An Appeal to the Young People in the Lord's Recovery—
Do Not Be Cheated From Your Inheritance!
In recent years it has become increasingly evident that some of the young people in the Lord's recovery are being cheated out of their proper inheritance ( Acts 26:18; Col. 1:12; Josh. 14:1) through the improper teaching and leading of some older brothers. The ones bearing responsibility in the churches should be burdened to lead all of the young people to enter into and possess the all-inclusive Christ for the building up of the church and the ushering in of God's kingdom. Those who are experienced in the Lord should lead the younger saints on the constricted way of life ( Matt. 7:14), taking God's divine nature as our unique way ( Rev. 21:21, footnote 3). Sadly, however, some brothers have deviated from the constricted way of life to seek "success" by:
- Employing worldly means to attract young people and gain the increase;
- Encouraging ambition by stressing the development of natural abilities as "gifts"; and
- Compromising the proper standing of the church on the ground of oneness.
The testimony of the Bible, of the teaching of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, and of our entire history combine to show us that leaving the constricted way of life is fraught with perils and that all who participate in such deviation will be defrauded of Christ as their unique prize ( Col. 2:18a; Phil. 3:14). We therefore call on the young people in the Lord's recovery:
By being such persons the young people can remain on the path of the Lord's recovery to secure their rightful inheritance.
Deviations to Forsake
Employing worldly means to attract young people and gain the increase
The book of Acts shows that the unique way to preach the gospel to gain the increase for the church is by prayer, the Spirit, and the Word through the exercise of faith ( Acts 1:8; 4:31; 6:4, footnote 1; 8:4; cf., 2 Cor. 4:13). The Gospel of John tells us that the way to bear remaining fruit is to abide in Christ as the vine ( John 15:1, 4-6, 8, 16). By being one with Christ and living Him, we overflow the riches of the divine life to others. Only by being such persons can we bring forth the proper fruit of life in others. The apostle Paul's ministry was carried out by a living under the killing of the cross of Christ ( 2 Cor. 4:10-12) for the manifestation of the truth ( 2 Cor. 4:2) so that the gospel might shine forth to others ( 2 Cor. 4:6). The apostles did not use any gimmicks to attract people. Such things only expose the shortages of those who use them. Rather, the apostles bore God's testimony in a transformed humanity through the exercise of faith in speaking the Word in spirit based upon much prayer.
To bring in any foreign elements, such as rock music and dramas, is to mar God's building and provoke God's destruction ( 1 Cor. 3:17, footnote 1). Such things are worldly and involve false displays of the flesh. They bring worldliness into the church and lead the young people who participate in such activities back into the world, fashioning them according to the present age, contrary to Paul's exhortation ( Rom. 12:2). They are an evil mixture that stirs up a taste for worldly enjoyments, causing both the participants and their audience to be estranged from the love of the Father ( 1 John 2:15). Such things are impure and contain leaven that corrupts both the believers and the church ( Matt. 13:33). Actually, the use of entertainment in the service of God is a form of idolatry ( 1 Cor. 10:7). Such methods do not match the divine nature of the Father, the redemptive work of Christ, and the transforming work of the Spirit as the unique materials for God's building and hence are wood, grass, and stubble, good only for God's judgment as wood, grass, and stubble ( 1 Cor. 3:12-15; see footnote 2 on verse 12).
Encouraging ambition by stressing the development of natural abilities as "gifts"
Some brothers have encouraged the young people to "realize, develop, and use the gifts that God has given them for the building up of the churches." Although such words are pleasing to the ear, they betray a basic misunderstanding of what gifts are, how the genuine gifts are developed, and how they relate to the building up of the church. What is needed for the building up of the church is not the development of natural abilities, such as musical or dramatic performance, but the ministry of life. Natural abilities belong to the old creation and have no value before God. The gifts that are useful for the building up of the church are the issue of growth in life; they are not developed apart from our pursuit of Christ and His dispensing of the divine life into us as we fellowship with Him. To emphasize the development of gifts or of "a ministry" is to promote ambition, which is ruinous both to the person who takes such a word and to the church. Ministry is developed not through the cultivation of ability, but through the unsearchable riches of Christ being constituted into our being as we live a life of being conformed to the death of Christ. To employ any natural ability is contrary to the fundamental nature of the Body of Christ, which is a constitution of divinity mingled with humanity and is absolutely in resurrection. The Lord did not carry out His ministry based on His own natural ability ( John 5:19) and neither did Paul ( 2 Cor. 1:9; 3:5-6; 4:7).
Compromising the proper standing of the church on the ground of oneness
Some young people have also been deceived through perverted teachings on "the oneness of the Spirit" to join themselves to other Christian groups to practice a false oneness with them. This is a serious error. From the beginning of the Lord's recovery our unwavering stand on the ground of oneness has been the source of great blessing in every aspect of the church life, including the unveiling of the riches in God's Word, growth in life, increase in numbers, and the spread of the churches to the six continents. While it is true that all real believers are our brothers and sisters and we should receive them in fellowship, we would not go back to join them in building up their divisive work instead of the unique work of the Lord's recovery, which is the building up of the Body of Christ. We are ever mindful of the great mercy of the Lord through which this work has been entrusted to us through the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.
According to the type of the temple in the Old Testament and the pattern of the church life in the New Testament, there is a unique ground upon which God's building must take place ( Deut. 12:5, 11; Acts 8:1, footnote 1; Rev. 1:11). When the Lord recovered His people from Babylon back to Jerusalem, it was to rebuild His unique testimony of the temple on the site chosen by God ( Ezra 1:3). Today, for the sake of the Lord's recovery of the proper building up of the church as the Body of Christ in the present age, we stand outside of and apart from the degraded system of Christianity, which is filled with unscriptural teachings and practices. Just like the children of Israel, we would never go back to the land of our captivity out of which the Lord called us. It is poisonously wrong to say we should forsake our work of rebuilding the temple to join the people of the Lord in their dispersion in a false exercise of oneness. According to both the Old and New Testaments, there can be no genuine oneness without the proper ground. We have the full confidence that if we continue steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship and in the practice of the normal church life, the Lord Himself will add to the churches ( Acts 2:46-47).
The Perils of Deviation
This fellowship is presented with a heavy heart. We fear for those churches who have deviated from the New Testament ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee in promoting such teachings and practices. The Lord's blessing has been manifestly on His recovery for the past eighty years. Those who choose to take a different way will surely lose that blessing. Without His blessing, they will soon have no way to go on. The result will be confusion, emptiness, and a loss of heart for the Lord and His way in His recovery. Eventually, such a path will lead to death, darkness, and division. Such has been the pattern of Christianity for the past twenty centuries and such has been the end throughout our own history of those who have rejected the leading of the Lord's ministry in His recovery and the feeling of the Body as expressed in the churches.
A Call to the Young People in the Lord's Recovery
To forsake gimmicks and pursue life
We call on all of the young people in the Lord's recovery to come back to the narrow way of life. In particular, we urge them to forsake the way of gimmicks and to build up life practices such as having a daily time to open themselves for the infusion of the Lord's life in prayer and in the Word. We encourage them to enter into a life of bearing fruit through shepherding according to God by taking prayer, the Spirit, and the Word through the exercise of a living faith that joins them to the Triune God as the unique way to gain the increase for the church. We pray that they would be preserved in the practice of the genuine oneness of the Body of Christ on the proper ground in fellowship with all of the churches throughout the earth.
To be separated to God as Nazarites
Today there is a great need for some to be separated unto God as Nazarites for the accomplishment of His purpose. The Nazarite vow is a consecration of separation to God from four things-worldly enjoyment, self-glory, natural affection, and spiritual deadness ( Num. 6:1-8). A Nazarite must be absolutely in subjection to the headship of Christ ( 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:18) and to every deputy authority established by God ( Rom. 13:1-2; Eph. 6:1; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:5). The Nazarite vow is a voluntary offering, meaning that a man has to take the initiative to consecrate himself to God to be a Nazarite. The prophet Samuel was such a Nazarite ( 1 Sam. 1:11). He lived to God purely and faithfully. He did not oppose those who were in authority over him, neither did he partake in the degradation of God's elect. Today the young people in the Lord's recovery should follow this pattern.
The Path Ahead
Today the Lord's recovery is a glorious consummation of over 80 years of ministry by Brother Nee and Brother Lee, based on the proper Christian teaching that has gone before. The practice of the church life has progressed by the Lord's mercy to be closer than we have ever been to the accomplishment of the building up of the Body of Christ by "each one part" ( Eph. 4:16). The way of living a normal Christian life as a God-man is clearer than at any time in the history of the church. We believe the Lord's return is imminent. To meet the Lord as the glorious inheritors of His recovery work in this age is the proper portion of the young people in the Lord's recovery. Do not let this inheritance be taken from you! As Paul charged Timothy to closely follow the pattern Paul established in teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, and many other virtues ( 2 Tim. 3:10), we also remind you that the Lord raised up our Brothers Watchman Nee and Witness Lee as patterns for us to imitate in the present age. Having seen the overcoming life of Christ manifested in their living and in the issue of their manner of life, we should all imitate the pattern of their living in faith ( Heb. 13:7; 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thes. 1:5-6; 2 Thes. 3:7).
The following portions from the ministry of Brother Lee address many of the matters discussed in this article:
- Quotes from Brother Lee's ministry in " The God-ordained Way to Gain the Increase for the Church vs. the Worldly Ways of Degraded Christianity"
- The Principle of the Nazarite
- A Young Man in God's Plan
- Preaching the Gospel on the College Campuses
- Basic Principles for the Service in the Church Life
- How to Be Useful to the Lord
Most of these materials are available online at http://www.ministrybooks.com/witness-lee-books.cfm.