The Practical Expression of the Church, by Witness Lee


We all need to be defeated, captured, and gained by Christ. If we have been captured by Christ, He has the ground to give us the gifts; but if we still have not surrendered to Him to be captured by Him, He has no ground to give us the gifts. We must be willing to surrender and be captured by Him. We must be the first foe in His train of defeated ones. Then He will have the ground to give us the gifts.

The gift is the basis for the function. The function comes out of the gift. Ephesians 4:11 says, “He Himself gave some as apostles and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as shepherds and teachers.” Perhaps the Lord’s intention is to establish you as a teacher in the church, but to this very day He cannot do it because you will not give Him the position. You still are not captured by Him. You still are not subdued by Him. You still have not surrendered to Him. Though He intends to establish you as a teacher in the church, you will not give Him the ground to do it. When you are willing to be subdued and captured by Him, you will give Him the ground to give you the gift and establish you as a teacher.


For the gift we need the grace, and the grace is given according to the gift. With the gift is the capacity to receive the grace. The grace is the life; so to have the capacity as a teacher, we need to grow. Our two eyes and our two arms are gifts to our body, but the capacity of the eyes to receive blood is much smaller than that of the arms. This means that blood is given according to the capacity of the members. This is the meaning of Ephesians 4:7: “To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” The grace is given according to the measure of the gift. If you are a bigger gift, you have a larger capacity to receive the grace. If you are a smaller gift, you have a smaller capacity to receive the grace. Grace is the life supply. A boy has two eyes, but he needs to grow. To grow means to receive more supply. When his two eyes are full of the life supply, they will be full of the growth in life. It is this growth in life that will afford the function to his eyes. First, we must be captured by Christ; then the gift will be given to us. Then we need to grow in life. The more we grow in life, the more we will receive the life supply, and the more this life supply will afford us the function.

Suppose a brother has been captured by Christ and has given Christ the authority to establish him as a teacher, but after this he does not grow. Then he is a teacher who cannot function so well. It is just the same as the boy’s eyes: his eyes will not function so well if he is short of the life supply. Here a brother has been established by the Head, but he cannot function adequately because he is short of life. But suppose this brother, by holding the reality, begins to grow into the Head in all things (v. 15). Then he will not only be a teacher, but a teacher full of life. This rich, abundant life will afford him a rich function.


If we compare Ephesians 4 to Psalm 68, we see that there was a battle fought by Christ in the universe, and Christ has defeated all His enemies. He led all the defeated foes in His victory train while He was ascending to the heavens. Therefore, He has gained the ground to fill all things in the universe. Christ has gained the ground in the universe, but has He gained the ground in you? You must be captured by Him. You must be defeated and fully taken over by Him. Then He will have the ground in you to make you a gift.

The gift in Ephesians 4 differs from the gift in Romans 12. In Romans 12 the gift is the ability, but in Ephesians 4 the gift is the person as a member of the Body. All the members are gifts to the Body. My little finger is a real gift to my body. Without it I am short of something. Without my two eyes I lack the ability to see. The two eyes are gifts to my body. The Lord has given my body two eyes that I may see, and He has given two legs that I may stand. In like manner, all the members of the Body of Christ, the church, are gifts to the church. Every member is a gift, but this gift must be established by the Head by being captured by Him. The Lord’s intention is to give you as a gift to the Body, but if you would not be captured by Him, He can never establish you as a gift. Not until you are willing to be captured by Him will He have the ground and standing to make you such a gift.

There is a real shortage in the elders of nearly every local church. There are not many efficient elders. Why is this? It is because so many dear brothers would not be captured by the Head. They may pay the price to give up the denominations and come back to Jerusalem to take the ground of oneness in the local church. But when they come to this point, they must be captured by the Head. They must be absolutely defeated and taken over by the Head. But so many are not willing. They say, “Lord, wait a little while; I am not ready yet.” They may not say this outwardly, but this is their feeling within.

We may pay the price to take the way of the church life, but when we come to the matter of being subdued by the Lord, a real quarrel exists between us and the Lord. This is the reason that so many dear ones are not able to function in the local churches. You may say that a certain brother is a good brother. Yes, he is a good brother. You may say that he loves the Lord. Yes, to a certain extent he loves the Lord. But why is he not able to function? It is simply because the Lord has not yet gained the victory in him. He must give the ground to the Lord, and then he must grow. It is only by being captured by the Lord that the Lord will establish this brother as an elder. Then by the growth in life, the function of an elder will be manifested. The living function will be manifested because he has been captured by the Head and is growing in Him.

(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)