The Mending Ministry of John, by Witness Lee


Distracted by Religion

We need this reminder to turn our whole inward being to Christ. Because we have a background of Christianity and a knowledge of the Bible, we know what is right and what is wrong, what we should do and what we should not do. To live according to this standard is to be governed by ordinances and to be in the realm of religion. These ordinances are distinct from Christ, the living Person. Christ is the living Spirit. He is not only Lord over all in the heavens, King of kings, and Head over all things; even while He is there on the throne, He is simultaneously the Spirit in our spirit. “The Lord be with your spirit” (2 Tim. 4:22). He is in our spirit. The Lord in the heavens is also the Spirit in our spirit. He is not only our Lord but also our life. If He were only on the throne in the heavens, how could He be our life? He is our life; we must live by Him!

Sad to say, most Christians have been distracted from living by Christ. Some have been distracted by sin; others, by the world. The vast majority, however, have been distracted by the things pertaining to religion. They care for rituals, formalities, or doctrines. They have been lured away from the living Person of Christ.

We are one organism with Christ. He is our life, and we must be His living. He lives within us; we express Him by living Him out. Even this is only a doctrine to us if we do not practice it. Suppose we are arguing with someone. No doubt we are not in the spirit. We are in our reasonings, our thoughts, and our feelings. Nonetheless, in our spirit there is a reminding that our arguing is not by the Lord. The realization comes that we are not one with the Lord but rather acting in ourselves. Will we stop? Many times we just go on. The question is not whether we should argue, but whether we are one with Him in spirit.

Distracted by Doctrines

There are many things about which Christians can argue. There are many doctrines in the Bible. It is hard to come to the same opinion as someone else. Our oneness, however, is not in our mental understanding. It is in our spirit. Doctrinally we cannot be one. Our oneness must be the Lord Himself. Even among us, if two of us begin to discuss doctrines, we shall be in disagreement within a very short time. There is no possibility for oneness based on doctrine. This is because we all have different understandings.

Over thirty years ago a brother talked with me about immersion. “Brother Lee,” he said, “I know how much you respect the Bible, but do you realize that you do not practice baptism by immersion rightly?”

“Surely we practice baptism by immersion,” I replied, “but what do you mean by ‘rightly’?”

“In whose name do you baptize? Is it in the name of the Lord Jesus, or in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?”

“Well,” I told him, “sometimes we say to the first one to be baptized, ‘I baptize you in the name of the Lord Jesus,’ and then, when we come to the next one, we may say, ‘We baptize you into the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.’ What is the difference?”

“Oh, no,” he protested, “you must not say you baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost! You must baptize into the name of the Lord Jesus. There is a big difference!”

This is not the only argument about baptism! Some say it matters whether we are baptized forwards or backwards and whether the water is salt or fresh. The disagreements about doctrine are endless. It is foolish to get into them.

Let us return to our spirit and tell the Lord, “O Lord Jesus, I love You. I want to live by You. I want to walk according to the spirit. Thank You that You are one Spirit with me. You are within me. I am in You. How I praise You that we are one!” Here in the spirit is the only place that we can be one. John 15 does not stress doctrine; the emphasis is that the Lord and we are one. We abide in Him when we are in our spirit, not when we are in our mentality. Whenever we turn to the spirit, we sense that He is there.

(The Mending Ministry of John, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)