Basic Principles for the Practice of the Church Life, by Witness Lee


The fourth item of the spiritual charter of the church is the headship of Christ. We do not have outward regulations, but we have the regulating Head. We have the Lord Christ as the Head to always regulate us. We are under His headship, submitting to His authority. We need to check ourselves with the cross, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the headship. Are we under the Head of the church? The headship alone of the Lord Christ will regulate us and rule out many problems and mistakes.

Day by day all the members of our physical body are regulated by our head. All the members cannot do as they like or act as they desire. A hand may want to strike a brother, but the head regulates it and makes it stop. If we mean business to say that we are of Christ, we must realize that the Lord Christ is our Head. We not only love Him, but we respect Him as the Head, and we are under the headship, the authority, of the Head. This is our regulation. If we do not know the headship of the Lord Jesus, and if we cannot bring the believers to realize the headship, there is no possibility among us of practicing the church life. When we come together, instead of having Christ as our one Head, we will be like a man with many heads. When we lose the Head, every member becomes a head, but if we simply take Christ as the Head, every member is submissive, and all are regulated by the headship of Christ. Whatever we do, practice, and suggest in the church must be checked as to whether it is under the headship of Christ. This is the regulation of being checked by the cross, by Christ, by the Spirit, and by the headship of Christ.


The fifth item of the spiritual charter of the church is the Body of Christ. We must be regulated, restricted, and limited by the Body. In 1939 Brother Watchman Nee went to Europe and was absent from China for a year and a half. During this time, the brothers and sisters who were seeking and serving the Lord realized from their experience that when the bread and cup are being passed in the Lord’s table meeting, it is better for everyone to contact and enjoy the Lord in the spirit in a quiet way. At that time, we were able to sense the Lord’s presence very much during the passing of the bread and the cup. However, since Brother Nee was absent during this time, he was not aware of this new practice. When he returned, he attended a Lord’s table meeting. When the cup was blessed and passed to the brothers, he received the anointing and inspiration to sing a hymn, but one of the elders told him that it was better to be silent. Brother Nee was happy to be stopped. I was sitting very close to him, and I saw everything that happened. I believe that Brother Nee had the inspiration. He was not a careless or childish man but rather was full of spiritual experience. However, he was under the regulation of the Body and went along with the Body. We must learn how to be restricted and limited by the Body.

Watchman Nee’s mother was a dear and lovely sister, who had a number of spiritual gifts. She was active, positive, living, and she wrote a book as a testimony to the Lord. In 1948 we had some conference meetings with several hundred people, and for the first few days she would offer a living prayer every night. However, we felt that her prayer did not fit the need in those meetings. We may illustrate this with clothing. If someone needs a tie, we should not offer him a belt. Even a valuable belt does not fit the need for a tie. Sister Nee’s prayer was nice, living, bold, and strong, but all the leading ones felt that it did not fit the need. However, since she was elderly and beloved, we did not know what to do. After the meetings a few of the leading ones would fellowship about the conference. On the third night of meeting in this way, Brother Nee told me to take a pencil and paper to write a short letter to our elderly sister, saying, “Sister Nee, after we heard your prayers in the meetings in the last few days, we all feel that they do not fit. We remind you to be limited, and we ask that from now on you do not pray such prayers in the meetings. The Lord be with you.” Brother Nee, I, and an elderly co-working sister signed the letter, and we gave it to Sister Nee. The next day before the start of the meeting, she came to me in tears and said, “Brother Lee, praise the Lord!” Although her feeling was deep, this word from her indicated that she took the fellowship. The limitation and restriction of the Body is lovely.

If we would realize the limitation of the Body in this way, the Lord will be with us very much. We should always consider whether we are justified by the Body in whatever we do. We must question, “In acting in this way, am I justified by the Body? Will all the brothers and sisters be happy if I do this? When I behave in the meetings in such a way, are the brothers happy with me?” We must check ourselves by the brothers, by the Body. Sometimes I even say to the brothers, “Tell me frankly; tell me the truth. Do you feel happy with what I am doing? I am waiting to express your feeling.” This is the pleasant restriction of the Body.

(Basic Principles for the Practice of the Church Life, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)