The Practical Building Up of the Local Churches

By Life

The Body of Christ, expressed as local churches, is built up in the divine life and by the ministry, or supply of life—just as the human body exists, grows and develops by life. The church is not built by organization, gifts or doctrine. The following excerpt from Witness Lee’s The Experience of Christ as Life for the Building Up of the Church addresses this matter.

Throughout its history the church has always been divided by gifts. But it can never be divided by the ministry. If we focus our attention on the gifts, we will be divided within a short time. But if we forget about the gifts and pay our full attention to the ministry of life, we will always be kept in oneness. This is why we stress again and again that the gifts cannot build up a local church, but the ministry can….This is the way to have the growth in life so that a ministry might be produced for the building up of the Body of Christ.
What is needed for the building up of a local church is the ministry of life, not the gifts. In order to illustrate this point, I would like to tell a story about Brother Watchman Nee and an elder sister by the name of Miss Barber, who helped him very much. As a young man, Brother Nee always admired good speakers. When he and Miss Barber went to hear a few speakers, Brother Nee told her how wonderful they were. But Miss Barber would say, “That is just doctrine with human eloquence. There is no life there.” In other words, there was no ministry with these ones.

(Witness Lee, Christ as Life, 128-129)

Elsewhere Witness Lee affirms that only Christ as life builds up the local churches:

The age of the Lord’s recovery today is the age of Christ as life, as the life-giving Spirit, and the church life. By experience we can say that there is no other way the local churches could be built up solidly and livingly but by Christ as life in our spirit. What we should be experiencing now day by day is the greater Jonah and the greater Solomon: the greater Jonah to be our resurrection life, and the greater Solomon to accomplish God’s eternal purpose by building up His house and then His kingdom. Hallelujah, today we have Christ as the greater Jonah and the greater Solomon!

(Witness Lee, Footnotes, 48-49)

These passages by Witness Lee make it clear that the only way to build up the local church, the expression of the Body of Christ, is by Christ as life, not by any gift.




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