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Old 11-09-2013, 01:35 PM   #1
esostaks
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Default Concerns about the Local Churches

I`m not sure if this is the right sub-forum for such thread and I apologize for my bad English, but here it goes.

First of all a little a bit about myself. I was raised in an atheistic family, however, 6 years ago our Lord saved me. I started to looking for church therefore I have visited several denominations and then I finally stopped and started to regularly attend one of the baptist churches in my city. Even during my first months as a christian when I didn`t know the Scriptures I felt that there was something wrong about the denominational churches and christianity as a whole. When I`ve read the New Testament several times I actually started seeing the false practices and teaching and the fact that the practice of churches described in the New Testament greatly differs from modern denominational churches.

About two years ago a very dear brother in Christ accidentally bought a book The Normal Christian Church Life written by brother Watchman Nee. I`ve read it and understood that the modern churches are false in their whole essence because the biblical churches are separated only by their geographical locations and not by teachings/beliefs/practices/nationalities/social factors etc. I was really happy about this so I started to search if there were any local churches in my country. Fortunately there was a church in the city where I was studying at that moment. I attended some meetings, however, the more time a spent with the church and the more I learned about development of local churches the more disappointed I became.

Eventhough the local churches represent them as something non-organizational I still see that they are extremely organised and act in the same way as any other christian denomination. They also stick to their leaders - Watchmen and Witness very strongly almost idolizing them and putting them in front of Christ. About a year ago I`ve read a testimony by a former member of local churches and he wrote that when Witness Lee was still alive brothers in some local churches made the same haircuts as him and you could be expelled from the church if you doubted something that was taught by Witness Lee. I`ve also seen a video from a local church meeting where the member sing a hymn glorifying Watchmen Nee. Isn`t Christ the only One who is worthy of such praise and glory?

Another thing is that I find works of Watchmen Nee very encouraging and believe that these teachings were revealed to him by God. They really help me grow spiritually. When I read books of Witness Lee something is simply not right. I wouldn`t say that they contradict Bible but they are rather outside the Bible. For example, he uses terms like "element of God", "distributing Christ" which are never used in the Scripture. He made an entire teaching on the expression "economy of God" which is mentioned in the Scripture only once. And how should believers even understand such difficult terms and such intellectual teaching if Paul writes to chorintians that there are not so many wise and strong by human standards among them.

Sometimes I even have a feeling that God really started to awaken His church by Watchman Nee and than satan planted his seed in the form of Witness Lee so the church again becomes nothing more then a formal organization and denomination.

I have now moved to another city to continue my studies and decided to give it another try because this city also has a local church. I attended several meetings but I really don`t get it and cannot see the practice and life of early churches described in the Bible. When I first spoke to the brothers and they were asking about my life the first question they asked is how did I learned about teaching of Watchmen and Witness and how did I found them (local churches). Shouldn`t it be asked how I repented and how Lord saved me?

I am really confused about all of this so I hoped someone here could explain it all and shed some light on my doubts. My purpose wasn`t to offend anyone. I am simply trying to understand God`s view on local churches and understand whether I should meet with brothers there or should I continue to walk on my own during these difficult times because I have not been meeting believers on a regular basis for about 4 years.
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Old 11-09-2013, 01:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Concerns about the Local Churches

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About two years ago a very dear brother in Christ accidentally bought a book The Normal Christian Church Life written by brother Watchman Nee. I`ve read it and understood that the modern churches are false in their whole essence because the biblical churches are separated only by their geographical locations and not by teachings/beliefs/practices/nationalities/social factors etc.
"modern churches are false". That is an extreme statement, which ultimately separates the believers. You are false, so am I, so is Watchman Nee.

But Jesus Christ is real and true and shows us the way to the Father God in heaven.

Look at what John says in Revelation 1:

4 "John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen"

There is only one faithful witness. Jesus Christ. Not John, not Watchman Nee, not Witness Lee, not you or me. Our job is to witness(testify) concerning Jesus Christ. We testify concerning Jesus, not concerning the "true" church.

If you get hung up on teachings about "false churches" you will forget all about Jesus Christ. That is what the local churches of Witness Lee have done. They only "care for the Body", and "for the ministry".

Jesus taught us to have mercy on others, then the Father will have mercy on us. If you are surrounded by "false churches" go and show them mercy. It will be an opportunity for God to be merciful to you. If you judge them God will judge you.

James 2:13 "For he will be judged without mercy, he who shows no mercy to others. Mercy triumphs over judgment." All those "false churches" give you an opportunity to show mercy, not to judge.
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Old 11-09-2013, 01:57 PM   #3
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When I`ve read the New Testament several times I actually started seeing the false practices and teaching and the fact that the practice of churches described in the New Testament greatly differs from modern denominational churches.
The practices and teachings in the NT are for us to love one another, and forgive one another. The rest is not so important. Don't get lost in the details.

At its core our faith is simple: Repent, believe into Jesus Christ, love your neighbor. The rest is not so important. Watchman Nee's "Normal Church" became very abnormal. Believe me; I was there. No love. Just a zeal for the program. For "the church". No more love for your neighbor.
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Old 11-09-2013, 02:13 PM   #4
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I cannot agree with you, dear brother. The biggest part of the NT is letters to different churches. It is strange that in these letters it is rarely mentioned about preaching Christ to others. These letter mostly talk about church life, growing in Christ, expressing Christ and of course it will also naturally lead to the salvation of unbeliever who will see this expression of church. Many churches make mistake when they only focus on spreading the gospel to unbeliever but forget that they must grow and become mature in Christ as a church and express Him. When someone is saved it is only the first step (though the most important) in his/her life, but there are more things to follow. Unfortunately most of the believers are very willing to remain in this state of childhood and immaturity for the rest of their lives. I pray not to end up like that and not to waste all of my lifetime which could be used by Christ to express Himself through me.
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Old 11-09-2013, 02:21 PM   #5
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I cannot agree with you, dear brother. .
I am not saying you are wrong. I am only sharing my opinion, and my experience. Once I was also looking for the "perfect church environment", but it took me 20 years to realize that God gives us imperfection to see what will we do with it. Will we reject our imperfect brother? Or forgive him/her? Will we "bear with one another in love" or go looking for "better building material" to build up the Body of Christ?
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Old 11-09-2013, 02:45 PM   #6
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Default Re: Concerns about the Local Churches

“The biggest part of the NT is letters to different churches”.

The danger here is to oversimplify. First, look at chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation. This is one of the ‘proof texts’ that the local churches used when I was there. ‘To the church in Smyrna’, ‘to the church in Pergamos’ etc. Right? It doesn’t say to the “Baptist Church in Smyrna” or to “the Presbyterian Church in Laodicea”. Right?

But if you look at it more carefully it says “To the angel of the church in Ephesus”. Eventually, after many years, I realized that these people don’t want you to look at the Word of God. They want you to look at what they say about the Word of God, not the Word itself. They call it “the interpreted Word.” They don’t trust you to read it for yourself. You might see something they don't want you to see.

So be careful with Watchman Nee. He didn’t give you the Word, but rather his interpretation, his reading of the Word. Big difference.
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Old 11-09-2013, 03:40 PM   #7
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look at chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation.

if you look at it more carefully it says “To the angel of the church in Ephesus”. Eventually, after many years, I realized that these people don’t want you to look at the Word of God. They want you to look at what they say about the Word of God, not the Word itself.
I showed a local church brother this in Revelations 2 and 3 one time and he said, “We don’t care for angels here. Angels are just messengers”. So I showed him the part where it said, “I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to the churches” in Revelation 22:16. He wasn’t impressed, and then he said I was confused and trying to distract people.

Now, I’m not interested in angels of themselves, but I just use it to show a point, that there is a LOT more in the Bible than Watchman Nee would have you realize. Watchman Nee didn’t know the Bible that well. Neither do I, but I am not trying to start my own church either.

Remember that Jesus hung around with drunkards and sinners. He had a big problem with religious know-it-alls. I am not saying to go out and sin, but what I am saying is, do not think that you see something when you are still blind. Then, your blindness will remain. (John 9:41).

Again, all this is just the opinion from someone who has ‘been there, done that’. I am sure that other people have different views than mine; that is okay, too. I don't have to be 'right' here.
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Old 11-09-2013, 03:48 PM   #8
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Default Re: Concerns about the Local Churches

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First of all a little a bit about myself. I was raised in an atheistic family, however, 6 years ago our Lord saved me.
Hello esostaks,
I am very happy you went into the LIGHT - Jesus Christ, Lord of all -! We all are and the angels above rejoiced at your salvation as well. You also are very blessed to have angels encamped about you, guarding you, protecting you, watching over you so you won't hit your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11) I think the hitting your foot against a stone must be spiritual because I have stubbed my toe more than once! However, there is no doubt the angels assigned to me have done a marvelous job of protecting me !!

So do not ever get discouraged in your faith and be forever thankful for your salvation!

I echo Aron's words:
Jesus Christ is real and true and shows us the way to the Father God in heaven. He is FAITHFUL and will never abandon us, forsake us or leave us in distress.

I echo what he said to you regarding Revelation 1:

Quote:
4 "John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from Him Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, and from the seven spirits before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ,Who is the Faithful Witness, the Firstborn from the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him Who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His Blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God (our God too) and Father--to Him be Glory and Power for ever and ever! Amen"
I also share Aron's voice:
"Our job is to witness(testify) concerning Jesus Christ. We testify concerning Jesus, not concerning the "true" church."

If you read the account of the 7 churches in Revelation, you will realize we are living in the Laodacian church age. Most believers whether in the LC or in a "church" organization are luke warm. Few are reading their bibles through and through. Confusion is rampant and has produced deep division in the body of Christ.

Take what the Spirit of God has shown you and be a light in the darkness. The Word is a lamp unto our feet. The young, hungry believers need you to feed them the Word of Truth, the Word of Love, the Word of Wisdom. Remember you are a king and priest unto the Most High God! You are an ambassador of Christ!


Quote:
Even during my first months as a christian when I didn`t know the Scriptures I felt that there was something wrong about the denominational churches and christianity as a whole.
That is because we are ALL looking for that city with foundations whose BUILDER and MAKER is GOD! (Hebrew 11:10)


Quote:
Even though the local churches represent them as something non-organizational I still see that they are extremely organized and act in the same way as any other christian denomination.
They have lost their first love. They will not admit to it but it is true. You are seeing and tasting the fruit of their spirit. The Anointing and Presence, the LOVE of God is no longer there.

I just read through 1 & 2 Samuel as well as 1 & 2 kings. The same thing those Israelites did is being repeated today. So many of those kings loved the True God but could not shake off the pagan gods. They worshipped both the True GOD and the pagan gods as well. What happened then is happening today. God was very displeased with them. What is sadder still is many believers today who have the Spirit of Jesus Christ living in them are holding on to their pagan gods. Back then they had the law not the Spirit except for the prophets.

Nee and Lee have become the LC's pagan gods. You have already witnessed this by your observation and comments:
Quote:
They also stick to their leaders - Watchmen and Witness very strongly almost idolizing them and putting them in front of Christ.

Quote:
Another thing is that I find works of Watchmen Nee very encouraging and believe that these teachings were revealed to him by God. They really help me grow spiritually. When I read books of Witness Lee something is simply not right. I wouldn`t say that they contradict Bible but they are rather outside the Bible. For example, he uses terms like "element of God", "distributing Christ" which are never used in the Scripture. He made an entire teaching on the expression "economy of God" which is mentioned in the Scripture only once.
You are quite the observant one. The Holy Spirit is helping you pay close attention to these things. The 'Economy of God' is one of the 'glue' of Lee's churches. "Nobody has seen the economy of God" but Lee. Hello? It is in the bible for crying out loud!! I have heard many bible teachers speak of God's economy. Sadly Lee twisted that phrase to reel his flock in.

[/Quote]Sometimes I even have a feeling that God really started to awaken His church by Watchman Nee and than satan planted his seed in the form of Witness Lee so the church again becomes nothing more then a formal organization and denomination.[Quote]

It is hard to tell. His works did open my eyes of the division caused by church labels, that is to say denominations and non denominational organizations. I personally was never a big fan of Lee. I left about the time I noticed the LC began idolizing him, began speaking of him more and more in the meetings than of the WORD -JESUS-.

Quote:
When I first spoke to the brothers and they were asking about my life the first question they asked is how did I learned about teaching of Watchmen and Witness and how did I found them (local churches). Shouldn`t it be asked how I repented and how Lord saved me?
Horror of horrors ! I was not aware they were asking this (but I am not surprised). When I was in the LC, we were encouraged to share with believers and non believers how we met Christ Jesus. We also would ask believers how they met Christ Jesus to help them talk openly about their Saviour, our Saviour.

Quote:
I am really confused about all of this so I hoped someone here could explain it all and shed some light on my doubts. My purpose wasn`t to offend anyone. I am simply trying to understand God`s view on local churches and understand whether I should meet with brothers there or should I continue to walk on my own during these difficult times because I have not been meeting believers on a regular basis for about 4 years.
Dear friend in Christ,
We are living in the last days. Hooray Hooray!! Do not let your heart be troubled. Pray without ceasing pray..Glorify, Praise, Worship our King and Lord Jesus with a big heart of Thanksgiving. Continue to draw near and dear to Him. Get to know Him more intimately. Get to Know the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit by addressing the Names of God when you pray and study.

God is Faithful. He will bring you friends in Christ to encourage you and uplift you. But know too you are the one GOD desires to use in these last days to bring people to Christ and to disciple them in His Word. May the Holy Spirit of Almighty God comfort and anoint you with the Oil of Peace, Joy, Gladness, Wisdom, Revelation, Love, Compassion, Strength, Goodness, Health and prosperity as we await for Christ Who IS, Who Was and IS Coming again very, very soon! Praise the Holy Name of Jesus.

Shalom in Yeshuah Hameshiah (Peace in Jesus the Messiah)

Carol G
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Old 11-09-2013, 04:22 PM   #9
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I showed a local church brother this in Revelation 2 and 3 one time and he said, “We don’t care for angels here. Angels are just messengers”. So I showed him the part where it said, “I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to the churches” in Revelation 22:16. He wasn’t impressed, and then he said I was confused and trying to distract people.
HORROR of Horrors Aron !! I just shared with esostaks Psalm 91. (Which by the way, I read every day for the past 7 days, 7 x a day!!) It is personal why I made this vow to God last week but I did.

That they are JUST messengers??? NO! They are messengers but they are also ministering spirits that GOD has assigned to watch over us!!

Quote:
All the angels are not ministering spirits who serve God and are sent to help for them who are heirs of Salvation? (Hebrews:1:14)
Hey I am very thankful for my angels and I have even asked the LORD to bless them as early as yesterday for doing a great job of watching over me and protecting me! Now who does that ??? I may be an oddball but I really have a great appreciation for my angels and not ashamed or embarased to let it be known! They have saved my life many a time. Yes I know Jesus Christ and His Spirit truly saved me from being in car accidents or being mugged but God tells us they are assigned to us in Psalm 91. Oh...never mind...Lee didn't care for the Psalms did he? And neither do the LCrs. Just to be clear, nevertheless. I do not worship them nor do I think of them every day!

I bet you a nickle. hee-hee if LEE would have emphasized to be grateful for our angels, the LC would CARE!

Quote:
Now, I’m not interested in angels of themselves
Well I am. I am looking forward to meeting my angels one day and thanking them personally for taking good care of me. Of course, I am more excited to meet my Creator face to FACE bowing down, kissing His Feet declaring Him my Lord of lords and King of kings with a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving!!!! May I be counted worthy to rule and reign with our Lord & King Jesus !!

From the Expanded Translation--Psalm 91:11-12
He has put his angels in charge of [ commanded his angels/messengers concerning] you
to watch over [keep; guard] you wherever you go [ all your ways].
12 They will catch you [lift you up] in their hands
so that you will not hit your foot on a rock [Matt. 4:6; Luke 4:10–11]
.

Now aren't those comforting Scriptures? If God did not want us to take an interest in them, He would not have assigned us to us or would have TOLD us He has assigned angels to protect us !!!


And on that note...loved your responses to our friend in Christ, esostaks.

Blessings,
Carol G
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Old 11-09-2013, 04:35 PM   #10
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I don`t know what to say, Aron. I just want to understand the God`s will for our times - to go unbiblical denominations and love the brothers there, to go to local churches or to separate oneself from the modern christian world and walk alone with Lord without any fellowship. It`s just so different to what we see in the Acts and in the rest of the NT that I have literary no idea how to actually practice fellowship or build relationship with other believers in our age. If I would know for sure that our Lord guides me even to the worst church in the world or to the most imperfect believers I would go there but at the moment my conscience simply does not allow to do so.
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Old 11-09-2013, 04:36 PM   #11
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Thank you for many kind and encouraging words, Countmeworthy.
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Old 11-09-2013, 04:58 PM   #12
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The biggest part of the NT is letters to different churches. It is strange that in these letters it is rarely mentioned about preaching Christ to others. These letter mostly talk about church life, growing in Christ, expressing Christ and of course it will also naturally lead to the salvation of unbeliever who will see this expression of church. Many churches make mistake when they only focus on spreading the gospel to unbeliever but forget that they must grow and become mature in Christ as a church and express Him. When someone is saved it is only the first step (though the most important) in his/her life, but there are more things to follow. Unfortunately most of the believers are very willing to remain in this state of childhood and immaturity for the rest of their lives. I pray not to end up like that and not to waste all of my lifetime which could be used by Christ to express Himself through me.
Brother esostaks ( I suspect you are a man right?)

The Lord Jesus told his disciples who became apostles after He ascended to
"Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He commanded (instructed) them; and lo, He would be with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

What I have come to realize in the last several years is that most believers reading the NT came from a 'gentile' background...not a Jewish background!

The apostles especially Paul and Peter had a huge task because they were preaching/teaching the converted Jews as well as the converted gentiles. The converted Jews struggled to shed the old wine skin (the OT LAW) and struggled to follow/abide and walk IN Spirit! (Much like most of us struggle today!)

The converted gentiles on the other hand probably worshiped pagan gods if they worshiped at all. They were not versed in the OT, in the law of Moses. I think that's why the Corinthians struggled with sin so much!

The converted Jews had always worshiped in the Temple or synagogues. They were religious people. Remember Nicodemus ? In fact to my knowledge, all of Christ's disciples were Jews.

If you re-read Hebrews, perhaps the Holy Spirit will show you as He showed me the danger the converted Jews were in. The author (probably Paul) warned them not to go back to the Old Covenant because if they did, they would go back to the animal sacrifices making a mockery of the Blood of Jesus! See. They did not understand the Power of the Blood of Jesus, nor did they know how to walk in Spirit.

So if you ask me, Paul in particular is attempting to teach the converted Jews how to walk by the Spirit, how to live sanctified lives, how to exhort one another. Remember as well, they only had the OT, the TANACH. They were not reading the NT like we do today. They did not have phones, TVs or internet. But they had 2 things that we have today: The Spirit of Life and the Spirit of death. Christ vs Satan. S/spirit vs flesh.

Also very few Jews (Israelites) in the OT spoke to God directly. They went through the prophets to ask God what to do. The converted Jews in Acts experienced an outpouring and anointing of the Holy Spirit that gave them great power and joy. But little by little, they lost that power & joy. Just like so many new believers do. Satan really attacked the church in Acts. By the end of the book, much of the church was in sad shape compared to the beginning of the book. Although the book of Acts has no end like the other books of the bible do.

I hope this helped you some.

Blessings and Shalom,
Carol G
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Old 11-09-2013, 05:02 PM   #13
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About two years ago a very dear brother in Christ accidentally bought a book The Normal Christian Church Life written by brother Watchman Nee. I`ve read it and understood that the modern churches are false in their whole essence because the biblical churches are separated only by their geographical locations and not by teachings/beliefs/practices/nationalities/social factors etc. I was really happy about this so I started to search if there were any local churches in my country. Fortunately there was a church in the city where I was studying at that moment. I attended some meetings, however, the more time a spent with the church and the more I learned about development of local churches the more disappointed I became.
Dear esostaks, you wrote many things, so I will try to address this paragraph on Nee's book TNCCL. This book attempts to document the early church, and thus provide a prescription for the future church. Many Christians in the USA were captured by Nee's teachings during the 1960's, when denominational "fortresses" were so prevalent in the Lord's body. I was with the local churches for 30 years before I saw through their hypocrisy.

The difficulties I now have with TNCCL are twofold: (1) Some of the teaching is bad, and (2) The leaders of the local churches, Nee (~1920-1950) and Lee (~1950-1997,) never practiced what they preached.

Though many teachings in TNCCL are good and scriptural, the Bible only describes "one city / one church," it never prescribes it. This is very important! Reading Revelation chaps. 2-3, it appears like each city was a church, but the Bible only records that it happened, and never that it must happen. In fact a careful examination of some verses (Acts 9.31; Romans 16.5; Col. 4.15) indicates that there probably was more than one church in some cities, and yet they were not considered divisions in the body.

Like wise Nee taught that only the apostles can appoint elders based on Acts 14.23 and Titus 1.5. This is another case where the Bible accurately records events which transpired in the early church, but never teaches it must be practiced. It took years before many of us realized how manipulative this teaching actually is. Both Nee and Lee appointed elders who were favorable to them and their ministry, but cared little for the saints under their care. Apostle Paul, however, prescribes for us men of upright character (see I Timothy and Titus) who were appointed as elders because (a) they were placed by the Holy Spirit and (b) they were approved by the church.

After all, the Bible says repeatedly that the church is the church "of God, of Christ Jesus," and the church "of the saints." No where is the church "of the elders, of the workers," and that is exactly what has transpired under the leadership of both Nee and Lee. Both Nee and Lee have excessively promoted oneness very much like the Catholic church did of old. By wrongly elevating their own manner of oneness, they were able to condemn the entire body of Christ as hopelessly divided. They judged all believers and churches based on wrong standards. This has not pleased the Lord, and that is why He told us, "by what judgment you judge, you will be judged."

Eventually we have learned that both Nee and Lee had numerous issues of misconduct, related to immorality and money, which had to be hidden from all the saints by their hand-picked minions surrounding them. All those who spoke their conscience and stood up for righteousness on behalf of God's children were smeared publicly by these leaders. The history of Nee in China is not as well known as the history of Lee in America, especially since many of us witnessed these events first hand. The forum here is filled with these stories.
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Old 11-09-2013, 05:19 PM   #14
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I don`t know what to say, Aron. I just want to understand the God`s will for our times - to go unbiblical denominations and love the brothers there, to go to local churches or to separate oneself from the modern christian world and walk alone with Lord without any fellowship.
After being indoctrinated with Nee/Lee teachings, we all face this dilemma. I personally no longer consider a denomination to be a church with a "name." All the churches in the Bible have different "names." They are the church, that is all. They are all different. Carefully read Revel. chapters 2-3, and you will see that all seven churches were very different, not only in bad things but also in the good things. They were never as uniform as Lee taught that they were. The Lord Jesus never advised the believers to abandon any of these churches.

I now consider the necessary ingredient for a denomination to be a controlling headquarters, with dominant and abusive leaders. Both Nee and Lee became increasingly oppressive as time went on. They taught that the ministry serves the churches, but in reality the churches only existed for their ministries. They taught that the elders should be shepherds over the flock of God in every church, but in practice they abused God's people and often displaced the real elders, and replaced them with administrators over the churches, loyal only to them. The more I read actual testimonies of former members, the more hypocrisy is exposed in that system.
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Old 11-10-2013, 06:13 PM   #15
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I don`t know what to say, Aron. I just want to understand the God`s will for our times - to go unbiblical denominations and love the brothers there, to go to local churches or to sepa-rate oneself from the modern christian world and walk alone with Lord without any fellow-ship. It`s just so different to what we see in the Acts and in the rest of the NT that I have literary no idea how to actually practice fellowship or build relationship with other believers in our age. If I would know for sure that our Lord guides me even to the worst church in the world or to the most imperfect believers I would go there but at the moment my conscience simply does not allow to do so.

Esostaks,
I once was thinking very similar to you, so I can relate to your dilemma. Actually my thinking, very similar to yours, led me into the “local churches of Witness Lee” for several years, and then I went to an even stricter group, who tried to recreate the first-century church life. I also was not very impressed with Witness Lee and considered him to be an inferior copy of Watchman Nee, whom I admired very much. But I accepted a lot of things in the local church that my conscience was not okay with, because, “it’s the church”. Ironically we were taught to give grace to the “messy local church life” but we had no grace in our hearts for “Christianity”, or “the denominations”. Eventually, as Ohio said, “What you judge with others will be judged against you.”

Let me simply ask two questions, which helped me: First, if the first-century church life was so “normal” then why was the aged apostle John writing to seven churches in Asia and telling five of them to “repent”? Secondly, if things were so bad (“Jezebel’s teaching” [2:20] was there, and the “throne of Satan” [2:13], and so forth) why didn’t John leave and start his own “pure” or “recovered church”? Why did John stay with the degraded saints?

Look at Revelation 1:5,6 “and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a king-dom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”

Jesus freed “us” from our sins by his blood. We are all imperfect, and we are all freed by his blood. Eventually I stopped looking for “proper” people and realized that all these “improper” people were opportunities to minister.
Also, I realized that Watchman Nee didn’t really see that much. Yes, he realized that “the de-nominations were degraded”. But was his model better? Jesus taught that it is very easy to see the splinter in your neighbor’s eye and miss the beam in your own. It is very easy to see the splinter in “Christianity”. Yes, it is degraded. But anyone who thinks they have “laid hold” on this side of the Judgment Seat of Christ is, in my opinion, deluded. By the time Watchman Nee and Witness Lee were old enough to realize their shortcomings they were too busy trying to prop up their empires to do anything about it. Remember in the story of the sinful woman in John 8, it was the older ones who became ashamed first and left (v.9). When I was younger I would agree with all your statements concerning the “unbiblical denominations” and would probably leave (I did, for many years); today I still agree but feel that God loves them as much as he loves you or me.

As I said, showing mercy to others is an opportunity for God to show mercy. And the Bible is much deeper than Watchman Nee realized. But he got caught up in “church building” and never got around to reading the whole thing. He just read the parts that he could use for “church build-ing.” So he ended up with a rather small Bible.

When you are in first grade, the third-graders seem very sophisticated and mature. And it is easy for the third-graders to judge the first graders. Nee was like a third-grader, judging the first-graders. But who wants to stay in third grade forever?

All the above is of course just my opinion, which is biased, and based on my experience, which is limited.
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Old 11-10-2013, 06:58 PM   #16
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Also, I realized that Watchman Nee didn’t really see that much. Yes, he realized that “the de-nominations were degraded”. But was his model better?
I used to think so, until I realized that Nee and Lee simply replaced the speaking of one man in all the churches with the speaking of one man in all the churches. (yes, I said that right.)

Yet Nee, and then Lee, kept "pushing at that 'one-man-speaking' wall until it fell over." And we were taught that there would be an improvement. You just wait, and there will be an improvement. Just keep waiting, and there will be an improvement! Eventually, I got tired of waiting for some "improvement," when all I saw was things (inside the Recovery) deteriorating.
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Old 11-10-2013, 07:02 PM   #17
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When I was younger I would agree with all your statements concerning the “unbiblical denominations” and would probably leave (I did, for many years); today I still agree but feel that God loves them as much as he loves you or me.
Today, the denominations are still losing numbers. Not because Lee condemned them, but because they were not meeting the needs of God's children. So He poured out His Spirit during those turbulent 60's, and seeking Christians found more suitable ways to assemble in His name.
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:57 AM   #18
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I attended several meetings but I really don`t get it and cannot see the practice and life of early churches described in the Bible. When I first spoke to the brothers and they were asking about my life the first question they asked is how did I learned about teaching of Watchmen and Witness and how did I found them (local churches). Shouldn`t it be asked how I repented and how Lord saved me?
What I have placed in bold is an indication what makes a local church a ministry church. The emphasis is on the ministries of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. Whether or not you are there for Christ is secondary to "do you have the vision?"
One can be a brother or sister coming to a Lord's Day meeting to meet in a general way, but if you lack the vision of the ministry, you're not going to fit in. In Western Washington state, community churches are more suitable for Christians seeking to meet in a general way than Local Churches are. So in a sense community churches are local churches, but without a specific ministry affiliation.
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Old 11-11-2013, 05:17 PM   #19
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After being indoctrinated with Nee/Lee teachings, we all face this dilemma. I personally no longer consider a denomination to be a church with a "name." All the churches in the Bible have different "names."
Here is Romans 16(KJV), with some "church names".

"the church which is at Cenchrea" in v.1.

"all the churches of the Gentiles" in v. 4.

"the church that is in their [Priscilla and Aquila's] house" in v. 5.

"them which are of Aristobulus' household" in v. 10.

"them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord" in v. 11.

"Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine" in 13.

"Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them" in 14.

"Philologus, and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints which are with them" in 15.

"churches of Christ" in v. 16.

Finally, "the whole church" in v. 23.

You have all these assemblages, all these groupings. All these are characterized to differentiate them, via Paul's use of names and descriptions. This is no different, to me, than the local churches saying "Meeting Hall 3" or "the Tuesday night prayer meeting at Sister Smith's house", or "the Saturday night college meeting". You have to give some details and describe what assembly you are referring to. This usually involves some place names, or even "gasp" the names of some of the people! Or even the names of ethnic groups! Horrors! Paul! How could you! "The churches of the Gentiles?!?!" No, Paul! No!

All this, to me, is easily explained by simply looking at the common useage of the word 'ekklesia'. It was already extant in the Greek OT (Septuagint) for several hundred years before Christ. See for example Psalm 22:22. How could the Psalmist write of the 'church'?!? Because the word didn't carry the same meaning that does today. So we shouldn't put our cultural baggage on the text and force it to mean what we think it should mean. Watchman Nee did this, and founded a whole movement based on this (mis)understanding.

For typical usage, look at Acts 17. "And with these words, he (the magistrate) dismissed the 'ekklesia' (v. 41)". We traditionally translate the Greek word here, not as 'church', but 'assembly', because of the context. But that is what the word meant back then. It meant assembly. You could and did have multiple assemblies, or groupings, existing simultaneously, without people worrying about "divisions", because it was not the same thing as it typically means to us today.

A division is a matter of the heart, and in this regard the local churches are as guilty as anyone, and perhaps moreso, because their whole existence is arguably based on on being critical of and separated from other Christians; and this on poorly thought out premises, to boot.
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Old 11-11-2013, 05:35 PM   #20
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And we were taught that there would be an improvement. You just wait, and there will be an improvement. Just keep waiting, and there will be an improvement! Eventually, I got tired of waiting for some "improvement," when all I saw was things (inside the Recovery) deteriorating.
This reminds me of nothing as much as the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt 18:21-35). When he owed, he pleaded for patience, and tolerance. But when others' owed, he was indignant and demanded "immediate judgment".

When we looked at the "messy kitchen" of the "local church life" W. Lee wanted us all to be indulgent, and magnanimous, steadfast and forbearing. It doesn't matter how many failures had previously occurred -- just be compliant with his latest vision, and latest "move", and surely the "final revival" would break out and usher us all into the Lord's return!

Yet "Christianity" got not one shred of compassion, understanding, nor patience, nor any "bearing with one another in love". Then, it was just "poor", "pathetic", "fallen", "failed" and so forth. The most important thing I probably learned from W. Lee has been to never trust someone whose entire ministry is based on condemnation of every other ministry. And believe me, WL was not the only one like this: I have seen others like this, over the years. All they want to do is tell you how "degraded" everyone and everything else is. If you have any discernment, that should be your first cue to stay away.
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Old 11-11-2013, 06:31 PM   #21
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A division is a matter of the heart...
Well said. By calling yourself "The church in..." does not automatically mean you are on the "ground of oneness." How you receive other Christians into your group is what determines whether you are on the ground of oneness.
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Old 11-12-2013, 05:29 AM   #22
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By calling yourself "The church in..." does not automatically mean you are on the "ground of oneness."
And by calling yourself "the church that meets in So-and-so's house" (Rom 16:5) it doesn't mean you are creating a division, or that So-and-so is "drawing others away" after themselves. It just means that you are meeting in So-and-so's house.

As Ohio said, these accounts are descriptions of events that happened in time. They are not supposed to be prescriptions, slavishly followed even to the point of absurdity. If we use the "letter of Paul" to quench the "Spirit of Jesus" we may say that we are following the Bible, but what have we really accomplished?
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Old 11-12-2013, 06:01 AM   #23
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I am looking forward to meeting my angels one day and thanking them personally for taking good care of me. Of course, I am more excited to meet my Creator face to FACE bowing down, kissing His Feet declaring Him my Lord of lords and King of kings with a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving!!!! May I be counted worthy to rule and reign with our Lord & King Jesus !!

From the Expanded Translation--Psalm 91:11-12
He has put his angels in charge of [ commanded his angels/messengers concerning] you
to watch over [keep; guard] you wherever you go [ all your ways].
12 They will catch you [lift you up] in their hands
so that you will not hit your foot on a rock [Matt. 4:6; Luke 4:10–11]
.

Now aren't those comforting Scriptures? If God did not want us to take an interest in them, He would not have assigned us to us or would have TOLD us He has assigned angels to protect us !!!
The discussion on this thread was on "the normal Christian Church life" as expounded by W. Nee, and contrasted to "the denominations" we see around us. Esostaks is bothered by the discrepancy between the NT and what he/she sees around him/her.

My point in saying that I wasn't interested in angels, in and of themselves, was because I was trying not to divert the topic. But I was raising it because I wanted to illustrate that WN and WL only saw in the Bible what the wanted to see, and ignored the rest. Like Peter and John, they ran to they "empty tomb" and were satisfied. Others, like you and I, are not. So what follows are some questions I got from the Bible, which I don't recall ever being raised. I suspect they might have made "God's New Testament Economy" a little shaky so they were ignored.

If Hagar said to the angel in Genesis 6, "You are the God who sees me", why did she refer to the angel as "God"? I suspect maybe this angel is one of the "eyes of the LORD, running to and fro throughout the earth" (2 Chron 16:9, Zech 4:10, Rev. 5:6). God has many eyes moving about; we see nothing, really, but God sees everything.

And why did Jesus tell Nathaniel that he would see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man? Why not the Holy Spirit, ascending and descending? And who were the "soldiers" referenced by the Roman Centurion in Matthew 8? Clearly the centurion, under Caesar, was "under authority" and his word equated to that of Caesar. "Go" and "Come" and "Do this" were taken by the soldiers under him to be as if Caesar himself had spoken. So if you met an "obedient soldier" under the centurion's command you were, in effect, meeting Caesar's will, expressed.

And why are the seven spirits before the throne in Revelation 1, not on the throne? Why did Steven say in Acts 7 that "the angel of the LORD" (v.30) spoke to Moses as "the voice of the LORD" (v.31) and as "the God of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob"?

Maybe the simple answer is something like "And he answered and spoke unto me, saying, This is the word of Jehovah unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts." Zechariah 4:6 (Darby). "by my Spirit (singular), saith Jehovah of hosts (plural)." How much simpler can you get? You simultaneously get Paul's "one Spirit" in Ephesians 4:4, and you simultaneously get "many spirits" encountered everywhere else. You get one Spirit expressed multifariously.

We are supposed to be led by the Spirit of God. And I fear that esostaks is in danger of being led by his concepts, thoughts, and considerations, and unduly influenced by Watchman Nee's considerations. Then esostaks won't follow the Spirit because he will be in WN's conceptual cage. Look how many people fell into this cage! "Storm" after "rebellion" after "turmoil" and they still stay in the cage, because their minds are imprisoned there. The only leading they can hear is "Do whatever brother X says". If that is your idea of being led by the Spirit you have rocks in your brain. Sorry, but there is no polite way to put it. You have been deluded.

esostaks remember how your journey began. Stay on the narrow path.
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Old 11-12-2013, 06:50 AM   #24
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My point in saying that I wasn't interested in angels, in and of themselves, was because I was trying not to divert the topic. But I was raising it because I wanted to illustrate that WN and WL only saw in the Bible what the wanted to see, and ignored the rest.
I have no problem with Bible teachers focusing on certain topics to the exclusion of others, but then don't tell us we "got it all," that there is nothing else "out there" of any value, that we are just "wasting our time" reading anything apart from "the ministry," and then chastise saints and elders for digging around the Bible for something fresh and new from the Lord, that's not in the latest HWforMR.
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Old 11-12-2013, 09:18 AM   #25
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don't tell us ... that we are just "wasting our time" reading anything apart from "the ministry," and then chastise saints and elders for digging around the Bible for something fresh and new from the Lord, that's not in the latest HWforMR.
Where in the "new testament model of the local church" do you see, either prescribed, described, or even hinted at, the "one publication" (i.e. "nobody publishes but me") idea? Where it comes from, I argue, is that it is necessary to prop up "the ministry" of "the recovery" of the supposed "new testament model of the church". So by its fruits the thing is certainly known as something not of the new testament model.

The new testament model is to love your neighbor as yourself. Not "get married for Christ and the church". The new testament model is to follow the Spirit, not "whatever Brother X says is right". The new testament model is "all scripture is God-breathed and profitable", not "James and Peter and Job and Psalms (etc) are too natural, and written according to fallen man's concepts".

So WN may have shown us a few splinters in "Christianity", but I daresay we missed a few beams in our own, by needing to validate this "model" by invalidating everyone elses' experience.

We might never know if WN raped any sisters in the church in Shanghai. But he certainly set up an authoritarian system that allowed the rape of sisters in Anaheim by Philip Lee, and which allowed the Daystar fiasco, and which allowed Jane Anderson to be railroaded, and which allowed awareness to be bullied by MP in Florida and Ohio to be bullied by TC's underlings.

Many of us were drawn into this model, and kept there for years, even when it gave us nasty fruit. And some of us, like me, left it and went into other "restoration" groups even more zealous than the local churches!

I guess it's all just part of the journey. God is to be praised, as always. I am certainly glad for my time in the local churches of Nee and Lee. I met many wonderful people and was helped a lot. But today, looking back, WN's model church is not something I can support. It doesn't stand up to scripture, nor to logic, nor to the test of history (i.e. its 'fruit'), nor will you find the leading of the Holy Spirit. In an 'authoritarian church' you will only find some human authority pretending to be God.
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Old 11-12-2013, 03:11 PM   #26
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I am simply trying to understand God`s view on local churches and understand whether I should meet with brothers there or should I continue to walk on my own during these difficult times because I have not been meeting believers on a regular basis for about 4 years.
I have tried to answer this person's questions a few times and keep feeling that I am missing the point, somehow. But I wanted to keep trying because it is so much like my experience many years ago when I first began to try to orient myself towards God by believing into Jesus Christ the Lord.

The next question was after believing was "now what"? and the answer was "church" and the question that followed was "what church"? and very soon I found myself in esostaks' very dilemma.

So let me start from the conclusion of the quote... I also have been "walking on my own" and "not meeting believers on a regular basis" for quite a few years now. But I don't feel alone. The Word, I feel, is opening up before me like some marvelous shining flower, more incredible than anything I could have imagined or dreamed. The center of the revelation is Jesus Christ. As you can see in my comments in the thread "The Psalms are the Word of Christ", Paul used this phrase twice and it pointed me toward the revelation of Jesus Christ in the OT text. Also Hebrews (see e.g. chapter 2) does the same thing. And Peter's speech in Acts 2 also explains how he could "see Jesus" the OT text. Everything good and real and true was pointing towards Jesus the Christ.

When you begin to "see" Jesus Christ in the text it literally transforms you. Now, as Paul wrote, the Word of Christ begins to dwell in you richly (Col 3:16). Witness Lee's footnotes said that the prayers of the Psalms were low, and Paul's prayers in Ephesians were high. But Paul in Ephesians (see ch. 5) pointed his readers back to the Psalms!

Did Jesus pray Paul's "high prayers" from the Epistle to the Ephesians or did Jesus pray the "low" prayers of Psalms? I believe that Paul saw Jesus inhabit the Word and express the Word and even become the Word made flesh tabernacling before us all, and in this Paul marveled greatly and praised God in his epistles.

So I guess my first point is that the Word points us to Jesus Christ, and second is that Jesus Christ told us the Spirit would lead us to all the reality of the Father's house. Not Watchman Nee, or Paul, or Witness Lee, but the Spirit of Jesus. So if you abide in the text a marvelous thing will happen. The Spirit will come. I cannot explain it: I just can tell you that the Spirit will come. And you will begin to see the Father's house emerge before you.

And you will not be "walking on your own" because the Spirit will be your constant guide. Will you obey? Will you abide? I cannot say, but the Spirit will nonetheless guide. Believe me, the Spirit is capable of overcoming our failures!

The third and final point is that all this is not for your amusement or "enjoyment", but so that God can use you. You will meet a non-believing person, looking for reality. You will meet a new believer needing help. You will meet an ancient and feeble believer, needing confirmation and support. You will meet someone who is lost and needs to hear the Name of Jesus. You will meet the hungry, the sick, the poor, the despised. And as you despair in your helplessness the Spirit will come in a rush of power to help you; the same power that raised Jesus from the dead will flow through you to the 'dead' ones around you. Then you will be serving God.

This, my friend, is the "new testament church life". It will fulfill and satisfy you beyond your dreams. It is right there in front of you. You already have it. If you keep looking for "the right church" you will be in for a long and disappointing search. One day, many years after leaving Lee's local church, I stopped seeking something new and better and different and began to seek God in the Word. At that point everything began to change.

Have I done a good job of it? Probably not. But I stopped looking for "Mr. Right". Mr Right is already here. His name is Jesus. He is clearly portrayed before us in the Word, not only in the NT but 'especially' in the OT. In fact, the entire NT could be seen as a brief outline telling you how to find the Christ in the OT!

His Spirit is here. The hungry poor ones are all around us. The fields are white for harvest. He told us, "Blessed is the one who is feeding others when the Master returns." (Matt 24:46, Luke 12:43).

The "proper church life" is right in front of us. It has been there all along. We just didn't know what we were looking for, and were easily misled.

And occasionally on Sunday morning I "go to church". But I don't go to despise, or judge, or be superior. I am just another loser on the "Jesus bus". So I go the same as everywhere else - I go to try and take care of 'my neighbor'; to try and feed and shepherd (see John chapter 21: Jesus speaking to Peter). There really is nothing else. Love God with all your heart and soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. And some of your neighbors go to church.
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Old 11-12-2013, 06:51 PM   #27
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And by calling yourself "the church that meets in So-and-so's house" (Rom 16:5) it doesn't mean you are creating a division, or that So-and-so is "drawing others away" after themselves. It just means that you are meeting in So-and-so's house.

As Ohio said, these accounts are descriptions of events that happened in time. They are not supposed to be prescriptions, slavishly followed even to the point of absurdity. If we use the "letter of Paul" to quench the "Spirit of Jesus" we may say that we are following the Bible, but what have we really accomplished?

I am reading "The Four Blood Moons" by John Hagee. (Great read btw!) I had to ponder [& chuckle (due to our experience with the LC) when he wrote the following:

Don't ever forget: Jesus was murdered by the pride of the self-righteous religious leaders of the recognized church in Jerusalem.

Does that not fit the LSM under Nee but especially Lee's leadership? Our Precious King Jesus was kicked out by the self-righteous religious leaders of the recognized church in Anaheim (primarily).

_Lord Jesus. You are still and always will be our Glorious King, Saviour, our Fortress, our High Tower, our Strength, the Love of our lives, our Wonderful Counselor, GOD and Father of Truth Whose Spirit leads us and guides us in the path of Righteousness in perfect Love and Peace._ Amen.

Blessings all,
Carol G
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:16 PM   #28
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I have tried to answer this person's questions a few times and keep feeling that I am missing the point, somehow. But I wanted to keep trying because it is so much like my experience many years ago when I first began to try to orient myself towards God by believing into Jesus Christ the Lord.

The next question was after believing was "now what"? and the answer was "church" and the question that followed was "what church"? and very soon I found myself in esostaks' very dilemma.
Don't beat yourself up Aron. We have all missed a point here and there. I think we can all relate to esostaks experience.

And like you as well as so many others here and there the question "now what"? haunts us. How do we meet, congregate or fellowship? Who understands us ? Our church meetings/fellowship were/are not the norm (in more ways than one! That's for sure!)

I have 'walked alone with Christ' and have tried to be involved in an organized church fellowship. Most believers simply have no problem with saying they 'go to church' or not. Not us! We never went to church! We went to meetings! We didn't have 'pastors', we had 'elders' but not like the elders of the LDS Mormon church.

We spoke differently, prayed differently and sang differently. Our church meetings were not like any church services.

The church community does not understand our dilemma. And for our part, we have a very difficult time overall fitting in with the 'church going' gang.

But wallowing in our 'sorrows' is not going to make us the disciples, the ambassadors, the kings & priests we are to be to the lost world.

So while I too on occasion go 'to church' and was 'involved' in a church for a few years, I am very much at peace with God. I pray a lot, read and study, fellowship with whoever the Lord puts me with, share the Word with whoever is hungry and thirsty for the Living Word-Jesus. The Truth.


I am often reminded Jesus commanded us to disciple the nations. Paul, Peter, John encouraged us to stay focused on Christ and instructed us to fellowship with each other and to Walk, Conduct ourselves with Wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with Grace, (we are told) as though seasoned with salt, so that we will know how we should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:5-7)

In Hebrews 10:25, we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together especially but to exhort one another: and so much the more, as we see the day approaching.

This does not mean we must go 'to church' as most people think it to be. We are not babes in Christ any more. It is up to us by the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit to lead people to Christ, teach them the fundamentals of the Word, disciple them so they too can be confident in Christ to lead people to Him, to teach them the Word of God and disciple them for the Kingdom to the Glory and Praise of our Great God.

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When you begin to "see" Jesus Christ in the text it literally transforms you. Now, as Paul wrote, the Word of Christ begins to dwell in you richly (Col 3:16).
Absolutely He does!


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Witness Lee's footnotes said that the prayers of the Psalms were low, and Paul's prayers in Ephesians were high. But Paul in Ephesians (see ch. 5) pointed his readers back to the Psalms!
I sure hope he repented for those words before he breathed his last breath! The Psalms are part of the entire Inspired Word of God. We are not to belittle it !

Blessings and Peace as we await for Messiah Jesus to come Quickly for us,
Carol g
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Old 11-13-2013, 04:12 AM   #29
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Well said. By calling yourself "The church in..." does not automatically mean you are on the "ground of oneness." How you receive other Christians into your group is what determines whether you are on the ground of oneness.
This ground of oneness is a creation to separate Christians into those who are one (with those who are on the same page with them) and those who are not.

And the evidence of the ground of oneness is simply to declare yourself to be according to a secular/political boundary and declare that everyone else is not.

Tremendous evidence of unity!
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Old 11-13-2013, 09:17 AM   #30
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...the evidence of the ground of oneness is simply to declare yourself to be according to a secular/political boundary and declare that everyone else is not.
I have been very interested in the idea of multiplicity and/or unity in scriptures, and its ability to inform our discussion.

In the aspect of "Spirit", we have the "one Spirit" of Ephesians 4:4 and we have multiplicity of spirits pretty much everywhere else. We have the "spirits of just men made perfect" in Hebrews 12, we have "angels as ministering spirits" in Hebrews 1, etc. We even have 7 spirits before the throne in Revelation 1.

Perhaps nowhere is this dichotomy more evident to me than in Zechariah 4:6. "By my Spirit" (singular), says Jehovah of hosts (plural).

So I would like to mention a parable that has informed me somewhat, and relate it to OBW's comment above, and perhaps place "the problem of the church" in a more spiritual context. The parable was related by the Roman Centurion to Jesus in Matthew 8. My point is this: the centurion had a "host" of soldiers under him, but as an emissary of Caesar the centurion infused them with unity of purpose. If you met a soldier who had been told by the centurion "Do this" (v.9) you would actually see "the will of Caesar expressed". Whatever the soldier is doing is actually "one" with Caesar, via the intermediary order of the centurion. Thus, even though you see multiplicity (many soldiers) you see unity (one purpose).

Now, contrast that with the bedlam of God's enemy. When Jesus asked the Gadarene wild man, "Who are you", the answer was, "We are many". Absent the unity of God's will expressed and carried out, you have confusion and turmoil. You don't have "one", you have "many", you have "Babylon".

Now, on to OBW's remark. The church does have a defining feature of unity, and this, I would posit, is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We all realize that: a) there is a God; b) we were cut off from God by our sin; and c) we have access back to God through our faith in the Lord Jesus. This is the "one Spirit" that transfuses the many.

Now, what "political/secular boundary" allegiance, using OBW's words, furthers this notion? None, I say; it merely brings in confusion. This is akin to the Babylonian notion of forcing allegiance to some man-made construct. The external, force "unity constraints" reveal that the source is not "one", but actually "many".

The confirmation of a Babylonian source arrives with subsequent edicts propping up this "boundary allegiance" (see e.g. in Daniel 3/Revelation 13). "One publication" comes to mind, along with "one apostle" and so forth. All these reinforcing constructs get further and further away from the one Spirit of Jesus Christ, but they are needed to keep the whole structure from collapsing under its own weight.
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Old 11-13-2013, 02:36 PM   #31
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A couple of points regarding my previous post, #30.

"If you met a soldier who had been told by the centurion "Do this" (v.9) you would actually see "the will of Caesar expressed". Whatever the soldier is doing is actually "one" with Caesar, via the intermediary order of the centurion. Thus, even though you see multiplicity (many soldiers) you see unity (one purpose)."

The soldiers' service under the authority of the centurion, who is himself under Caesar's authority, relates to something written on this thread previously, about Hagar and the angel of God. Hagar told the angel, "You are the God who sees me", because God, through the mediatorial agency of the obedient, holy angel, was both listening to her cries (Gen 21:17), and had seen her (16:13), and spoken to her (v.10).

And this echoes Gamaliel's point in Acts 5:39: if what someone is doing is "of God", then if you oppose them you oppose God. So God's will expressed through someone is, for all intents and purposes, God.

But, the soldier is still a Roman soldier; he is neither the centurion nor Caesar. The soldier is "one" with Caesar through obedience to the centurion's order, but he is not "becoming Caesar". Like the angel who spoke for Christ (Rev. 22:16) had also told the apostle John not to worship him (v.9). The angel clearly told John, "Worship God". So even though the messenger-delivering agent (the angel) is so clearly identified with the message that it is actually the sender (in this case God) who speaks through them, the agents still are not to be confused with the original sender.

This puts a whole new level, to me, to the word "transparency". And it certainly brings the idea of "oneness" to a remarkable pitch. And yet, even more remarkably, there is no confusion about "who is who." God is still God on the throne, and the agent is still a servant, a ministering spirit. Really quite incredible.

All the above is an attempt to support OBW's critique of choosing social/political boundaries as supposed vehicles of church unity. When you look at God's kingdom you realize there levels of unity which we can barely fathom, much less approach. Let's not create organizational constructs with which we fool ourselves into thinking that we have created the divine counterpart. Just love God, love your neighbor, and let the Spirit of Jesus do the heavy lifting. He is the one who promised to build his 'ekklesia' (Matt. 16:17).
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Old 11-13-2013, 04:07 PM   #32
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Just love God, love your neighbor, and let the Spirit of Jesus do the heavy lifting. He is the one who promised to build his 'ekklesia' (Matt. 16:17).
Bro Aron, ya took the long way around, but finally got there. I enjoyed yer hermeneutics on Hagar and the centurion.
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Old 11-14-2013, 05:54 AM   #33
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Bro Aron, ya took the long way around, but finally got there. I enjoyed yer hermeneutics on Hagar and the centurion.
Bro awareness, sometimes it seems like we all take the long way home. I don't know why. Maybe we like the scenery.

I'm glad you enjoyed my ruminations. As always, I am just "thinking aloud" and not trying to impose some "truth".

It was kind of stunning to consider the "eyes of the Lord" running to and fro all over the earth, and to sense the possible connection to "the angels ascending and descending" in John chapter 1. Look what happened when Jesus told the Roman centurion's messengers that the servant was healed: they went back and found that he'd recovered at the very moment Jesus spoke.

Psalm 147:15 says "He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly." I guess the psalmist knew what he was talking about; God's word does, indeed, run swiftly.

And as I realized that, as Jesus said, "Every hair on your head is numbered", and "Not a sparrow falls from the sky but the Father knows it", I was kinda like, wow. So that loser, that nobody, that "bum" sitting there by the bus stop, looking all scraggly and discontented: God loves him; God is watching him. And "the eyes of God" are watching me, as I walk past the guy. Do I curl my lip with disdain? Do I congratulate myself for being such a nice fellow, washed and shaved, not like that smelly bum, over there?

It really humbled me, when I began to perceive the invisible realm. I remembered what Jesus said to Peter in Matt 15:16, "Are you also without understanding?" and I realized that the centurion not only had faith, but he had understanding. That is perhaps why Jesus said about him, "Not with anyone in Israel have I seen such faith."

To return to the topic of the thread, esostaks' "the practice of churches described in the New Testament" (see post #1) contrasted with our present experiences, both individual and collective, one thing I've learned, post-local church, is that when someone presumes understanding then it becomes hard to learn anything. And I argue that W. Nee's "normal Christian church life" template, laid onto the Bible, prevented people from seeing further into the scriptural text. If you read Nee's book you might see what he did (which admittedly was not nothing), but by "receiving his vision" uncritically you were prevented from going further into the Bible. His work became like a filter, or a veil. You didn't get "reality", but you got "reality, filtered by WN". Not the same thing.
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Old 11-14-2013, 06:05 AM   #34
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And I argue that W. Nee's "normal Christian church life" template, laid onto the Bible, prevented people from seeing further into the scriptural text. If you read Nee's book you might see what he did (which admittedly was not nothing), but by "receiving his vision" uncritically you were prevented from going further into the Bible.
That's very true. The city-church teaching is case in point. Numerous verses throw darts at his balloon hovering over us, but they all were dismissed. No one dared to openly examine all the scriptures, like the Bereans of old, to "see if these things were true." Instead we were given a license to condemn all outsiders, while smugly considering ourselves "God's faithful testimony in every city."
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Old 11-14-2013, 09:52 AM   #35
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No one dared to openly examine all the scriptures, like the Bereans of old, to "see if these things were true." Instead we ... smugly considered ourselves "God's faithful testimony in every city."
I have met a number of groups whose interpretations precluded examining all the scriptures. They had their select quotes, immediately brandished as proof-texts in any conversation or presentation, while other sections were ignored. So the verse which "proves" their point is emblazoned on the doorpost, a la Deut. 11:20, while other, less helpful verses are simply avoided.

Jesus confronted such "narrow" readings with a "bigger" Bible. "Have you never read in the scriptures?", he once asked (Matt 21:42). Or, "You err, not knowing the scriptures" (Matt 22:29).

It may seem like I am a know-it-all by my quoting scripture, but actually I only recently became aware of my vast ignorance. Much of the Bible, to me, is large "blank" areas. So I tried to stop thinking I had the answers, and lo and behold! the scriptures became interesting again! Now they were no longer convenient proof-texts to prop up whatever doctrines I held, but rather they were places to explore God's revelation. And believe me, I have a lot left to explore. "In my Father's mansion there are many rooms." I may only be about 6 inches inside the door. Who knows?

Like I recently quoted in Psalm 119: "The unfolding of your word gives forth light". How true that is; there's nothing like having God's word unfold in front of you. But in order for it to unfold, the word has to be examined. And to examine it, one must allow one's concepts to be challenged along the way, and grow and transform. As Heb. 11:8 says, "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." To go into the Bible with such an attitude; what a blessing!

Bon voyage, as they say. Enjoy the journey.
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Old 11-15-2013, 09:12 AM   #36
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Related to my recent discussion, and tangenitally related to esostaks' "Concerns about the Local Churches" through my comments on things which didn't get discussed in Nee's idea of a "normal christian church life", once I remarked to a fellow local churcher how an angel led Peter out of jail in Acts 12. "No angel ever led me anywhere", he replied dismissively. Case closed. Lee wasn't interested; neither was he. But I had to wonder, How 'normal', really, was that brother's church life?

I remembered that question recently when reading of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. Verse 26 says, "Now an angel of the Lord told Philip" to go down to a certain road, and when he got there "the Spirit" told him (v. 29) to run up to a certain chariot. I was interested in how "an angel" seamlessly transferred to "the Spirit" in the text. Was this "normal" according to Nee? I don't remember hearing anything on this while in the local churches. "We don't care for that" was the standard response when you asked them about anything in the Bible not explicated by 'the oracle' (which, it seems, was quite a lot).

And I was remembering Philip's Acts 8 experience (stay with me, this is the last textual jump) when reading Revelations 2 and 3. There you have Jesus speaking to the "angel of the church in ....". See for example 2:1, 2:8, etc, etc. Then at the conclusion of each speaking it says to hear "what the Spirit says to the churches"... see 2:7, 2:11, etc etc.

So you have "Jesus" speaking to the "angel" (messenger) of "the church in...", followed immediately in every instance by "the Spirit" speaking to "the churches". So a logical superimposition of the two speakings places "Jesus" speaking to "the angel/spirit" to "the churches". In other words, "the angel" being spoken to in 2:1 and 2:8 is the "mediatiing spirit" speaking to the churches in 2:7 and 2:11. Which makes sense because an angel is a messenger spirit.

But I don't recall Nee discussing this because his focus was on "the church in ....." as showing (to him) the one-church-one-city paradigm, and Lee was probably focused on "God's economy" in some way. So the actual text wasn't of much use to them here.
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