THE LOCAL CHURCHES NOT BECOMING A METHOD
Today we cannot make the truth concerning the local churches a method. If we make it a method, it will become very dead indeed. The question is not Catholicism or local churches. The question is the church being in doctrine or in life. I fear method as much as I fear Catholicism. The local church cannot become a method. Once it becomes a method, it will become very, very heavy. This is our basic problem today.
We cannot say that the Catholic church is all wrong. If the Catholic church would remove her idols, the oneness that she talks about is right.
CONCERNING "HANDING OVER"
I still need to say something concerning the question of "handing over."
Handing Over Being a Make-up Lesson
and Not a Teaching
The matter of "handing over" must never become our teaching. It is not a teaching, but a "make-up" lesson. The reason there is the need for such a make-up lesson is that the matter was not taken care of properly at the beginning. It is like a man riding on a train; he should first buy the ticket and then board the train. However, some people have boarded the train without paying for the ticket. As a result, there is the need for some kind of make-up measure. Originally, tickets should be bought at the train station. After a man is saved, he should immediately consecrate himself (Rom. 6:6, 12-13), and he should not have to wait until a later date to make it up. But many Christians have not done this properly, and the church has not presented this need to them properly right from the beginning. We can say that today the church has given the believers a "bonus ride"; they board the train without paying for the ticket. But sooner or later, they still must pay for the ticket.
For the new ones who have just come in, we do not need to ask them to hand themselves over. What they need is to consecrate themselves. The reason there is a "handing over" is that the consecration was not done properly at the beginning. As a result, there is the need for such a make-up lesson. The standard of salvation is not high enough today, and many of the items a person should have acquired at the time of salvation are lost. Strictly speaking, when a man is saved, he should be fully consecrated and should be a person who lives fully for the spread of the gospel. As soon as a person comes in, we should lay the full demand on his shoulder. If we can do this, none among us will still be holding hands with the world after we are saved, or will have to come back at a later date to consecrate ourselves.
In the Gospels, when men thronged to follow the Lord, He presented His requirements to them. He explained that a man must take up his own cross before he can follow Him (Matt. 10:38; 16:24). The Lord never lowers His standard. On the contrary, He lifts the standard high. He says that man should follow Him, and that if a man is to follow Him, he has to do this and do that. Let me emphasize that after a man is saved, unless he consecrates himself, he cannot go on. Unless he takes up his cross, he cannot go on. If you want to come to the Lord, you have to consecrate yourself, and you have to take up your cross and give up the world and your individualism. All these things must be clearly dealt with at the time a person is saved.
The matter of "handing oneself over" is a measure taken because nothing else could be done. It is like a man boarding a train without a ticket. Since he cannot get off the train again, the only way is for him to buy a ticket then. For now, we try to settle for the term "handing over." One day, when everyone is consecrated as soon as he is saved, there will be no need for anyone to "hand themselves over" any longer. It is because the things that should be there on the first day are lost, and everyone has boarded the train without a ticket; some have climbed into the carriages through the windows, while others have walked in without any ticket. Although these have boarded the train without any ticket, they cannot go on with their free ride the rest of the time. Sooner or later, they nevertheless have to pay for their tickets. There is a difference between buying a ticket on the train and buying it at the station. To buy it on the train is abnormal, whereas to buy it at the station is normal. If everyone buys his ticket on the train, there will be no need for a ticket booth at the station any longer. If everyone buys his ticket on the train, you might just as well move the ticket booth into the train.
I am afraid that after some time the matter of "handing over" will become a new terminology among us. It is possible that in the future the matter of "handing over" will become a peculiar thing among us. If this happens, those teachers who come after us will write and ask us about the scriptural foundation for the practice of "handing oneself over." There is no such doctrinal term as "handing over." We borrow this term today because men do not have a proper and good beginning. If everyone begins in a proper way, there is no need to bring up this question any longer.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 44, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)