星期日, 2月 27, 2005

神的恩典 - 徐爾建弟兄

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The Testimony of God’s Grace
by Herald Hsu
(Student of Watchman Nee, and co-laborer with the "little flock" in China and spiritually impacted through T. Austin-Sparks)



This Testimony emphasizes “The gospel of God” - concerning His Son - Jesus Christ our LORD. Man was created for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is not only Man’s Savior, but Man’s LORD. The real meaning of Man’s life, or the Truth, the Goodness and the Beauty of Man’s life, is: Having Jesus Christ continue to fill all things, and to live and to manifest Jesus Christ. By the grace of God, I have Jesus Christ and I continue to experience the infilling, living and manifesting of Jesus Christ.

From 1922 to 1954
By grace... born-again of the Holy Spirit


1922 - I (Herald Hsu 徐爾建, one of the descendants of fallen Adam) was born into a family who were members of the Presbyterian church in North China. When I was 6 years old, my father died. At 14 years old, I was born-again by the Holy Spirit and baptized by sprinkling (I did not understand the real meaning of baptism at that time). Now I write down the spiritual realities and facts of the Heavenlies (Greek, Eph.1:3; 2:6, etc.) in Chinese and English.

By grace... disciplined and anointed by the Holy Spirit


Being disciplined by the Holy Spirit requires voluntary obedience and submission to the disciplines of the Holy Spirit. These disciplines include all things that happen in our lives. “All things work together for good - to those who are the called according to His purpose - to be conformed to the image of His Son.” (Rom. 8:28-29). "All things work together" which means the disciplines of the Holy Spirit; being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ as God’s Eternal Purpose.



Being anointed by the Holy Spirit is the result of voluntary obedience to the disciplines of the Holy Spirit. Christ in Greek means “Anointed”. Christian means “Christ one”, i.e. union with Christ, or “in life, in business, in service, manifesting and living out of Christ”. Paul says: “I (i.e. my old Adamic or natural life) have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). This means that my old man was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6); it is no longer I who lives (i.e. because of voluntarily learning obedience through sufferings and denying myself, taking up my cross daily, and following Him), but Christ lives in me (i.e. Christ manifests or lives out through me).



(1) Spiritual milk - Like the Boy Jesus...



1940 - By grace, when in my third year of junior high, I read a lot of gospel booklets by Watchman Nee. They were very interesting. I also learned to sing, to play the organ, to pray, to attend meetings, and do all the things that Christians do. After graduation, I was diagnosed with pleurisy, and spent a year in hospital. My mother prayed for me. I also prayed to God too, saying, “Lord, if you heal me, I am willing to be a preacher.” (I thought that would have to be the worst job around!) Later, the Lord answered my prayer and healed me without the need for doctors to drain fluid from my lungs.



1942 - The Pacific war (between Japan and the USA) was under way. By grace I went to inland China to finish high school. After graduation, I went to Chong-Qing (重慶), Si-chuan (四川), and prepared for the college entrance examination. I planned to become a mechanical engineer so as to advance China’s industry. I had totally forgotten about my promise to become a preacher.



1945 - The Japanese surrendered in the war and I entered Jiao-Tong University (交通大學 known as MIT in China). By God’s grace, a brother in Christ took me to a meeting in Chong-Qing Christian Assembly Hall (重慶基督徒聚會所 where the teaching was influenced by Watchman Nee 倪柝聲). Soon the university moved back to Shanghai and I got an opportunity to attend the meetings of Watchman Nee’s group. By God’s grace I learnt fervent Bible-reading, prayer, fellowship with saints, taking part in church services and leading people to Christ.



1947 - One evening, Watchman Nee, accompanied by Miss Wang Pei-Zhen (汪佩真), came to our school. I had got the impression from a booklet by Watchman Nee’s groups that they thought that spiritual light only came from them. I didn’t believe that, so I asked brother Nee at the first opportunity: “If a servant of the Lord from another Christian group gives us more or higher spiritual light, do we receive it?” Brother Nee thought for a while and then said: “God did not give us all the light. If somebody gives us more light, we should be very glad to receive it!” As a result, I had a lot of respect for him!



That evening brother Nee emphasized to the young people who were attending and who wanted to serve the Lord, these three things:



1. Read the Bible - if possible, memorize it word for word. The Chinese translation is one of the best translations in the world - its mood, its wording, its expression, are weighty and important.



2. Obey the disciplines of the Holy Spirit - there is a need to be like Jesus was in the days of His flesh. He learned obedience through suffering. Men may be wrong, things may be out of order, circumstances may be unreasonable - but God allows those things that are happening to us to show on the one hand how deeply self-centered we are and that we must voluntarily deny Self - we need to “bear the cross”; and on the other hand, because we learn obedience through sufferings, Christ can then manifest Himself and live out through us which means that we experience the resurrection from the dead. Paul learned this lesson and said, “We are pressed on every side, yet not straitened; perplexed, yet not to despair; pursued, yet not forsaken (or left behind); smitten down, yet not destroyed. Always bearing about in the body the dying (or putting to death) of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body” (2 Cor. 4:8-10). (Author’s note: The matter of “obedience to the discipline of the Holy Spirit” was one of brother T. Austin-Sparks’ main emphases in ministry, i.e. Christ and the Cross. Watchman Nee visited TAS for the first time in 1933 and there was a big spiritual change in Watchman Nee as a result.)



3. Embracing voluntary poverty - Brother Nee introduced Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) to us; suggesting that any true servant of the Lord has to voluntarily be in poverty in life and in services. This means not pursuing money, interests, positions, powers, reputation, fame, etc.. By God’s grace, I was and am greatly blessed!



After this meeting, the Lord led me to be baptized again by immersion (recognizing my union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection) and I began to memorize the New Testament.



1948 - After the war there was a special first time conference for Watchman Nee’s groups, co-workers and elders in China. At that time I was the leader responsible for the Christian Student Fellowship of our school, and as a result I was invited to attend that conference. The oldest sister who was a co-worker of Watchman Nee, Lee Yuan-Ru (李淵如 four years older than Watchman Nee), asked brother Nee: “Why did you work in the pharmaceutical industry thus causing offence to a lot of good believers?” Brother Nee wept and said to those elders who were businessmen: “You forced me to do that!” (in Chinese dialect 你們逼我寡婦出嫁) because the businessmen had not given financial support. As a result, brother Nee had felt that he had no choice but to support the work himself. Then sister Wang Pei-Zhen (汪佩真) cried aloud and the whole assembly cried. I also cried, but I didn’t know why. After that, almost all the workers and elders (including myself) surrendered all things and dedicated ourselves again to the Lord. The Lord also reminded me of my promise and indicated to me that from now on I really would be a preacher.



This conference led a spiritual revival in the whole of China! Every Wednesday evening I would often go to sister Wang’s apartment for supper and we would talk about the student’s work. I asked her about brother Nee and the pharmaceutical business. She said in part: “Because brother Nee preached the gospel of Christ to them, a few medical students dedicated themselves to ministry. They were sent to inland China to preach the gospel. Brother Nee had no financial foundation to support them, so they were all poor. One of them got Tuberculosis and died. Brother Nee never asked for any donations for them and now his heart is broken (i.e. "I encouraged them to come out of the world; I sent them to die, I cannot support them"), and decided to work in a business to support those young people." When I heard this, I cried again! Subconsciously I resolved that later I would teach mathematics in high school to support my ministry. (In 1951, when I was in Taipei, I really did get to teach mathematics - in Jian-Guo high school. 建國中學).



One day we invited God’s servant to preach the gospel to our schoolmates. We pasted a 50 feet high billboard on the wall of the school building which said: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. The head of the school saw it and called me to his office, and said: “Firstly, there are no sinners in our school; your public notice must be pasted outside of the school. Secondly, you have made our school a religious school. I have ordered workers to wash and to clean it away already”. (It took a whole week's cleaning). Silently I was dismissed from his office. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a brother, Jin Jian (金鍵) and I prepared 4 pieces of white cloth with written Bible words such as “Believe in Jesus Christ, you have Eternal Life” etc. and wore them on our chests and backs as moving advertisements in the school. On Sundays we wore them when we went to church meetings. Lots of people called us mentally deranged although we had no mental disorders. Later, Christians in many cities heard these things and they organized gospel bands marching in the streets to testify of Jesus Christ.



Some would say, based on the biblical record, that the above experiences characterize the “spiritual milk stage” of the work of God (or Christ). This stage includes works such as leading people to Christ; taking church services; studying doctrines of the Bible, and so on. Later the Holy Spirit revealed to me what spiritual milk was and showed me that what I had received and done was different from the Boy Jesus. When the Boy Jesus was 12 years old, He was in the temple, both hearing and asking questions, (i.e. receiving spiritual milk), but He “must be in the things of His Father” (in Greek)! "His Father" signifies two things: (1) Origin; (2) the Household of God. This means that the Boy Jesus received true spiritual milk in that: (1) the Origin or the Root was not from His own likes or dislikes, but all began and came from His Father; (2) He cared about the whole household of God and never built up His own denominations or sects. But in my recollection, when I received spiritual milk the origin was all from the likes or dislikes of myself and not from the Father, and I didn't care about the whole household of God but only built up my denomination or Watchman Nee’s groups (or local churches). May all of us in the future receive true spiritual milk so that we are all beginning from the Father and also building up the whole household of God!



(2) Solid food - Learning obedience through suffering manifests Christ...



To eat solid food means voluntary obedience and submission to the disciplines of the Holy Spirit, or learning obedience through sufferings and thus manifesting the living Christ.



1949 - By the grace of God, there was an opportunity for me to go to Taiwan. I got a letter from a professor introducing me to the head of the Taiwan Railroad Co. and on May 9 I went to Taiwan by boat. Only a few days later, on May 18, 1949, the communist army occupied Shanghai. During the ten months of training, I finished memorizing the New Testament once, and I also began to learn “obedience to the disciplines of the Holy Spirit” (i.e. bearing the Cross and genuinely surrendering the Lordship of myself to Jesus). According to the spiritual experience of some, this would be eating solid food.



There is nothing written about the life of Jesus between the ages of 12 and 30. The Scriptures are completely silent about those years. Hebrews 5:7,8 says that Jesus in the days of His flesh, learned obedience through sufferings, having achieved full growth. That means that He voluntarily learned obedience through sufferings. When He was twelve years of age, His mother complained or murmured, “Your father and I have sought you sorrowing... and He went down with them... and He was subject to them” (Luke 2:48,51). Peter says, “Jesus did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; but when He was reviled, reviled not again; When He suffered, threatened not; He just committed Himself (His cause) to God!” So during those 18 years, Jesus especially ate solid food - learning obedience and subjection (i.e. self-denial and manifesting the Anointing - Christ) through suffering!



Since childhood, my whole life had been self-centered; Self was the lord of everything and was a habit. Later I was born by the Holy Spirit and called Jesus my Lord, but only in prayer. It was just lip-service when in actual fact I myself was still the real lord in my life, work and service. Obedience to the discipline of the Holy Spirit was only mentally acknowledged and I did not have the real experience or apprehension of what that meant in reality.



When I first learned this lesson it was not very easy. When I arrived in Taiwan and got a job with the Railroad Company, I had a roommate in the company’s dormitory. His office was just behind the dormitory and at noon time, he usually came back with friends to rest in his dormitory whereas I had to go out of town and came back around 4:00pm each day. One day I came back to the dormitory and saw that my KIWI shoe polish, brush and cloth, etc. under my bed were disordered and saw that my roommate’s shoes were looking bright and shiny under his bed. I decided that he had used my shoe polish. I was not happy with this and condemned him in my heart because he did not put my things back how he had found them. This experience was a discipline of the Holy Spirit and revealed my self-centered life - albeit my well regulated life - but I did not see it that way at the time. The second and third day he not only used my shoe polish, but also used my wooden slippers and my basin (for washing his face, etc.). Sometimes he wore my slippers to other rooms and did not wear them back and I had to go and find them. As a result of all this, I was angry with him in my heart. I still did not recognize that this was a discipline of the Holy Spirit and that it was revealing my self-centered life. After several days, I put those things right under the bed against the wall, which was meant to convey “don’t touch – I know you use them!”. I did this in the afternoon, but that evening I prayed loudly and led singing in the church gathering. This was really a false life and I did not have light!



Twelve days passed, and on the thirteenth day when I memorized Romans 8, verse 6, “For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace” the Holy Spirit opened the eyes of my heart and showed me that the past twelve days had all been about minding the flesh, and so death, death, death was the result; no happiness, instead I was full of anger, condemnation, reprisal, shame, disgrace, etc., and those attitudes all belonged to the old Adam life, the self-centered life!



I cried and cried, and repented (turned around or changed my mind) to God. I prayed, “Dear Father, have mercy upon me, according to your loving kindness, according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Dear Father, You really love me and arranged such a nice roommate for me, so that I would have the chance of learning obedience to the discipline of the Holy Spirit and to live out Jesus Christ, I do deeply thank you!”



Immediately, I had the mind of the Spirit, so life and peace filled my heart and I really experienced “it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me!” That afternoon, when I went back to my dormitory, I put everything in front of the bed, so they were very easy to get to and use. On the fourteenth day, my roommate used them once again. I was very glad to serve him, and willingly learned obedience to the Holy Spirit. I was so full of life and peace and experienced the truth that Jesus taught: “whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.” On the fifteenth day, I discovered my roommate had bought all his own things. I praised God with tears! God knew that this lesson (of obedience to the discipline of the Holy Spirit) had resulted in correct adjustment. He, therefore, took away the situation. Peter says, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). Praise the Lord! This was the first time that, by grace, I genuinely learned obedience to the discipline of the Holy Spirit!



Since then to this day (more than 50 years later), there have been hundreds and hundreds of sufferings or situations that the Holy Spirit has allowed in order to discipline and train me. Thanks be to God, by His grace, it is now quicker and faster to learn obedience to the disciplines of the Holy Spirit. Before 1949, my mind was always minding the flesh, so death was always present. After 1949, because of learning this lesson regularly, my mind began to mind the Spirit in any sufferings or situations, and finally my mind changed (i.e. from minding the Spirit to being “the mind of the Spirit”, so it was quite easy to experience life and peace because it was no longer I, but Christ Who lives everywhere and in every situation)!



Another example of this training happened when I was living in New Jersey. After 35 years of no correspondence with my mother following the occupation of China, she was able to join us in the USA at the age of ninety. She lived with us for 16 years before she eventually died. It was clear that I could not travel to the Far East again. By the grace of God, I got a job at a Food Stamp Department office. One day I visited a disabled couple. The husband opened the door and led me to sit beside the desk; his wife came out from the bedroom and started shouting at me in anger, “Get out! Get out! Get out!” Immediately I knew this to be the disciplining of the Holy Spirit. By God’s grace, I learned obedience through this suffering and was silent for a while. Then I followed the Spirit's leading and said to her, “I love you!” The wife was greatly moved by those words. She went to the bedroom and changed her clothes and came back quietly and filled in the required paper work before I left. The next day the couple came to my office early in the morning. The receptionist called me and said that a couple had come to see me. When I went downstairs, I saw the couple whom I had visited the day before. They handed me a letter of apology and said to me, “Yesterday we gave you a hard time; today we come to humbly apologise for our behaviour!” I told them, “I am a Christian, please forget about it”, and sent them happily home.



Paul says, “Having shod your feet with the PREPARATION of the gospel of PEACE” (Eph 6:15) which means that in every situation, in every circumstance, we have to live “in the mind of the Spirit”, (i.e. full of Preparation of the gospel of Peace - Christ), peace with God, peace with man, peace with everything! If we really learned Christ, there would be no bitterness, no wrath, no anger, no clamor, no malice, no railing against anybody etc. in our lives! Paul says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments - bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Before learning this, I had a lot of arguments with God and with myself, but after learning obedience to the disciplines of the Holy Spirit (i.e. willingly denying myself and allowing Christ to live out), the Holy Spirit brought every thought of mine into captivity to the obedience of Christ! This is really an experience of “abiding in Christ”, or “sitting with Christ in the Heavenlies (Gk)”! Later (in 1951) I saw a small booklet written by T. Austin-Sparks, called “The Cross and The Deliverance of The Mind”. Inside it had a diagram, explaining Romans 8:6. I was greatly impacted by his teaching. I recently mailed this booklet to the Austin-Sparks.Net website where it can now be viewed.



1950 - There were five young brothers (belonging to Watchman Nee’s group) who came to Taiwan from Shanghai. In 1948: Lin San-Gang (林三綱), 1949: Shi Bo-Cheng (史伯誠), the author (Herald Hsu - 徐爾建), Wei Jian-Zhang (魏建章), and He Guang-Ming (何廣明). We began full time service under the leadership of Witness Lee. Although we were disappointed that Watchman Nee decided to stay in China, the Lord had higher thoughts. At that time we didn’t know what those were.



Author’s note:



[Watchman Nee (1) received or inherited a lot of “Spiritual Life” (Christ Himself) from many servants of God, especially from T. Austin-Sparks whom he first met in 1933. (2) he also received a lot of “church management” (教會事務), or so-called “Bible Truths” (really not Truths, but only things, Jesus Christ is the sole Living Truth). He especially got the “local church” (one locality, one church) teaching or method from the Exclusive Brethren in London, while he was with them in 1933. After that time, he practiced or carried on this method in China. Witness Lee was the strongest exponent of this teaching in the Far East, and later in the USA and elsewhere! Unfortunately, this teaching leads the people of God into legalism and exclusiveness. Legalism and exclusiveness are deadly to life in Christ! “As of things that are made” - Heb 12:27 refers to this kind of man-made legalism and exclusiveness. Please read TAS’s book "According to Christ". Based on what he wrote, I think that Watchman Nee changed his position on this Locality teaching after 1951-1952. For example in a poem he wrote:



"He (not Locality) is most dear to me, The loveliest of all;

One whom my soul does seek, One whom I ever call.

He (not Locality) is my aid, in need, My help, in helpless hours;

Most precious at all times, Most faithful at all hours.

He (not Locality) is my endless joy, Changeless as years go by;

He (not Locality) is most dear to me, No greater love have I."]



We five young people had not met TAS (T. Austin-Sparks) yet and the Holy Spirit had not yet opened the eyes of our hearts so we were all following Watchman Nee’s teaching and method and unconsciously fell into legalism (or dictatorship, which condemns others) and exclusiveness (egoism and monopoly). Later, Witness Lee sent each one of us to other places in Taiwan to work. We were called to build up the body of Christ in our mind, but in fact, we really built the New Denomination (the Local church) in our hearts. At that time, no preacher, no elder, or anybody gave us higher spiritual light. Watchman Nee’s teachings were the highest in our minds.





From 1955 to 1957



1955-57 - In the sovereignty of God, brother T. Austin-Sparks was allowed to come to Taiwan twice. He really gave us higher spiritual light. What is Higher Spiritual Light?



Author’s note: [TAS was invited by Simon Meek - 繆紹訓 and Wu Ren-Jie - 吳仁傑 to come to Manila in 1964. He gave 42 messages there, which have been published in two volumes entitled “That They May All Be One” . These books are available free upon request by writing to: Emmanuel Church, 12000 East 14th Street, Tulsa, OK 74128-5016, USA.]



Higher Spiritual Light:



[1] The Main Revelation of the whole Bible: Christ and the Cross



(1) Christ - Eternal Anointing. God’s main purpose in giving us the Bible is so that we may receive His Son, Jesus Christ, and be filled with Him (the Living Christ) which means that Jesus Christ must have the preeminence in all things. Paul in Colossians 1:9-29 speaks of The Matchless Revelation of Jesus Christ: He is God’s Beloved Son (i.e. God’s heart secret), all things were created for Him, that in all things He may have the preeminence. But this begins with Christians, “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” The believers in Ephesus saw that Jesus Christ is “LORD”, and they were baptized in the name of the LORD JESUS. Then they burned every thing of their past! He was their First Love! (Acts 19:5,19, Rev. 2:4). Today if you and I really see that Jesus is our LORD, we will burn every thing in our hearts (including reputations, fame, positions, fortunes, money, and even Christian work itself, or church services, doctrines, practices, preachings, teachings as things themselves) as Paul said, “counting all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my (meaning it is personal, not our) LORD, - For to me to live is Christ” (Phi. 3:8; 1:21).



When TAS visited Taiwan for the first time, Witness Lee introduced TAS and said, “Brother Sparks' ministry was introduced and spread to the whole of China through Watchman Nee. We will work with him!” Thirteen months later TAS again came to Taiwan. That was in January 1957.



(2) The Cross - Born again Christians are really filled with the Living Christ (or the Holy Spirit), because they are willingly learning obedience through sufferings (i.e. bearing the cross, or denying themselves and living out of Christ). Paul answered and solved all questions in Corinth with “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Jesus Christ speaks of God’s Eternal Purpose (all things were created for Him); Him crucified speaks of the way for fulfilling God’s Purpose: 1. Substitution – He died for us (sinners) who believe or obey; 2. Representation – Our old man was crucified with Him (i.e. we continue to believe or obey, so in experience we died with Him and are raised up together with Him, and sit together with Him in the heavenlies - Gk — Eph. 2:5-6).



We mentioned earlier that in 1933 Watchman Nee returned to China from London. He had a special conference the following year, in 1934. At the end of that conference, he mentioned especially T. Austin-Sparks’ ministry – the teaching of Christ and the Cross. Watchman Nee’s whole life was in “The School of Christ” (one of TAS's books). That meant he lived out of Christ by learning obedience through suffering. Most co-workers of Watchman Nee (including Witness Lee and the elders and deacons of the local churches) and the following generation of leaders wouldn't learn this; they even refused to learn, right through until today, this truth about obedience through suffering. The result is that there are a lot of carnal Christians or uncrucified workers everywhere today. This is the great challenge for me and for you, and in fact for every Christian today! Isaiah preached a crucified Christ, (He was despised and rejected by men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. But He now is sitting upon a high and lifted up throne!) so Isaiah asked, ‘who has believed his report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ History tells us, only a remnant shall return (Shear-jashub—Isa 7:3), and those who are following (Gk - Rev 14:4) the Lamb wherever He goes! May this crucified Christ in you and in me by the grace of God transform us and live out from us, so that you and I are one of the remnant.



The historic facts are this, “Before Jesus Christ was taken up to heaven, He told His disciples that they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit and they would be His witnesses (or martyrs, always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also might be manifested through their bodies) in Jerusalem - and to the ends of the earth”. But the disciples and James (the brother of Jesus) and even the Apostles, did not listen at that time. They hoped to build an earthly headquarters in Jerusalem. In the sovereignty of God, through Stephen’s ministry, the church in Jerusalem was persecuted greatly and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria even to the ends of the earth as they are today.



Later Christianity (including Roman Catholicism and all the denominations, crusades, organizations etc.) fell into the same terrible mistake! During 1949-1951 Watchman Nee’s groups in Shanghai fell into this mistake and the Lord allowed a great persecution which scattered the believers everywhere; Witness Lee also wanted to do the same thing in Taipei and in Los Angeles, but God allowed TAS's ministry to open the eyes of many people to see Christ in heaven (as our Heavenly Headquarters), so a lot of the believers went forth to Him, outside the camp (i.e. outside the New Denomination, or so called 'local churches'), bearing His reproach. This was the Divine Movement of the Holy Spirit.



About this Divine Movement: there is no earthly address, no organization, no telephone number; not a club, not a crusade, not a TV Company etc... This Divine Movement of the Holy Spirit is by way of the Cross to make Christ all and in all. (Please read TAS’s "Stephen - Thy Witness", and "According to Christ".)



[2] The definition and the measure of the Church



The true definition of the Church (local or universal) is “The corporate expression of Christ”. It means that the Church is measured by Christ. The living Christ is the Divine love, holiness, righteousness, the way, the truth, the life, the light, the meekness, etc.. When we touch the Living Christ Himself, we touch those divine virtues. When we live out or manifest the Living Christ, we are the expressions of those divine virtues. That is the Church.



Before 1955, I understood that the church was a people who came out from the world and gathered together as a congregation, an organization, a Christian body, etc. according to Biblical methods or New Testament Church methods (especially one locality, one church). My mentality was that the church was a thing! Through TAS's ministry the Holy Spirit opened my eyes so that my mentality of the church was changed from seeing it as a thing to seeing a Living Person (i.e. the Living Christ Himself) which means people who are really born again by the Holy Spirit, (i.e. the living Christ is in them) and the Church is born. As they live out or manifest the Living Christ in their daily lives more and more, the real Church is increased more and more because the Church is measured by Christ!



“But to each one of us, grace was given according to the measure of Christ (as a gift)” (Eph. 4:7). When we were born again, the fullness of Christ was in our spirit (or in our heart), but how much of the fullness of Christ is manifest or lived out in our daily personal life, family life, business life or church life? It is according to how much grace is given to each one of us. God's greatness is that He gives us free-will. He never forces us! “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, except of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.” (Gen. 2:16,17). If we willingly learn to be 30%, 60%, or 100% obedient through the things which we suffer, we will be given the corresponding grace; either 30%, 60% or 100%!



“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” We are given grace (1) to believe in Him, (i.e. being born again by the Holy Spirit. Every Christian has this beginning grace), (2) to suffer for His sake, i.e. 100% learned obedience through sufferings. Not every Christian has this grace during their whole life. Some may have 30%, 60%, 90% etc. learned obedience through suffering for His sake. Jesus said, “If (which means we must be willing) anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). However, there are the Lamb's company who are following the Lamb wherever He goes - they follow Him 100% because they have learned obedience through sufferings! So to believe in Him is the grace of the beginning of our Christian life; to suffer for His sake is the grace of the life-long increasing of Christ in our Christian life. To suffer for His sake means that we bear the cross and are decreased daily, denying ourselves and following Him so that we manifest and live out the living Christ and He is increased!



The overcomers are given this grace: (1) according to the Blood of the Lamb - the beginning grace; (2) according to the word of their testimony and do not love their soul-life (GK) to the death - this is life-long grace (Rev. 12:11; 14:4).



The Old Testament Israel typifies the New Testament Christian: (1) Because of the blood of the lamb, they came out of Egypt (i.e. the outside-world) - representing how Christians believe in Christ and are separated from the external outside-world (i.e. worldly fame, fortune, power etc.); (2) they spent forty years in the wilderness (i.e. the internal inside-world), and the old generation all died but the new generation went into Canaan - representing how the Christian’s whole life suffers for Christ's sake and is separated from the inside-world (i.e. the old self-centered life), and manifests Christ's virtues, character and life.



The Lord’s Supper speaks two things to us when we remember Him: (1) The cup - He shed His blood for us, so that Satan cannot accuse us before God, (2) The bread - His crucified life became our life, so that when we have been grieved by various trials, we are experiencing the real power of His Resurrection. This is grace that we not only believe in Him, but also suffer for His sake.



In the Parable of the Sower the Lord speaks of good ground that bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Why? We know that the seed (the fullness of Christ) is the same. When we heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and obeyed the Holy Spirit we received Him (the fullness of Christ) into our hearts, but then we continue to obey the disciplines of the Holy Spirit which is different; so the bearing of fruit (manifesting Christ or being the expression of Christ) is correspondingly different. Some express and manifest Him a hundredfold (100% obedient to the disciplines of the Holy Spirit, or following the Lamb whole-heartedly), some sixty (60% following the Lamb), some thirty (30% following the Lamb). This is the challenge to you and to me! By the grace of God, may we all follow the Lamb 100% wherever He goes and thus fulfill God’s eternal purpose!



Today true Christians everywhere (in different denominations, organizations, clubs, large or small) have some measure of Christ manifested in their life. But there are some things and conducts (like tares) which the Holy Spirit doesn’t allow us to follow or endorse. Although we are not allowed to accept these things, we are also not qualified to pull them up or to gather them up, because the Lord says that will be the work of the angels in the consummation of the age (Matt. 13:29,39). In experience, those tares (i.e. carnal, worldly conduct and attitudes) in us are only revealed and brought to light by the Holy Spirit, so that we are able to repent and be corrected. Man’s teachings, advice, condemnations, even judgments are all useless. Our real service is only to share and to testify in due time what we have learned from the Lord and let the Holy Spirit give us real light and change us accordingly. Through God’s great love, we have to pray and trust Him to increase the measure of Christ among our fellow Christians, and He will do this according to His purpose. We have to learn patience, forbearance and perseverance; even learn how to wait for forty years sometimes. This is a deep lesson of the Cross and it is also a very real trial to our natural (or soulish, self-centered) man.



Paul says, “if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness (or meekness)” (Gal. 6:1). This means that if a brother falls into sin or into his old nature or into something of the past, we who are spiritual (which requires us to learn obedience to the disciplines of the Holy Spirit and for Jesus Christ to be really manifest in our life and be living in a spirit of gentleness or meekness) can restore such a one. If we are not spiritual, but carnal or soulish, we will spoil or ruin everything.



In the Old Testament, the wick-trimmers (or snuffers) were made of pure gold (Ex. 37:23). We know that the lamp with a wick (the human being) through oil (the Holy Spirit) can produce light. But when the wick is burnt, the oil cannot go through, and the light becomes dim. This is a time which needs the trimmers to cut off the charred part of the wick in order to recover the light; the trimmers were made of pure gold (representing God’s Divine nature, i.e. a spirit of meekness, love, etc.), they were not made of brass (man’s judgment, condemnation, etc.). But only the priest (the spiritual person) can use the golden trimmers (with Divine meekness) to trim. It is not intended to limit, crush or quench, but to enlarge, restore, revive and increase!



Time is our school in learning Christ. We are to be conformed to the image of God’s Son through time and will serve Him in eternity (Rev. 22:3-5). Spiritual things and the services that we perform are all secondary. Only the increase and the measure of Christ through service is the primary purpose and has an eternal value. When we emphasize the increase of the measure of Christ, sometimes our works or services will be delayed or limited. We have to recognize that God’s eternal intention is to get us to the full measure of Christ; not things, services, or works.



Paul was always anxious that when he had preached to others, that he himself should be rejected (1 Cor. 9:27). Adam’s fall occurred when he stretched out his hand to take the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Since then, thousands of years of Man’s fall and history are due to man’s hand stretched out to do things. All Christian denominations, organizations, missions, clubs, crusades, etc. which are continuing are the results of man’s hand stretched out. In other words, the first generation was full of the Holy Spirit, the second or third generation was all man’s hand stretched out to maintain. God wants everything to be by following the Holy Spirit and to be right up-to-date. Why did the Holy Spirit have it recorded that Paul in his last days was living in a rented house preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ? Firstly, preaching the kingdom of God is seeing that everything (all things both good and bad that happen in our lives) must be in the sovereignty of the living God (not by man’s hand stretched out) which gives us the opportunity to learn obedience through sufferings. Secondly, everything must come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, in absolute surrender to Him and His will (not man’s hand stretched out to make or do things on earth).



Any local church does not operate according to an earthly government’s definition of the boundaries, but needs to operate according to the Holy Spirit. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name (i.e. in union with and manifesting Christ), I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). Although they may not understand the full meaning of the church, yet Christ is in their hearts already, so the real church is beginning. At the beginning of the Christian life, the measure of Christ manifested may be small, but at the end, there is a manifestation of the full measure of Christ. There is no need to judge or to condemn these ones openly or publicly. Our business is in God’s great love to pray for each other to have the measure of Christ increased in and through us, as Paul says, “for equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.



Jesus says, “I will build My church (i.e. built together through fully manifesting Christ) and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). The gates of Hades shall not prevail against those fully (100%) manifesting Christ. If we (the church) are only 30%, 60%, or 90% manifesting Christ, then the enemy will still have a chance to prevail against us. May all of us learn to “buy up the opportunity” (Eph. 5:16 GK), and learn one hundred percent obedience through suffering and be one hundred percent prevailing against the gates of Hades.



[3] The practice or method of the Church: Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit



The practice or the method of the local church is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit on everything. Every local church has their up-to-date measure of Christ and people need to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in making decisions. They may be led to use practices of the early church, or to practice new ways. Either old or new ways are all for Jesus Christ to be manifested and for increasing the measure of Christ. God never forces the churches in the new dispensation to follow the methods of the early church as an unchangeable law. He only wants the church to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.



The practice of the church in Antioch is an eternal principle of the local church everywhere. (1) They ministered to the Lord (i.e. The Lord was the center and in all things He had the preeminence, and they served the Lord Himself only; they didn't serve a denomination, organization, preachers, elders, etc.) (2) They fasted (i.e. They denied or repudiated themselves. Although each one of them had expressed the leading of the Holy Spirit, first they all denied themselves, until the Holy Spirit confirmed His way.) (3) The Holy Spirit spoke (i.e. After meditating on all the leadings of the Holy Spirit, most co-workers said that the leading of the Holy Spirit was the best for the present situation; i.e. "the Holy Spirit said"!). Everybody was surrendered to the Lord!



The great mistake of today’s Christianity is that the preachers search out a lot of examples of the early church and make a blueprint for all local churches (calling them "Church Truths" when, in fact, they are not Truths but Things.) The results produce denominations, sects, even cults, etc. and make a lot of legalists who condemn and judge others. Unfortunately Watchman Nee’s book “Rethinking of our mission”, was one of these kinds of blueprints and leads believers to exclusiveness.



Brother T. Austin-Sparks in one of his “A Witness and A Testimony” magazine editorials (Volume 36-6, 1958) entitled “According to Christ” in the "What is the Church, and what are the churches?" section says:



"Have we in the New Testament a clearly defined and completely set-out plan of the Church, its order, constitution, methods and work? Is there a concise and worked-out system in the nature of a ’blue-print’, which is ready for copying and reproducing everywhere, and can be recognized as true to type in every place? The answer is decidedly No! But if we mean: is there in the New Testament a revelation of God’s mind as to the Church, in its nature, constitution, and vocation? It is no contradiction of the above when we say: Yes, decidedly Yes!



"It is possible to take parts of the New Testament, as to doctrines, practices, work, methods, and order, to piece them together, and to frame them into a system to be adopted and applied. This is the mechanical or 'ecclesiastical’ method, and it is capable of an almost endless variety of presentations, resulting in a very large variety of organized bodies, every one of which claims the New Testament for its authority. This in turn issues in rivalries, competitiveness, controversy, and, eventually, in the presenting to the world of a Christianity divided into a vast number of independent and unrelated parts, far removed from ‘all speaking the same thing’ (1 Cor 1:10). The external and objective approach to the New Testament, with a view to studying it as a manual or text-book of Christian life, teaching and work, is a false one, a dangerous one, and - so far as any real spiritual outcome is concerned - a dead one. If God had meant successive generations of Christians to imitate the first and proceed on the mass-production principle, surely He would have seen to it that in some way a precise and unmistakable prototype existed, with adequate safeguards against all the confusion and misapprehension which has actually eventuated.



"When men, Christian men, contemplate a project which is intended to last a considerable tenure, they set down precisely their ‘Principles and Practice’, consisting of their doctrines, their purpose, their practices, their methods, and so on. God did not commission or allow His first Apostles to act in this way, so that we might have a Jerusalem or Antioch Blue Book or Manual for Christian churches. In the Divine mind it is all definite, fixed, precise, and permanent, but when we come to the New Testament, and especially the formative period as covered by the Book of the Acts, everything seems so fluid, so open, and so subject to proving. There is the most wonderful and sublime reason for this; but, before we come to that, let us point out that the approach to which we have referred to above is the cause of more limitation, stagnation, deadly legality, than can be measured. In doctrine, it means that the doctrinal compass is boxed and no new light is allowed as to God’s Word. Of course, this is the peril of orthodoxy. The intense desire to safeguard the Scriptures can lead to a sealing off against any new light from them as to meaning and interpretation, and this makes for a static spiritual position. Spiritual pride, bigotry, exclusiveness, suspicion, are some of the unholy brood of this legalism. If Satan cannot force to the one extreme of superiority to the written Word, he will try the opposite of bondage to the letter without the spirit.



"The merely objective approach of which we have written may or may not be characterized by all of the above-mentioned features, but it will most certainly be limited in its spiritual power and results. It may very well result in the responsibility being made to rest upon men, so that all kinds of devices and expedients have to be resorted to in order that the work and the institution can be maintained and furthered. Christianity has almost entirely come to be such a thing now, and it is practically impossible for the vast majority of Christians - their leaders especially - to understand or believe that God can do His work without committees, boards, machinery, advertisement, organizations, appeals, reports, names, deputations, patronage, propaganda, publicity, the press, etc. Unless these things are present with a ‘recognized’ backing, the thing is not trusted, even if it is believed to exist.



"...the New Testament has within it a revelation, precise, definite, and full, as to God’s mind for this dispensation... What is that revelation? The answer is that it is not a system, as such, but a Person. ...the Apostles saw Him in the light of eternity. ...He was Himself the embodiment of a great, a vast heavenly and spiritual order and system. This seeing was absolutely revolutionary. It was a crisis out of which a new world and a new creation was born.



"...the Apostles did not formulate in conference an enterprise, a mission, with all the related arrangements and organization. The new life forced off the old leaves and dressed the new organism with a new vesture from within. The might, energy and urge of the Holy Spirit within produced a Way and an order, un-thought-of, unintended by them, and always to their own surprise. What was happening was really that Christ was taking form within them, individually and corporately, by new birth and growth. The believers and the companies were becoming an expression of Christ. Here we come upon the essential nature of the Christian life and the Church.



"What, in the thought of God, do Christians exist for? What does the Church exist for? What do local churches exist for? There is only one answer. The existence and function is to be an expression of Christ. There is nothing less and nothing more than that. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and all between! Let that be the starting-point; let that be the governing rule and reality in all matters of life and work, and see at once the nature and vocation of the Church. This vast, incomprehensible heavenly system, of which Christ is the personal embodiment, touches every detail of life, personally and collectively. But remember, only the Holy Spirit sees and knows how it is so; hence, as at the beginning, there has to be an utter submission to and direction by the Lordship of the Holy Spirit... As an individual believer is the result of a begetting, a conception, a formation, a birth, and a likeness, so, in the New Testament, is a true local church. It is a reproduction of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Man cannot make, form, produce or ‘establish’ this. Neither can anyone ‘join’ or ‘enrol’, or make himself or herself a member of this organism. First it is an embryo, and then a ‘formation’ after Christ. So, all talk about ‘forming New Testament churches’ is nonsense. The beginning is in a seeing of Christ, and when two or three in one place have seen Him by the Holy Spirit, and have been “begotten again by the word of God”, there is the germ of a church." (Please read "According to Christ" 4 editorials).



We have to know that every local church (represented by the nucleus of responsible saints) has a different leading of the Holy Spirit according to their measure of Christ. The sole need of the local church is to increase the measure of Christ. The sole purpose and service of Christian workers is to help to increase the measure of Christ, drawing from their own experiences. It is not to give things, but to serve Christ. TAS said, ‘Things divide, Christ unites’!



Every local church is independent and is directly controlled by the Lord Himself, not by any preacher or organization. “Christ walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands” (Rev. 2:1).



The people in the early church really did see the revelation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and they never built two or more local churches into one organization or denomination. Paul was a crucified man, he never built his own organization or denomination. He went everywhere preaching Christ and ministering Christ! All teachings, prayers, Bible readings, baptisms, tongues, elders, deacons, spiritual gifts, etc., were all centered in Christ the living Person, and not as things in themselves. That was Paul's vocation!



The Bible treats a number of God’s servants in an unusual manner: Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, John and Paul were all crucified men and greatly used by God, but there are no records about their deaths, funerals and graves. Why is this? Because they themselves were all nothing and don’t need to be remembered. They were called by God only as instruments and their vocation or function was ministering Christ; which was important and eternal. And so the Bible only records their vocations or functions.



We asked TAS in 1957, “What is wrong with not following the methods of Christianity and only following the Biblical examples?” TAS answered, “If the Holy Spirit leads you to follow some Biblical examples (Biblical examples are not perfect and are not laws), there is nothing wrong with that, but you don’t need to say so!” He meant that you don’t need to proclaim: 'this is the Church Truth and every church must go this way! Otherwise, you are not a church, but only a concubine'. This was Watchman Nee’s exposition on the Locality Law in Chinese; Witness Lee was the strongest exponent of this teaching in the Far East, and this teaching has now taken hold around the world. This teaching was, and still is, leading people to exclusiveness and division! Due to this concubine insult, all other Chinese Christian bodies from then to this day are speaking against Watchman Nee’s groups. We have mentioned Adam’s fall was because he stretched out his hand; this Locality Law leading to exclusiveness and division is also one of the falls due to man’s hand being stretched out! We need to be careful!



In Numbers chapter 33, it is recorded more than forty times that the children of Israel “journeyed - pitched”, “journeyed - pitched”. Journeyed means they had to remove, move, set out, leave and break up camp. Pitched means they encamped and set up camp. And God said, “For from the top of the rock I see him (Israel), and from the hills I behold him there! A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations. He (God) has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel.” (Num. 23:9,21). Why? Because they (1) received the blood of the Lamb and the flesh of the Lamb, meaning they were redeemed from outward Egypt and baptized in the Red Sea, and (2) they were following the pillar of cloud and fire and were redeemed from inward Egypt by the process of “journeyed and pitched; journeyed and pitched”; never stopping at any place, till their old nature (the old generation) died in the wilderness, and the new Israel were passed clean (or had crossed completely, meaning that their natural or soulish life was all repudiated) over the Jordan river (Josh. 3:17). When they pitched at a particular location, they first set up the tabernacle (or the tent of meeting, i.e. Christ Himself in the center), and the 12 tribes pitched round about. This means that their lives, works and services were symbolically all centered in Christ, not in things! So God was pleased!



This typifies that we Christians (1) were redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb and the Eternal life (Christ himself) and baptized (separated from the outside world’s fame, fortune and power, etc.), and (2) we are going to follow the Holy Spirit and be redeemed step by step from our natural or soulish life by the power of His resurrection. On our journey in this world, we never stop at any point. Christ is our center, not Christianity, not spiritual works, not Biblical doctrines, expositions, methods. Everything outside of Christ is all burned! This means that we are crucified with Christ daily, in union with Christ’s death (self repudiation), and resurrection (Christ manifested). As Paul said, “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life (meaning prosperity, success, prayers answered, etc.) or by death (meaning adversity, affliction, prayers unanswered, etc.). For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:20,21). Today most of Christianity (including Catholics, all the denominations, clubs, pentecostals, Watchman Nee’s groups, independent churches, etc.) have followed the Holy Spirit and journeyed a few steps, but have stopped somewhere. We need to follow the Lamb (crucified with Christ) wherever He goes. As Paul at the end of his life said, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformed to His death!” May the Lord show mercy to us so that the eyes of our hearts are enlightened, and we really see the revelation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and follow the Divine movement of the Holy Spirit, always going on: “journeyed and pitched, journeyed and pitched”, and entering into the fullness of Christ!



Several of the points above were revealed to us by the Holy Spirit through TAS's ministry. Thanks be to the Lord! This is really the way to increase the measure of Christ and is higher spiritual light. We believe that the Holy Spirit will continue to lead Christians everywhere into a greater measure of Christ. And we do pray that you and I are really going to enter into the unsearchable riches of Christ.





1957 - Special talks on the Locality Law between TAS and Witness Lee.



One Friday evening in 1957, Witness Lee asked me (the only worker) to stay in Taipei, because he would talk to TAS about the Locality Law (or church ground). A total of five people attended that meeting: TAS, Poul Madsen, Witness Lee (李常受), Zhang Wu-chen (張悟晨), and Zhang Yu-lan (張郁嵐). I stayed downstairs in the worker’s home waiting to hear the report. The meeting finished before 9:00pm. Witness Lee came to the worker’s home immediately to talk to me, and said, “I (Lee) asked TAS: If there are five different Christian groups in Taipei City, which one is the real church? TAS thought for a little while and said: 'If those five Christian groups are really born again by the Holy Spirit (i.e. they have Christ in their hearts), then they are all churches, because the church is measured by Christ.'" The three Chinese there were deeply influenced by Watchman Nee’s Locality Law or Church Ground teaching. TAS saw by their faces that they did not agree, so he asked: "What do you mean by Church Ground?" Witness Lee said: "Drawing from the 'type' in the Old Testament, Israel could not build the temple in Babylon, nor in the desert, but only in Jerusalem on the original ground." TAS said: "Yes. But what is Jerusalem's original ground?" Lee said: "It is where the Holy Spirit for the first time built the church on one locality, one church in Acts." TAS immediately knew that was the teaching of Watchman Nee’s book "Rethinking of our Mission" (1939 published in Honor Oak), so he said: "This is your interpretation! As far as I know the real Church Ground is not one locality, one church, but is Christ Himself!" When I heard this it was a shock to me because I also held fast to Nee’s teaching at that time. It was really a great shake-up to me personally to realize that Jerusalem's original ground is not one locality, one church, but is Christ Himself!



Then Witness Lee argued with TAS saying, "We say that the Church Ground is one locality one church, which means Unity in one city." TAS said: "If you mean that the Church Ground means Unity in one city, it means that you agree with my opinion, and disagree with yourselves! One locality or one church teaching or other teachings cannot bring Unity among Christians. Only Christ Himself can bring Christians true Unity, not only in one place, but also in other places! The truth is: Things divide; Christ unites!" When I heard this, it was a second shock to me; in fact, the Church Ground teaching collapsed within me and I totally abandoned that teaching from that moment.



Witness Lee argued again, but TAS said, “If you follow the Holy Spirit's leading and do something according to the examples in the New Testament, that is good, but don’t say 'this is the only way'! The Holy Spirit is too big to comprehend.” (As I understand it he meant: Don’t say that other Christian bodies are all concubines and are not the Church.) Then TAS said: "There is no need to continue this kind of meeting!" And immediately the meeting ended!



Before 9:00pm, Witness Lee came to the worker’s home where I was waiting and told me all of the above. He said: "We will never invite TAS into our midst again!" However, because I was totally changed through what I'd heard, I argued with him till after midnight – in fact until 1:00am. One thing I remember saying was, “TAS never intended to control or to capture our work, he only ministers Christ to us! If you don’t work with TAS or you refuse his ministry, which is Christ Himself, then that means you shut out Jesus Christ (Rev. 3:20)! That is a very serious and dangerous matter!” Finally, Brother Lee seemed to be convinced by me, and said, “I will work with him (TAS) again!” and I was appeased. I said to brother Lee, “If brother Watchman Nee were here tonight, he would change his position on the Locality Law”! But Brother Lee seemed to disagree with me. (This conversation was on the Friday night.)



The next Monday morning, brother TAS continued his messages on “The Persistent Purpose of God”. When he spoke (chapter nine, page 69 of the book by the same name) he said, “We must be very careful not to make Christ, or His Church, smaller than it really is. We must not make Christ smaller than God has made Him. We may not make Him just our Christ, our little Christ, the Christ that belongs to us, the Christ of our particular locality!” Witness Lee didn’t like translating this paragraph into Chinese! On the same day, at around 3:00pm, Witness Lee came to the workers’ home to see me. He angrily hit the table and shouted at me, “We hold fast on Church Ground, why did we become a Little church, a Little Christ?” I was astonished and deeply silent! It seemed to me that Witness Lee would no longer work with TAS in the future! All of the conversations above were in private, not in public. At that time I reasoned, "Whether Witness Lee works with TAS or not, it does not matter! I have been getting a New Bible (seeing everywhere the living Christ) through TAS's ministry by the Holy Spirit! The greatest need of every local church is spiritual food (the living Christ). The elementary principles of Christ (i.e. spiritual milk) are good but are not enough; we must go on and learn obedience through suffering to reach full growth (i.e. solid food). If the elementary principles become merely traditions, we lose the freshness and impact of life: ‘The grapes of Eshcol became raisins’ (Num 13:23). We have to abide in and minister new light and life - the new living Christ from the Bible - and feed Christians with solid food." Now I had begun to get this from the Bible! At the end of 1958, Witness Lee sent me to Gao-Xiong (the second largest city in Taiwan) to serve.







1959 - A Tragic year for Watchman Nee’s Groups



1959 - In the sovereignty of God, 1959 was the beginning of a tragic and terrible year for Watchman Nee’s groups (including Witness Lee). The reason: In April, after one of the Thursday evening meetings on John chapter 4, at around 8:40pm, Witness Lee (with an angry red face) made a public (not private) announcement when all the co-workers of the Taiwan churches and the local saints were gathered together in Taipei. This announcement consisted of:



(1) His formal proclamation: "From now on, I will no longer work with TAS." This contradicted his public announcement and comment in 1955: “We are going to work with TAS! He is like refined pure gold and a pressed diamond! In 1934 Watchman Nee introduced TAS and spread his ministry to the whole of China!” We were all glad to hear that in 1955, which was the first time TAS visited the Far East. Watchman Nee also referred to TAS as a spiritual man several times while he was in Shanghai in 1947. This meant that in effect, Witness Lee had stated that he would no longer work with spiritual people from 1959 onwards.



(2) He spoke evilly against TAS: He used Shandong dialect in speaking against TAS: “那天晚上(拜五)我叫他吃了一口氣﹐他第二天(其實是第三天﹐拜一)就放出來了”! Which translated means "TAS’s message (little church, little Christ) is like passing gas"!



When I heard Witness Lee’s terrible words, my whole body was shocked and I was shaken right to the core. I sighed in my heart, “O dear brother Lee, what are you doing?! Why?! Those dirty words... let it not even be named among us, as is fitting for saints – Eph. 5:3!”



(3) He cursed himself: Using Jacob's words he said: “If there is a division among us due to my refusing to work with TAS, I shall go down to Sheol in mourning!” (Gen. 37:35). ( 如果因為我不與史弟兄同工﹐而使我們中間發生分裂﹐我就悲悲慘慘的下陰間!)



This was the first time ever that there had been no prayer at the end of the meeting, and everybody went home sad! The day after, Witness Lee was sick. He didn’t do any public speaking for the next six months.



In fact, since 1961, Watchman Nee’s (including Witness Lee's) groups in Manila, and subsequently in Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Taiwan, all divided. Even today, forty years after this division, those who followed Nee’s Locality teaching and work, continue to divide and be exclusive! It’s a tragedy! In principle, those who followed Witness Lee’s co-workers and elders, including a lot of the second generation were, and are, really experiencing “going down to Sheol in mourning”. Finally some of them separated from W. Lee!



After this public announcement, whereby Lee said that he would never work with TAS again, I went back to Gao-Xiong the very next morning. Following the leading of the Holy Spirit I prepared to leave brother Lee’s co-worker relationship. Thanks be to the Lord, my wife got a teaching job in Gao-Xiong high school. Since then, I have never participated in brother Lee’s co-workers meetings. At the time, some leading brothers and sisters came to my home and wanted to support and follow me. I said to them, “No! Don’t follow me! I am nothing! If you follow me now, after three years, you will want to kill me because I am not your ideal Christian! You and I need to pray that God reveals His Son in us, so that we will all follow Him! Because of TAS’s ministry, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and I really began to see the revelation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. My life has been changing and in a revolutionary way! Please study TAS's books and receive the revelation of God’s Son by the Holy Spirit! Then we can work together in that day with heavenly vision.”



Forty years ago, the Holy Spirit forbade me to write down these historic facts, because at that time, I was learning the lessons of the Cross (i.e. learning obedience through sufferings, and subjecting myself to the disciplines of the Holy Spirit). Men may have been wrong, things may have been incorrect, situations may have been difficult, etc. but God allowed them to happen to bring my self-centered life to light (i.e. my self-conceit, self-righteousness, self-murmuring, self-discontent, self-arguments, my spiritual work, my ministry, my zeal for the Lord, etc.). That was good! When I willingly denied myself, the measure of Christ was spontaneously increased. Thanks be to the Lord! Although at that time the Holy Spirit did not allow me to work with brother Lee, Christ in my heart still loved him and prayed for him and that has never changed! In fact, all the followers of the Lamb are going to repudiate the things of the flesh, the things of the world, this natural life, legalism; even so-called spiritual works, but the living Christ in their hearts not only loves the brethren, but also loves their enemies! Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny” (Matt. 5:26).



Thanks to God, in February 1997 at a special conference, our dear brother Witness Lee made a public repentance before he died: (in Chen xing sheng yan - 晨興聖言 1997, page 50) “I have sinned against the Body of Christ, I have sinned against many brothers and sisters. For this thing, I have deeply repented before the Lord!” [ 對不起基督的身體, 對不起許多弟兄姊妹﹐(據編者所知﹐最少包括﹕ 史百克 - TAS, 繆紹訓 - Simon Meek, 陸忠信 - Faithful Luke, 吳仁傑 - Wu Ren-Jie, 陳則信 - Chen Ze-Xin, 江守道 - Stephen Kaung, 馬葵春 - Ma Kui-Chun, 侯秀英 - Hou Xiu-Ying, - and hundreds and hundreds of dear brothers and sisters!) 為著這件事我在主面前有很深的悔改! ]



Although brother Witness Lee had repented, his followers did not repent! This is our challenge! We need to repent immediately, and not wait forty years or before dying! We have to be “buying up the opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16 Gk)! Satan wants us to spend all our time engaging in Christian activities, but never to learn obedience through sufferings in our homes, in our businesses, in our service, and so manifest Christ Himself!



Concerning the "Locality law", brother Sparks wrote to us in Manila from London on April 12, 1962:


"I can only take any position on what I believe to be fundamental. For me, the basis (or ground) of the Church is quite fundamental. I cannot accept that the basis is what is called "Locality". I believe that where Christ truly is, even if it be in only "two or three" there the Church is in effect. Christ is the "foundation" (or ground), and "other foundation can no man lay". But when I have said that, brother, I feel that you are, perhaps unconsciously, involved in the "Locality" position. Do you know that that is precisely and positively the teaching and position of the people called "Exclusive Brethren"? This teaching first went to Shanghai with the leading Exclusive Brethren who tried to capture the whole work of brother Nee. Brother Nee refused to be made an official part of that body, but the teaching got in, and has gone on ever since. When I came to Manila and Hong Kong I was very sorry to see that in both Assembly Halls there were for sale many of the books from the Stow Hill Bible Dept. in England. I feared that this would lead to both exclusiveness and division, and as late as last year one of the biggest divisions took place among them. Their whole church teaching is based upon this "Locality" law. (That is, the church ground.) Brother Lee is the strongest exponent of it in the Far East. I love brother Lee and will do all possible to avoid separation from him. We must all fight hard to prevent divisions, and our ground must be Christ in all His own... I shall continue to pray for you all, and that the Lord will get a great victory over all the evil powers which are working so hard to bring dishonour upon His name everywhere... Give my greetings to all the brothers and sisters.


Yours in the love and grace of our Lord Jesus,

T. Austin-Sparks"



He also wrote:



"The great enemy does not give up his determination to interrupt fellowship and to spoil the work of the Lord by bringing division among His people. Everywhere this evil work is being pressed with increasing intensity. The enemy is set upon destroying anything that will result in the Lord Jesus coming into His full place. We must stand and withstand and do all in our power to keep this ground from him. It is costly, and it demands that we let go all that is only personal, and that we stand for the glory of our Lord's name and His interests alone... I am sure that you will never make me or my ministry a ground of division. There is no need to fight for me; the Lord is on the Throne, and He can order things to His Own Will - while we pray and trust Him."



After forty years, the Holy Spirit has urged me to write down these facts. Why? The Holy Spirit says: "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we... might have hope." (Rom. 15:4). Out of the Old Man comes praise of man and glorification of man. Out of the New Man, any reference to historical happenings should be seen as simply increasing the measure of Christ. The lessons are not only for our learning, but also for the succeeding generations. Isaiah and other saints were allowed by the Spirit to write the history of King Uzziah, how he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and God made him prosper. But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction! He became leprous, and remained a leper until the day of his death (Isa. 6:1; 2 Chr. 26)! What a tragic story it was! Paul and Luke were allowed by the Spirit to write down the history of Barnabas. He was a Levite, a son of encouragement, and sold his land for the Lord. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. He was sent out to Antioch to help Saul of Tarsus and he worked with Paul. But finally he played the hypocrite. “Even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy” (Gal. 2:13)! These historic facts or events are all for our learning, so that we might have hope! Our hope is in Christ - not in man, even a great man of God. All God’s servants themselves are nothing. “Christ is all and in all”! (Please read: “Because He Saw His Glory” and “Even Barnabas” on the http://www.austin-sparks.net/ website)



Why did God allow those things to happen? (1) The Holy Spirit leads us to “see His glory”, and shows us that men (even those greatly used by God) are nothing. (2) The Holy Spirit used the divisions of Watchman Nee’s groups as a background and opportunity for TAS to minister a lot of spiritual and heavenly messages to the whole body of Christ, from 1957 through till this very day; even though the servant of the Lord is dead, yet Christ still ministers abundant life through the servant’s words! Truly His name is Wonderful. HE has set free those who were in legalism and exclusiveness! In the sovereignty of God, there were a lot of people who opposed Paul. His opponents included the Galatians, the Corinthians and the Ephesians. But Paul learned obedience through suffering and his wonderful testimony shines through: “Now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ”! Two thousand years of Christians have been ministered to through him! We have to thank those who opposed Paul!



Today we have to thank those who oppose spiritual people! We have to recognize that from all ages and generations those who have chosen the spiritual and heavenly way and stuck to it, were opposed by earthly and soulish people! This was, and is, the woman (all saints in the Old and New Testaments) who cried out in labor and in pain to give birth to the Man Child (overcomers) (Rev. 12:1-5; 2:27; 3:21). But God’s eternal purpose will be fulfilled! “The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for the ages of the ages, Amen”! (Rev. 11:15 VM)



1960 - I published an “Overcomer” magazine in Gao-Xiong and later in Manila. Most of the messages in the magazines were translated into Chinese from TAS's books. On July 29, 1961 I received permission from TAS to translate his messages into Chinese. Now these can be read in Chinese at www.austin-sparks.net and also www.geocities.com/heraldhsu.



1961 - After Watchman Nee’s group (including Witness Lee) in Manila divided, God’s servants Simon Meek (繆紹訓) and Wu Ren-Jie (吳仁傑) invited me to Manila to serve. When I arrived in Manila, the first thing that I asked them to do was to write an invitation letter to TAS to come to Manila to help us because TAS's ministry (Christ Himself) could solve the Far East problems. Then TAS confirmed that brother C. R. Golsworthy and his wife would come to Manila to help us. Finally in 1964, TAS and his wife came to Manila to stay with us for a month. TAS held two special conferences and delivered 42 messages, leading us and the whole body of Christ into spiritual and heavenly realms. Thanks be to God! Now the 42 messages have been published in two volumes named “That they may all be one, even as we are one”. These books are available free upon request by writing to: Emmanuel Church, 12,000 East 14th Street, Tulsa, OK74128-5016, USA. Or they can be viewed at www.austin-sparks.net.



From 1962 until today - I spent a further 13 years in Manila before moving to the USA in 1973. I then spent seventeen years in New Jersey before moving to California with my family where we have been living for more than thirteen years. In all those years I have served Christians according to Paul’s words: “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him (i.e. being born again as the beginning), but also to suffer for His sake (i.e. learning obedience through sufferings during our whole life on earth)” (Phi. 1:29)! By the mercy of God, all Christians may enter into the full revelation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, so that God’s eternal purpose is fulfilled!



Herald Hsu

Los Angeles

February 2004