THE WAY OF THE WORK TODAY
Going On with the Lord
The Lord is going on. What we considered as life yesterday may be death today. We must go on, and we must not stop at the past experiences. I believe that the Lord is doing a greater and richer work today than yesterday. All those who have their eyes opened will see that we are living in the richest age. Yet these riches are accumulated amidst desolation. On the one hand, the church is advancing and is progressing. On the other hand, the church is in an age of desolation. Some only see the desolation of the church and do not see the advance of the church. Others only see the advance of the church and do not see the desolation of the church. From the view of the Lord’s work today, we can say that the Lord is advancing. But at the same time, when we consider everything around us, we can also say that the church is desolate.
The Testimony of the Local Church
in an Age of Desolation
What God is doing today is to raise up the testimony of the local church in the midst of desolation, to answer God’s call in an age of desolation with the local church, and to recover the church out of its desolation through the testimony of the local church. Christianity has been deformed and has fallen into desolation. For this reason, Christians today are not typical any longer. They have not come up to God’s standard. A typical Christian is not only one who is a Christian individually, but one who is involved in the testimony of the church. Only the testimony of the church can bring the church back from desolation to abundance.
Maintaining the Lord’s Testimony
with the Ministry of the Church
The Lord says, "My Father is working until now, and I also am working" (John 5:17). The Father is always working; He never stops. For this reason we are also working today. Our work today is to secure for the Lord a testimony of the local church. Our ministry today is the ministry of the church, which is one that brings in a testimony of the church for the Lord.
Today the church is in a state of desolation. According to typology, the church has been captured to Babylon. The thriving condition of the church as seen by Paul in the first century was lost soon afterwards. From that time on, the church fell into a state of captivity, which continued until the time of Thyatira. After Thyatira, there was Sardis, where God began His work. Thyatira typifies Roman Catholicism, and Sardis typifies Protestantism. It was at the time of Sardis that God began His recovery work. Although the truths were buried for such a long time, when they were recovered, they immediately became actualities. When Paul spoke concerning the truth in the first century, those truths were spiritual realities, yet they were not actualities. For example, when he spoke about the church, it was a reality, but the actual church had not appeared yet. After the Reformation, not only were the truths recovered, but the actual things themselves were recovered. For example, justification by faith is no longer a truth only, but it has become an actual thing. If the Lord delays His coming, the church will never exhort men to be justified by works any longer. The actual matter of justification by faith has been recovered in the church.
What the church needs today is to raise up a ministry that will maintain the Lord’s testimony. The problem with all the places today is that we only maintain a local church without maintaining a ministry that is for the Lord’s testimony. Today’s ministry must match God’s work today. We cannot merely have a so-called ministry. We must have a ministry that is a proper testimony. Our ministry must be the ministry of the church, a ministry that is a testimony of the church.
God’s ministry today is in the local church and is for the local church. The work of the ministry is to recover the proper testimony of the church. This is the real recovery. The unique ministry is for the unique testimony, and the content of the unique testimony is fulfilled in the local church.
Expressing the Reality of Christ’s Body
in the Local Church
These are not ordinary days. Our works today are not ordinary works. The way today is the way of the church. In this way, we must not act presumptuously or carelessly. Once we act carelessly, the Lord will have no way to go on. The Body described in 1 Corinthians 12 is a testimony that a local church should have; it is the testimony of the Body. In this Body, the eyes cannot say to the hands, "I have no need of you," nor can the head say to the feet, "I have no need of you" (1 Cor. 12:21). Every part must be in coordination. Ephesians 4 reveals to us the reality between the Head and the Body. The local church today must be a testimony that expresses the reality of this Body. It must be a practical and actual Body expressed in a locality.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 40, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)