THE NEED TO SEE THE BODY
We have seen that the Lord’s aspiration is for all His believers to be one and that the Lord’s pleasure is to have a Body to express and serve Him. This kind of concept is far beyond our natural human thought. In the New Testament, there are three books, other than Colossians, that discuss the Body of Christ in detail. One of these three books is Romans (mainly chapter twelve). Another one is 1 Corinthians (mainly chapter twelve). The third one is Ephesians.
Ephesians 1 begins with the Father God’s selection and predestination in eternity past, passes through Christ’s accomplished redemption, with the Spirit’s sealing and anointing, and through the power of resurrection and ascension and the power that operated in Christ to subject all things to Him and to head up all things in Him, and ends with the church, which is the Body of Christ, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Such expressions could never be composed by the human mind. They amply prove that the Bible is the inspiration of God. Although with difficulty we understand a little that the church is the Body of Christ, such a thing is not in our concept basically. This is the reason we have neglected this matter in our practice for so many years.
Five years ago we began to change the system. The reason we have to thoroughly replace, according to the Bible, our past methods is that they have produced serious effects. At the beginning we had our practice according to the truth of the Bible, with co-workers raised up by God to receive the commission from Him to convey God’s word to produce churches. Elders were then set up to administrate these churches. This is absolutely correct. But in the past decades, after practicing this way for so long, we have unconsciously developed it into a system. By doing so, the organic aspect of the Body of Christ has gradually been annulled. As a result, a situation has evolved in which we do not have the name of a clergy-laity system, but in reality there is such a system. A minority of people has usurped the life-function of all the saints. The main parts of the real service fall on the shoulders of the co-workers and elders. All the others are there only as helpers and supplements. How can this be considered the Body service? The result is that the Body of Christ is almost nullified.
Although the system has been changed for a few years now, to this day we still dare not say that we have the Body service. The main emphasis of the change of system is on removing the minority and having all the members do everything. Although all the churches here have accepted the new way, the intrinsic condition is still not satisfactory; we still do not have every member participating in the practices of the service. We are still quite far from this goal.
THE BURDEN STILL BEING THAT THE SAINTS WOULD BE ORGANIC
In Romans 15, Paul said that he was a priest of the gospel of God, offering the saved Gentiles to God (v. 16). In 1 Peter 2, Peter said that we are a priesthood built up for the telling out of the virtues of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (vv. 5, 9). This is not an individual preaching the gospel, but the Body preaching the gospel. In the past, among us we had the so-called gospel preaching by the church. On a specified date, a big gospel meeting was called, and all the saints were mobilized to coordinate together. Because the light of the revelation was not strong enough, it was more an outward activity rather than an inward organic matter.
At present, the church here is divided into over a hundred and thirty districts. There is also the practice of the gospel, the home meetings, the group meetings, and the district meetings. We can say that there is a definite initial form of the new way and that the new way is beginning to take off. But there is still not much of an organic functioning that originates from within as a result of the saints seeing the revelation. Only when we reach this stage can we consider ourselves as being fully on the track. However, this cannot be accomplished in one or two days. We human beings are living creatures, and it is not that easy to change. There are concepts, habits, and tastes which cannot be removed by force. Notwithstanding, I think that your condition is getting better every year.
My burden in coming back this time is still that the saints would be organic. In the past I came back to change the system. This time I hope that I can change your viewpoint, so that you can realize that only by the saints being organic will anything really work. There is no need to worry about anything. As long as the saints are able to serve organically, all that we hope for will spontaneously come to pass. For this reason, I began by speaking about the oneness of the believers. This oneness originates from the Father as the source and has the Father’s life as the element. Hence, this oneness is organic. Furthermore, this oneness is produced by the Father’s word of reality, which sanctifies us from the world. And it is also produced by the Father’s glory, which delivers us from ourselves. Based on this oneness we can have the proper one accord. Our speaking, thinking, perception, and love will all be in the Triune God. Then we will have the living and service of the Body.
(The Oneness and the One Accord according to the Lord's Aspiration and the Body Life and Service according to His Pleasure, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)