The Practical Building Up of the Local Churches

By the Function of Every Member

The New Testament reveals that Christ is building the church not by Himself directly, but rather in and through all the members of His Body. This is clearly expressed by Witness Lee:

The apostles’ teaching in the New Testament shows us that Christ builds up His Body through all of His members. Ephesians 4 shows us that Christ as the ascended Head gave the gifted persons to perfect all the saints to do the same work as they do to build up the Body of Christ. This is the way that Christ takes to build up His Body. The gifted persons should not replace the other saints. They should teach and perfect the saints so that the saints can do the same thing that they do. Then all the members have a share in the building up of the Body. All the members should be put to use.

(Witness Lee, Eldership (2), 157)

In his ministry Watchman Nee also emphasizes the need for the spiritual participation of each member of the local church:

We should first establish the principle that all of God’s children are priests who should serve God. With this principle in view, let us see how we can lead all the brothers and sisters to be priests in a local church. In other words what kind of arrangement should we have in the spiritual work so that all the believers can participate in the spiritual things, both the new believers and those who have known the Lord for many years? We need to see which spiritual things in a local church can be taken care of by the brothers and sisters.

(Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 3, Vol. 51, 27)

Commenting on God’s intention to raise up a universal priesthood among the local churches, Watchman Nee writes:

First Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 show us that in God’s arrangement or plan, there is no such thing as one pastor monopolizing the service of the whole Body. Neither is there such a thing as one group of brothers and sisters serving while another group of brothers and sisters is being served. What we see in the Bible is the whole Body being a priesthood. The whole church are priests. God’s intention was for all the Israelites to be a kingdom of priests. But in actuality, not everyone was a priest. The situation among the local churches today is a little bit better than this. The brothers and sisters have the liberty to pray, to sing, to preach, and to take up responsibilities. But we have to realize that this is still not the church. The church is built upon the universal priesthood of the whole Body. The church is not built upon a few brothers and sisters….Once the priesthood is universal, we have the church. We have to see that service to God is not a question of three or five people serving, or thirty or fifty people serving. Our service to God today must be entirely different. In order to serve God today, everyone has to rise up to do the work.

(Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, Resumption, 489)

Finally, Witness Lee succinctly states the need for each member of the local church:

Every member of the Body of Christ is indispensable (1 Cor. 12:22). Do we really believe that every member of the Body in our local church is needed?…Paul said that even the weakest ones, the smallest ones, are needed in the Body of Christ.

(Witness Lee, Eldership (3), 52-53)

Thus, every member in the local church is necessary because each one has an indispensable share in the building up of the Body of Christ. Watchman Nee and Witness Lee realized the vital importance of every member and labored to bring all the believers in the local churches into function for the building up of the Body of Christ.




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