THE REASON FOR DIVISIONS
Today some of the dear Christians are promoting the unification of so-called Christianity. They realize Christians should not be divided into many denominations. Throughout my Christian life, especially in my ministry, I have been checked again and again by people. When I talked to them, even about the gospel, they would say, “Mr. Lee, what you have been saying to us is good, but there is one thing we cannot understand. Is Christianity one? If it is, why are there so many denominations? One is called Presbyterian, another is called Southern Baptist, and another one is called Methodist. What is this? We appreciate Christianity, but we are bothered. Why do you have the Catholic Church and the Protestant churches?” I could only say to them, “At any rate, Jesus Christ is unique, real, and true. I am not preaching Christianity to you. I am preaching Jesus Christ to you. Please forget about Christianity, but receive this One, Jesus Christ.” By this we can see the problem of divisions.
Then the Lord raised up the recovery. Yet what a shame that even in the recovery, we were attacked by some who were with us and who became very dissenting and divisive. What is the reason for this? Now I can tell you what the reason is. When I was with Brother Nee for twenty years, I was under him as a big umbrella, and no one attacked me. All the attacks by the dissenting ones in division went to him.
Later, I was sent out abroad. First, I worked in Taiwan and the Philippines. Every year I spent one-third of the time in the Philippines and two-thirds of the time in Taiwan for eleven years. I suffered the same thing as what I had seen with Brother Nee. I was surely expecting to have an umbrella. Instead, I have become the umbrella. All the attacks with the lies and defamation have been aimed at me.
One group of dissenting ones in the Far East said that the leading ones in the recovery had all become old and were good to be buried. They told people that they had the revelation, so they considered themselves the people of revelation, claiming that they had seen the very Christ of glory. When I heard about that, I wondered and said, “Dear ones, since you have seen the vision of Christ, you should minister what you have seen to the saints in the Lord’s recovery. You don’t need to condemn others by saying that they are old and ready for burial.”
After I spent those eleven years in the Far East, I came to the United States. In 1977 and 1978 another trouble took place. That was a case of people who came to us with an ambition to take the lead in the recovery. I used to tell people that the recovery of the Lord is not ours, but it is the Lord’s recovery. Whoever touches it in a negative way will suffer spiritual death. This is like the man at David’s time who touched the ark with his human hand. That one suffered death (2 Sam. 6:6-7).
Nine years later in 198, there was another turmoil among us. During those nine years, I put out many messages on life, on the economy of God, and on the dispensing of God. The dissenting ones said that Brother Lee’s ministry was all right up to 1984, but from 1984 Brother Lee changed in his ministry, and this changed the nature of the recovery. So they said that they had to do something to rescue the recovery out of the change by the wrong ministry of Brother Lee. They falsely told people that I did not speak as I did in the past on life, Christ, and the Spirit, but instead I would always talk about statistics, budgets, and numbers. Actually, these ones and some who are not among them but like them took the advantage of the recovery to build up a work for themselves. They did their work under the cloak of the recovery’s work.
From 1984 to 1986 I called for urgent meetings of all the elders and co-workers at least four times. In my opening word, I told them that I called them to these meetings because I realized that among us there were strong signs that division would come in. These messages are now in Books 1 through 8 of a series entitled Elders’ Training. I indicated that some of the brothers were apparently working for the recovery, but actually they were not. They were taking advantage of the recovery to work out their kind of work. They were doing their work within the work of the Lord’s recovery. But I warned them. I said, “According to what I saw with Brother Nee and according to what I have experienced in my period of ministry, no one would be benefitted by doing such a work. You will only damage yourself, terminate yourself, and deaden the weaker saints in the recovery.”
Divisions have come in among us just because of ambition. Recently, I have studied 1 and 2 Kings. Among the many kings, probably only David had no aspiration or intention to build up his little empire. But besides him many had the intention to build up their own empire, their monarchy.
Brother Nee ministered on the Body of Christ again and again, but eventually turmoil arose that forced him to stop his ministry. He himself stopped, telling us he would not minister, and this took place for six years. In 1948 his ministry was brought back and resumed through the recovery among us. We have published a two-volume set entitled Messages Given during the Resumption of Watchman Nee’s Ministry. I would encourage you to read these messages. In one of these messages, Brother Nee told us that some of the local churches had been taken by the so-called elders to make their churches “native” monarchies, little empires. This is not a church in the fellowship of the Body but just a little church in their own locality.
It is true to say that according to the Bible, the local churches are distinct from one another to a certain degree, but only in their business affairs, not in the spiritual testimony of Jesus. During the recent rebellion, some misused Brother Nee’s book The Normal Christian Church Life to say that the local churches are independent. After the apostles set up the church and appoint the elders, the apostles should take their hands off the church and leave the church to the elders. Further, the elders are the authority of that church. When I heard this, I referred the saints to another book by Brother Nee entitled Church Affairs. Brother Nee said there that after the apostles set up the elders, they have to stay with the elders to teach them, instruct them, and train them in how to take care of the church.
In this message I have fellowshipped concerning these negative things because I realize that many saints today in the recovery are not aware of the mistakes that crept into the recovery. They may consider that the recovery is for the recovery of the local churches. I say “yes” with a “but.” “Yes,” Brother Nee did minister on the local churches, “but” he went on from the local churches to the Body of Christ. The local churches are too much in the expression of physical things. You have to arrange the elders and set up the deacons to take care of so many outward affairs. But with the Body of Christ, there are no physical things. The local churches are nearly ninety percent physical, but they should be for something spiritual, and this spiritual thing is the Body of Christ.
(Practical Points Concerning Blending, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)