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"Situation-specific" or "Person-specific"?1

"Analysis & Response" strains its readers' credulity when it asks: "Did Brother Lee's call for 'one publication' establish a 'general principle' for all time or was it a 'temporary expedient?' In other words, was it a 'situation-specific' and 'person-specific' fellowship?" "Analysis & Response" claims2 that Brother Lee's fellowship regarding being restricted in one publication work only applied to the gospelization effort undertaken in Taiwan in 1986 and that since Brother Lee's passing it should no longer apply at all. It further asserts that there is no longer anyone qualified to "sound the same trumpet" in the Lord's recovery today, nor is there any "military campaign" "being currently waged which requires a 'heavenly army'" of saints to rise up to serve in one accord.

Such reasonings are the product of a darkened mentality. The author of "Analysis & Response" is evidently blinded to:

  1. The church's continual warfare against God's enemy;
  2. The ministry's leadership role in the warfare; and
  3. Particular items of the warfare today.

Knowing the respective roles of the church and the ministry in spiritual warfare and some of the particular items of the warfare today enables us to realize that Brother Lee's fellowship was neither "situation-specific" nor "person-specific" and to discern who is qualified to "sound the same trumpet" as Brother Lee today.

The Church's Continual Warfare Against God's Enemy

According to the Bible, the church of God is in a state of constant war with God's enemy. The scope of this warfare is universal and will not end until the Lord returns. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 20, the Bible records the warfare between God and His enemy, Satan, as the following points illustrate:

  1. When God gave the man he created dominion, it showed His intention to use man to deal with Satan's rebellion and usurpation of the earth (Gen. 1:26, 28).

    Gen. 1:26, 28 - [26] And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them have 5dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of heaven and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.... [28] And God blessed them; and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and 1subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of heaven and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.

    fn. 1:265 - God created a corporate man not only to express Himself with His image but also to represent Him by exercising His dominion over all things. God's intention in giving man dominion is (1) to subdue God's enemy, Satan, who rebelled against God; (2) to recover the earth, which was usurped by Satan; and (3) to exercise God's authority over the earth in order that the kingdom of God may come to the earth, the will of God may be done on the earth, and the glory of God may be manifested on the earth (Matt. 6:10, 13b).

    fn. 1:281 - Subdue here implies that a war is raging on earth between God and His enemy, Satan. Whoever gains the earth will have the victory. Man was created by God to subdue, to conquer, the earth and recover it for God.

  2. From the time God called Israel out of Egypt, the history of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, as a type of the church in the New Testament, is a history of warfare (Exo. 15:3; 17:16; Deut. 9:3). They fought to possess the good land and they fought to establish God's kingdom.

    Exo. 15:3 - Jehovah is a man of war; Jehovah is His name.

    Exo. 17:16 - For he said, For there is a hand against the throne of Jah! Jehovah will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

    Deut. 9:3 - Know therefore today that Jehovah your God is the One crossing over before you as a consuming fire; it is He who will destroy them, and it is He who will subdue them before you, so that you may dispossess them and destroy them quickly, as Jehovah has said to you.

  3. The Lord's coming was for His fighting against His enemy to establish His kingdom (Matt. 10:34).

    Matt. 10:34 - Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth; I have not 1come to bring peace, but a sword.

    fn. 10:341 - The whole earth is under Satan's usurpation (1 John 5:19). The heavenly King came to call some out from that usurpation. This certainly aroused Satan's opposition. He instigated the people under his usurpation to fight against the heavenly King's called ones. Thus, His coming did not bring peace but a sword.

  4. At the beginning of the New Testament age, the Lord likened His gospel service to a plundering of His enemy (Mark 3:27).

    Mark 3:27 - But no one can enter into the house of the strong man and thoroughly plunder his goods unless he first 2binds the strong man, and then he will thoroughly plunder his house.

    fn. 3:272 - This indicates that while the Slave-Savior was doing the gospel service, He was binding the strong man, Satan. The gospel service is a warfare to destroy Satan and his kingdom of darkness.

  5. In the first unveiling of the church, the Lord Jesus told the disciples that there would be war between the church as God's kingdom and the gates of Hades as Satan's kingdom (Matt. 16:18).

    Matt. 16:18 - And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the 6gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

    fn. 16:186 - Gates of Hades refers to Satan's authority or power of darkness (Col. 1:13; Acts 26:18), which cannot prevail against the genuine church built by Christ upon this revelation concerning Him as the rock, with stones such as Peter, a transformed human being. This word of the Lord's indicates also that Satan's power of darkness will attack the church. Hence, there is spiritual warfare between Satan's power, which is his kingdom, and the church, which is God's kingdom.

  6. The apostles Paul and Peter charged the believers to participate in spiritual warfare (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 6:11-13; 1 Pet. 4:1; 1 Pet. 5:8-9a).

    Rom. 13:12 - The 1night is far advanced, and the day has drawn near. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the weapons of light.

    fn. 13:121 - The present age is the nighttime. When the Lord Jesus returns, day will dawn. The next age, the kingdom age, will be the daytime.

    Eph. 6:11-13 - [11] 1Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the stratagems of the devil, [12] for our wrestling is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies. [13] Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    fn. Eph. 6:111 - On the positive side, in the first five chapters the church is portrayed in many ways for the fulfilling of God's eternal purpose. On the negative side, the church is seen here as a warrior for the defeating of God's enemy, the devil. To defeat God's enemy, we need to put on the whole armor of God. "Put on" is an imperative, a command. God has provided the armor for us, but He does not put it on for us. Rather, we ourselves must put it on, exercising our will to cooperate with Him.

    1 Pet. 4:1 - Since Christ therefore has suffered in the flesh, you also 2arm yourselves with the same mind (because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin).

    fn. 4:12 - This indicates that the Christian life is a battle.

    1 Pet. 5:8-9a - [8] Be 1sober; watch. Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking someone to devour. [9] Him 1withstand, being firm in your faith...

    fn 5:81 - To be sober is to have a clear mind of sobriety and self-control that we may know, especially as disclosed in this chapter, God's purpose in disciplining us and His enemy's scheme to destroy us....

    fn 5:91 - Not to resist nor to struggle against but to stand firmly, like a rock, on the ground of our faith before the roaring devil.

  7. The apostle John wrote of the man-child as the stronger part of the woman to fight the battle against God's enemy (Rev. 12:2, 7).

    Rev. 12:2 - And she was with 1child, and she cried out, travailing in birth and being in pain to bring forth.

    fn. 12:21 - The child here, being a man-child (v. 5), signifies the stronger part of God's people. Throughout all generations there are some stronger ones among God's people. These are considered in the Bible a collective unit fighting the battle for God and bringing God's kingdom down to earth.

    Rev. 12:7 - And there was 1war in heaven: Michael and his angels went to war with the dragon. And the dragon warred and his angels.

    fn. 12:71 - Immediately after the man-child is raptured to heaven, Michael and his angels begin to war against Satan. This indicates that the man-child, the stronger part of God's people, is always engaged in fighting God's enemy, Satan. They have been fighting Satan continually on earth. Heaven is waiting for them to arrive that a war may be waged to cast Satan out of heaven.

  8. This age will consummate with the coming of Christ and His overcoming army to smash Antichrist and his army (Dan. 2:34; Rev. 19:11, 19) to usher in the millennial kingdom.

    Dan. 2:34 - You were watching until a 1stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the image at its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.

    fn. 2:341 - ...When Christ comes as the crushing stone, He will not come alone; rather, He will come with His overcomers, His bride, His increase, as His army (John 3:29-30; Rev. 17:14; 19:7-8, 11, 15). During the church age, the age of mystery, Christ is building up the church to be His bride (Eph. 5:25-29). Before He descends to earth, Christ will have a wedding, in which He will marry the overcomers (Rev. 19:7-9), those who have been fighting the battle against God's enemy for years and who have already overcome the evil one (cf. Rev. 12:11). After His wedding, He as the Husband will come with His newlywed bride to destroy Antichrist, who with his army will fight against God directly (Rev. 17:14; 19:19).

    Rev. 19:11 - And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and 1He who sits on it called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.

    fn. 19:111 - After the marriage dinner, Christ will come as a fighting General with His bride (the overcoming believers called to the marriage dinner) as His army to fight against Antichrist and the kings under him with their armies at Armageddon.

    Rev. 19:19 - And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war with Him who sits on the horse and with His army.

Nearly all the teachings in the New Testament are composed with the elements of the image of God to express God in Christ through the Spirit and the authority to fight the battle and deal with God's enemy. These are the two main components of God's eternal plan, and these are the two main items of the entire teaching of the Scriptures, especially in the New Testament. (Basic Principles for the Practice of the Church Life, p. 69)

God wants to regain the earth. The earth has become a crucial place, a place that Satan wants to hold and a place that God wants to regain. The battle is over the earth. Whoever gains the earth is the winner. If Satan can keep the earth under his hand, he has the victory. If God can regain the earth, He will have the victory. The Lord Jesus has not returned because the earth is still so much under Satan's usurping. This is why God needs the church. The church must fight the battle to regain the earth, if not the whole earth, at least some stepping stones, some outpost for the Lord Jesus to put His feet upon. The earth is crucial. (Life-study of Genesis, p. 81)

The New Testament tells us that God has appointed His people to fight against the kingdom of Satan. He has assigned them the responsibility of engaging in spiritual warfare. The history of Israel's fighting against the Canaanites is a type, a picture, of the warfare raging today between us and the fallen angels and the demons. (Life-study of Numbers, p. 244)

In order for the kingdom of the heavens to be established, there must be a confrontation between the kingdom of the heavens and the kingdom of the world. These two kingdoms cannot co-exist. Because the heavenly King is establishing His kingdom on earth, warfare between these two kingdoms is inevitable. (Life-study of Matthew, p. 372)

Thus, the church is the very instrument through which God wages war against His enemy. To publicly post a statement on the Internet that there is no battle today is a call for the church to abdicate the position and responsibility God has committed to her. If the church were to heed such a terrible trumpeting, she would open the door to being overrun by the gates of Hades. To say there is no battle is a symptom of being under the stupefying effect of Satan's work. Surely against such an encroachment of death and darkness into the church there is the need of the certain sounding of the trumpet through the Lord's ministry.

The Ministry's Leadership Role in the Warfare

In this warfare, the ministry plays a particular role—the blowing of the trumpet for calling the church to battle. In the Old Testament the trumpet was sounded for the army to go to war (Num. 10:9; Judg. 7:18; 2 Chron. 13:14-15; Neh. 4:20). In the New Testament the ministry is a life and service taking the lead in the warfare against God's enemy (2 Cor. 6:7; 2 Tim. 2:3). When Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:26-27 that he was clean from the blood of all men because he did not shrink from declaring to them all of the counsel of God, his word was a reference to the Lord's charge to Ezekiel to be a watchman to warn His people to turn from their erring ways (Ezek. 3:17-19) and to blow the trumpet to warn His people of their enemies' attack (Ezek. 33:1-6). Thus, Paul applies the matter of blowing the trumpet to his declaration of the full counsel of God in carrying out the New Testament ministry and, in particular, in his words of warning and guidance to the leading ones in the church. As Brother Lee noted, in the Lord's move in His recovery since He raised up Watchman Nee in China, the ministry, particularly the publication work, is the trumpeting.

Num. 10:9 - And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, so that you may be remembered before Jehovah your God and be saved from your enemies.

Judg. 7:18 - When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, you also blow the trumpets around all the camp and say, For Jehovah and for Gideon!

2 Chron. 13:14-15 - [14] And when Judah looked back, the battle was right on them, before and behind; and they cried out to Jehovah, and the priests sounded the trumpets. [15] And the men of Judah shouted; and when the men of Judan shouted, God struck Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.

Neh. 4:20 - In whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, gather yourselves to us there. Our God will fight for us.

2 Cor. 6:7 - In the word of truth, in the power of God; through the 1weapons of righteousness on the right and on the left.

fn. 6:71 - This indicates that the apostles' life for their ministry was a life in the battle, fighting for God's kingdom. Weapons of righteousness are used for fighting that we may be right with God and men according to the righteousness of God (Matt. 6:33; 5:6, 10, 20).

2 Tim. 2:3 - Suffer evil with me as a good 1soldier of Christ Jesus.

fn. 2:31 - The apostle considered their ministry a warfare for Christ, just as the priestly service was considered a military service, a warfare, in Num. 4:23, 30, 35 (lit.).

Acts 20:26-27 - [26] Therefore I testify to you on this day that I am clean from the blood of all men, [27] for I did not shrink from declaring to you all the counsel of God.

Ezek. 3:17-19 - [17] Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman to the house of Israel, and you will hear the word from My mouth and will give them warnings from Me. [18] When I say to a wicked one, You shall surely die, and you do not warn him nor speak to warn the wicked one from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked one will die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. [19] Yet if you warn the wicked one and he does not turn from his wickedness nor from his wicked way, he will die for his iniquity and you have delivered your soul.

Ezek. 33:1-6 - [1] Then the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, [2] Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them, Whenever I bring the sword upon a land and the people of the land take a man from their midst and set him up as their watchman, [3] and when he sees the sword come upon the land, he blows the trumpet and warns the people; [4] then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and ignores the warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. [5] He heard the sound of the trumpet and ignored the warning; his own blood will be on him; whereas if he had taken warning, he would have delivered his soul. [6] But if the watchman sees the sword come and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned and the sword comes and takes someone away from them, he is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.

Here in Numbers the sound of the trumpet was called an alarm because, in God's thought, the children of Israel were continually at war. At any time they could hear the alarm for fighting. When they moved, they moved in a fighting way. This signifies that our Christian walk, our Christian move, is a fighting move. However, quite often we have been negligent in this matter and have suffered as a result. Concerning certain moves, we suffered a great deal because we did not have the consciousness that we were in a battle. We are always at war, and therefore we should constantly be under the sounding of the alarm. (Life-study of Numbers, pp. 120-121)

II. A SOLDIER

In verse 3 Paul continues, "Take your share in suffering evil as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." The apostles considered their ministry a warfare for Christ, just as the priestly service was considered a military service, a warfare, in Numbers 4:23, 30, 35 (lit.). Whenever we minister Christ to others, we find ourselves in a battle. Hence, we should not only be teachers committing the deposit to others, but we should also be soldiers fighting for God's interests.

Verse 4 says, "No one serving as a soldier entangles himself with the affairs of life, that he may please the one who enlisted him." The word for life here in Greek is bios, indicating the physical life in this age. To fight a good fight (4:7) for the Lord's interests on this earth we must be cleared of any earthly entanglement. The matters of our material, physical life should not entangle us as we are endeavoring to minister Christ to others. This ministry is a fighting, and the fighting requires that we be free from entanglement. On the one hand, the priestly service is a ministry to God; on the other hand, it is a warfare against God's enemies. As the priests were bearing the ark of testimony, they had to be prepared to fight against those who might attack this testimony. (Life-study of 2 Timothy, p. 23)

What I expect is that all the churches around the globe will take the help from this ministry to go on by the same way that we may have the morale, the impact, to fight the strong battle for the Lord's recovery. I have the full assurance that this is what the Lord needs in this age to bring Him back. This is why I am so concerned to see anything that is a little different come into the Lord's recovery. (Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move, p. 85)

God would not send out trumpeters to sound different trumpets for His army to fight the battle (1 Cor. 14:8; Num. 10:9; Judg. 7:18). This would be confusion. God is wiser than this. He will raise up only one trumpeter to sound one calling, one voice, so that His people on the earth can march on. (The Testimony of Jesus, p. 99)

We only had one publication. Everything was published through Brother Nee's Gospel Room because the publication is really the trumpeting. (Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move, p. 162)

Particular Items of the Warfare Today

To say that there is no "military campaign" "being currently waged" is blindness. Every aspect of the Lord's recovery is a struggle against God's enemy with the goal of building up the Body of Christ and producing the overcomers to end this age. This struggle includes the recovery of Christ as our life and everything, of the function of all of the members of the Body, and of the practical oneness among the believers. It includes entering into the high peak truths, the God-man living, and shepherding. It includes practicing the God-ordained way to meet and to serve and the vital group church life. It includes the propagation of Christ and the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to the entire earth.

Brother Lee never hinted that our struggle would end with his passing. On the contrary, on March 24, 1997, he said:

Now I feel strongly that God's enemy has only one thing to do: to destroy this work, a work firstly to build up the Body, then the Body becomes the means to accomplish something to produce the New Jerusalem. Here is a struggle between God and Satan. Who will get the goal? I am right away in the middle of this struggle. No Christian on this earth knows what is to build the Body of Christ, but we have the secret. However, I do not know how much the Lord would have me in this struggle, but I do know your participation in this struggle means a lot. This is the only thing that will bring in the very thing that God's heart's desire wants to have. (quoted in Ministry Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 1, October 1997, p. 95)

A particular aspect of the warfare of the ministry is to war against different teachings (1 Tim. 1:3-4, 18), including the overthrowing of reasonings and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:4-5), as factors of Satan's frustration to the accomplishment of God's economy to build up the Body of Christ in the proper oneness and one accord.

1 Tim. 1:3-4 - [3] Even as I exhorted you, when I was going into Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus in order that you might charge certain ones not to teach different things [4] nor to give heed to myths and unending genealogies, which produce questionings rather than God's economy, which is in faith.

1 Tim. 1:18 - This charge I commit to you, my child Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you might 3war the good warfare,

fn. 1:183 - To war the good warfare is to war against the different teachings of the dissenters and to carry out God's economy (v. 4) according to the apostle's ministry concerning the gospel of grace and eternal life, that the blessed God may be glorified (vv. 11-16).

2 Cor. 10:4-5 - [4] For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful before God for the overthrowing of strongholds, [5] as we overthrow 1reasonings and every 2high thing rising up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every 1thought unto the obedience of Christ.

fn. 10:51 - Reasonings and thoughts are in and of the mind. These are the strongholds of Satan, God's adversary, within the minds of those who are disobedient to God. Through the spiritual warfare, reasonings must be overthrown and every thought must be taken captive to obey Christ.

fn. 10:52 - The haughty things within the reprobate mentality that are against the knowledge of God. These too must be overthrown by the spiritual weapons that they might no longer rise up against the knowledge of God.

WARFARE FOR GOD'S BUILDING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

...The church became so desolate [by the time Paul wrote 2 Timothy] that it had even deserted Paul. Yet Paul was not discouraged. He exhorted Timothy to "war the good warfare" (1 Tim. 1:18), which was to fight against the different teachings of the dissenting ones and to accomplish God's economy (v. 4) according to the apostle's ministry concerning the gospel of grace and eternal life, that the God who is worthy of all praises might be glorified (vv. 11-17).

At that time the greatest problem was the different teachings of the dissenting ones. This problem brought in great damage to the church. Paul told Timothy to remain in Ephesus to "charge certain ones not to teach different things" (1 Tim. 1:3). For Timothy to do this was for him to war the good warfare. Hence, to war the good warfare is not to swing fists or kick one's feet. It is, on the negative side, to defeat and destroy the winds of different teachings, and on the positive side, to carry out God's economy. Paul clearly pointed out that it was insufficient merely to not teach different things; one also has to speak God's economy. Today we are faced with the same warfare. Hence, to war the good warfare, to withstand the downward drift of the church, and to carry out God's economy is to preach the gospel of grace and eternal life according to the apostles' ministry. (The Present Practice in God's Economy, Ministry Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 3, March 1998, pp. 10-11)

Was Brother Lee's Fellowship "Situation-specific"?

With this background we can evaluate the claim in "Analysis & Response" that Brother Lee's call for the co-workers in the Lord's recovery to be restricted in one publication work was "situation-specific." No one can read Brother Lee's references to his abandoning of his ministry in northern China to join himself to the Lord's work through Brother Nee without sensing his strong desire that all of the brothers would follow his pattern to preserve the oneness of the Lord's recovery by bringing their work under the one general ministry taking the lead in the Lord's recovery. Nor can one fail to detect his burden when he spoke of how his absolute oneness with Brother Nee to the point that he and Brother Nee "always behaved, acted, and took action in the recovery as one Body" was the key factor preserving the Lord's recovery throughout the course of his life. Nor can one reasonably read his statements concerning the practice of being restricted to one literature work in China and say his thought was that such a practice should be limited to China or any other geographical area. Nor can one fairly read his warnings concerning the damage done to the oneness of the churches by gifted brothers who hold on to their own works as applying only during the gospelization campaign of Taiwan.

Not only so, the factual basis of the argument in "Analysis & Response" is inaccurate. Brother Lee's word on being restricted in one publication that is recorded on pages 161-164 of Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move was not spoken in Taiwan but in the United States. Furthermore, Brother Lee had already spoken on the subject of different trumpetings in Singapore in 1985. There is no hint in those messages that he was speaking in the context of the gospelization effort in Taiwan, which did not begin until the next year.

When people preach according to their own preferences, this causes problems. For example, Apollos was one who especially knew the Scriptures and was especially able to expound the Scriptures. However, Apollos had a problem in his preaching and eventually was not in the same stream as Paul was (Acts 18:24-25; 19:1-7; cf. 1 Cor. 16:12). We all must see this matter clearly. Therefore, the co-workers must avoid this kind of problem; what we speak must be in the same one burden. I co-labored with Brother Nee for eighteen years. In all those years I absolutely did not speak my own messages. Whatever message Brother Nee spoke, I spoke the same. Not only did I not make any changes, but I even clearly told people that this was a message given by Brother Nee in such and such a place and on such and such a day. This is not to say that I did not have any messages of my own and therefore had to speak Brother Nee's messages. I had quite a number of messages that I could have spoken, but I purposely did not do it. I spoke only what Brother Nee spoke, because I saw clearly that that was the Lord's recovery at the time.

At present, the same kind of problem exists in all the localities-we are not in perfect harmony. Although we do not harbor any evil intentions against each other, everyone is speaking according to his own preference. As a result, in the church it appears that there are two trumpets, which produces an uncertain sound. An army can have only one trumpet; then the whole army will have a unified command. If there are two trumpet sounds, even if one of them is very weak, it will cause a problem. (Speaking for God, pp. 106-107)

Perhaps even more to the point is to look at the context that Brother Lee himself provided in his message on "No Uncertain Sounding of the Trumpet in the Lord's Ministry," under the subtitle "The Lord's Ministry-The Sounding of the Trumpet for the Army to Go to War." In it he spoke of the church as a universal and divine army fighting to take not merely Taiwan but the entire earth.

No one among us would consider a battle a small thing. An army that is fighting a battle needs the morale, a fighting unity. In order to maintain this morale even a little dissension concerning the smallest matter has to be killed. If that little dissenting talk is not killed, the morale will be annulled. There will be no more morale, and surely the army will lose the fight, the battle. This warns me concerning the seriousness of the Lord's ministry. The Lord's ministry is like the sounding of the trumpet for the army to go on to war (Num. 10:9; Judges 7:18). The Lord's ministry is a matter of a battle (2 Tim. 2:3 and note 31- Recovery Version).

GOD'S FIGHTING ARMY

We have to realize that the Lord's church today is a fighting army. We are doing something more serious than any battle on this earth. We are fighting against God's enemy, Satan... The church is not a mere group of people collected together. The church is a universal and divine army fighting for God in the universe against His enemy.

In modern history there have been two world wars, but we must realize that the church today is undertaking a universal war. The space of our war is much larger than today's space studied by scientists. Most of their study is confined to a single galaxy, but many, many millions of galaxies and beyond form the space in which we are fighting. We are fighting the enemy in the heavenlies, in the universal space. Our battle is great beyond measure. We are not undertaking a small battle merely for the United States or for the world. Our battle is universal. In Paul's speaking concerning the matter of interpretation of tongues, he considered that it was related to this universal battle that we are undertaking. In his talk concerning the interpretation of tongues, he used an illustration-the sounding of a trumpet for the battle. (Elders' Training, Book 7: One Accord for the Lord's Move, pp. 76-78)

We are fighting a battle. The army began the fighting already in Taiwan. Now we want to see this army increasing to fight the battle not only in the United States but also in Canada, in Central America, in South America, in Europe, in Africa, in Australasia, and in the entire continent of Asia. This is what I want to see. I am not talking about the churches, I am talking about the ministry. (Elders' Training, Book 7: One Accord for the Lord's Move, p. 83)

The scope of the battle to which Brother Lee refers in his fellowship concerning having only one trumpet through one publication work in the Lord's recovery was not limited to the island of Taiwan but encompassed the entire earth. There is also no indication that his fellowship was limited to any particular place or time. It refers more broadly to the leadership provided by the ministry in the universal warfare against God's enemy, a warfare which takes as its goal the ushering in of the Lord's return and of the kingdom age.

Was Brother Lee's Fellowship "Person-specific"?

What then of the claim in "Analysis & Response" that the call for the co-workers to be restricted in one publication is person-specific, that is, that since Brother Lee has died, it no longer applies? According to this view Brother Lee was the acknowledged leader of the churches in the Lord's recovery, and now that he has passed there is no longer any such leadership. This distorts both the New Testament record and our brother's teaching on the matter of leadership.

I. Concerning the Leadership

The dissenting ones also raised questions concerning the matter of leadership. In 1986 I gave a series of messages that were misunderstood and misused by them (see Elders' Training, Book 7: One Accord for the Lord's Move, published by Living Stream Ministry). They thought that I meant that I am the leader in the Lord's recovery. Then, in the 1987 Summer Training I gave additional messages to point out that, actually, the New Testament leadership is not a person but is the teaching of the apostles (see The God-ordained Way to Practice the New Testament Economy, chapter nineteen, especially pages 172-173, published by Living Stream Ministry). Paul's teaching, the teaching of the New Testament, not Paul himself, was the actual leadership. Today, among us the teaching of those who teach the New Testament apostles' teaching is the leading. The leadership in the Lord's recovery is actually not according to anyone's teaching, but according to the apostles' teaching, which is the teaching of the New Testament. (The Practice of the Church Life according to the God-ordained Way, pp. 33-34)

According to the New Testament record, the leadership is in the apostles' teaching (Acts 2:42). In 1 Timothy 1:3-4 Paul exhorted Timothy to remain in Ephesus that he might charge certain ones not to teach different things from God's economy. First Timothy shows us that there was some leadership that charged people to teach the proper thing. This shows that the proper leadership is in the apostles' teaching. (Elders' Training, Book 9: The Eldership and the God-ordained Way (1), pp. 29-30)

There is one unique leadership since the ministry is one (Acts 1:17, 25). Because the ministry is one, there should never be more than one leadership. There is also one unique leadership since God, the Lord, and the Spirit all are one (Eph. 4:4-6). Since there is one God, one Lord, and one Spirit, how could there be more than one leadership? The one unique leadership is for keeping the oneness of the Spirit for the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:3). Today's Christianity is divided because there are too many leaderships. Every leader has a group which is the sphere of his leadership, and that sphere becomes a division. Thus, if the matter of leadership is not applied or viewed properly, it will create division.

THE LEADERSHIP IN THE APOSTLES' TEACHING

The leadership is produced, strengthened, and also limited, restricted, in the apostles' teaching. In 1 Timothy 1:3-4 Paul charged Timothy to remain in Ephesus to do one thing with a definite purpose. He was there to charge the dissenting ones not to teach the things different from the economy of God in faith. He had to charge these ones not to teach things that were different from the apostles' teaching, which is concerning God's New Testament economy to dispense the processed Triune God into His chosen and redeemed people that Christ might have a Body to express Himself and that the Triune God might have a complete, eternal expression in the New Jerusalem. Any minister who preaches or teaches should carry out such a ministry. Otherwise, this preacher or this minister should be limited. Paul had the authority to charge people not to teach differently from God's economy. Timothy was to tell these dissenting ones that their way of teaching had to be restricted and corrected. First Timothy shows us that there was some leadership that charged people to teach the right thing....

Paul, in his work in the New Testament ministry, exercised leadership to correct those who taught wrongly, and John exercised his leadership to charge the believers not to receive those who taught heresy, which was not according to the teaching of the apostles. The apostles who participated in the ministry of the New Testament economy did exercise some leadership....

In the recovery in God's ministry, there is no freedom to preach whatever we like to preach or to teach whatever we like to teach. Our preaching and our teaching have to be restricted under the leadership by the revelation of God's New Testament economy. If someone in the Lord's recovery began to teach, stress, or promote something contrary to or different from God's New Testament economy, there would be the need of some leadership to restrict this. Then there would be no confusion. There would never be confusion in the Lord's recovery if all of us had a clear revelation of the ministry in God's New Testament economy...

THE LEADERSHIP IN ACTUALITY

The leadership in the New Testament ministry in actuality is not the leadership of one controlling person. In the Lord's recovery we reject the notion of one person controlling persons and matters. We do have some leadership, but not the leadership of one controlling person. Instead, we have the leadership of one controlling revelation in the one ministry through those who bring in the revelation of the ministry. The revelation controls, and it controls through those who bring in the revelation. The revelation in the Lord's recovery controls us and restricts us. (The God-ordained Way to Practice the New Testament Economy, pp. 167-173)

To say there is no need to be restricted in one publication work is to say there is no leading through the Lord's speaking in the ministry today. It is to claim that we are in a period akin to that recorded in Judges, in which everyone did what was right in his own eyes. To say this is to open the door to unclean ambition, "pocket churches," private (unblent) co-workers, and different teachings. To be restricted is a protection. The way of being restricted through blending is a practical outworking of the reality of the Body of Christ. Those who are unwilling to take the restriction of being blended with others reject Brother Lee's fellowship for the continuance of the ministry he and Brother Nee brought to the Lord's recovery.

Who Is Qualified to "Sound the Same Trumpet"?

"Analysis & Response" asks: "Which brothers today are qualified to 'sound the same trumpet' as Brother Lee?" This question, which is a blatant challenge to the leadership of the blended co-workers in the Lord's recovery, is actually the wrong question. It is not a matter of which brothers today are qualified to "sound the same trumpet" as Brother Lee. The real question is: Which brothers today are sounding the same trumpet as Brother Lee?

When Moses departed the scene, some could have argued that Joshua was not qualified to replace Moses in the leadership of God's people. To say this would have been rebellion against God's arrangement. As one who was commissioned by the Lord's through Moses' charge, Joshua continued in the revelation God had given to Moses; he was not free to take his own way (Josh. 1:7; 8:35; 11:15). Similarly, under God's leading the kingship was passed from David to Solomon, yet Solomon was not free to build the temple according to his own design; he received the detailed pattern from David (1 Chron. 28:11-12a). The principle is the same in the New Testament. When Paul was martyred, Timothy was not free to reinterpret or selectively omit portions of the apostles' teaching according to his own feeling (1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 3:10). Likewise, when Peter's martyrdom was imminent, he said he repeatedly reminded the brothers of "the present truth" so that "you may be able, after my exodus, to bring these things to mind at all times" (2 Pet. 1:12-15).

Josh. 1:7 - Only be strong and very courageous, being certain to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Do not turn away from it to the right or to the left, that you may have success wherever you go.

Josh. 8:35 - There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read before all the congregation of Israel and the women and the little ones and the sojourners who went among them.

Josh. 11:15 - As Jehovah had commanded Moses His servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that Jehovah had commanded Moses.

1 Chron. 28:11-12a - [11] Then David gave Solomon his son the pattern of the portico of the temple and its buildings and its storehouses and its upper rooms and its inner rooms and the building for the expiation cover; [12] and the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit...

1 Tim. 3:15 - But if I delay, I write that you may know 1how one ought to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth.

fn. 3:151 - This indicates that this book gives instructions concerning the way to take care of a local church.

1 Tim. 4:6 - If you lay these things before the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, being nourished with the words of the faith and of the good teaching which you have closely followed.

2 Tim. 3:10 - But you have closely followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, endurance.

2 Pet. 1:12-15 - [12] Therefore I will be ready always to remind you concerning these things, even though you know them and have been established in the present truth. [13] And I consider it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by a reminder, [14] knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle is imminent, even as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. [15] Moreover I will also be diligent that you may be able, after my exodus, to bring these things to mind at all times.

The ministry is the sounding of the trumpet to battle. Paul's word in 1 Corinthians 14:8 indicates that there should not be an uncertain sounding of the trumpet lest it cause confusion among the churches as God's army.

1 Cor. 14:8 - For also if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?

Different teachings, whether "scriptural" or not, constitute an uncertain sounding inasmuch as they are not in line with the general ministry in the Lord's recovery. When there is such an uncertain sounding, the only way to discern which to follow is to recognize which trumpeting is according to the entire blueprint of God's building which has been delivered to the church through His revelation to His apostles. When you consider the apex of Brother Lee's ministry in his last years-the high peak of the divine revelation, the God-man living, the God-ordained way-the question becomes: who has and who has not continued faithfully and absolutely to speak according to the fullness of the interpreted Word and of the Lord's up-to-date move which Brother Lee delivered to us?

Near the end of his life Brother Lee shared a message entitled "Be Right in Following Others." In it he said we should "be careful in following any co-workers whom you appreciate and to whom you are attracted." He listed the following criteria:

  1. He should be a person loving the Lord, living for the Lord, and renouncing his self, natural life, preference, and ambition.
  2. He must hold the complete revelation of the entire holy Scriptures properly without any twisting and deforming.
  3. He must be one who endeavors to keep the oneness of the Spirit, the oneness of the universal Body, by taking the unique ground of the local church.

(A Word of Love to the Co-workers, Elders, Lovers, and Seekers of the Lord, p. 49)

By challenging whether anyone is qualified to sound the same trumpet as Brother Lee today, the author of "Analysis & Response" seems to imply that there should be no trumpeting of the ministry today. This, however, is an impossibility. The very nature of ministry is to sound the trumpet, to lead the Lord's people. Where there is ministry, there is the sounding of the trumpet. The question is whether this trumpeting will be certain or uncertain, whether there will be the same one trumpeting throughout the Lord's recovery producing one accord, morale and impact or different trumpetings producing confusion and ultimately division. May the Lord grant us all the grace to follow the one trumpeting of the New Testament ministry, of the apostles' teaching concerning God's economy in the fulness in which it has been unveiled to us.

Notes

1Some of Brother Lee's most direct fellowship on the relationship between being restricted in one publication and the one accord as the factor of the morale and impact of the church is contained in the following two books, which we commend to you for your reading: Elders' Training, Book 7: One Accord for the Lord's Move and Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-pulse of the Lord's Present Move, particularly chapters 9 and 11.

2The author of "Analysis & Response" might protest in mock innocence that he was merely asking questions, not making claims or arguments. However, the form of his questions is clearly rhetorical and a "rhetorical question" is defined as "a question posed without an expectation of an answer but merely as a way of making a point" (The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition, edited by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil, © 2002, Houghton Mifflin Company). Thus, referring to such questions as claims or arguments is entirely appropriate.