Of the one hundred two messages remaining, ten were given by Yu Cheng-hwa and twelve by Witness Lee. The remaining eighty were given by Watchman Nee. The Lord burdened and commissioned Watchman Nee with a specific testimony of Christ in His crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, return, and kingdom. His ministry, therefore, was focused on Christ's death and resurrection for the producing of the church in life to experience the victory of Christ that His kingdom might be ushered in. For this reason, he considered messages on these matters as the central messages.
His burden to hold the overcomer conferences and to publish The Present Testimony was to present such central messages. He also translated books in this same category into Chinese. All the books in the other categories mentioned in the first part of this chapter were intended by him to prepare the believers to apprehend these central messages, which were mainly contained in the following twenty-two books:. Published in three volumes in the fall of This book was not only the central one but also the greatest one among Brother Nee's writings.
It covers the following main points: 1 the three parts of man—spirit, soul, and body; 2 the distinction between soul and spirit; 3 the fleshly Christian; 4 the soulish believer; 5 the subjective aspect of the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit; 6 the spiritual man; and 7 the spiritual warfare. After publishing two editions of The Spiritual Man, Watchman Nee realized that many of his readers became introspective.
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He also felt that the book was too perfectly written and too detailed. For these reasons he decided not to publish further editions. Comments by Fuller will be offered on their teachings, as we have come to understand them after significant research and dialog. David Aikman, Ph. Living Stream Ministry, which represents the Local Church in the US, has performed an excellent job bringing together theologians and historians to analyze closely the specific teachings sometimes attributed to the late Witness Lee of the Local Church.
It is now apparent that a significant number of distinguished scholars take the view that the doctrines of the Local Church do in fact coincide with historic Trinitarian Christianity. Tom Ascol, Ph. He has edited books including Reclaiming the Gospel and Reforming Churches and Dear Timothy and has contributed articles and chapters to numerous publications. As I have grown to know some of the brethren in this movement and have worshiped with them in several of their Chinese churches I have been blessed and challenged by their humble devotion to our Lord and commitment to the work of making disciples.
May the Lord continue to bless and use them in the extension of His kingdom throughout the world. Randall Balmer, Ph. He is a frequent media resource and his articles and book reviews have appeared in a number of evangelical publications. When I visited the Local Church in Newington, Connecticut, I found there a worship service that I would characterize as informal, good-humored, joyful, and friendly—with slight Pentecostal overtones. In the low-keyed style of worship, I found elements of the house churches that were popular among many evangelicals in the s.
I was impressed by the interracial character of the congregation and the ease with which Anglos, Asians, and African Americans related with one another this is still fairly rare among evangelicals—as it is rare among other religious groups in America. Paul Copan, Ph. Copan is the past President of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and a well-known apologist.
The doctrinal statement of the Local Church and LSM reflects a clear commitment to the fundamental tenets of Christian orthodoxy. In a remarkable spirit of humility, the Local Church has taken great pains to clarify and refine this statement through prayer and conversation with fellow evangelicals. I commend this gracious spirit and urge all true Christians to embrace our brothers and sisters in the Local Church, who share the same faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, it is incumbent upon all believers to work through misunderstandings and misrepresentations of one another so that that we may serve together as partners in the gospel.
Edwin S. Gaustad, Ph. They meet together, pray together, sing and study together, and grow together. They labor to be loyal to their particular vision of the Christian life. It seems enough. He is also the host of the Bible Answer Man radio broadcast and a well-known author of many books, including Christianity in Crisis and Has God Spoken?
He headed a long-term dialogue and investigation of the teaching and practices of the local churches and the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. In the process, he has visited churches and church members in many countries covering three continents. The local churches are an authentic expression of New Testament Christianity.
Moreover, as a group forged in the cauldron of persecution, it has much to offer Western Christianity. In this respect three things immediately come to mind. First is their practice of prophesying—not in the sense of foretelling the future but in the 1 Corinthians 14 sense of exhorting, edifying, encouraging, educating, equipping, and explicating Scripture.
In such a practice, constituents are corporately involved in worship through the Word. Second is their practice of pray-reading in addition to Bible study as a meaningful link between the intake of Scripture and efficacious communion with God in prayer. And third is their fervent commitment to the Great Commission Matthew If the early Christian church had one distinguishing characteristic, it was their passion to communicate the love, joy, and peace that only Jesus Christ can bring to the human heart.
As we become entrenched in an age of esotericism, it is essential that genuine believers in all walks of life emulate this passion—a passion I have personally witnessed as I shared in fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ from local churches in places as far away as London, England; Seoul, Korea; and Nanjing, China. In sum, along with Christians from a broad range of persuasions, the local churches are dedicated to both proper doctrine orthodoxy and proper practice orthopraxy.
After a six-year primary research process, I am fully persuaded that the LC is innocent—rather than guilty—of compromising essential Christian doctrine. Moreover, it has become apparent that the Holy Spirit has moved in their midst to recover New Testament principles and practices widely neglected in the modern church. Finally, what is true from a theological perspective is true sociologically as well.
After meeting thousands of LC adherents and personally interacting with hundreds, I am not only convinced that they are innocent of the charge of cultism from a sociological perspective, but I can testify that they are among the finest Christians I have encountered in life and ministry. He began his career as a broadcaster on Metro Radio in and has worked in both the commercial sector and the BBC. Watchman Nee was the John Wesley of China. His legacy continues to thrive today as millions of people on the mainland of China find faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Witness Lee, his coworker, continued that legacy and broadened it to encompass the West and all six continents.
Living Stream Ministry is the faithful custodian of their vision and strives to make Jesus known in a way that upholds their worldview and passion for the Gospel. Peter Kuzmic, Th. He is also Co-founder and Director of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia, and is widely recognized as the foremost evangelical scholar in Eastern Europe.
Gordon Melton, Ph. He is an ordained United Methodist minister. I personally have been unable to find a single point upon which it [the local churches] deviates on any essential doctrine of the Christian faith, though it has a number of differences on matters all of us would consider nonessential, i. Elliot Miller, M. He was also involved in the earliest research projects involving the local churches and the teachings of Witness Lee in the s and s as well as the recent and more thorough reevaluation of earlier findings.
I find it to be thoroughly consistent with historic, orthodox Christian theology in all of its affirmations.
Indeed, it is far more explicit and astute in its orthodoxy than what one normally encounters in statements of faith. What would it be like? I thought many times that this would be a glorious thing to behold. And then one day I met the believers of the local churches. I have met such people. And it is glorious indeed. Gretchen Passantino-Coburn, M. I am among a very small group of experts on the controversy regarding the teachings and practices of LSM and associated churches and individuals who have carefully studied its theology over a broad chronological span of publication and practice.
CRI, Fuller, and AIA have all concluded that previous determinations of heresy including ours lodged against LSM and associates on essential Christian doctrine were in error and that LSM and associates are fully within orthodox Christian biblical theology in all areas of essential belief and practice. A number of mostly American cult theology experts immediately and completely rejected our re-assessment of the orthodoxy of LSM and associates, using as their basis the work done in the s and s which we believed our more recent re-evaluation had exposed as inadequate and in error even our own previous work.
Most of these experts had done no original research at any time on the teachings and practices of LSM and associates. None had conducted contemporary comprehensive re-evaluation and research…. I am confident that my re-evaluation of the teachings of Witness Lee, LSM, and the churches and individuals associated with them, and of the practices of the churches associated with LSM, demonstrates clearly that they are orthodox in all areas of essential Christian doctrine and practice, validly expressing the Body of Christ as do all orthodox Christians. Aiming Wang, Th.
During the ten-year period from to , I continually studied and read through all of the writings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. I have gone over some of their more important writings several times…. Beginning from about , I came to the definite conclusion that Watchman Nee and Witness Lee—the founder and the inheritor, respectively, of the indigenous Chinese church, Christian Assembly a. Hence, this perspective of historical theology accounts for the healthy growth in scope and impact that the local churches have enjoyed since they appeared on the scene.
This distinction was not clearly seen by Christian teachers before Nee, and it is still misunderstood among many believers. Watchman Nee's teachings concerning the distinction between the indwelling and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are a help to the Lord's move today. The outpouring of the Spirit is for power for the preaching of the gospel. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is for the daily experience of Christ. Nee saw very clearly according to Scriptures such as I Thessalonians that man is made up of three parts: spirit, soul, and body. The inner life was also revealed to them. This is closely related to the revelations concerning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the three parts of man.
We have an inner life and a walk with the Lord because His Spirit indwells us in our spirit. The matter of the overcomers was another very important revelation. Some Christians are overcomers because of their unwavering love for the Lord and their faithfulness to follow Him. They also saw the matter of the kingdom as a reward. Nee received much help on this point from the writings of D.
Panton's articles on this subject have appeared in a number of issues of The Firstfruit. They received the revelation that the rapture is due to the maturity of life. The overcoming Christians are raptured because they have grown in the life of the Lord, and have been faithful to follow Him. Not many believers have seen this crucial point. Finally, they saw the matter of spiritual warfare. The daily Christian life is a battle in which Christ's victory over Satan must continually be applied.
All these great revelations were seen by Watchman Nee between and Probably not many Christians have seen all these after having been saved for just twelve years. Nee ran the race. He was very absolute for the Lord and very consecrated. He was an important vessel in the Lord's recovery and a great gift to the Church.
During these years Nee had the desire to publish what he was seeing of God's recovery. Over a period of time he published three magazines. These magazines were circulated all over China, and a large number of young people were deeply touched by what was presented. In one of the publications he ran a series of articles on the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. This opened the eyes of many young Christians to the evils of denominationalism and enabled them to see something of God's purpose.
The Lord, in His sovereignty and wisdom, prepared another vessel to be one with Watchman Nee. This was Witness Lee. Lee came from a Christian background, having been raised as a Southern Baptist and having attended Southern Baptist schools. After he was saved, Lee met in a Chinese Independent Church for a short time and then began meeting with the Brethren assembly in Chefoo, his home town.
He stayed with them for seven years, from to , during which time he became acquainted with the magazines that Nee was publishing. Lee was very much helped and inspired by those writings. In Witness Lee's life took a major turn. He realized that he was barren and fruitless in spite of all the Bible knowledge he had received from the Brethren. This caused him to turn deeply to the Lord, repenting and crying out from the depths of his being. He sought the Lord to bring him into a life of fruitfulness. He left the Brethren and was used by the Lord to raise up the church in Chefoo.
He met with eleven others whom he had led to the Lord and baptized. They began to minister the Word in a very living, prevailing way, and by the next year their number had grown to about one hundred. That year, in , they asked Watchman Nee to visit them. This was the first meeting between Lee and Nee. Witness Lee was very surprised to see that Nee, whose articles he had read for years, was only two years older than himself. He had expected to see an old gray-haired man, deep in the Word. Later that same year, Lee visited Watchman Nee in Shanghai for several months. During that time Lee was deeply touched.
He saw that Nee was different from anyone he had ever met, because Nee had such a deep, living knowledge of the Word. The brothers in Shanghai asked Lee to remain there and work with them, and he felt constrained of the Lord to do so. He realized that there should be only one flow from the throne of God, not two, and that he had to be in this one flow together with Watchman Nee. It is nearly unheard-of for anyone with a ministry to drop that ministry in order to come together with others.
Lee's giving up his ministry to be one with others for the one flow of God on the earth was a very important recovery. Starting in Witness Lee labored together with Watchman Nee. Nee held conferences and released four additional revelations to the churches between and , allowing the Lord to take a further step in the church life. The first of these visions was the boundary of the local church. According to Scripture, the boundary of a local church is the boundary of the city in which it is located. The second was the centrality and universality of Christ.
Nee saw that the purpose of all revelation and doctrine was to point us to Christ. Third was the overcoming life of Christ. Eventually, he saw clearly the New Testament revelation concerning the ground of locality and the ground of oneness Watchman Nee's primary vision in his ministry was to build up local churches. He trained young people and co-workers to preach the gospel and to build the churches. He held many conferences to release revelations from the Lord.
His ministry was also published in order to distribute it as widely as possible. The churches began to spread and grow throughout the Far East. In Watchman Nee traveled to Malaya. As a result of his visit, a church was raised up in Sitiawan, the first church in Southeast Asia. In the churches spread to Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. From to there was a growth of churches in many places in mainland China.
Trusting the Lord to Provide My Earthly Needs
In the churches began in western China, and in and the church life began in Hong Kong. He labored intensely for three or four years with the church in Chefoo, which became a very strong church. During those years Witness Lee worked out in a practical way the pattern of the church life that he had seen from Watchman Nee. Nee saw it, like Moses who saw the vision on the mountain, and Lee put it into practice, like Joshua who brought the people into the good land.
By there were about eight hundred saints meeting together. The church was built up very strongly in life, in practice, and in service, with all the saints very much involved in the service. Lee himself was personally involved in everything and led by example, not just by teaching. All the saints were deeply touched to consecrate themselves to God's further recovery. The Lord then specifically touched seventy of them to migrate to Inner Mongolia to spread the gospel and the church life. The same local churches are going on strongly right now in Inner Mongolia. There was also another migration of thirty to Manchuria.
After the revival in Chefoo, Lee came back to Watchman Nee in Shanghai to report on what had taken place and how they were practicing the church life. Nee fully confirmed what they had done and rejoiced that the Lord's revelation was being put into practice. In Witness Lee was imprisoned for about one month and tortured by the Japanese as a result of the fighting between Japan and China.
He suffered very much during this time. Afterward he contracted tuberculosis and convalesced for about two years. The sickness reached the third and final stage of tuberculosis, but then the Lord, who is the resurrection, raised him up. In , after Lee had regained his health, the political climate shifted. This turn of events allowed him to return to Nanking and Shanghai to minister. A great revival was raised up by the Lord through Lee's ministry in those two cities.
The church in Shanghai bore much fruit through the preaching of the gospel. The number of saints meeting together rose to well over 1, During the years from to , Watchman Nee's ministry was terminated by a widespread problem in the church in Shanghai. A number of saints had resisted him because of differing opinions, and he was unable to minister for those six years. But he received this as from the Lord and trusted the Lord to heal the situation. In , through Witness Lee, Nee's ministry was restored. From that same year there was a real consecration among the saints there in Shanghai.
Nee began to hold trainings in the mountains for prospective co-workers. The saints received much practical help in these trainings. During the trainings Lee stayed in Shanghai to minister to the church there. Just at this time the Communists swept across China. All the co-workers decided to stay there to suffer with the churches. However, they made the unanimous decision to send Witness Lee out from the mainland so that he could spread what they had seen to Taiwan and other places.
This way they hoped that something of God's recovery would be preserved. When the Communists swept down over China, Witness Lee was sent out by the co-workers to the island of Taiwan. Many of the saints fled from mainland China and took refuge in Taiwan. Some who had fled earlier had begun a small church life in Taipei with about fifty saints. When Lee arrived in , together they began to preach the gospel and to build up the church. Because of their diligent gospel preaching, their number increased to over saints in one year.
From to the number of churches on the island grew to sixty-five with a total of 20, saints.riewordlywa.tk
Spirituality and Spiritual Practice: Is the Local Church Pentecostal?
Then in the devil attempted to undermine and destroy the churches in Taiwan. Some of the leading co-workers became very dissenting and rebellious. Yet the Lord prevailed according to Matthew where the Word says that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the church He builds. In Witness Lee saw four key items in the Scriptures: the vision of God's building, the mingling of God and man, Christ as the life-giving Spirit, and the enjoyment of the Lord by eating and drinking Him.
Then in he gave a series of messages which gave the saints in Taiwan a real vision concerning the practical priesthood. In Witness Lee made his first trip to the United States. At that time I was meeting with a group of Christians in Los Angeles who had left the denominations and were seeking something more concerning the church life. We heard that Witness Lee was coming to the United States. He likewise heard about our group and came to Los Angeles to meet us. I had never met a man like him.
He was simple, humble, transparent, and overflowing with the Lord.
We prevailed on him to give us a message on the Lord's Day. This was probably his first message in English. Although he was difficult to understand, we were deeply touched. He spoke concerning the tree of life in Genesis 2. He told us that God wants to be life to man and that as believers enjoy the Lord by eating and drinking Him, God is mingled with them.
He only stayed a few days with us and then left. That was all we saw of him for two years, but I could never forget him. Just from that short meeting I esteemed him highly. I realized that here was a man who really knew the Lord and knew His Word. I was happy that he was coming through because it would give us an opportunity to ask him about the ground of the church. He arrived in Los Angeles on December 3, About fifteen of us met with him in a sister's apartment the night he arrived.
Could you please let us know something more concerning this matter? Is this in the Bible? That night the Bible was opened up from Genesis to Revelation.
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Witness Lee showed us that the ground of the church was throughout the whole Bible. This matter became crystal clear. I became convinced and committed. We saw that if we were Christians we had no choice but to go this way; we had to take this standing on the ground of oneness. We realized that for the Lord to have His testimony we had to stand as Christians on the ground of the oneness of the Body of Christ in our locality. We were ready to take this stand immediately. However, since not everyone in our group was of the same mind, Witness Lee advised us to have more fellowship with the brothers in the group.
Perhaps the Lord would work, and we could all be clear and have this same standing. We then had another meeting. The leading ones from this group came together, and Witness Lee shared with us concerning the seven-fold oneness in Ephesians 4. After the message we fellowshipped concerning the matter of the church testimony and the ground of the church. Unfortunately, some of the brothers from the group were offended and took a stand to not go that way.
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We still felt, however, that we had to stay in that group a while in spite of the resistance to this matter of the ground of oneness. We did pray. A few weeks later some of us had fellowship one night concerning our burden. I will always remember the drive home after that fellowship. As I stopped at a stop sign, I had a feeling deep within that we should go ahead and start to meet as the church in Los Angeles.
I felt we needed to take this standing for the Lord's sake and for His testimony. At the same time I realized that we would be misunderstood and would be charged with being divisive. Yet there was no escaping this deep, strong feeling: For the Lord's sake and for His testimony we needed to meet on the ground of oneness.
The next day I fellowshipped with some of the brothers who had the same burden. I shared my feeling with them. One by one they all received the same registration. Samuel Chang was the last one to receive this realization. We then made a decision that two weeks later we would start to meet together as the church. On May 27, , twenty to twenty-five of us began to meet for the first time as the church in Los Angeles. We met in Samuel Chang's home. Of course, we were misunderstood and accused as expected, but we all were inwardly very clear.
The Lord was pushing us; we had no choice but to take this stand and to begin meeting for the sake of His testimony. After taking this stand, we called Witness Lee, who was in Seattle, and told him what we had done. The first weekend in July he came down and had a conference with us regarding the ground of oneness. Then on the first weekend in September he returned and again spoke on the ground of oneness. We had understood that Witness Lee was going back to the Far East at the end of to continue his work in Taiwan.
We thought he had gone back when unexpectedly, near the end of November, Samuel Chang received a phone call from him. Witness Lee said he was in San Francisco and that he was coming down to Los Angeles to stay indefinitely. It seemed incredible. The very thought left us excited in anticipation. We were only about twenty-five saints, yet Witness Lee was going to come to meet with us rather than go back to Taiwan to meet with 20, saints.
It seemed too good to be true. Witness Lee arrived in Los Angeles on November After meeting him at the airport, we brought him to Samuel Chang's home. About three or four of us sat down in the living room with him. He told us about having a little controversy with the Lord over staying in this country. Eventually he said amen to the Lord, even though he had already purchased his return ticket and would have to cancel his scheduled conferences in Taiwan.
Instead he stayed with us in Los Angeles. Witness Lee then shared with us that he felt we needed to have an eleven-day conference, from December 21 to December 31, We were very excited at this prospect. He suggested that we contact all the interested seeking ones we knew throughout the country to invite them to come. He asked how we felt about having several ministry meetings each week during the intervening three weeks. He always asked us how we felt.
We were overjoyed! He also shared his feeling that we needed to pray very much for the conference and for God's recovery in the United States. He asked those of us who were free during the day whether we could come together every morning to pray. There were only three of us who were free, whom the Lord had called to serve full time. These were Paul Ma, Witness Lee, and myself.
The three of us came together every morning at or for three weeks. We would arrange three chairs in the middle of the living room, get down on our knees, and pray for God's recovery in this country. By his own prayer, Witness Lee infused the spirit of prayer into us. Very definitely, God's recovery in the United States was born in prayer.
Witness Lee shared with us that we needed some new hymns on the experience of Christ. At that time there were not many good hymns in English on the experience of Christ.