THE UNJUST STEWARD
Question: In Luke 16:1-9, it seems that the Lord’s intention in speaking the parable is to disapprove of this kind of person. But in verse 8 He commended the same for doing wisely, as if He somewhat approved of him. Verse 9 says, "And I say to you, Make friends for yourselves by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles." This seems to indicate that the disciples should make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness that they may gain something later on. May I ask what is the meaning of these two verses? (Honan)
Answer: "The master" in verse 8 was the master in this story, not the Lord in heaven. The Lord in heaven did not commend this way. The Lord’s teaching is that man should use his mammon to save souls (rather than to contribute to the denominations), that others may be saved through one’s offerings. When we die, we will have friends who, due to our offerings, have been saved, and they will receive us into the eternal tabernacles. Any kind of money stands in opposition to God (v. 13) and is therefore unrighteous. Money itself is the "mammon of unrighteousness."
WOMEN HOLDING OFFICES
Question: Historically, women have only held the office of deaconess in the church. This can be seen clearly from the Bible. Recently, I read the special issue of the Seminary Magazine on history, and I found out that the Quakers in Nanking are actually having women pastors. I also read the Women Pastors’ Magazine, which said that the Hunan Presbyterian Church also has appointed women as elders. Can a woman hold the positions of pastors and elders in the church? I hope you will give me some clear advice! (Tsui, Anhwei)
Answer: All things that the Bible has not covered are human inventions and traditions. Modern men think that advances in the world today and the tide of the age have precipitated the need for the church to have better organization than that recorded in the Bible. I may be a fool, and I dare say that there are many more fools like me who would not dare to speak or think this way. I tremble when I hear these kinds of words. For women to be pastors and elders is but one expression of the rebellion and insubordination of the world today. What a pity this is! The Word of God says, "Let a woman learn in quietness and in all subjection; but I do not permit a woman to teach or to assert authority over a man, but to be in quietness" (1 Tim. 2:11-12). Today the spirit of antichrist is active everywhere, and all past regulations and boundaries are systematically being destroyed. The so-called equality and freedom are but terms only! The females are like this, and the males are no exception either. The Bible considers pastoring a kind of gift given to the entire church (Eph. 4:11-12). Modern men, however, consider it as a kind of office and a system in the church. This is far from the revelation of the holy Scripture. As far as the elders are concerned, only the apostles and those who are charged by the apostles have the authority to establish them. But at present, there are no apostles, yet there are the elders! There is too much of the human element in the church! We should confess our failures before the Lord more, and we should ask Him to revive His children more. Amen.
WATER AND BLOOD
Question: Yesterday a friend of mine asked about 1 John 5:6, "This is He who came through water and blood," and wanted to know how one should interpret the water? I could not answer this. (Tsui, Anhwei)
Answer: In expounding the Bible, we must be balanced. The blood in this verse is just blood; therefore, the water in this verse must also be just water. Since the blood cannot be interpreted spiritually, the water should not be interpreted spiritually either. Water is for cleansing, and the blood is for redemption. The Lord Jesus came not only to cleanse, but also to redeem.
NOT ONE HAIR PERISHING
Question: Luke 21:16 says, "They will put some of you to death," but verse 18 says, "Yet a hair of your head shall by no means perish." Why does it say that they will be put to death, and at the same time that not one of their hairs shall perish? Is there an error in translation? Please instruct me. (Tsui, Anhwei)
Answer: Although the Lord Jesus died, the word of the Scripture was fulfilled in that not one bone of His was broken. The same is true here. Furthermore, though these ones will be killed in their bodies, not one of their hairs will be hurt. There is no error in the translation.
HEAVEN AND THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS
Question: What is the difference between heaven and the kingdom of the heavens? (Chen, Changchou)
Answer: Heaven is the ultimate dwelling place of the saved ones and is the New Jerusalem. The kingdom of the heavens is where the saints are being disciplined today and where in the future they will be reigning with the Lord for a thousand years.
Question: Was the church’s dark age and Martin Luther’s Reformation prophesied by the prophets of old, or was it spoken of by the Lord Jesus? (Chen, Changchou)
Answer: The prophets of old did not speak about it. In Revelation 3:1-6 the Lord Jesus did speak about it. Historically, Sardis is the age of Protestantism.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 07: The Christian (5), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)