House Church Talk - Re: The Local Church (

Paul Cox paulcox2 at
Fri Sep 26 07:50:07 EDT 2003

Thomas wrote:
Before he died, as the story goes, he entrusted his ministry to his
trusted and closest protege Witness Lee who then continued the LC legacy
in Taiwan and then the States in the early 60s...

A slight correction if you don't mind, brother Thomas.  As the story
goes, when the communist took over China, around 1949, Watchman Nee
refused to leave the saints on the mainland, but insisted that Witness
Lee go out and continue the crucial work.  This Witness Lee did, on the
Island of Taiwan, where the work flourished.  It has been written and
history has proven that Witness Lee had a real talent for organization.

Within a couple of years, Watchman Nee was taken prisoner by the godless
communist, for the testimony of Jesus.  He spent the remaining 20 or so
years in prison until his death, around 1972, having never tasted the
freedom of body from those confines.  Watchman Nee suffered immensely
for the Lord.  Many legends and exaggerations have been spread
concerning what he went through there, as is usually the case with
someone of such stature. However, all indications from the most reliable
sources say that Watchman Nee remained faithful to the end and died a
martyr's death, although no one really knows how he actually was
released from the imprisonment of his frail body.

Concerning Witness Lee - how do we know that Watchman Nee told Witness
Lee to go out and continue the work?  Well, because "Brother Lee told us
so".  In all fairness though, there must have been witnesses to this
incident.  At any rate, the Lord's way is never to send out one.  If
Watchman Nee sought to single out Witness Lee for sending, then he was
wrong in that move.  It is the Lord HIMSELF that does the sending, and
He never sends less than two.  Two is the number of witness.  Were the
sending completely of the Lord, Witness Lee would have had someone his
equal to check him.  But the history of the Local Church sadly indicates
that Witness Lee had no one that he considered his peer. 

In 1986, about the time of the beginning of the Local Church split,
Witness Lee spoke a series of messages to elders and co-workers in
Taipei, Taiwan.  The content of those messages has recently been put in
book form under the title, "The Vision of the Age".  This book has been
widely circulated among the Local Churches, but to my knowledge is not
available to the general public.  So in love are the LC saints with this
book that one brother proudly declared that he had read it through nine
times.  In that book, Witness Lee tries to make the case that in every
"age" (age as defined in the book is actually more like a generation or
several generations)God only entrusted his vision of what he was doing
on the earth to "one person".  These two words appear throughout the
book.  Lee begins with Adam, goes throughout the Old Testament, the New
Testament and Church History, pointing out that in each "age" there was
only "one person".  If you are not following that person, then you are
not at the center of what God is doing.  At the conclusion of the book,
even though he doesn't come out and say it, the implication is strongly
there that HE, Witness Lee, subsequent to Watchman Nee, is that "one
person".  Therefore, the Local Church saints, without a doubt believe
that Witness Lee was the Apostle for this age, and that the "Local
Church" aka "Recovery", is the Lord's up-to-date move on the earth.  In
their less than public gatherings, they boldly declare it to be so.  If
you confront the dear Local Church saints about this, they will dance
around the issue, but be not deceived, that is what they believe. 

I think that maybe bro. Lee had the best of intentions way back in
China.  Only the Lord really knows.  But somewhere along the line, as
usually happens with controlling leaders, he thought that he might loose
control, and felt the need to assert himself as the "one person".  The
saints in the "Recovery" are sweet and precious, as are those in many
sectarian groups; but we must pray for them, that this stronghold be

This should also serve as a warning to us.  This type of thing always
begins in a seemingly small way, with an individual feeling that their
opinion is the right one, and everyone should come around to their way
of thinking.  Many of us in the "house church" circles find ourselves
relatively isolated, and it becomes easy for us to be deluded into
thinking that our little universe is on the mark of what God is doing -
like the frog in the well that will swear up and down that the little
blue circle above his head is THE sky.  Well of course it is, but it's
only a small part of it.  We would do well to heed Paul's word to the
Corinthians.  If any man thinks he knows something, he does not yet know
it as he should (paraphrased). 

Paul Cox      

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