The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church


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So sing as well. You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back, or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back, or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

Remember me when I am gone away, gone far away into the silent land; when you can no more hold me by the hand, nor I half turn to go yet turning stay. Remember me when no more day by day you tell me of our future that you planned: only remember me; you understand it will be too late to counsel then or pray. Yet if you should forget me for a while and afterwards remember, do not grieve: for if the darkness and corruption leave a vestige of the thoughts that once I had, better by far that you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad.

Sunset and evening star; and one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar, when I put out to sea. But such a tide as moving seems asleep, too full for sound and foam, when that which drew from out the boundless deep turns again home. Twilight and evening bell, and after that the dark! And may there be no sadness or farewell, when I embark.

You can choose the Bible reading for this part of the service if you would like to. Some popular choices are offered below. Whatever your beliefs, hearing these words can bring a sense of hope and comfort, even at this very difficult time. Believe in God, believe also in me. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going. How can we know the way? No one comes to the Father except through me. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,. If you would like to consider setting aside a legacy to Above Bar Church, please speak to the church treasurer. This site makes some use of cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Giving How to give How and why we give as a church.

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Where giving goes The money the church receives goes towards the whole range of our ministry activities. How to give Please pray and consider carefully what the Lord is saying to you about giving. You will need to print it in order to sign it. To Gift Aid with online banking, download a Gift Aid form and return it to the church office. MyDonate: click here and follow the instructions. It can be a gift of the Spirit : some Christians have a specific gift of being generous givers. It contributes to equality : our giving reduces how much we have but increases the amount those in need have.

Nee's idealism was one of his greatest strengths, but without prioritization, it also became a weakness. Nee is repeatedly characterized by those who knew him as a profound student of the Scriptures. He demonstrates knowledge of the Greek text in his writings, although it is not clear to me whether he was versed in Greek or depended on other authorities. Kinnear comments on Nee's preaching, that no one ever saw him use any notes, for he remembered and could reproduce anything he read.

Some of these dear brethren are very sincere and thirsting for truth. Watchman Nee is undoubtedly the outstanding man among them. He is far beyond all the rest. He is only 28, but has had a good education and is possessed of marked ability.

Hymn: God has called us into the fellowship of His Son

He is a hard worker and reads much. Witness Lee said of Nee, "I have never met a man so well-versed in the Scriptures as he. When this evidence is considered, it may seem surprising that Nee is sometimes considered anti-intellectual by western readers. This conclusion stems from his mystical-fideistic bent which was suspicious of autonomous reason. His very early magazine carried the statement of purpose, "The fostering and cultivation of the spiritual life, with no attempt to debate rationally.

Although Nee's works have been rightly criticized for "superspirituality", falsely dichotomizing Christian good works and spirituality his own life does not seem to have been plagued by introspective paralysis. Some later readers of books attributed to Nee have complained that he calls for so much concern over whether an action is "soulish" or "spiritual" apart from whether it is ethical, that he becomes very de-motivating, and deflating. A careful reader of Nee has no difficulty identifying faulty statements in this area.

However, it is interesting to note that Nee's life and that of his immediate hearers was characterized by almost constant action. Nee was clearly influenced by the Plymouth Brethren and the Keswick, or "victorious life," form of teaching. All too many Christians were striving after a salvation based on good works.

Late in his career, Nee is said to have developed some doctrinal aberrations that went beyond his usual purism.

These areas had to do with a heavy emphasis on authority and submission, and an increasing tendency to dichotomize the material and the spiritual, or the ideal and the real. Some of the literature published during the past ten years claiming to originate from the last 5 years of Nee's ministry are definitely deserving of criticism at many points. Only two books actually written by Nee's own hand are available in English. Ironically, Nee criticized both of these works. Later, the Little Flock church under the leadership of Steven Kaung published a series of books that all have the distinctive plain colored covers of the "Christian Fellowship Publishers" in New York.

It seems clear to this author and others 58 that there is a more radical interpretation of Nee evident in the later books. At the same time, it can not be denied that Nee was extreme in some areas, including spiritual authority and ecclesiology.

Migration et politique au Moyen-Orient

The emphasis on delegated human authority was in perfect harmony with Confucian ethics. Confucius taught that parents were never wrong, and that even when they were, one should obey them. To understand Nee's extreme doctrine of "locality", one must remember that he had had a run-in with the exclusive brethren in England, and may have formed a rather one-sided picture of denominationalism in the west.

He certainly did not want to see the western denominational divisions transplanted into China, let alone the unloving divisiveness of the exclusive brethren, and he can hardly be faulted for that. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Nee propounded an unworkable and unbiblical doctrine of locality and of under-qualified obedience to delegated authority which has resulted in extremism in modern America, China, and elsewhere. It is hard to tell how large the Little Flock movement was in China at the time of the revolution. One reason for this is the fact that Nee felt it was fleshly to consider numbers.

Therefore there was no systematic effort made by Little Flock themselves to count their people. There was no formal membership in the group, since Nee believed membership in the body of Christ was determined by God, and there was no good reason for the church to try to draw up a list. According to Cliff, in the Little Flock had over 70, members in assemblies. These figures were interpreted as indicating that members of the "Little Flock" made up per cent of the whole Protestant church in China, and that they may have been the largest single denomination.

Cheung affirms that there were "thousands" of assemblies by , and that the Little Flock was the largest Christian group in China. Nobody has even hazarded a guess as to how many of the millions of Christians meeting in house churches today may be the outgrowth of Little Flock groups. Two things are clear: There are many house churches that are directly derived from Little Flock churches, and there are many other groups that owe a substantial debt to Little Flock doctrine and practice for their survival.

The following characteristics detailed by Adeney demonstrate that God has certainly used the unique features of Little Flock to prepare Chinese Christians to live under the terrible social conditions of modern China. When the organized churches were destroyed in the Cultural Revolution, traditional forms of Christian ministry were also done away with. The household churches have cast off the trappings of the West and have developed their own forms of ministry. The dynamics of house churches, therefore, flow partly from their freedom from institutional and traditional bondage.

Much that we associate with the Church is not found in Chinese house churches today. They have had to exist without buildings, set times of worship or a paid ministry. During the Cultural Revolution and even up to the present, the place of meeting is often changed form one home to another. Even the time is changed to suit the schedules of the Christians as they work at different hours.

Thus, the house churches are extremely flexible. Many of the features of the 'post Denominational Church' in China Nee would warmly endorse, denominational labels have gone. Most of the pastors are self-supporting and the laity plays a prominent role in church life-- features with which he would be in full agreement. The Church has been freed from the encumbrances of maintaining large premises and of running institutional work. It is obvious to this author that God was at work during the last years of freedom in China to establish an underground network of house churches that were ideally suited to survive and grow even in the appalling circumstances of the last 35 years.

The groups have a distinct Chinese flavor in their doctrinal outlook and are entirely used to carrying on Christian witness on an underground basis. Finally, Cliff and Adeney report that in the past few years, some groups have split off from the regular Little Flock churches to follow the teachings of Witness Lee. These have been dubbed no doubt by their enemies the "screamers. The screamers have been the target of special persecution in the past five years. Many China watchers feel that the Chinese government is making the fanatical behavior of 'the Screamers' an excuse for tightly controlling all unaffiliated groups.

Watchman Nee and Mao Tse-tung were contemporaries. Mao, who was ten years older than Nee, established the Chinese communist party in the same year that Nee began his ministry. Kinnear suggests that Nee and Chou En-lai may have been in Shanghai at the same time, and that student unrest there, in which Chou participated, may have had appeal to Nee as well.

It certainly seemed clear that, in the race to win China, Mao and Chou won. Those involved in the underground church movement in China, as well as the established missions, have engaged in painful soul-searching, wondering whether more could have been done. The Christians had a year head-start on the Marxists, and at least 70 years of all-out missionizing before a communist party existed.

Yet they were apparently swept away by a movement only 30 years old. One issue that has become very important in this regard is the area of Christianity and patriotic nationalism. As mentioned earlier, nationalism in China was intimately connected with anti-foreign resentment from the beginning. In other words, the twin values of "blood and soil" are mixed in liberally with Christian vocabulary in an attempt to cater to the "hearth and home" feelings of the people albeit with a thin coating of religion spread over the top. The following statements are illustrative:.

Whether citizens are religious believers or not, their common political base is patriotism, upholding the leadership of the Party, and upholding socialism. This demands that we Christians uphold the constitution and the government's policies and decrees. This is also a necessary condition for the normalization of religious activities. The doors of the two city Christian organizations are wide open, welcoming everyone--even those who have made mistakes--to change their attitudes and return to the big family which loves country and loves religion. We hope that the people involved will.

The reader who has learned to read between the lines will quickly recognize the presence of code words in these statements intended to stimulate a warm spot in the heart of the Chinese people, while keeping all loyalty to Christ strictly contingent upon loyalty to the state. It seems clear that Nee believed some degree of cooperation with the New Government on the lines of Romans Chapter 12 to be both possible and necessary.

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They should be prepared to give up material comforts and, as good Christians and good Chinese, to cooperate sincerely with the State when called upon for such public work as road-building and irrigation works. Only, they must not act in conflict with the Bible nor deny their Lord. Of course, this would have to be his stand in public, but one wonders how naive Nee was in his private outlook. Did he realize that it was only a matter of time until the whole church would be forced completely underground? Was he secretly taking measures to get ready for the ferocious holocaust that was descending?

It would be probable that Watchman, like so many others, was deceived by those Party officials he observed into thinking them reasonable men who could be dealt with wisely. If Kinnear is right, then Nee was in the same boat as the World Council of Churches, who have accepted the legitimacy of the TSPM from the beginning and still do , as have most of the Protestant mission based churches.

Nee did seem to be insensitive to the social currents at work in the communist movement in China. In another passage, Kinnear points out that in , the Little Flock churches began to attain an unexampled level of prosperity,. The case for ideological reformation of the movement seems almost, by this ill-conceived development, to have been presented to the Communist Party ready-made on a tray. Before we become too critical however, we should probably ask ourselves what we think the Little Flock should have done with this money.

Further, while this development was unfortunate, it is doubtful that it changed the outcome significantly. To committed Marxists, a voice like Nee's had to be silenced. It is the view of this author that Nee and the Little Flock were in a no-win situation, as regards their relationship to the political powers.

Attempts by Christians to curry favor with the government in China have had pathetic results in the past. The Marxist government has cynically used any cooperation offered, and later repressed the appeasing church in the same way they have the resisting one. In the view of this author, the best tactic that the Little Flock could have taken is the one they did take--namely, creating the structures needed to take the church underground.

Any church that was easy to take over on the organizational level proved to be no match for the TSPM and the Religious Affairs Bureau, because of the latter's willingness to use violence. On the other hand, history is clear in detailing the d ifficulty of erasing a true grass- roots movement from any society. This means, for instance, that the Little Flock would have had to do their charitable and educational works on the level of the local church, rather than through a national denominational agency.

Ironically, the doctrine of "locality" a hyper-autonomous view of the local congregation , one of Nee's most widely criticized doctrines, had the effect of conditioning these house churches to expect nothing from a national structure. This doctrine would have conditioned them to raise up their own leadership from within the group as well. Nee taught that, just as foreign missionaries sought to make the Chinese church self propagating, self supporting, and self governing, he sought to make the church in each city and village that way.

Note that there is no suggestion that we should adopt a doctrine that is unbalanced, but that God has used the unique features of this group to move ahead even against terrifying opposition. Notice the importance they place on following a normal institutional pattern. All churches which have obtained government approval. The ministerial activities and religious activities of each church should all be conducted inside the church building.

Unfortunately, the TSPM's zeal for conventional wineskins has nothing at all to do with doctrine, but rather with the issue of control. So far however, they have shown themselves unable to control the Spirit of the Living God. Today in China according to Bohr, ". This is a clear indication that the story of God's witness in China is far from over. Indeed, there is no reason to think that China will not continue to be one of the true spiritual hot-spots in the world--due in part to the work done by one of God's agents, Watchman Nee.

This source is from the early 's. Furthermore, only , Catholics, and 70, protestants openly profess church affiliation. This is typical of sources derived from the mid to early 70's. At the end of the article, the comment is added, "By , evidence was increasing of very rapid church growth in many areas of China, including among tribal peoples, with large numbers of young people everywhere. Compare G. Privately, some Chinese officials say the figure is closer to 20 million. Winter says, "In China the staggering truth is clearer every day: despite intense opposition.

Christians have grown from one or two million to easily 50 million. Center for World Mission, p. One has to suspect that this figure is exaggerated. However, the fact that scholars are making these statements certainly point to breath-taking growth. Bohr says that there were , Protestant Chinese Christians. This figure is apparently based on formal church membership, which may overlook some converts involved in informal types of fellowship.

He also says that there were over 3 million Catholics, although much of this is to be discounted because of the Catholic practice of counting as Catholics all those who have been baptized Catholic. Since no adult decision is implied, the number claimed by the Catholic church is often unrelated to the number actually attending mass with some regularity. XI, No. These figures are impossible to reconcile. World Christian Encyclopedia, David B. Barrett Editor, p.

Winter allows million true believers in See note 3 above. Wagner holds for "fewer than 1 million" authentic believers in This figure is even more difficult to ascertain with certainty. We will probably never know how many Christians were killed in this modern holocaust. It is not known how many of these were Christians, but it is clear that a significant percentage of them were.

Lin Huo-ping Peace Lin of Foochow, born in , died in Angus I. According to Cheung, she was, ". David H. Compare Angus I. We will see that Nee possessed some of these same characteristics, and brought them into Christian theology. As Wang Ching Wei, one of the leading opponents of Christianity put it, ". During the early 20's, ". The Morning Deluge , p. It is interesting to note that there is very little biographical material available that deals directly with Nee.

The definitive biography and the only complete biography that I have found is Angus Kinnear's excellent work, Against the Tide.

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A much shorter summary appears in Norman H. Otherwise, there has been much more interest in Nee's doctrine than in his ministry. Norman H. Cheung comments on the contrast between the vigor and wealth of the Little Flock churches compared to the weakness and dependence of the other mission churches. II Thess. Cliff sees this period as a clear breech on Nee's part of his own teaching on church finance. See Norman H. According to Chua Wee Hian, in one of the early episodes of migration evangelism, seventy families went into northwest China and thirty went into northeast China in He says that these families had planted over 40 local churches by

The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church
The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church
The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church
The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church
The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church
The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church The Excelling Gift for the Building up of the Church

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