Because There is Living Water Coming From [God], Divine Grace and Love Have Filled the World
In Memory of a Chinese Christian, Witness Lee, A Herald of Christ to Carry Out the Divine Revelation in the Present Age
Watchman Nee was from Fukien in southern China, while Witness Lee was from Shantung in northern China. It was indeed the arrangement of fate that these two became close co-laborers. They were in the midst of the explosion of the Renaissance in China. Young intellectuals with great expectation either joined political movements or cultural reforms. However, Nee and Lee saw that only God could save China, even the entire human race. They gave up their promising future in this world to give themselves fully for the advancing of God’s move at this end time.
The Birth of the Local Churches and Its Growth
Under the influence of Asian culture, family hierarchy, and traditional religion, the intellectuals in China at that time misunderstood and despised Christians. Christianity was branded a Western religion, a part of the Western cultural colonization. Not fearing difficulties, Watchman Nee and Witness Lee were absolutely loyal to the Bible, accepting the Bible in its entirety. They absolutely did not depend on man’s natural thought to add or subtract doctrines not existing in the Bible. Based on the pure word of the Bible, they found that Christianity had been laden with 1900 years of man-made traditions, concepts, thinking, and methods. Therefore, they left the chaotic denominations in Christianity to meet as one church in one locality according to the pure revelation in the Bible. They realized that the Church should not be divided by different teachings; by exalting one man; by one particular spiritual fact or interpretation of the truth; or by differences in race, nationality, social class, or spiritual condition. The local churches came into being surrounded by Christian denominations.
The local churches were completely self-initiated groups. After men heard the gospel and believed the Lord to be saved, they very naturally formed into a church, completely without the interference of foreigners from other countries. The meetings of the believers were not limited to specific formalities. There was no need of marvelous, grand, luxurious church buildings. The believers could meet everywhere, from the living room to the seashore to the mountaintops. The services in the church were taken care of not only by a small number of people, but by a system of service in which everyone bore responsibility to do his or her job. The responsible ones in every place absolutely consecrated themselves from deep within; what the preceding ones did, the succeeding ones followed. The local churches finally spread rapidly like wildfire across a wilderness to the entire nation. During the war of resistance against the Japanese, as all the denominations closed down due to the lack of foreign support, the local churches stood unshaken.
In 1949, when Homeland China’s political situation changed, Witness Lee would have rather been with the co-workers and was extremely unwillingly to leave, but Watchman Nee pushed and commended that Witness Lee must go far away overseas. Witness Lee could only obey this command. At the end, he not only followed Watchman Nee’s commission to preserve the continuation of the local church, but also enhanced and propagated churches throughout the entire earth.
On August 1, 1949, Witness Lee officially started preaching in Taipei. Within five or six years, the number of believers increased by one hundred-fold to as many as 40,000 to 50,000 people. He held trainings for full-time serving ones. The content included character, gospel, service, perfecting, church, Bible reading, etc. The co-workers raised up during this time later became useful key figures in the work in Taiwan and the Far East. Between the years 1950-1961, he yearly went to the Philippines to shepherd the churches. In 1957, the propagation of the local churches reached Japan. Now Japan has churches in over seventy localities. In 1965, the propagation came to South Korea. Now South Korea has churches in almost eighty localities. He also visited the churches in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, and the churches in Southeast Asia prospered steadily..
In 1962, Witness Lee came to the United States to formally bring the testimony of the local churches to all of the United States and spread [the testimony] throughout Canada. In the United States, the local church is the group that most successfully blended the Chinese with all classes and races in harmony. He also traveled back and forth to strengthen the churches in South America and Brazil. Up until now, there are close to seven hundred churches in South America. He visited Australia and New Zealand in 1971, and there are twenty-six churches in New Zealand and Australia now. In 1983 and 1984, he visited and shepherded the churches in the land of Europe twice, and local churches spread to several European countries and now there are churches in close to twenty localities in Europe.
In 1991, the former Soviet Union collapsed. Witness Lee again received a commission from the Lord to lead the local churches to propagate to Russia. In that polar land covered with ice and snow, brothers and sisters labored to open the new frontier for the Lord steadily and solidly. Finally, they bore abundant fruit. There are churches in two hundred localities all over Russia now, immediately followed by spreading to Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, and other eastern European countries.
Except for Homeland China which cannot be accurately accounted for, local churches have spread to all the major continents around the earth. In sixty-five countries, there are churches in close to three thousand localities.
Since Pastor Morrison entered into China to announce the gospel in the beginning of the nineteenth century, there has been close to two hundred years of Christianity. The West had continuously attempted to build a bridge of communication between Christianity and Chinese society. Due to the differences between the eastern and western cultures, there were complicated misunderstandings and conflicts between the one who preached the gospel and the one who received the gospel that still remain unsolved to this day. However, the local church, founded by Chinese themselves rose up unexpectedly in a little bit more than half a century to spread to all the earth. This is a significantly important event, the most splendid chapter, in over two thousand years of Christian history.
The Recovery of the Revelation of the Pure Truth in the Bible
In our observation of the local churches, or “the Lord’s Recovery,” we notice a unique quality, which is its fervent love and pursuit for the Bible. This of course is absolutely related to its leading one, Witness Lee. Both he and Watchman Nee had the attitude of absolutely using the Bible as a measuring standard. Therefore, they would rather give up traditions to follow the Bible. Even though some of the revelations of the truth in the Bible were not in accord with man’s natural understanding, Witness Lee and Watchman Nee would not avoid speaking [them]. As a result, this often caused many attacks. Some, without understanding, followed by repeating and spreading what they heard.
Watchman Nee gleaned through the divine revelation throughout the centuries to obtain the gems, the real treasures. He revealed more than fifty items of important revelation in his foresight. In 1952, Watchman Nee was imprisoned. Witness Lee continued the work. He reached for higher grounds and attained to the high peak of the divine revelation. There are thirty nine Home points in nine categories in the divine revelation released by Witness Lee, concerning God, Christ, the Spirit, salvation, life, the believers, the church, the practicality of the church, and the New Jerusalem, etc. These items, encompassing the whole Bible in their breadth, exacting in their minuteness in details, fully portray God’s eternal desire towards man.
The most important recovery of the church of the Lord’s Recovery is not the recovery of the truth, but the recovery in life. Right after a believer believed the Lord and was saved, immediately he was led to know the human spirit, and Christ as the life-giving Spirit, and also he learned to live in the spirit of two spirits mingled as one, to live and act in the spirit, exercising to be completely one with the Lord. The faith in Christ is not to add the bondage of one more doctrine on top of existing human ethics, but receiving Christ as new life and life supply to experience the organic salvation of Christ everyday, taking Christ as the realm to live and act.
They especially emphasize daily prayer and Bible reading as well as receiving the transfusion and supply of the divine life. Through the metabolic transformation, gradually God’s life and nature is constituted in man. Man, by the inner, divine life, spontaneously is able to live out the superior attributes.
We listened to his word and observed his actions. Witness Lee was indeed one in speaking and action. His speaking, work, and living were one. Occasionally, hearing some small story, people were moved. When he ate, he not only limited the kind of food but also limited the quantity as if taking medicine, never giving ground to the lust of his mouth and stomach, bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit – self-control. Of course, this also enabled him to attain longevity. One time he felt that he did not speak to his wife according to the spirit. He apologized to his wife immediately after that. Another time he felt that he was not renewed enough, not living enough in the spirit. Immediately he repented to the Lord. In fact, these are neither wrong doings nor committing of sins, but his spirit is so sensitive, expressing the purity and maturity of his life.
He not only practiced what he taught, but also led the brothers and sisters in this exercise, moment by moment receiving Christ as life supply that man can be like God in life and nature, which expresses the image of Christ outwardly. Eventually, man will match God in life and essence. God and man, the universal couple, will consummate in the New Jerusalem, expressed in endless ages of joy and glory. This is the glorious determined fate and destiny of a Christian.
If you are not a Christian, as long as you live on this earth, you will have the puzzling question of “Where do I come from, and where shall I go?” You will have all kinds of evil temptation and anticipate the grief and joy of life regardless of success or failure, or highs and lows…. Tens of thousands of blessings and loving reminders are all in the New Testament. It is a treasure store of truth, unveiling the mystery of the universe to open up the meaning of human life. It is your fountain of flowing life.
One of the most notable aspects in Witness Lee’s success was in his writings. He started to write gospel tracts at a very young age, and submitted spiritual writings to Christian publications. After he and Watchman Nee became coworkers, he shared in Nee’s written ministry. He was responsible for answering letters from all over regarding the recovery of life, the recovery of the church, and explanations of the scriptures. He also recorded and edited messages released by Watchman Nee, served as substitute editor in “Collections of Newsletters,” and as editor in “The Christian” and the hymns.
In 1949, Mr. Lee went to Taiwan to preach the gospel. He set up Taiwan Gospel Bookroom according to Nee’s commission to continue the publication of Nee’s messages and was responsible for the written ministry overseas. In 1951, the periodic magazine “Ministry of the Word” was published, recording the messages released by Mr. Lee.
In 1963, Witness Lee established the Living Stream Publisher in Los Angeles, which later became the Living Stream Ministry to publish his messages given in the United States. In 1974, the Living Stream Ministry moved to Anaheim, and the center gradually expanded to include offices and a meeting area with the capacity to hold three thousand attendants. The publication has also broadened to include many aspects. The publishing includes bibles, books, periodical magazines, audio tapes, video tapes, CD, radio programs, and web site services, etc. to circulate over the whole earth in over twenty different languages with the majority being in English, Chinese, and Spanish.
The result of Witness Lee’s written ministry is extremely rich. The following items are chief among his work:
Life-study of the Bible: Witness Lee collected the essence of the Bible exposition throughout the centuries, and opened one by one the sixty-six books in the bible with the focus on life. He started this extremely difficult and huge work at the age of seventy, and completed it in twenty-two years. This could not be done without extraordinary perseverance. This work has shown us his excellent diligent, faithful, and persevering character. This marvelous work is a spiritual treasure store given by the Lord to His vast number of children, and is also called the masterpiece of Witness Lee’s ministry.
The Crystallization-study of the Bible: Witness Lee was not content in just finishing the Life-study of the Bible. Immediately, he followed up by releasing the crystallization-study messages in the Book of Romans, James, Song of Songs, and the Gospel of John, etc.
The New Testament Recovery Version: The most popular Chinese Bible translation is the Chinese Union Version completed in 1919. It was noted for its elegant and easy-reading style. However, with the discovery of ancient manuscripts since that time, the divine revelation throughout the centuries has recovered gradually. The daily use of the language has also gradually evolved with time. Due to this great need, Lee started to re-translate the bible from the original language of Greek. He upheld the meaning of the verses in its original language, and used the Chinese Union Version and more than several other translations in both Chinese and English, along with over thirty Bible expository books as references. It took twenty-one years to complete the translation. It covers over nine thousand footnotes, written based on the divine light and revelation received by Christians throughout the centuries, and the author’s life laboring in the truth of the Bible. The footnotes were complete in every detail and have four major functions: (1) to explain the truth, (2) to supply life, (3) to solve problems encountered in the Bible, and (4) to open up every book of the Bible. This translation covered the scriptures in its breadth and depth. It was rich in Bible exposition, accurate and reliable, and conveys the most precise translation. This is also a collection of the gems of the divine revelation from the various aspects of Christians throughout the centuries.
Hymns: Witness Lee was also a poet. Within a conservative estimate, throughout his whole life, he had written over one hundred hymns. He translated, (either from Chinese to English or from English to Chinese), over five hundred hymns. He edited over a thousand hymns. The words he used were deep and the sentences were precisely well ordered, fully showing the depths of his training in Chinese and his superior achievement in English. These hymns not only uplift the singers’ spirituality, but also are truly an exhaustless literary treasure store.
Witness Lee dedicated himself to train people. Now, there are full time training centers all around the world including Taiwan, America, Russia, Korea, England, Indonesia, and New Zealand. Graduates of this two-year training program become instrumental in the local churches as they serve in different localities or propagate overseas. Numerous successors carry on Witness Lee’s spiritual torch to enlighten the world with God’s light.
Accumulating a great amount of hard labor, not fearing the enemy’s attack, Witness Lee set several historical records. He is one of the most prolific writers in publications on Biblical study. (There are over five hundred books written, with many remaining to be published.) He founded the worldwide, multi-racial Christian organization, Living Stream Ministry. He was one of the evangelists who served for a very long time in Christian history. He also established the church organization that most successfully blended all classes and all races in the entire United States.
In analysis of his unique character quality that enabled him to succeed, perseverance was the most crucial. He would not quit until he succeeds. He was a perfectionist, as well as a pragmatist. Once he started, he had to do his best, or he rather not does it. He strictly disciplined himself, not neglecting any detail, and maintained order in a very proper way in his bookroom and household. For decades, he kept his everyday schedule, studying diligently without a bit of looseness. At an advanced age, he still memorized new vocabularies before he went to bed every night. He studied to get to all the truth in the Bible, never avoiding difficult questions.
We find it hard to summarize Witness Lee in one phrase or in one sentence, for he preached the gospel as a pioneer, guarded the truth fiercely as a warrior, wrote books as a great scholar, spoke for God as a prophet, shepherded God’s children as a shepherd, taught the truth in endurance as a teacher, and had system of thought better than philosophers. He could start a great work and also could carry on and maintain the work started. He lived simply as a stoic. He drew building plans and built like an architect, and designed tables and chairs as a designer. He did well in English, Greek, accounting, etc. All these various adjectives can not describe one tenth of thousandth of all that he is. We saw in him the glory of God’s attributes the great love and human virtues.
Chief Huei Liu
Consultant Chin-Nien Tang
Editor-in-Chief Ling-Yuen Wu
Translator Ming-Deh Fu
Copyright 1999 AC Media Inc.
All rights reserved.
Used by permission.