This message is a part of the 1978 Labor Day Weekend Conference held in Seattle, WA.
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 11:23–28; 2 Corinthians 2:1–8; 1 Corinthians 5:1–5; 2 Corinthians 2:12–14; 2 Corinthians 3:5–18
A Review of the Four Spiritual Practices to Produce a Savor
Praise the Lord. We will continue to view this peculiar person, the apostle Paul. I do believe that with the illustrations we gave this morning, we would all have a deep realization: to follow the Lord is not according to what we think. This is totally in another realm, and is totally against our self life. Then, at the end of this morning, we gave four practical points. I had a thought that, after a simple fellowship, it should be over. But I feel that maybe we will abide in these points a little more, because these things are so very basic and so very practical. Only when you exercise these things will you be able to go on in the church life.
Be Covered by the Lord’s Presence
First, you must be covered with the Lord’s presence. Any time you find that the Lord’s presence has disappeared, don’t regret it and don’t be bothered, just turn to the Lord to be covered with His presence.
Experience Christ Subjectively on All Practical Matters
Second, we must experience Christ on all the practical matters subjectively. Christ should never be about objective things. We are far away from idols. We don’t belong to idols. Today, with us, we have a living Christ. This living Christ is within us, and also, this living Christ is the very pneuma that covers us. This Christ is within us. This Christ also covers us with one desire: that we should experience Him all the time. We should experience Him in all the practical things, subjectively.
You know, brothers, I do believe that for anyone who is covered with the Lord’s presence, naturally, he would experience Christ on all the subjective matters, but many times we are forgetful and we are busy and we rush on our way and we forget Him. Then a lot of things happen just to remind us: turn to Christ. When you walk on the street enjoying the popular song and thinking about the wonderful lecture the professor has given on a certain day — all of a sudden, a dog jumps out and barks at you. Haven’t you had this experience? You know, immediately that wakes you up and you say, “O, Lord!” The Lord seems to say, “Very Good. This dog is my servant to make you turn to Me.”
Brothers, we must learn to turn to this wonderful Christ all the time and experience this wonderful Christ all the time. Even some of you, because your mind is fast, and your spirit’s understanding is fast, you just hate when the sharing brother repeats their message. So when I am here repeating what I shared this morning, you get bothered, “Would you please go on?” No — I am not going on. I am just helping you to experience Christ. Subjectively. Now. When you’d like to go so fast, when you’d like to run, when you’d like to say, “Give us another message,” here I am so slow. Abiding in the old things we heard, seven to eight hours ago, and seemingly you know them all! But when I am speaking, if you are bothered, it just proves that you don’t know! We have to learn to experience Christ subjectively on all the practical matters.
Brothers, when you go to the barber shop, you should for sure pray, “Lord, help the barber cut my hair out of shape,” so that naturally you turn to the Lord! Why? You love your hair and you love your head. Many times—I do believe all of the brothers have this experience, not once or twice, but many times—after you have a haircut you get so mad. Mad at your barber, mad at your dollar, mad at the time, mad at the waiting, mad at the whole thing. You say, “I waited an hour and a half and the haircut takes fifteen minutes and they charged me six dollars!” Brother, you have to praise the Lord! The hour and a half is for you to turn. The ugly haircut is for you to turn. The six dollars is for you to turn. Even the barber’s ugly smell is for you to turn! The Lord is so willing to arrange all the circumstances together. Some are awful, some are sweet. Some are terrible, some are enjoyable. But whatever that is, no experience should be for the experience alone. Every experience we have in our daily life, if we are spiritual, they all should just help us to experience Christ subjectively.
What is Spiritual Growth?
Brother, you have to realize: What is spiritual growth? Young brother, do you know what spiritual growth is? I tell you, spiritual growth simply means the increase of Christ. And how can Christ increase? The increase of Christ simply comes by the anointing, which adds the life of Christ in you. Is that clear? Do you remember brother Nee talking about anointing? Or brother Lee talking about anointing. The brothers always shared to us it is like painting. One coat, and two coats, and three coats and four coats. You know, in Watchman Nee’s hometown they are very famous with a kind of local products, and that is even made with painting — one coat, and another coat, and another and another.
I tell you, all those who are covered with the Lord’s presence — all those who experience Christ all the time — naturally, they have a healthy spiritual growth. Do you agree with me? You just think about it. For instance, I am a brother. I love the Lord, I love the recovery, I make sure I will never miss Sunday morning’s meeting. So all the coating of Christ is limited to the two hours on Sunday morning. That is all my spiritual feeding — spiritual growth — that I gain before the Lord. Just those two hours a week that is on Sunday morning. But another brother — maybe a young brother — maybe a high school brother. Are you a high schooler? No, are you a high schooler? Maybe this young brother. What is your name?
Young Brother: Sid.
Titus: Sid. Sid, Ok Sid. Maybe brother Sid, surprisingly, is different. He is not coated with Christ for two hours. He is coated with Christ twenty-two hours a week. Every week, it’s merely three hours a day. That is not too much, right? But his one week’s growth equals my ten week’s growth. Because he was coating and coating and coating with anointing every week for twenty-two hours. And I was coating and coating and so, over just two hours. So surely, after one year, this brother will be so spiritual, so fresh, so living. He will know so much of spiritual things, but how about me? I will still drag on and drag on and drag on, and finally, drag on. Every week I come to the church life for two hours. If any one of you practices in this way, please, I am not talking about you, I am just talking about the facts. Really! Because I don’t know anyone here, so I don’t have any way to talk about anyone. You see, brother, all your spiritual growth comes with these things. If you were someone even more prevailing, you could be covered by the Lord’s presence forty hours a week. And some will even be covered seventy hours a week — that means ten hours a day. And some will be covered with the Lord’s presence so strongly, even in the midst of their dream they begin to shout, “Lord Jesus I love you!” Oh, another coating in a dream. I tell you, brothers, for sure the growth will be so much.
Don’t learn techniques. You have to realize, if there are any useful techniques, the Lord must have given them to us already. You read the whole Bible — I’ve read the New Testament I don’t know how many times, but I just can’t find any techniques. Why? Because, the Lord would say, the technique doesn’t work. Woe unto those who play techniques, for the failure is theirs. Blessed are those who are abiding in anointing, for the growth is theirs! The more you are covered by the Lord’s presence, the more you experience Christ subjectively, the more you have the growth, and the growth gives you the spiritual capability to exercise the gift the Lord has given to you. Naturally, you become so useful. Naturally, you have a kind of technique that belongs to you only, because that comes with your life.
Look at me, I am Titus. When I hear something bad about me, I always say, “Well, what can I do? I am Titus.” When I hear something good about me, I always say, “I am Titus.” There is no way for you to be me. You just try — any one of you try to be me, you just don’t make it. How could you imitate my peculiar English? And how could you have my peculiar utterance? I am what I am, but brothers, you have to realize not one thing of my being I learned as a skill. Everything just comes by the proper growth in life. By growth in life, something is formed in me. Then, naturally, I exercise a certain kind of spiritual life.
Attach Yourself to Some Brothers or Sisters and Live for Those Who Are with You in Your Locality
Then, let’s come to point three, that is, attach yourself to some brothers, and point four, live for those who are with you in your locality. I still feel maybe we can cover these a little bit more.
(Editor’s note: Point four is covered in the next two sections, “Paul’s Concern for the Churches” and “Two Sides of Living for the Brothers. Then point three is covered in the section “Paul’s Unrestfulness in Spirit.”)
Paul’s Concern for the Churches
Paul’s Sufferings (2 Corinthians 11:23–28)
Can we read a few more verses again? Can we turn to 2nd Corinthians? I think there is a verse in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. O Lord Jesus. In chapter 11 I believe, let me see. I have a problem with the English Bible. Yeah, yeah verse 28. There is a very good verse pointing out where the apostle was. If you will read from verse 23 to 27 you find out a very peculiar daily life. He begins to say, for instance, in the later part of verse 23, “..in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in death often.” That means, all the time he was in trouble. Then, “of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.” Even this writing is peculiar. This really is a peculiar person — why didn’t he say thirty-nine times? He said forty times save one. Then, he says in verse 25, “thrice was I beaten with rods, once was i stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep” — that means in the deep sea. Verse 26, “in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”
I tell you brothers, you come to this point, everyone has to say this person is too peculiar. Nobody wants to live this kind of life. You just think about, if Seattle were to write me a letter, “Titus, we would invite you to come over, but on the way here you will be striped forty times save one, and you will meet some countrymen — your Chinese countrymen and American countrymen — but they all will be your problems. You will be stoned. You will be put into prison on your journey. Are you still willing to come?” Surely I would say, “I am too busy in Ohio.” The Lord today seems to give us a kind of convenience so that we don’t know what Paul is talking about. All we need to do is this: somebody drives us to the airport, then we get into the airplane, then somebody picks us up from the airport and then feeds us a good steak. You see, everything with us is so smooth. Everything with him seems so hard. There’s no cheesecake, there’s no candybar, there are no basketball teams. There’s just a kind of suffering.
But look! Listen to verse 28 — that was even more peculiar — it says, “besides those things that are without, that which come upon me.” — I have a change, something like “conspiring,” “— conspiring against me daily, the care of the churches” — you know, the word “care” is better translated to burden. “The burden,” or “the anxiety.” You can even translate it, “the distraction,” which is not a good translation. “The burden, the anxiety, the distraction of the churches.” What bothered me the most is not these things — I can be put into prison, that’s okay; I can be put in prison, that’s okay; I can be striped, that’s ok; I can be stoned, that’s okay; but don’t you know, that one thing bothered me the most would be the burden, the anxiety, of the churches. I am always bothered. I am always concerned about the situation of the churches.
Then he said, “Who is weak and I am not weak?” Then, “Who is offended and I burn not?” Brothers, do you understand this verse? If a brother is weak he doesn’t say, “Oh, you are weak? You can’t make the recovery. We are going on.” No! He said, “When one is weak — when he is weak, I am weak.” When a person is weak, he says, “Who is weak and I am not weak?” (2 Corinthians 11:29)
Then he says, “Who is offended and I burn not?” When a brother is offended because we shout so loud — because we did something quite peculiar — we might have to say, “Oh, let him go to the Baptists” — don’t say this! You’ve got to burn! What does that mean? That means, “I don’t know what to do. He is offended. He wants to walk out. He wants to leave here and I can’t take it. I must keep him here because this is what God is after. I am for this person just as I am for the Lord.” Therefore, Paul said, “Beside all the things that are outside” Do you know, brothers, he said, “Beside all the things…” but the real thing was the burden of the churches. The anxiety of the churches. How do I exercise this burden? How do I exercise this kind of anxiety? He said, “Do you know who is weak and I am not weak?” and “who is offended and I burn not?” Surely, he knows what is the Body.
Paul’s Love (2 Corinthians 2:1–8; 1 Corinthians 5:1–5)
You know, from these verses let us turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 2
Chapter 2 we will read a story here. Verse 2 — start with verse 2. He said—I’m gonna read verse 1 — “But I judged this with myself.” If there is any change, you just listen to my change, OK? “But I have judged this with myself that I would not come again to you in heaviness. For if I grieve you, who is he then that makes me glad?” You realize how he lives for the church. “If I grieve you, who is he then that makes me glad, but the same which is made to grieve through me. And I wrote this saying unto you that when I come I should have grief from them of whom I ought to rejoice, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all.” That means “If I am happy, my happiness comes from your happiness.” Then, verse 4: “For out of much tribulation and anguation — or distress — of heart I wrote unto you with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.” He said, “Do you know, I did write you something. When I wrote this to you, I didn’t write with happiness. I wrote with tribulation. With anguish. But not because I want you to be grieved, but because I want you to know I really love you.”
Brothers, you must realize only those who really love the recovery can be bold and frank to where we are. Only those who love the recovery can be bold to display their heart in our presence. That is why Paul says, “Because I love you.” … and then speaks to comfort him. Otherwise, this person may be so much in grief he would be swallowed up by the grief. That is not good! Verse 8: “Wherefore I beseech you that you would confirm your love towards him.” You know this portion is very interesting. When you first read it, you just don’t know what it is talking about. What are you talking about, “My grief, your grief, and in tribulation you are not in grief—” you just don’t know why Paul wrote a portion like this.
Paul’s Righteous Wrath
Now, if you turn to 1 Corinthians you will know. I believe it is in chapter 5. In chapter 5 there is another portion, just exactly opposite to 2 Corinthians chapter 2. Here he says, in verse 1, “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.” That means his step-mother. Then, “And ye are puffed up and have not rather mourned, that he that has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that has so done these deeds. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ to deliver such a man unto Satan.”
Now, you read this portion and you begin to realize here, this peculiar person — a fornicator — married his step-mother. What he did, even among Gentiles you don’t find. He says “it’s not named among Gentiles.” Even among Gentiles, you don’t hear this so much. But this brother has given us about twelve verses in the Bible. The first part was Paul’s righteous concern about the church. The second part is Paul’s loving tender concern about the church.
In the first part, Paul was strong. Paul said, “Don’t you know, church in Corinth, it was reported commonly that there is fornication among you. Don’t you know what is happening among you? There is a brother among you who married his step mother! This kind of thing, even among the Gentiles, they don’t see this kind of thing.” He was in the wrath of righteousness. Then he said “You fools, and you are puffed up. You are proud and have not rather mourned — there is no repentance among you. Though you should have taken him away, you didn’t do it.” He says, “Do you know what I did? I verily, as absent in body—I am not with you, right? I am far away, but present in spirit. I couldn’t tolerate any church having something like this. I couldn’t tolerate any church having the practice of fornication with one member— especially the marriage of the step mother!” He said, “Therefore, when you are meeting together, my spirit flies all the way to your meeting. I was absent in my body — in my flesh — but my spirit comes all the way to your meeting, to attend your meeting, to be with you. I am strong.” To do what? He said, “Do you know? I have come and judged already. You elders don’t do the job? I do the job. How did I do it? In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, my spirit, together with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such a one unto Satan.”
I tell you brothers, surely this is apostleship. Am I right? He loved the church so much. With him, there is no tolerance. A church has a brother who behaves himself improperly, and the apostle is burdened and strong, therefore his spirit flies all the way over and does what? And judges this very matter. And delivers such a one unto Satan. You know, brothers, do you catch the spirit here? How Paul cares for the church? He doesn’t please them. He doesn’t say a good word about them. He says, “You guys are puffed up — you guys are awful! There is one member among you in fornication, yet you don’t even take care of it. I will fly over and take care of it!” They say, “How did you fly over?” “My spirit flew over! I was in your meetings! When I participate in your meetings, I execute authority from God: ‘Deliver such a one unto Satan for the corruption of his body.’”
I tell you brothers, when I was young I loved this portion. Not because I loved Paul’s wrath in righteousness, but I loved “to fly in my spirit.” I was wondering, when could I write a book like this? That I could say to a certain church, “You guys goofed, here I come.” “Who’s coming?” “The apostle Tito is coming, here comes the apostle!” But brothers, I am not joking, don’t think I appreciate this — you all appreciate this. All the young people like this portion. Very heroic. You just read this portion and you just have a sense, “Here is a man of God, saturated with the wrath of God, executing the authority of the apostles, flying over miles to the meeting in Corinth and delivering the fornicators unto Satan. Isn’t that glorious?!” Oh, brother don’t laugh — you tell me, isn’t that glorious? For sure, I tell you — and maybe you are holy and more of a saint than I am — but at least when I was young, I just read this portion, and I just have dreams, “Lord, just give me some growth. Some day, I will just fly around and I will deliver somebody to Satan.” Oh, Lord Jesus.
Paul’s Tribulations and Anguish of Heart
You know, brother, this is our understanding. We never realize what is behind this. We never realize that when Paul was writing this portion with a Godly wrath, he says what — that is in 2 Corinthians chapter 2 — he said, “Do you know how I did it? For out of—” verse 4 “—for out of much tribulations and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears.” Could you believe this? When you read 1 Corinthians do you see any signs of tears there? You don’t! But, don’t you realize, the reality is, the tears were there. Paul said it clearly: “Don’t you know that out of much tribulation—” that means, just like I am delivering a baby, I am in tribulation — “in that tribulation with much anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears in those verses. I didn’t just carry myself as a ‘Superman,’ or ‘super apostle’ flying around, judging people and sending people to Hell.”
He said, “No. Don’t you know, when I heard there is a brother among you who had fornication, I am bothered. The church should have never tolerated this. On the other hand, when I realized I am going to deliver a brother to Satan out of God’s righteousness, I couldn’t take it. I have a lot of tears. I have much tribulation. I was in the Lord’s presence. I had a lot of grief. Don’t you know, brothers, I don’t want to do these things; I do these because I love you.”
Two Sides of Living for the Brothers in the Church Life
Do you know, brothers, in the church life we have to live for the brothers in these two sides. On the one side, we should live for the saints — in a sense, without caring for how offensive we can be. We are the testimony of Christ. Nothing in the church life can be cheap. Nothing in the church life can be low. Nothing in the church life can be of flesh. Nothing in the church life can be of soulish ability. Everything in the church life must be of the outflowing of the life of Christ. On the other hand, with such a prevailing, healthy attitude, within us there should be a kind of tenderness. There should be a kind of tear. There should be a kind of mourning for those who are weak. Don’t condemn. Don’t judge. Don’t rebuke. Don’t complain. Don’t talk behind their back. Just be before the Lord: “Lord, be merciful to the situation. Be merciful to the situation.”
You know, on the one hand, you should be so righteous, as Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 5; on the other hand, you should be so tender, so much in lovingkindness, as Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 2. These are the two aspects to show us how we should live for the brothers who are with us. Only by this, our whole being was burdened, was occupied — not was, but is — burdened and occupied by the brothers and sisters who are with us. When they are strong, we are strong. When they are weak, we are weak. When they are prevailing, we are prevailing. When they are defeated, we are defeated. When the brothers are heavenly, we are heavenly. When the brothers are low, we become low. Our whole beings are under the control of the brothers and the sisters. Then, at the same time, while our presentation is so fervent, so strong, so much in the righteousness of God, so high and so godly and so heavenly, within us is filled with a kind of loving tenderness.
The Heart of a Serving One
I visited a place — I forget where, maybe it was Toronto, or maybe it was a place in Texas. Just after visiting that place, I came home from my trip. Right after I got home, one of the elders — we lived beside each other — he came and said, “Titus, there is something I want to let you know. It is over, but I just want to let you know.” I said, “What is it?” He said, “A certain sister, for some reason she began to talk with another couple, and this couple talked to another couple, and they began to talk about negative things about the church.” I said, “What?!” He said, “They began to talk about negative things.” Then this elder — he is a nice, very lovely brother — he said, “Brother, but I’ve talked with them already; it is over, maybe you don’t have to talk with them about it.” So I said “Okay.”
Not long after he left, the sister called me, “Hallelujah, welcome home!” When I picked up the phone I got quite unhappy. So I told her, I said, “Sister, I heard you were talking nonsense when I was away.” She said, “Oh, it’s not my fault! They got me into it!” I said, “I don’t care who got you into it. Don’t you realize the seriousness of this?” I told her, “Sister, don’t you realize? You are doing this; you are killing the body. You are cutting the brothers out of the proper fellowship with the saints in the church life.” Then my word became very strong. I told her, “Sister, I would never tolerate anyone in the church life not one with the leading ones.” I surely was hard. When I was hard, she began to weep. When she began to weep, I was about to weep. But I had to tell myself, this is a time you cannot weep. After this time you can weep. So I just continued. I was strong. I was firm. I told her, “Sister, I would never tolerate anyone do these kinds of things any more. This is totally Satanic — devilish.” Then she said, “Okay, brother, I will never do it again.” Then she hung up the phone. Right after she hung up the phone I began to cry.
To rebuke brothers is not a small thing. Don’t think, “One day I will be the elder and I will sit there and all the young people come and I’ll say, ‘Yeah, what’s your problem?’” Brothers, you all laugh, but isn’t that young people’s idea? “I am waiting.” Waiting for what? Waiting for a promotion? Promotion to what? Waiting for a career? What kind of career? A career in the recovery? What kind of career? One day I will be Joe the Second. One day I will sit beside Joe and I will say, “Don’t you know?! You never do these kinds of things!”
Brother, you never realized the heart of the serving one. The serving ones, they are not like this. I spoke a hard word to that sister. Afterwards I went upstairs and I cried. I really cried. I said, “Lord, I don’t want to say a hard word to one sister. You forgive her. You cover her. You uphold her. Make her offended not. Bring her, help her, stand with her. Substantiate Your presence in her, even in this moment.”
I tell you, in the next meeting she didn’t come — in the weekend, she didn’t come. I got nervous. I checked with my wife: “Sister so-and-so didn’t come. What happened?” My wife said, “I don’t know what happened. I realized she didn’t come.” Really, my wife didn’t touch the church at all, she is a simple sister. But she got concerned because she heard a little bit how I was tough with the sister. Then, she called somebody else and found out she went for a vacation that was pre-planned. So it had nothing to do with my word. I said, “O, Lord, thank you. I didn’t offend her. O, Lord, thank you.” Brothers, she was happy with the vacation. She never realized those who serve her, what a price we paid. One word. One heavy word. One word of righteousness may take away our sleep, take away our food, may give us no rest for days.
To Live for the Church Is the Hardest Thing in Our Life
You know, brothers, this is to live for the church. To live for the church is not a small thing. Don’t just say this, “My hair is for the church, my head is for the church, my eyeglasses are for the church, my pants, my trousers, my shirts, my shoes, my socks, everything is for the church—” praise the Lord for this, this is wonderful, but this is not to live for the church. Because of the saints, you must present yourself prevailing. You must present yourself godly. You must present yourself as if you are walking in the Lord’s presence. You are such a heavenly person. Then, at the same time within you, there is no condemnation. There is no judgement. There is a lot of tribulation, a lot of tears, a lot of sufferings, a lot of concern related to how the saints are going on.
Brothers, that is why I still feel the burden to share this portion with you. You must realize that to live for the church is the hardest thing in our life. To give ourselves to the church is simple: “Lord, I’m here!” Now you give yourself to the Lord. To release your spirit is simple: “Praise the Lord!” then you are there. It’s simple. Even to fellowship with saints is simple: “Hallelujah, brother, I really love you, amen.” There is fellowship there. But, to live for the brothers and sisters is not simple. It is not simple. Yet for you to be healthy, for you to be normal, for you to go to follow the Lord, you have to learn the lesson: I don’t live for myself. I don’t live for myself — my whole life is for the church. Not just outwardly; not just with my dress, with jobs, with cars, with houses — more than this, my inward, my outward, daily life is for the church. I dare not allow myself to be defeated. For whose sake? For the church’s sake. And I dare not condemn any of the weakest members. For whose sake? For the church’s sake.
On the one hand, I should be the most prevailing; on the other hand, I must be the most tender. Isn’t that a tough job? The weaker ones always appreciate lovingkindness. Do you know what I mean? “I only make one meeting a week but the Lord has mercy; Good Lord, praise the Lord.” The prevailing one is always bothered, “Why don’t you make this one meeting? Why don’t you function?! Get up!” Don’t laugh at me, all these are the real things. Don’t think I am just making a display — I mean what I say. Many of the young ones get fervent: “The older ones, you older ones, you are the ones who kill the meeting; we young ones exercise ourselves and you older ones don’t even know how to say ‘Amen.’” Brothers, you watch, you never know what it is to live for the church. You are merely caught with a kind of excitement. If you live for the church, you never dare to live like this. Even the smallest brother, even the most ungifted brother, even the most quiet brother, if you don’t have tribulation in your heart, don’t talk about them. You are only qualified to talk about them — you are only qualified to help them — when you have tribulation in your heart and when you have many tears — that is the time you begin to render them the proper help before the Lord. Does that make sense?
The Church Hurt by Divisive Talk
Do you know what I’m talking about? Are you one with my burden? Surely, I would like to ask: are you one with my burden? You know, the church has been somewhat hurt by some improper — Lord cover me with His precious blood — maybe I use the word “slogan” — some improper slogans, such as, “The elders control us,” and “We young ones, the ball is in our hand—” I don’t know what kind of a ball that even is— and, “If you are at the campus, that is where the action is.”
Have you heard that kind of a statement? “I just want to be where the action is.” And I feel very bad because I just stay in Cleveland, I am not in any action. All of these are causing divisions. Finally, the older ones get defeated, the old ones get bothered, the old ones begin to say, “Okay, the church is the young ones’, but we love the church. What do we do? We just love the church.” And the young ones are playing around, they don’t know what they are doing, they make cheesecakes, they make corn or candies and they do all kinds of things — just one thing: there is no Body testimony. No Body testimony. You know, brothers, can we, from now on, all drop these things?
Lord cover me with His precious blood—I say it in a very healthy, good spirit: these kinds of talk are devilish. You have to take my word. Please, if you are offended, please, after the meeting, come to me; let me explain to you. These kinds of talk are definitely devilish. Dividing the elders and the people. “The elder controls you,” therefore two classes are produced in the church life. And then, “We young people are useful, the ball is in our hand.” You see, not only are the elders and the young divided, but the young and the old are divided. Then, even among young people, some are in where the action is and some are in where the action is not. There are some working young people and some students. And the student young people are more glorious. Then after a few years you join the non-glorious team.
Brothers, let me just ask you a simple question: Do you believe this is God’s economy? (No!) Do you believe the Lord wants this kind of thing? (No!) Do you believe the Lord in heaven would say, “Oh, Joe, you control too much! Let me take the young people away; let’s have an exodus or something!”? Do you believe the Lord would do this kind of thing? All these talks, brothers, you have to take my word in a very good way. I am not losing my temper; I am not emotional. I just tell you in my spirit: This is — I am afraid we are just under the influence — there is a good word in Chinese [???] — it means “trick.” We are under the trick of Satan. Satan uses this to damage the Body, hurt the Body, ruin the Body, destroy the Body. For anyone that is so much in this thing, after a while nothing is clear anymore. Nothing is clear— you brothers believe me, nothing is clear anymore.
Am I too much? If I am too much, I really ask for forgiveness. This is the first day I meet you and I begin to say things like this. But I am just faithful. I do believe, within me, there is a full conviction that this is something from the evil one to trap the church; to bring the church’s recovery into a place that is degraded, demoted, degraded, low. Make the recovery lose its nature.
Two Kinds of Exercise
Praise the Lord, by the Lord’s mercy, now we need to realize: where are we? We are in the Body. And in this Body there are all kinds of members. With all kinds of members, we need two kinds of exercise: the outward daily life, and the inward spiritual realization. Outwardly, we need to be prevailing, strong, bold. In the Lord’s presence, carrying God’s righteousness. Inwardly, we need to be tender, in tribulation, in meekness, in many tears for the saints who are not going on with us, or are not able to go on with us. Do you agree with me? You know, brothers, please I know when you hear this word, some get bothered. I know some will say, “Oh, this brother is too much. The first time he comes here, he says what we did was Satan.” Brother, not only what you did, we did also. But, I say again: we have no time to regret. We just go on. We have no time to regret what we did. We just go on positively toward what the Lord is after.
Paul’s Unrestfulness in Spirit (2 Corinthians 2:12–14)
A Door Was Opened Unto Me of the Lord
Then, more than this, there is another portion that is also quite interesting in chapter two, that is verses twelve through fourteen. It says, “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and the door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them I went from thence into Macedonia” (2 Cor. 2:12–13.) You know there were a lot of experiences in Macedonia. In Macedonia, he was surely in trouble. But finally, he met Titus. Once he met Titus, verse 14 came: “Now, thanks be unto God which always lead us in triumph in the Christ, and make manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.”
Can you understand these few verses? They are very interesting. He said, “Don’t you know brothers,” no, more than that, “Furthermore, brothers, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel—” you must realize in chapter one he said, “With me there is not ‘yea yea’ and ‘nay nay’ with me there is only ‘yea’ and ‘amen.’” So you have to believe he went to Troas out of a clear guidance from the Lord. He is not like us. We get emotional and stirred up, so we move out; but after three days of seeing the work, we move back. He is not this kind of a person. When he went to Troas, no doubt the leading from the Lord was very clear. It was so clear he said, “When I came to Troas to preach the gospel, a door was opened unto me of the Lord.”
I tell you, the Lord is not so generous to Paul. For him, all the time the door was not so open. If you don’t believe me, go read Acts. Wherever he went, it was hard. So when even a woman who sells purple cloth got saved, the writer of the Bible was so happy he put her down. We wouldn’t write it down, and for sure we would say this is not the kind of material we want. We would write it down if a Washington State University Dean’s List got saved. Hallelujah! Write it in Acts! Does that make sense to you? What do you believe a woman who sells purple cloths can do?
No doubt with Paul the Lord was very stingy. Wherever he goes, the door is not open. It was always hard. Every place he goes he is fruitful, but it is not so easy. Not through cheesecake, or candy bars, or ball games; every time, he has to invest his life into it to reap in a little. Then, for him to say, “You know, when I was in Troas, I preached Christ’s gospel, and the door was opened unto me of the Lord” — that really is a wide door open. I believe there must have been a great revival. I believe there was a church there when he went there. He went there, maybe the church invited him. He went there, preached the gospel, and many got saved. Meeting after meeting it was getting more glorious. That is why, for Paul to say, “When I was there to preach Christ’s gospel and a door was opened to me unto the Lord,” is not a small statement.
I Found Not Titus My Brother
But all of a sudden he got nervous. This is a peculiar person. He didn’t say, “Oh, come on! Let’s all go right now!” He said, “But I had no rest in my spirit.” When all the people were getting saved, where the message was released, where everything was so good, so prevailing, he said, “Don’t you know something is wrong? I’m bothered.” Paul, what are you bothered about? Don’t you know you told us to trust in the Lord, to rest in the Lord? And that the Lord is with you, the Lord is near? What are you talking about?
But he said, “I am bothered; I have no rest in my spirit.” No rest means no peace. Within him there is something bothering him all the time, seemingly saying, “Not good, not good.” What is not good? The gospel is good, the church is good, people are saved, that is good, there is prevailing, that is good, the whole situation in the city, that is good. But when you see him, “Not good, not good.” Then when you ask him, “Paul what is not good?” He gives you the reason, he says: “Because I found not Titus my brother.”
Can you believe the reason? If he said, “I found not Peter the apostle,” then I would understand the reason. If you were to ask him: Say, Paul, how old is Titus? “Oh, about thrity.” How old are you? “Oh, fifty.” What are you talking about, you don’t find Titus you don’t do the job? It is beyond our imagination. He is a young co-worker. If he had said, “I can’t find Peter the apostle,” maybe there is a certain truth that needed to be decided. Before that truth is decided he cannot do the job, therefore he has no rest.
But who is TItus? Titus is just his servant, in a sense. Needing him, standing with him, praying for him, upholding his hand. He said, “Don’t you know, I couldn’t find Titus my brother, therefore I had no rest in my spirit.”
He said, “Oh, turn to your spirit — call on the name of the Lord three times, and you’re ok.” Don’t laugh, I’m afraid that’s what you would say! You would tell him, “Paul, I will call on the name of the Lord: O, Lord Jesus; O, Lord Jesus… are you restful now?”
He is so deep; he is so deep, he says, “Don’t you know brother? I can’t preach.”
“Aren’t you getting people saved?”
“Yes, many saved yesterday.”
“Isn’t the meeting wonderful?”
“It’s prevailing, heavenly.”
“Is the door open?”
“The Lord opened the door unto me!”
“Then what are you doing?”
“I can’t preach anymore.”
“Why can’t you preach?”
“Titus is not here.”
“Who is Titus?”
“Don’t you know that young man?”
I tell you, I believe every elder in Troas was bothered. They may have told Paul, “You know, Paul, tonight the love feast is prepared by so-and-so, and next week there will be a conference, and after next week there will be a training. They all prepared for you, it’s all arranged, even the meeting hall was rented. What are you talking about?”
Paul says, “I don’t care if the door is opened, I don’t care if the gospel is preached, I don’t care how many are saved, when my brother is not here, goodbye.” Don’t you understand this portion? Do you understand this portion, brothers?
We Like To Be the One To Do the Job
I tell you brothers, we hate to have people with us. We like to go to a place, preach the gospel: Do you want to believe in Jesus? Do you want to believe in Jesus? Wonderful! Then I would like to take you to the meeting hall. Then I take them to the meeting hall, I would stand up right and make sure they sit on the right and left of me, then we stand up together: “Brothers, praise the Lord, by the Lord’s mercy when I was in the park I got them saved!” It’s the Lord’s mercy but I got them saved. Don’t laugh! Then I will say, “Say something; give a testimony, give a testimony!”
(The Lord is great; the Lord is good. He changed my life;)
Oh, your turn young man! Say something!
(This is my first time touching the Lord; Oh it’s really wonderful!)
Oh amen, praise the Lord! These are my fruit; they will be my fruit for at least three months. I come in with them, I go out with them. If you brothers talk with them, you need to get my permission. Brothers, you all laugh; I don’t laugh. I know what’s happening in the recovery, and I’m not joking about these things. We hate to have people with us; we like to be a what — we like to be the one who does the job. Because others take away our glory. We like to be the one in the park, who preaches the gospel, gets somebody saved, brings them to the recovery, so one can sit on our left and one can sit on our right, and we like to encourage them to give testimonies. We like to train them, and I tell you, even after half a year, if they migrate I still make phone calls, because I like to remind them they are my fruit.
Very few people can tolerate having a Titus beside them. Very few. We don’t like to attach ourselves to the brothers with us. We like to be somebody in the recovery. I got somebody saved is much better than we got somebody saved. I made it, prevailing, is much better than we made it, prevailing.
Without Brothers, Don’t Do the Job
But you look at the apostle Paul — such a peculiar brother. He said, “You know brother, let me tell you a story: One day the Lord led me to Troas.” When he said the Lord led him I believe the Lord led him. He is not us; when we say “The Lord leads me to the park” — I don’t know, whether the boat or river or whatever — that could be the Lord. When he says the Lord he means Jesus Christ. “The Lord has taken me to Troas. And brothers, don’t you know? When I went there, I was peculiar. Every place I go, there are problems, but when I got to Troas, everything was okay. The door was opened from the Lord unto me! Hallelujah, many got saved! It was glorious! But I said goodbye to the elders.”
You say, “Why brother?”
“Because TItus was not there.”
“Titus? Who is that man? Oh, isn’t that the brother who preached at Pentecost and got three thousand saved?”
He says, “No, no, no that is Peter.”
“Oh, maybe that is the one who is the brother of Jesus, who always gives the conclusion in the conferences?”
“Oh, no, that is James.”
“Then, who is this Titus?”
“Titus! Don’t you know who Titus is?! Titus, the young brother like this!”
You say, “Paul, you are crazy. You must be crazy. The Lord opened the door for you! You were led by the Lord! Even more, you went to a place, preached the gospel, and when everything is prevailing, you take off! What kind of a thing is this?”
He says, “This is building.” You ask me, “What is this?” Now let me give the conclusion: this is building. Without Titus, I don’t have a job. I don’t care whether it’s prevailing. I don’t care whether many got saved; I don’t care whether the door is opened; I do care if I am a proper person. Without being builded, I don’t do the job. I need someone to stand with me. I know some people would argue with me: That is not because of this, that is because Paul was so anxious to hear something from Corinth. But the answer was already in the previous part of chapter two: he heard something already. He knows that man who married the stepmother repented already. You cannot definitely say in that way. That is the reason but you cannot say that’s it. The principle here is proper coordination by our attaching to our brothers. Without brothers, we don’t do the job.
Where Is My Titus?
I can testify to you, brothers: Joe called me a couple of days ago and said, “Titus, you know what happened?”
I said, “What?” When he called me, I felt guilty because I did not let him know what time I would fly in, so I said, “Brother, I am very sorry I should have called you.”
Then he said, “You know Bill is not coming.” When he said, “Bill is not coming,” my heart goes just like this.
Then he says, “You have to take the burden.”
After he hung up the phone, I was there, thinking, “Lord Jesus, what should I do?” Because if Bill is here, everything is simple. Now Bill is not here. “Oh, Lord Jesus.” So I fellowshipped with the brothers and said, “Maybe, maybe one brother can go with me.” Then at least I can see a face that I realize is supporting me. Don’t laugh; don’t say, “Titus, haven’t you been in so many churches already, haven’t you traveled east and west and south? Haven’t you travelled enough?” Well, it’s not a problem in that way; it’s a matter of: you just have to be with some brothers whom you are builded with. Then, by Lord’s mercy, nobody could come because we just carried a kind of training there with young people. Nobody could come. But I am so thankful [??] is here. I knew him when he was in Milwaukee. And Charles was here. And praise the Lord, when I saw Joe [??], brothers, we just had no distance between us and I was so thankful I came a day earlier. Thursday. So I came Thursday and Friday we had a full day’s fellowship. We had a whole day’s fellowship, today is Saturday right? Yeah, then we have today and praise the Lord. Then today when I get up, I am so restful because I know these brothers, and these brothers know me. I am not alone here, saying, “Where is my Titus; where is my Titus?” These are all my brothers.
The Principle of God’s Economy Is Building
You know, brothers, don’t you realize even the apostle Paul need to attach himself to somebody. How about you apostles? Aren’t many of you desiring to be apostles some day? I tell you brothers, if you desire to be apostles, that is wonderful. But make sure to get some Titus with you — not this Titus, some Titus. Spiritual Titus. Without this spiritual Titus, let me guarantee you, you will never be apostles. Even if you have the potential or talent, even if you are fifty-talented, you will not get it. Because you are against the principle of God’s economy. The principle of God’s economy is building. Brothers, do you appreciate these two portions of verses? I really appreciate them. This 2nd Corinthians is a rich book.
Now the Savor Is Produced
We skipped a lot in chapter one. Just note these two things: first, how we must live for others in a way that our whole life is controlled; and secondly, how we can never be by ourselves. We always need a Titus. If Titus is not here, I’d rather don’t do the work. When I labor, there must be a Titus. Isn’t that good?
I tell you, then when you have all of this, then you come to verse 14: “Now, thanks be unto God which always lead us in triumph in the Christ, and make manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.” Now the savor is produced. How is the savor produced? The savor is produced by these four practices: Covered with the Lord’s presence, experience Christ subjectively on all the practical matters, then thirdly, live or attach yourselves to some brothers or some sisters, then fourthly, live for those who are with you in your locality. Brothers, if we take this word, then we become a savor.
Four Virtues Constituting the Fragrance of the Savor
Now we jump to another portion. We still can share about another twenty minutes. We will try because this portion was added in. Once you are a savor, you also practice four things. I don’t know if we can cover all of them but let’s try. Firstly, the savor is in a sense the ministry. Whenever we have the savor or we are the savor, there must be four things: firstly, it is of the spirit and not of letter. You all know this, right? And secondly, it is of a ministry and not of a work. And thirdly, it is to preach Christ and not self. Don’t think about these things, when we come to this you will be surprised that everybody is preaching self today. In fourth it is to walk by faith and not by sight.
Now all the savors are constituted with these four virtues. If you say I am a fragrance in Christ unto God, then for sure you need naturally to have these four kinds of essence in your spiritual life. That is how you become a savor. Firstly, it is of the spirit and not a letter. You all understand this, right? And secondly it is of a ministry — not the ministry. Not many people can have the ministry, but many brothers — I would say every faithful one can have a ministry. It is of a ministry and not of a work. And thirdly, it is to preach Christ and not self. And fourthly, it is to walk by faith and not by sight. You see, these four virtues constitute this very fragrance.
The fragrance is produced out of four exercises. Then the fragrance is constituted out of four virtues. This fragrance is not a small thing. This fragrance means the spirit, means a ministry, means Christ, and means a walk by faith. Isn’t this wonderful? I tell you brothers, I just recommend you memorize these kinds of statements. These kinds of statements are very helpful in all our lives. You have to take my word in a way, because I have been in the recovery quite long — twenty-five years. So when I make a statement like this, I am not joking. When I say they are precious, they are precious. You know, you just remember this: all the time it is of spirit and not of letter; it is of a ministry, and not of a work; it is to preach Christ, and not self; it is to walk by faith and not by sight. Anyone that is in this, no doubt they are a fragrance. They are a sweet odor — sweet savor in Christ unto God.
Of the Spirit and Not of Letter (2 Corinthians 3:5–18)
Now we just come in a simple way to cover the first point. We’ll go real fast, so we can come to points two and three. Because the first thing, we know it quite well: what is of spirit, what is of letter. That is in chapter 3. Basically, we all know, what is the letter? Letter means death, for the letter kills. If we read the verse, maybe we’ll read verse 5 to start. Verse 5 of chapter 3. “Not that we are competent of ourselves, to think anything as of ourselves, but our competency is of God” (2 Cor. 3:5 Darby). That if I have any way to have the ministry, God is our competency.
Then he said, “Who also has made us able ministers.” Also someone translates as “competent ministers.” Who are we? We are the effective ministers. We are not just somebody who preaches. When we preach, there is the spirit, the ministry, the Christ, the faith that substantiates our preaching. “Therefore, who has made us competent—or able—ministers of the new covenant—” then it says here “not of the letter, but of the spirit.” Isn’t that clear? So the first element concerning this fragrance, this sweet savor, is not of the letter but of the spirit.
Then he expounds: “For the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” So now we all understand: what is of letter, what is of spirit? Basically, whatever gives life is of the spirit; whatever kills is of the letter. In a way, you may think about this and interpret this quite easily: “Now we know what you are talking about Titus. What you mean is this: when a brother stands up and couldn’t get excited, stands up, ‘uh, uh brother uh yesterday, uh I was with the Lord and uh and uh and I turned to a book in the Bible and uh I got to a verse and uh I got some help, and uh…’ this is of letter. Isn’t this of letter? And another brother stands up: ‘Praise the Lord! Amen! Hallelujah!’ and this is of the spirit.” Oh, now you all know my trick now; you all disagree with me; but anyway whether you agree or you don’t agree, within you, you think in this way.
You don’t like for anybody to stand up on the chair, “Brother let me tell you yesterday I was reading a book in the Bible and I turned to a certain chapter and I read a certain verse, and the Lord really spoke to me—” you don’t like this. But you like, “Amen! Hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah!” You like this. Why? Because they are of spirit, right? I will give you another illustration: if a brother standing up here says, “Brother, how apostle Paul, without Titus, rather drop the service…” of letter. When the brother: “Brothers! Let me tell you! This morning I got up at 4:30! I had my morning watch! I had the most wonderful time! And the Lord was really shining on me! Every one of you should get up for morning watch!” Don’t laugh. I think you would say that’s not bad. Which do you prefer? Be honest. I know you all prefer crazy. Not you all, sorry, not including the elders, but I do believe the young ones, you young brothers all prefer craziness. The crazier the better. Some brother walks by and says, “Hey! Hallelujah!” then you say “Hallelujah!”
Of the Letter
The Letter Is the Ministration of Death
We never realize: What is the difference between the letter and spirit? Very simple: whatever gives life is of the spirit; whatever kills is of the letter. I tell you, when Paul begins to expound what is the letter, it is quite surprising. He said in this way, in verse 7. He says, “The letter kills” and what is the letter? The letter is the ministration of death. There is a minister, he does nothing but give you death. You begin to laugh, but then just think about tomorrow morning, how many will go to sit on the pew to be under the ministration of death. The main function of the letter is the brother who has the ministry; he has a ministry, but it is not the ministration of life to the church. It is the ministration of death. The first item that marks out the letter is that the letter always kills.
You know, brothers, this is something we all have to learn, including myself. Many times when I share, I share quite frankly. I just don’t like to hide, I don’t even know how to hide. And because of this many times I will ask myself, do I give brothers enlightenment, or do I give brothers the ministration of death? Sometimes you hear a word from me, you get some light, and then you go on. Then that is life. Sometimes you hear the same word, but you get bothered; oh, I don’t realize I am so poor. Then what? You get accused. You are of death. You see, brothers, we have to be very careful with our serving. It is very easy for us to minister death.
The Letter’s Temporary Glory Is Death
Then, secondly, it is glorious. Verse 7 also, “If the ministry of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious—” can you believe the letter is glorious? It was glorious. I tell you brothers, you have to excuse me, to let me say something out of a good heart; no bad emotions intended, just a simple word: You know, sometimes we like to see the temporary glory; we never realize they are death. Do you know what I am talking about? The so-called temporary glory? We like to program things. We like to stir things up. We like to have a wonderful time. And we like to be under projects. And all these are glorious. Do you think about—suppose, I say, “Brothers, I am burdened. Tomorrow night I am going to preach the gospel. You all get your friends to come!” Many get stirred up. Then I would say, “Let’s prepare a lot of cheesecakes!” More stirring up. Then, “Coffee and tea!” Higher stirring up. Then “Cookies and candy!” More stirring up. I tell you, these are all glory.
Whenever we think about the letter, we think about denominations. We never think about our high meetings. Many of our high meetings are — you have to take my words rightly — exactly in the letters. Why? They are glorious. Then you say, “What does this mean?” This means they fade away. Anything that fades away is not of Spirit. Did you have a good meeting? “Yeah yeah yeah yeah last night we had a good meeting.” But you just say “Yea” for the first three minutes. The fourth minute you say “No, no, no…” Why? Because that meeting is of letter. Brothers, you have to be aware, I am not discouraging you. But it is easy for the young brothers to stand up “Brothers! Let me tell you!” Watch out: Don’t “let me tell you” much. It’s better to say, “Let me repent.”
Let me tell you, it is easy for young ones; for we young people to live under letter. Why? Because letter is really glorious. I know, because I was in the Lord so long I’ve seen too much letter, and even I produce so much letter, and I realize how glorious is the letter. But the only problem is that they go away really soon. “Don’t you remember that good meeting?” That is of letter. If you say this, “Don’t you remember that good meeting?” But if you say, “Hasn’t that meeting affected your life?” That is of life. Do you know the difference? Some meetings are so good, so high, so wonderful. “Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! We are taking over the city!” I don’t like to say that is wrong — “Praise the Lord, we take over the city! Praise the Lord for this.” But I am afraid, after two days, three days, two weeks, you just get very cool. Do you have this experience? Please brothers cooperate with me. Do you have this experience? (yes).
It’s easy for us to get a lot of things that are glorious and we think, “Now we got it; now we got it. We’ve never seen anything more glorious than this.” Brothers, don’t believe in them. Why? Because the Spirit is the subsisting glory. Do you know the difference between glorious and the subsisting glory? One is so concrete; lasting. Another is temporary and fades away. You know, at least in my early, early years, maybe even now, Lord cover me, because it is easy for me to stir people up. Just listen to my voice. Like when I say, “Amen” people get stirred up. “Amen!” You try it. But when I am getting older, I just cannot “Amen” like this too much. I realize none of this works. When they are stirred up, people are happy; people are high; people are saying, “Hallelujah!”, but a week later they are all gone. Then, by the Lord’s mercy, gradually, I realize: forget about the letters. The letters are glorious, but they won’t last.
The Letter Condemns
More than than, and the letter also, in verse 9, “For if the ministration of condemnation be glory.” What is the letter? The letter condemns. You know when the church life is not healthy, you will always have many people saying, “I can’t make it, I can’t make it.” Why? Because what you are carrying in the church life condemns people. You young people — if you please be one with me, allow me to be more free? Brothers, who is the young people’s leader here? Do you have any young people’s leading brother? I need to get their permission because I get bolder and bolder and I’ve bothered myself now. Am I too much and offend their conscience or not? You know you young people, when you young people say, “Let’s go to the campus, let’s go where the action is!” Do you know what’s happened with that? Many, many older ones are condemned. Are judged. Are put to reluctance. Bitterness. You young people don’t know this. You young people begin to say, “The elders hold us; we died!” You don’t know when you shout in this way, many more died. Why? Do I make sense to you? Because we are carrying the ministration of condemnation.
Brothers, you have to believe I visited quite a number of churches. Lord cover me, just this year I do believe I visited more than twenty-five or thirty churches already; and I am not as great as brother Bill Freeman or these brothers. I am just a little guy walking around. But anyway, you know in my travelling when I found out that some churches were in such a terrible state, I was literally shocked. When the voice is so strong: “We are with where the action is!” Many older ones were bitter, condemned, hopeless. They love the recovery, they’d like to give their life to the recovery, but they have no way to go on. They have no more church life to practice. And all of what they got is, “You older ones are unavailable.” Brothers, this is the ministration of condemnation and this is of letter. The letter kills. Is that clear? The letter kills and the letter is the ministration of death. And the letter is glorious, but this glory condemns people. Make others feel unavailable.
Now surely brothers—I come back to the older ones, please, after I leave you all, do not pick up my words and begin to condemn the young ones, “You know, you young ones did this and Titus exposed you—” Then as you condemn the other, you are also in the letter. Nobody should condemn anyone. When there is the ministry of the Spirit, everyone gets life. The whole church gets life. But when there is a ministration of letter, naturally some get condemned.
Brothers, you take my word. I was with brother Lee for so many years, following him, learning from him, watching him. I just don’t remember when he preached condemnation. No matter how the situation in a certain place was bad and terrible, he would always go there and preach, “life and life and life.” You know, when a certain church caused some problems and didn’t allow Watchman Nee to come to the Lord’s table, brother Lee went there to help. I heard—brother Chen told me, he said when brother Lee went there, the first message he preached was this: “There are two trees in Genesis…” Do you believe this? If I were him, I would go there and would stand with Watchman Nee, right? “Brothers, let me make it clear if you don’t take Watchman Nee back, I can’t minister!” That’s just fair, right? Fair to brother Nee, otherwise brother Nee may think I’m betraying him. When the church excludes him and I am here doing all the jobs, what kind of a thing is this? But he just forgets about it. “Nobody is condemned; I don’t care who is right, I don’t care who is wrong. In Genesis there are two trees: the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life…” Don’t you appreciate this?
Brothers, I hope I didn’t give you any condemnation. That is not my intention; As I repeat to you, none of us should regret. But I just use the chance to let you realize: to follow the Lord is a very serious thing. It is not just being emotionally stirred up, getting glorious, getting high, and getting to action — no. These are the things of Christianity. In the recovery, it is totally a matter of life. And do you know — am I too much, brothers? You know what I say, right? If we are not careful, naturally we condemn others. We begin to carry the letter. Why? Because we carry the ministration of condemnation.
The Letter Is Only for the Veiled One
Then what? This is only for the veiled one. There is a verse in chapter 3; there is only one verse, one “veiled one.” Verse 13, “And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.” Who are the ones who love the letter? Those who are veiled. You know why they are veiled? Because their motive is peculiar. You know why they are veiled? Their motive is impure. Only those with impure motives get veiled.
You know, when we were caught by the recovery, when we first touched the recovery, when we first loved the Lord, we were so pure and so single. But do you know? What happened was a certain kind of thing creeped into the church and stirred up another kind of motive. A motive not for the testimony; a motive not for the building; a motive not for the recovery, but replaced our purity with success. With a career. Even a career — you believe, in a career. And now, just as Peter said, “No, no,” even as John and James said, “Lord we have given everything to you what shall we be?” Who is that? Peter said it. Just like Peter said… You know we young people, you older ones allow me; now I am not speaking to you. Now you young people, we all have a kind of sense of usefulness. We want to be useful. That is right.
Every young person must be very useful, but not in any way of position or of a so-called allegiance. Your usefulness is according to your life. But it’s easy for us to just consider our usefulness. In turn, we become impure, and when we are impure we begin to look at our increase; we begin to look at our success; we begin to think who would like me, who would appreciate me. We begin to look at: am I manifested, or am I not manifested. In this moment the veil comes. “The letter” is only for those who are veiled. Is that clear to you? If your face is so clear, if you are so pure before the Lord, for sure once the letter moves you’ll know immediately: this is “the letter.” But when you get veiled; veiled with success, veiled with a fruit bearing, veiled with the victory of overcoming campus work, immediately the veil comes. You know brothers, I strongly suggest to you: love the Lord with an unveiled face. To love the Lord with an unveiled face means to be so single, to be so simple. Love the Lord. Love the recovery. Let the Lord keep on giving you life. Is that clear? The veil comes from the impurity of our heart.
Of the Spirit
The Ministry of the Spirit Gives Life
Then what is “of the Spirit”? What is the letter of spirit? First, the spirit basically gives life. What is the ministry of the Spirit? The ministry of the Spirit gives us life. If you have life, if you receive life, you receive the ministry—proper, healthy ministry. It doesn’t matter whether one is prevailing, whether one is eloquent, or how wonderful one’s English. Even brother Lee’s English is not necessarily that wonderful, but we all got some help mainly because of the life he imparted to us, am I right?
The Ministry of the Spirit Subsists in Glory
And, secondly, it says in verse 8: “How shall not rather the ministry of the Spirit subsist in glory” (2 Cor. 3:8 Darby). Subsisting glory—the glory that, once you touch it, doesn’t just go away so easily. It is there, it stays, and it becomes the composing element for your future going on. The more you’re under the ministry of life, the more you’re healed. The more you’re taken care of, the more you are nourished, fed, enlightened, then the more you are brought into glory and you stay in glory. Don’t you like the ministry of the Spirit? “Subsisting in glory.” I like this. The ministry of letter, glorious; but the ministry of the Spirit subsists in glory. Much higher, much more wonderful.
The Ministry of the Spirit Is a Ministry of Righteousness
Then point three it is also verse 9: “for as a ministration of condemnation be glory, much more does the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.” I don’t think we have time to come to this, but it mentions “the ministration of righteousness.” The ministry of the Spirit is a ministry of righteousness. Who could have the ministry of Spirit? A righteous person. Should you try any way, any method, or use any of your human subtlety or ways or means, no doubt there’s no ministry of life. Does that make sense? This ministry of Spirit is a ministry of righteousness. Do you like it? Brother, I’m so thankful that the Lord is reminding us: drop your human cunningness. Live on me in righteousness. Isn’t that wonderful?
The Ministry of the Spirit Is a Ministry of Hope
And more than that, verse 12 is “seeing then that we have such hope” (2 Cor. 3:12, KJV). The ministry of Spirit is a ministry of hope. Always, every time after you hear the ministry of Spirit, not only do you receive life, but life gives you hope. You always feel hopeful: praise the Lord, the recovery is so hopeful. Many times I get down, I get low, I get hopeless, I go to a conference or meeting with brother Lee or under some brother’s ministry, and afterwards I say, “Praise the Lord, everything is hopeful.” Well, I look around and everything is troublesome. But we see you, you just had a sense: hopeful! Why? Because the ministry of life is here. This life grants us hope. Praise Lord.
The Ministry of the Spirit Is Just the Lord
And more than this, point five, verse 17, “Now the Lord is that Spirit.” The ministry of the Spirit is just the Lord.
The Ministry of the Spirit Grants Liberty
And then another point: “there is liberty.” The ministry of life would always grant you liberty. If you are under bondage, just allow the Spirit to minister to you. When the Ministry of the Spirit comes to you what happens? You become very free. You are no longer under the bondage of sin, of the world, of work, of Christianity, of your own ambition, of your own success, of your spiritual attainment. All these are your bondage. I would say, even with you brothers, the most bondage would be that of spiritual success. That of spiritual attainment. “How could I have the most light, how could I give the best testimony, how could the elders appreciate me, how can I be manifested, how can I take the lead,” you know all these are what I call bondage. All the young people, you look around, they are all under the bondage of this. But if the ministry of life comes—oh, you are just relieved! I don’t care about my career. I don’t know about my spiritual success. I don’t care about my spiritual attainment. I just love the Lord. I just love the church! I just love the recovery! Isn’t that wonderful? Praise the Lord. Give us liberty.
The Ministry of the Spirit Is a Reflecting of the Lord Himself
Then, here in verse 18 this ministry is a reflecting of the Lord Himself. We are as a mirror reflecting—beholding and reflecting. That is to say, you have to always focus yourself on the Lord to receive the ministry of life. So finally you are transformed. I think we can stop here. We went quite fast—through a whole chapter. It is of the Spirit and not of letter. Is it clear to you now? May the Lord be merciful to us.