Description : This issue of The Ministry of the Word contains the first eight messages given during the fall 2016 term of the full-time training in Anaheim, California. The general subject of this series of messages is "The Failures in the Churches, the Degradation of the Church, the Overcomers in the Church, the Recovery of the Church, and the Stages of the Church." This issue comprises the first three components of this fivefold subject. This general subject unveils the decline of the church and illuminates our need to return to the orthodoxy of the church. The term orthodoxy refers to God's way for the church as ordained by Him and revealed in His Word. The practice of the church that is according to God's original intention was present in the early years of the church before degradation set in. We may say that orthodoxy is the equivalent of the word normal. Thus, the orthodoxy of the church is the normal Christian church life. The overcomers are normal Christians in a time of abnormality. Moreover, the principle of returning to the orthodoxy is the same as that of recovery. In order to be faithful to the Lord and to His word, we must forsake mere tradition and return to what God originally intended for the church. Concerning the actual practice of the church life, three particular matters must become clear to us and real within us. First, we need to have a genuine vision of the church and see the church as the Lord Himself sees the church. From the Scriptures that have been opened and rightly expounded to us through the ministry, may we have the veil lifted from our heart, receive the shining of the divine life, and have the sight under the anointing. Then we will begin to realize what the church is to Christ and how He views the church in its actual condition. In Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord Himself addressed many matters in the church, but before doing so, He presented to John a vision of the church as golden lampstands. In the eyes of the Lord all seven churches--including Thyatira, Sardis, and Laodicea, as actual local churches--were seven golden lampstands. This indicates that intrinsically, these seven churches were the embodiment and expression of the Triune God. Second, we need Christ's view and understanding concerning the degradation of the church. The Lord Jesus is absolutely clear about the degradation in the churches; nevertheless, it is He who regards the churches intrinsically as golden lampstands. Although the churches, in their history and actual practice, may be degraded in various ways, we need to see everything not from our natural perspective but as the Lord sees. Third, we need to know and carry out His way to care for the church in its condition. We are able to do so because we are governed by the vision of the church and have the Lord's view and understanding of the degradation in the church. We need to know how to minister life, how to conquer the satanic chaos, and how to present the truth. The co-workers in particular need to learn of the Lord how to represent Him and how to carry out His administration to establish and maintain the order in the churches. We need to be one with the Lord to minister Him according to the various situations. Message 1 identifies that the weaknesses and failures in the churches are due to the principle of Babylon, which is hypocrisy. To overcome this principle we must take Christ as our burnt offering. As the burnt offering, Christ is the One who is absolute for God and for His satisfaction. When we take Christ as our burnt offering and consecrate ourselves to, in, with, by, and through Him as our burnt offering, we become ashes. The ashes of the burnt offering were handled by the priests in a very stately and dignified way by placing them on the east side of the altar. The east side is the side toward the sunrise and is an allusion to resurrection. By being brought into resurrection, we are brought into the transformation of the Triune God to become gold, pearl, and precious stones, which are the building materials of the New Jerusalem. Hence, the ashes eventually become the New Jerusalem. This should be our daily experience. Messages 2 through 4 show that we need to consider the degradation of the church so that we may be inoculated against the decline. This divine and mystical vaccine will prevent us from repeating the failures in the churches and from falling into degradation. This inoculation will bring us back to the straight way of God's economy concerning the church. We need to take the straight way to be one with the persecuted Jesus by going outside the camp and bearing His reproach. The straight way is for the believers to be brought into the church in the way of life and built up in this life into the Body of Christ to bear the testimony of Jesus. The Lord's recovery is for the preparation of the bride, and in order for the bride to be prepared, the local churches must become in reality both the Body of Christ and the one new man. The Body is an organism through which the Lord can move to carry out His administration, and the one new man is a corporate person who will fulfill Genesis 1:26, expressing God with His image and representing Him with His dominion. In God's wise organic salvation, the Body and the one new man become the bride. Messages 5 through 8 consider the overcomers in the church. Instead of expressing a hope that everyone in the church will suddenly become absolutely faithful to the Lord, the Lord calls for overcomers. The Lord Jesus Himself is the first Overcomer (Rev. 3:21; 5:5), and He will reproduce Himself in those who have the heart to be produced as overcomers. The Reports and Announcements section of this issue contains reports from the January and February 2017 gospel trips to South Africa and Europe. There is also a list of upcoming conferences and trainings hosted by Living Stream Ministry and a website link for information related to similar events in Europe.
Description : This issue of The Ministry of the Word contains the nine messages given during the International Training for Elders and Responsible Ones in Gold Coast, Australia, on October 6 through 8, 2016. The general subject of this series of messages is "Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church." We urgently need to come back to the orthodoxy of the apostolic church. The orthodoxy of the church is the church according to the teaching and practice of the apostles. What is orthodox is the New Testament apostles' vision, revelation, teaching, practice, direction, and ministry. In the mid 1940s Watchman Nee gave the messages published in The Orthodoxy of the Church. In the preface to the English edition, Witness Lee writes, "What we urgently need today is to come back to the orthodoxy of the beginning and stand firmly on the ground of locality" (The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 47, p. 6). In The Orthodoxy of the Church Watchman Nee is one with the Lord to identify what is not normal and what is degradation; he also identifies what is the orthodoxy of the church--the apostolic church as revealed in the New Testament. In this issue we will see from Revelation 2 and 3 that only the church in Philadelphia returned to the orthodoxy of the church. We may already have some knowledge about this subject. However, we need to be in fear and trembling lest we would have confidence in our knowledge and understanding and think that there is nothing new to see, gain, or experience. To have such an attitude is to have the spirit of the Laodiceans, who boasted and said, "I am wealthy and have become rich and have need of nothing" (Rev. 3:17). In principle, the elders and responsible brothers are the messengers representing the church, are responsible for the church, have a heart to care for the church, and recognize that they are under the Lord's direct authority concerning the church. The Spirit speaks to the churches; the Son of Man, however, speaks to the messengers. The entire book of Revelation is the revelation of the person of Jesus Christ and not the revelation of locusts, beasts, or so many other things. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ, and concerning Jesus Christ. If we  are to return to the orthodoxy of the church, we cannot merely return to teachings and practices; we must return by way of the person, Jesus Christ, the One who knows the situation of every local church and of every messenger of every local church. If we have an increasing vision of what is most on God's heart for His eternal satisfaction--the bride, the wife, the New Jerusalem--we will be beside ourselves in the Spirit. In the first three chapters of Revelation we can see how the Lord cares for the churches. Even in His awesome majesty, He must judge them in order to gain them. In the final two chapters the Lord Jesus sent His angel for the particular purpose that all His dear churches would see the final vision (cf. 22:16). From the beginning to the end, the Lord cares for the churches. This word should at least give us a heart to see what John saw and to treasure and care for it. The Reports and Announcements section at the end of this issue contains the winter 2016 mass distribution update, a list of upcoming conferences and trainings hosted by Living Stream Ministry, and a website link for information related to similar events in Europe.