This booklet was written in the 1970s to respond to the criticisms of the Christian Research Institute (CRI). CRI has since withdrawn its criticisms and reversed its earlier conclusions (see “A Brief History of the Relationship between the Local Churches and the Christian Research Institute”). The text of this booklet is published here for the historical record, for the important points of truth it addresses, and because CRI’s criticisms, although withdrawn, are still repeated by others.
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The Christian Research Institute (CRI) has published a booklet entitled The Teachings of Witness Lee and the Local Church. Because this booklet contains many false accusations and presents a distorted picture of what Witness Lee and the local churches believe and practice, it is necessary for the Christian public to be given an opportunity to know the truth. This article is one of a series in which false accusations made by CRI are refuted.
Watchman Nee has pointed out that “a cry to God from the heart is sufficient” for one to touch the Lord and be saved. In What Shall This Man Do? (p.45) he says concerning this:
In the words of Joel, quoted by Peter: “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How is this possible? Because God has fulfilled the other promise (quoted by Peter from the same prophecy) that: “I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17, 21). Because the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon all mankind, a cry is enough.
Then he goes on to refer to Romans 10 and to point out that
The Holy Spirit is like the light. Open the window-shutters even a little, and it will flood in and illumine the interior. Let there be but a cry from the heart to God, and at that moment the Spirit will enter and begin His transforming work of conviction and repentance and faith-the miracle of new birth.
Salvation is not first and foremost a method or a thing—it is a Person, God Himself in Christ. In the words of Isaiah 12:2, “Behold, God is my salvation. . . . the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” David declares this: “The Lord is my light and my salvation” (Psa. 27:1). In Psalm 62:2, he says of God, “He only is my rock and my salvation.” Since salvation is a Person, the Triune God Himself as life and everything to us, we experience this salvation through a living, personal contact with Him. Looking upon the child Jesus, whom he held in his arms, Simeon exclaimed, “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation” (Luke 2:30). Simeon knew that this was the fulfillment of the promise “that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). To see the Lord’s Christ is to see God’s salvation. Because salvation is a wonderful Person and involves a living contact between us and this Person, the Lord Jesus said to Zaccheus, “This day is salvation come to this house” (Luke 19:9). Zaccheus received not only certain eternal benefits through God’s boundless grace; he received a marvelous Person—the Lord Jesus Christ.
Watchman Nee was one who knew well that in preaching the gospel our first object must be to lead people to the Lord Himself. In the book What Shall This Man Do? he says, “The main question is whether or not we have the Son, and not, first of all, whether or not we understand the whole plan of salvation. The first condition of salvation is not knowledge, but meeting Christ” (pp.39-40). In the same chapter, entitled “Catching Men,” he goes on to say, “I have come to see that all that is needed for the initial step is that there should be a personal touch with God” (p.40). Watchman Nee points out that a person’s greatest “need is to see the Lord Jesus Himself, and to meet Him and to ‘touch’ Him” (p.43). “Salvation is not initially a question of knowledge,” he says, “but of ‘touch.’ All who touch the Lord receive life” (p.42). Watchman Nee learned that in bringing others to Christ, to convince them of certain points is not the first thing. The first thing is to bring them into direct contact with the Lord. He observes, “Salvation is not a question of ‘points’! Salvation is not even a question of under-standing or of will. It is, as we have seen, a question of meeting God—of men coming into first-hand contact with Christ the Saviour.” (p.45).
Our study of the Word of God and our experience over many years confirm Watchman Nee’s testimony that what people need initially is not belief in a body of teachings, nor even certainty as to all the facts concerning how God accomplished redemption through the death of Christ, but a direct, personal touch with the living Christ. He is the Savior, even our very salvation. When people contact Him and believe into Him, they are truly saved. This is our belief, teaching, testimony, and practice concerning the way of salvation.
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