THE RECOVERY OF THE TRUTHS THROUGHOUT THE AGES
Although these truths that the Lord has given us are in the New Testament, by the end of the apostolic age they had gradually been lost. The reason these truths were lost was that the church became degraded. This is why in Revelation chapters two and three the Lord Jesus called the overcomers. On the one hand, these overcomers lived an overcoming life. On the other hand, they recovered the lost truths. This overcoming and recovery began at the end of the first century even before the apostles passed away.
There was a famous church historian raised up among the British Brethren by the name of E. H. Broadbent who wrote a book called The Pilgrim Church. The outstanding feature of that book is its record of the recovery of the different items of the truths by the overcomers throughout the ages, beginning from the apostolic age until the end of the nineteenth century. Included in this record is Martin Luther, who is well known, who was an overcomer of the sixteenth century. He recovered the truth concerning justification by faith. By the seventeenth century, among the Catholics, the mystics who sought after the inner life were raised up. They were opposed to the deadness and coldness of the situation of the time. The leading figure in this group was Madame Guyon. These people were very good in the experience in life. But they were not clear concerning the church.
Following this, we come to the eighteenth century. The Lord raised up Brother Zinzendorf in Europe. Although he was comparatively clearer concerning the truth and practice of the church, he did not arrive at the ultimate mark. After another century, in the nineteenth century the Lord raised up a group of brothers in England, among whom were J. N. Darby and many other great teachers contemporary with him. They recovered the truth concerning the church quite thoroughly. In particular, they opened up the visions, types, and prophecies of the Bible. All these are important recoveries. The Brethren are typified by the Lord as the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3.
THE LORD’S RECOVERY AMONG US
Twenty or thirty years after the Brethren were raised up, they became degraded and divided again. This degradation has lasted until today. Around the beginning of the twentieth century, the Lord could not have a way with His recovery in the West any longer. He was forced to turn to China. He found one who became the leading one among us in releasing the truth. This was Brother Watchman Nee, whom many are familiar with. He was saved when he was seventeen years old. At the age of twenty-two, he began to speak for the Lord. During that year, the first meeting of the church in the Lord’s recovery in the Far East was raised up in his hometown in Foochow.
A Collection of the Riches of All the Ages
Brother Nee received a good education in English. He also read a lot of books. After he was saved, not only did he love the Lord and pursue after the Bible, but he had frequent contacts with the Western missionaries, and he collected many classical writings in Christianity. What he collected were firstly the commentaries and expositions on the Bible and on faith by the famous writers and great teachers throughout the ages. This includes the so-called church fathers of the early ages. He also collected writings by Martin Luther, Madame Guyon, Father Fenelon, Zinzendorf, J. N. Darby, and many others. The writings of all these people were among his collection. Second, he also collected the biographies of many spiritual giants. Third, he collected many writings on church history. These books totaled more than three thousand volumes. He received tremendous help from these classical writings and saw much light. He made wide selections and references from these books, and he added to them his own light from his study of the Scripture, and he collected all these riches together to lead others in the practice of the church life.
(The Riches and Fullness of Christ and the Advanced Recovery of the Lord Today, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)