The Practical Expression of the Church, by Witness Lee


How can we function? As we have mentioned previously, oneness is first, life is second, and fellowship is third. This is why we must repudiate, renounce, and reject all divisions. The Lord will honor this. We must come back to the oneness, and we must grow in life. Then we must have the proper fellowship. Today there are mainly two kinds of believers: one kind is in the denominations including the Roman Catholic Church, and the other is composed of those who are out of the divisions and on the proper ground. We must know how to deal with these two kinds of believers—this is the fellowship. We must know how to fellowship with the saints in the different denominations including the Roman Catholic Church, and we must know even more how to fellowship with the believers who are standing on the proper ground to fight the battle for the Lord’s kingdom.

It is based upon the oneness, the life, and the fellowship that we function, and the real function is the real building up. The local church is built up by the function of all the members. In Ephesians 4:7-16 we see that the Head does not build up the local church, which is the expression of the Body of Christ, directly. He builds the local church through the gifted persons such as the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers. Moreover, even the gifted persons do not build up the Body directly. They build up the church indirectly through all the members. Eventually, it is only the members who build up the church directly.

Therefore, if the brothers and sisters do not function, the members are not building. Then how can the church be built up? It is impossible. The Head would not do it, and the gifted persons should not do it. If they do, they become the clergy. The building must come from the functioning of all the members of the Body.


In these few verses in Ephesians 4, many matters are covered. First of all, verse 8 speaks of the victory gained by the Head. Without this victory Christ the Head has no position to give gifts to the Body so that we can have the different functions. Ephesians 4:8 says that Christ has led captive those taken captive. Do you know what this means? It is rather difficult to understand. This is not an adequate translation; it gives the impression, mistakenly, that Christ has brought back those who have been captured by Satan. This is not the right meaning. The Amplified New Testament gives the best rendering: “Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men.” This means that Christ has captured all of His enemies. He won the victory on the cross and defeated Satan and all His enemies. Then after resurrection, while He was ascending into the heavens, He led a train of vanquished foes who had been defeated by Him. This is the right meaning of this verse. Then He had the position to give gifts to the Body.

However, we must apply this principle to ourselves. Has Christ defeated you? I am afraid that Christ has not defeated you, so you cannot be led in His train of defeated foes. You will not let Christ have the victory. Christ is victorious in the whole universe but not in you, because you have not been subdued by Him. This is why you do not function.

Some may ask, “How can I function in the Body?” From Ephesians we see that you must first be subdued by Christ. You must be conquered by Christ. If you have not been conquered and subdued by Christ, you cannot have any function. You must pray from the depth of your being, “Lord, I surrender. I am defeated by You. I am captured by You.” If you really mean this, the Lord will become so living to you, and you will become so living in the meetings.

Sometimes, some of the brothers do not pray in the meetings. If we ask them why they do not pray, they may give us this excuse or that. But the real reason is because they have not been captured by Christ. If they will surrender to Christ and let Him lead them in His train of defeated foes, they will be the first to pray in the meetings.

(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)