Additional Quotes about the Local Church by Witness Lee and Watchman Nee

To build up the church, the proper teaching is needed.

(Witness Lee, Eldership (2), 155)

a. The Need for Spiritual Education in the Local Churches

Both Watchman Nee and Witness Lee believed that the brothers and sisters in the local churches need a spiritual education that the church may be enriched. Thus, the churches, which represent localities, not doctrines or teachings, are served by the ministry of the Word. This spiritual education begins with the announcing of the gospel.

After Watchman Nee resumed his ministry in 1948, he fellowshipped several times with the brothers about the critical need to provide believers with a spiritual education. As a goal, he wanted to provide basic teachings to every brother and sister in the church so that they could have a solid foundation of the truth and express the same testimony among the churches. Messages for Building Up New Believers, Volumes 1—3, contains fifty-four lessons for new believers, which Watchman Nee released during his workers’ training in Kuling. These chapters are rich in content and all-inclusive in scope. The truths are basic and crucial. It was Watchman Nee’s intention that every local church use this material to build up its new believers, finishing all the lessons in the course of one year and then repeating the same lessons year after year.

(Watchman Nee, Messages for Building Up, v)

If the Lord delays His coming and His servants remain true to Him, He will certainly raise up new ministries in the Word. He will open up special truths to meet the specific needs of His children. Some of the hearers will question the truths, others reject them, and others condemn, while there will be those who gladly respond. What should the attitude of God’s servants be? They must be fully persuaded in their own minds that there can only be one church in one place, and that all truth is for the enrichment of that church. If it receives the truths God’s ministers proclaim, let them praise Him; if not, let them praise Him still. No thought must be entertained of forming a separate “church” comprising those believers who support the special doctrines emphasized. If in the local church a number of people receive their teaching, then they must still remain there. No divisive work must be done in the local church. Those who receive the truth may use their spiritual teaching and spiritual power to help their fellow members, but they must not use any divisive methods to support the truth they have embraced. If we always bear in mind that the churches of God are only formed on the basis of locality, much division among the children of God will be avoided.

(Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 2, Vol. 30, 113-114)

If we wish to maintain a scriptural position, then we must see to it that the churches we found in various places only represent localities, not doctrines. If our “church” is not separated from other children of God on the ground of locality alone, but stands for the propagation of some particular doctrine, then we are decidedly a sect, however true to the Word of God our teaching may be. The purpose of God is that a church should represent the children of God in a locality, not represent some specific truth there. A church of God in any place comprises all the children of God in that place, not merely those who hold the same doctrinal views.
Should we arrive at a place where a church has already been established on clear local ground, and discover that its members hold views which we consider unscriptural, or that they consider the views we hold as unscriptural, if we then refuse to recognize them as the church of God in that locality and withdraw from fellowship, we are divisive. The question is not whether they agree with our presentation of truth, but whether they are standing on clear church ground.

(Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 2, Vol. 30, 89)

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