-14). This was a very difficult situation for Paul. Prior to that time a problem arose over the matter of circumcision. Certain ones came down to Antioch from Jerusalem to trouble the believers, saying that they had to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15:1). Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem to have a thorough fellowship with the apostles and elders there (vv. 2-18). Through that fellowship the problem was settled; however, the settlement was not thorough but was somewhat a compromise (vv. 19-29). After that, Paul went back to Antioch with Barnabas (v. 35). Some time later Paul proposed that he and Barnabas return to visit the churches they had raised up, and Barnabas wanted to take his cousin Mark with them. Paul did not agree with this, and there was a sharp contention between them, so that Barnabas and Paul separated from each other (vv. 36-39).
Later, another factor came in, that is, the factor of Apollos. In 1 Corinthians Paul was trying his best to calm a turmoil in Corinth (1:10-13; 3:3-4). He expected that Apollos would join him to solve the problem in Corinth, because Apollos had gone to Corinth to help the believers there (3:5-6; Acts 19:1). In 1 Corinthians 16:12 Paul said that he urged Apollos many times to go to Corinth, yet Apollos did not agree with Paul to go at that time, but wanted to wait until he had opportunity.
In 2 Timothy 1:15 Paul said that all who were in Asia had turned away from his ministry. In 2:16-17 Paul mentioned the unhealthy speaking of Hymenaeus and Philetus, and in 4:10 he said that a co-worker, Demas, had abandoned him, having loved the present world. In 4:14-15 Paul wrote that Alexander the coppersmith did many evil things to damage Paul. At one time Paul and Alexander must have been intimate with one another; otherwise, Alexander could not have been so evil toward Paul.
After reading all these things in the New Testament concerning the difficult and complicated situation surrounding the apostle Paul’s ministry, I was comforted very much. In addition, I was in mainland China for eighteen years working with Brother Nee. I saw all the turmoils related to his ministry. There seemed to be a cycle of one turmoil every seven or eight years. In 1949 I came out of China and went to Taiwan, and later I went to the United States. In the forty-three years since 1949, there have been three turmoils in the recovery, one in Taiwan at the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, one in the United States in 1978, and now the present turmoil, which began in 1987. It seems that again there is a cycle, like the cycle of sickness in the human body.
Those who have caused the trouble since 1987 do not keep the truth and do not have any standard of truth. Now they have ushered themselves into a position of not caring for the truth. They care only to do a work of poisoning others. The most poisonous item they put out is to condemn me by saying that I am making myself the unique leader to be the "king" in the Lord’s recovery. This is the hidden point with which they poison people. Today they are still very busy in doing this kind of poisoning and undermining work. According to my observation, I cannot believe that this group of people are the Lord’s servants. No servants of God could do such things with the sole intention of damaging others.
We should not be disappointed. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:1, "We do not lose heart." Paul’s situation was quite complicated, but today ours is more complicated because of all the rumors that are being spread in a subtle way. Under this kind of confusion, the only way for us to be preserved is to practice the truth. By practicing the truth, we ourselves learn. Then we can speak the truth. Beginning from the summer of 1988 I strengthened my speaking of the divine truth. Previously, I never spoke as much as I did in the past five years. This speaking did quite much to preserve, strengthen, and safeguard the recovery. Thank the Lord that nearly all the saints in the Lord’s recovery have been preserved by the truth. From the very beginning the recovery has been built upon the truth and life. I do not believe that the speaking of the truth in the recovery for the past thirty years has been in vain.
(The Ministry of the New Testament and the Teaching and Fellowship of the Apostles, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)