THE CONDITION OF THE CHURCH TODAY LACKING THE REALITY OF THE BODY
But, and this is a big “but,” suppose the brothers and sisters in Los Angeles apparently are meeting in the name of the Lord as the church in Los Angeles, but when they live, they all live by their natural being, their flesh, their self, their individuality, and their peculiarities. If this is their condition, do you think the so-called “church in Los Angeles” is a part of Christ? No. Then what is it a part of? It is one hundred percent a part of Adam.
Next, let us talk about Hong Kong. In Hong Kong there are also some brothers and sisters who have seen the light; they are standing on the ground of locality and are meeting in the Lord’s name. Are they the church? Yes, they are definitely the church. They have believed in the Lord and have been washed in the precious blood. They love the Lord very much, and they also love the brothers and sisters. However, what if they love only those brothers and sisters who suit their taste and “spit out” those who do not. As they are such a group of people, are they the church in Hong Kong? Yes, they truly are, but among them some brothers and sisters are still living entirely in their natural being, while others have a character that is harder than steel. They all live by their individualities, politics, cleverness, preferences, and peculiar dispositions. When they come together to meet, this one disapproves of that one, and that one disagrees with this one. They have all seen that for the sake of the local ground they have to meet together. Yet when they come together, they are not willing to drop their politics, individualities, dispositions, and preferences. Is this the Body? No! What is this? We may boldly say, “The flesh!”
Some brothers and sisters might say, “Brother Lee, your preaching is wrong. How can you say that the church is not the Body? Does not Ephesians 1 say that the church is His Body? Since the brothers and sisters in Hong Kong are the church, how can they not be the Body? How do you answer this?” Yes, in name they are the church, but in reality they are not the Body but the flesh.
In 1947 and 1948 I was in Shanghai, and Brother Nee was also in Shanghai. We often talked about the condition of the churches in the entire country. Sometimes we talked about certain people, and Brother Nee made a joke saying, “Those people have been saved but have not been regenerated.” I said, “Brother Nee, this is not right according to truth. How can you say that a person has been saved without having been regenerated?” He also laughed at himself. He said, “Because they believe in the precious blood, they are saved. But ever since I have known them and contacted them many times, I have never touched their spirit. They believe in the Lord’s name and His precious blood, and they also pray, but whenever I contact them, I can never touch their spirit. It seems as if they are saved but are without the Spirit; is this not being saved without being regenerated?” Doctrinally speaking, this cannot be. To be sure, a saved person is regenerated, and a regenerated person is surely saved; salvation and regeneration cannot be separated. However, you cannot deny that some have called on the Lord’s name, believed in the cleansing of the Lord’s blood, and confessed that they are Christians, yet you cannot touch their spirit. They have their views, opinions, skills, and devices; they can do everything, but they do not have the Spirit. Have you ever seen this kind of situation? In the same principle, there are places where the church is as if it has been saved without ever being regenerated. In some places the so-called church is the church without being the Body. In some places it is the church, but only fifteen percent is the Body while eighty-five percent is not. In some places it is the church, but only forty-five percent is the Body while fifty-five percent is not. Truly and strictly speaking, there is hardly any church that is one hundred percent the Body.
(One Body, One Spirit, and One New Man, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)