THE LORD’S RECOVERY AMONG US
We can see that from the time of the Apostles, through the time of the Council of Nicaea, and continuing until the twentieth century, there have been Bible scholars in every generation. We thank the Lord that most of the light that they saw has been put into writing. Sixty or more years ago we were raised up by the Lord. The first leading one among us was Brother Watchman Nee. He set a very good pattern by having no bias. He knew the proper way to read, and even the more he knew how to select books. From 1923 to 1925, when he was just over twenty years old, he collected many prominent Christian writings and Christian masterpieces, about three thousand books. This collection included books of the church fathers, books about church history, books of Bible scholars, and biographies of famous Christians with many of their good messages. He read nearly all of them. Later, I came into the Lord’s recovery and became his co-worker. I thank the Lord that from the beginning Brother Nee had a high regard for me. He often sat down and discussed with me the books he had read. My memory was able to retain all that he spoke to me. He brought out many good points from the Catholic church, from the Greek Orthodox church, and from many of the Protestant denominations. He even brought out the good points from the Pentecostal movement. Some of our hymns are from the Pentecostal movement. Hymn #551, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! I have passed the riven veil,” is one of them. Hymn #310, “Glorious Freedom! Wonderful Freedom!” is another. These are masterpieces of the Pentecostal movement.
When we were raised up by the Lord, we were all modern young men. Our thoughts were quite advanced, and we did not follow anything blindly. One day while we were studying in college the Lord gained us. We began to read the Bible diligently and to study Christianity. We laid everything down to serve the Lord. We realized that we could not develop our practice in isolation, and that we needed to broaden our view by reading others’ writings. Therefore, we labored to collect and to study all of the prominent writings from the two thousand year history of Christianity. We were not biased. Using the Bible as our standard, we accepted whatever was according to the Bible and rejected whatever was not according to the Bible.
Today, our writings in the Life-study of the Bible are the fruit of this diligent study. All these Life-studies are Bible expositions which include the twenty-seven books of the New Testament and two books of the Old Testament, Genesis and Exodus. These have been written according to what we have inherited in the past sixty years, according to all the revelations seen by the saints in the past, the aggregate of their visions, and are presented before you.
THE TEACHING OF THE BRETHREN
I want to point out that in understanding the Word of God, the most difficult thing is to depend on the teaching received by the saints in the past. In the previous message I pointed out our need to learn from the early saints. First, we need to depend much on the teaching of the Brethren. Their teaching is the higher theology. Today, the United States has the best theology, and the two most orthodox seminaries are Dallas Theological Seminary in Texas and Moody Bible Institute. Their theology is mainly from the Brethren. Moody Bible Institute was founded by D. L. Moody. His gospel truth all originated with the Brethren. Dallas Theological Seminary mainly uses Scofield’s Reference Bible, and ninety percent of Scofield’s teaching came from the Brethren. Therefore, if you want to study theology, you must use the Brethren theology. In addition, you need to be familiar with and have a deep knowledge of the teachings of the inner life group. The Brethren theology is too literal and too objective; it needs to be balanced by the life line of the inner life people. The inner life group emphasizes the inner life, the reality, rather than the explanation of the letter of the Word.
You must also be familiar with what Calvin saw concerning the revelation of predestination. He asserted that God chose and predestinated us in eternity past to be saved once for all (Eph. 1:4-5). Although this revelation is correct, the Arminians oppose this view. They believe that even though our salvation is by God’s grace, if we do not fulfill our responsibility after being saved, we will lose our salvation. Therefore, in their view salvation is not once for all; after being saved we still may perish. But if we repent, we can be saved again. This concept totally emphasizes man’s responsibility, and it is therefore called the doctrine of human responsibility. Of these two schools, we accept the former totally, and reject the latter entirely. Then how can we resolve the dispute between these two schools? How can they be balanced? According to the history of theology, after Calvin and Arminius, another group of theologians emerged, beginning from Govett, then Panton, and then Pember. Their school has formed a line concerning the truth of the kingdom in the New Testament. They saw that once a person is saved he will not perish forever (John 10:28). However, in order to encourage those who follow Him faithfully after salvation, God has set up a kingdom full of requirements to be their reward. If one is faithful, he will be rewarded (Matt. 24:45-47; 25:19-23). If one is not faithful, he will be punished and will lose the kingdom, but he himself will still be saved (Matt. 24:48-51; 25:24-30; 1 Cor. 3:10, 12-15). This is called the truth of the kingdom reward and punishment.
Now we must lay hold of these five points: depending much on the theology of the Brethren, knowing and becoming familiar with the school of the inner life people, receiving Calvin’s revelation of God’s predestination, rejecting the Arminian doctrine of human responsibility, and practicing the truth of the kingdom reward and punishment. I have told you all this even though you may not understand immediately. Later, when you—especially the young people—read the books among us, you will discover that what we say is similar to the Brethren theology and similar to the life line of the mystics, and that we also acknowledge absolutely Calvin’s view of God’s predestination. The problem pointed out by the Arminians is not concerning perdition but concerning being unable to receive the kingdom. Although the Bible does say that a saved person may still have problems, this refers to the punishment and loss during the kingdom age. All the verses in the Bible fall into place with these five points.
(The Full Knowledge of the Word of God, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)