THE PROBLEM WITH TODAY’S CHRISTIANITY
The problem with today’s Christianity is that many do not know the Spirit in a proper way. Christianity teaches that God is three persons—the Holy Father, the Holy Son, and the Holy Spirit—in one Body. I was clear about this doctrine from my childhood, but I had no experience of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was a term, the Holy Son was a term, and the Holy Father was also a term. These are the three terms for the Triune God. This is the teaching of the old, orthodox Christianity. Gradually, the Pentecostal movement came in with another way of teaching that confused people even more. According to the Pentecostal people, it does not matter whether you speak of the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God. They say that if you speak in tongues, you have the Holy Spirit, and if you do not speak in tongues, you do not have the Holy Spirit. I also experienced the Pentecostal movement, and at that time I even led people, taught people, and encouraged people to speak in tongues. When I look back on those tongue-speakings, they were always, “Duh, duh, duh,” or “Dee, dee, dah.” What are these so-called tongues? Only the Lord knows.
In any case, we cannot approve of this kind of tongue-speaking. In addition, throughout history there have been millions of people who really had life and power yet never spoke in tongues. Many people were truly helped by Brother Watchman Nee, and I served the Lord beside him. He clearly told me that he had never spoken in tongues. Furthermore, in 1936 when he heard that I was in Tientsin speaking in tongues and leading others to speak in tongues, he immediately sent me a telegram from Shanghai. The telegram had neither a salutation nor a complimentary close; it contained only one sentence: “Not all speak in tongues.” As soon as I read it, I understood. It is true that not all speak in tongues, and he himself never spoke in tongues. Can you say that one such as he did not have the Holy Spirit? You cannot say this.
We must leave the teachings of this group or that group in Christianity; there are too many teachings. Early on in the second and third centuries there were great battles over the ways to speak about the truths of the Trinity, and in the end there were the church councils and synods to discuss how to resolve these disagreements. In the past thirty to fifty years this battle has been going on. Because the old traditional teaching concerning the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was too doctrinal, dead, and non-experiential, it brought in a reaction called the Pentecostal movement. This reaction began in the past century around the year 1850. At the beginning the reaction was wild with jumping, rolling, and many other things. More recently this movement has become a movement of spiritual gifts, and it is more cultured and more moderate without the laughing, jumping, and rolling. However, the focus is on this one thing: If you speak in tongues, you have the Holy Spirit, and if you do not speak in tongues, you do not have the Holy Spirit. You can see the two extremes in Christianity: One is to teach empty doctrines, and the other is to promote speaking in tongues.
CHRISTIANITY’S LACK OF KNOWLEDGE CONCERNING THE SPIRIT AND THE THINGS THAT WE HAVE SEEN
Because of the dead doctrines on one side and the wild Pentecostal things on the other, we were led to the Bible to make a thorough study. I can tell you that over the past fifty years there have been two topics which we studied the most. The first is the church; in these fifty years we have been very clear concerning the revelation of the church. The second is the Holy Spirit. In these years I do not know how much time we have spent studying the Spirit. We read and studied the Bible again and again, and we have gotten clear about almost every passage in the Bible that refers to the Spirit. Moreover, we can say that we have consulted almost every great school of teaching from the second century up through the present to see their explanation and understanding of the Holy Spirit. From this we have discovered that two things are lacking in the discussions concerning the Spirit throughout the centuries.
First, there is the lack of the knowledge of how the Lord in His death and resurrection became the life-giving Spirit. No one taught clearly enough on this point. In the past it seems that this was something seen uniquely among us and that we may have been the only ones to tell people about it. Anyone who has been with us for some time knows that we did not have the utterance for this in mainland China. When we were in mainland China, prior to 1949, the books we put out did not have this teaching, that the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. Nor did we release any messages on this topic. It was only after coming to Taiwan that we began to emphasize that when our Lord Jesus Christ died and then entered into resurrection, He became a life-giving Spirit in resurrection. In these last three to five years, however, we discovered that in the past and even up to the present, there have been many great Bible expositors who have said the same thing. Some said that in resurrection Christ and the Holy Spirit are equal; some said that in resurrection Christ is the Spirit of power. These points have been seen, but throughout the centuries no one has sufficiently emphasized or developed them.
(One Body, One Spirit, and One New Man, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)