Titus 1:9 - Holding to the faithful word, which is according to the teaching of the apostles, that he may be able both to exhort by the healthy teaching and to convict those who oppose.

"Not a Matter of ... Biblical or Non-biblical" —
What Did Minoru Chen Really Say?

One brother who has opposed the co-workers' fellowship concerning being restricted in one publication has repeatedly assailed a statement made by Brother Minoru Chen during the 2004 winter training, the Crystallization-study of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. In his message Minoru said:

The ministry is the sounding of the trumpet, and this sounding of the trumpet is so that we can war a good warfare in the Lord's recovery. The sounding forth of the ministry is not just in its spoken form but mainly in its written, or printed, form. The printed ministry today is the sounding of the trumpet. According to Brother Lee, whenever we have many different publication works, it means that there are many trumpet sounds. These many trumpet sounds cause the army of God to be confused. It is not a matter of right or wrong, biblical or non-biblical. It is a matter of whether there is one sound or more than one sound. (Ministry Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 1, January 2005, p. 186)

In context it is clear that the "it" that is "not a matter of right or wrong, biblical or non-biblical" is not the one publication work, but the many trumpet sounds of different teachings. Brother Minoru was saying that brothers cannot defend their trumpeting of different teachings merely by claiming their teaching is biblical. Rather, we must evaluate their teaching based on a higher standard-whether it causes confusion among the saints through having more than one sounding of the trumpet in the Lord's ministry. In other words, merely to have a biblical basis for one's teaching is not adequate. If that teaching is a different teaching than the general ministry, the New Testament ministry of God's economy, it will cause confusion among the saints. All of Minoru's speaking is an echoing of Brother Lee's ministry on the need for no uncertain sounding of the trumpet in the Lord's ministry and Brother Lee's warnings that different soundings of the trumpet through different teachings would ultimately result in confusion and division.

The dissenting brother's censure of Minoru's statement is based on his own distortion of our brother's speaking. For example, he writes:

When Brother Minoru Chen addressed this issue in the LSM 2004 Winter Training he said: "...it is not a matter of right or wrong, biblical or non-biblical. It is a matter of whether there is one sound or more than one sound." ( The Ministry Magazine, Vol. 9, issue 1, p. 186) I disagree! With all due respect, it should matter whether 'one publication' is biblical or not!

The same thought is repeated in three other articles. Two of these articles have been reproduced (with slight modifications) in a journal published by one of the churches. In every case it is more than clear that the author of the dissenting articles took Brother Minoru's words out of context and ascribed to them a completely different meaning than what was intended. Minoru was not saying that it does not matter whether "one publication" is scriptural or not, as the dissenting brother tries to say. (To be restricted in one publication is itself solidly based on the New Testament teaching of the apostles, as we have emphatically demonstrated in " Is 'One Publication' Scriptural?"). Furthermore, far from lowering the standard of truth in the ministry, as the dissenting author implies, Brother Minoru's word holds those who minister in the Lord's recovery to a much higher standard. He was saying that merely being "scriptural" or "biblical" alone is not adequate, nor is it a defense for trumpeting different teachings.

The purported conflict between Minoru's fellowship and our taking the Bible as our standard is a "straw man" issue with no substance whatsoever. In fact, Minoru's speaking is an accurate application of 1 Timothy 1:3-4 where Paul told Timothy to charge some in Ephesus not to teach things other than God's economy.

1 Tim. 1:3-4 - [3] Even as I exhorted you, when I was going into Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus in order that you might charge certain ones not to teach different things [4] nor to give heed to myths and unending genealogies, which produce questionings rather than God's economy, which is in faith.

The myths and unending genealogies mentioned in those verses had some basis in the Old Testament. You cannot say that they were entirely unbiblical. Nor can you say that the teaching of the law as the Judaizers in Galatia were doing was unscriptural. Nevertheless, they were a different sounding of the trumpet, distracting the believers from God's New Testament economy according to the teaching of the apostles.

Minoru's word is also a faithful application of 1 Corinthians 14:8 which tells us that there should be no uncertain sounding of the trumpet, a point that Brother Lee applied to the need for killing dissenting talk (see the section entitled " One Trumpet in the Lord's Ministry" in the article " Is 'One Publication' Scriptural?" on this Web site).

1 Cor. 14:8 - For also if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?

Such an interpretation also matches Paul's word in Ephesians 4:14:

Eph. 4:14 - That we may be no longer little children tossed by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching in the sleight of men, in craftiness with a view to a system of error.

In verse 14 Paul does not speak of the wind of heresy, but he speaks of the wind of teaching. Any teaching, even a scriptural one, that distracts believers from Christ and the church is a wind that carries them away from God's central purpose. First Timothy 1:3 and 4 reveal that some in Paul's time were teaching differently. This does not mean that they were teaching heresy; it means that they were teaching something different from God's New Testament economy. Their teaching was not the teaching of the New Testament ministry. In the New Testament there is one ministry. This ministry is the dispensing of the Triune God into the believers for the building up of the churches. We must beware of any teaching or supposed ministry that teaches something different from God's economy, that is, that teaches something other than God's dispensation for the building up of the churches. ( Life-study of Ephesians , p. 378)

We need to become a full-grown man so that "we may be no longer babes tossed by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching in the sleight of men, in craftiness with a view to a system of error" (4:14). Notice that here Paul does not speak of every wind of heresy or false doctrine, but of every wind of teaching. Such teaching may include sound, fundamental, scriptural doctrine. However, even this kind of doctrine may be used by the sleight of men in craftiness with a view to a system of error. Any teaching, even a scriptural one, that distracts believers from Christ and the church is a wind that carries them away from God's central purpose. Teachings that distract us from God's economy are instigated by Satan in his subtlety with the sleight of men, in order to frustrate the building up of the Body of Christ. The teachings systematized by Satan cause serious error and thus damage the practical oneness of the Body life. If this matter were not serious, Paul would not use so many strong terms to describe it. ( Life-study of Ephesians , p. 747)

Minoru's word was also a faithful respeaking of Brother Lee's ministry concerning the danger of different soundings of the trumpet in the ministry in the Lord's recovery, even through scriptural teachings. In the series of urgent elders' trainings he called beginning in 1984, Brother Lee made it abundantly clear that merely to have biblical teachings is not adequate:

All of us today need to be on the alert. We need to realize that Satan could use any one of us to bring in some other kind of teaching that may be scriptural. At Paul's time it could not be considered heretical to teach the law according to the Old Testament. The law had been given by God and unveiled by God. If I had been there teaching Gnosticism, then I would have been a heretic. On the other hand, if I had been there teaching the law of Moses, no one could have said that my teaching was heretical. In fact, the law of Moses was scriptural. Nevertheless, such teaching would have been different from the teaching concerning God's economy as it was presented by Paul. We need to be very careful because Satan is subtle. All of us need to be alert not only to watch over others but to watch over ourselves....

If we keep this one basic principle and one basic factor concerning God's economy, we will be well protected. Nevertheless, each one of us needs to be on the alert not to watch over others but to take care of ourselves that we would not be used by the enemy to bring in different thoughts or different teachings that may seem to be scriptural. ( Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament , pp. 17-18)

Nevertheless, all of us need to realize that we are in the Lord's recovery. The first characteristic of the Lord's recovery is oneness. Once we lose the oneness, we are through. If we lose the oneness, we are no longer the Lord's recovery. Therefore, we need to see that there is a peril of different teachings and different opinions damaging the oneness.... Opinions may be good, and teachings may be scriptural, yet they may be different. Sooner or later, these matters will create a hidden division. The blessing that always comes down from God to His recovery is based upon the oneness (Psa. 133). If we lose the oneness, we will lose the blessing. ( Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament , p. 29)

Some would say that they do not like to follow Paul in their preaching. They would rather preach something new and different. Actually, their preaching does not contain anything new; it is only different. There are some who think that it is a shame to preach, to teach, to speak, or to write the same things that others have. They expect to receive a special glory for themselves by speaking and teaching something different to show that they know something others do not know. All of these attitudes are a shame.

Moreover, dear saints, we need to see that all of these things could be under the cloak that they are for the defending of the truth, for the defending of the faith, or for the further recovery of the biblical truth. Nevertheless, we need to realize that the issue of this kind of teaching has always been a division. Every denomination, every division, and every free group is based upon a certain so-called truth other than the New Testament ministry. To be a Presbyterian means to take the presbytery as the ground to build a Presbyterian denomination. To baptize people by immersion has been taken as a base to form the Baptist denomination. These items are not the basic and central elements of the New Testament ministry. ( Elders' Training, Book 1: The Ministry of the New Testament , p. 71)

NOT ENOUGH TO TEACH SCRIPTURALLY

Please do not have the peace and assurance that as long as you teach things scripturally that it is all right. It is not all right because your teaching creates division. Even your right teaching creates division. We all must realize that, generally speaking, the different denominations do not teach anything wrong. They have all tried and endeavored to teach the right things, the scriptural things. Eventually, however, the Body of Christ has been cut into pieces....

We should be on the alert and watchful. We do not want the right teaching. We want the teaching which teaches God's economy. Now we can understand Paul's charge in 1 Corinthians to speak the same thing (1:10). What same thing should we speak? Should we speak Bible teaching, how to meet, the way to baptize, the way to edify the saints, the way to help people to be spiritual, or the way to render much help to the Christians that they may grow in life? These are right things to teach. Something from the Bible such as evangelism is altogether right. However, if you do these things and teach them apart from God's economy, you are divisive. You are divisive in right things, in scriptural things, not in wrong things, heathen things, or pagan things. To teach the Bible and to preach the gospel are not pagan. They are altogether right and altogether scriptural, but we must be on the alert as to whether or not we are divisive. Whatever you teach should not be measured by whether it is wrong or right. It must be measured by whether it is divisive or not. Only one kind of ministry builds up and never divides—this is the unique ministry of God's economy. We must be reminded that Paul left Timothy in Ephesus with a charge to tell certain ones not to teach differently and that what they teach should be related to God's economy. ( Elders' Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision , pp. 45-46)

The only way that can preserve us in the recovery is the unique ministry. If we say that we are in the recovery, yet we teach something so lightly, even in a concealed way, that is different from God's economy, we sow the seed that will grow up in division. Therefore, the only way that we can be preserved in the eternal oneness is to teach the same thing in God's economy. This kind of teaching is called the New Testament ministry, the ministry of the new covenant. The ministry of the new covenant is only to minister the Triune God, processed, to be dispensed into His chosen people as life and life supply to produce members of Christ to form the Body to express the Triune God. This is the New Testament economy. To teach anything, even good things and scriptural things, which is even a little bit apart from God's New Testament economy will still issue in division and that will be very much used by the subtle one, the evil one. We must, therefore, be on the alert. ( Elders' Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision , pp. 48-49)

We are here for the Lord's recovery. I am not doing my own work, and you are not doing your own work. We all are bearing one testimony; we all have our shoulders under the "staves" of the "ark." Since we are all bearing the one testimony, we all should speak the same thing (1 Cor. 1:10). But the speaking in certain places is leading the saints in the direction that is away from the Lord's recovery. Such speaking may not be wrong or unscriptural. It may be right and scriptural, but eventually it will lead the saints in a wrong direction.

If we go in a straight line, we shall reach a proper goal. But if our direction is off, eventually we shall reach a goal that is not the goal of the Lord's recovery. Even after a short period of time, trouble may come to the recovery through your way of speaking scriptural things, that is, through your speaking of good messages. Although there is nothing wrong with your speaking, it may lead others in a wrong direction. If so, eventually that will become a problem to the whole recovery. ( Elders' Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision , p. 127)

The New Testament refers to the dissenters in the church. In Romans 16:17 Paul warns us to keep a watchful eye over the dissenting ones. They hold dissenting teachings and make divisions and causes of falling. They speak with flattering, enticing words and pretend to be helpful. If they did not speak with smooth words, no one would listen to them. Paul charged us to be watchful over the dissenting ones because they like to teach differently and contend for contrary doctrines. However, the test we must apply to any dissenting talk is not the standard of good or bad, right or wrong. Instead, we must ask, "Does this build up or tear down? Does it maintain unity and oneness or cause division? Does it help you to go on or does it cause you to fall?" Before you listened to the dissenting talk you were alive, but after listening for an hour you were deadened, thus proving that such dissension spreads death. Do not examine the dissenters according to the knowledge of right or wrong, for if you do this you will be tasting the tree of knowledge of good and evil. You must test all dissenting opinions according to death or life. After you listen to the dissenting talk, are you alive or dead? If you are truly alive, then listen as much as possible. However, if you experience death, you must go to the Lord and ask Him to cleanse you and to rescue you from that death. During the past decades we have seen many dissenting ones. We need to realize that in no church is the situation always right. However, the issue is not a matter of right or wrong; it is a matter of death or life. Never test dissenting talk by the standard of right or wrong. Always measure it by death or life. Anything that enlivens you and gives you life you may receive. Anything that deadens and kills you you must renounce. ( Life-study of Genesis , p. 210)

The twisting of Brother Minoru Chen's words by this dissenting writer is shameful. Such a disregard for the truth and even of the ethical treatment of others' words, particularly of the speaking of a brother who has been faithfully ministering to the churches for decades, more than disqualifies this dissenter from being one whose words should be heeded. If a person disputes with others by taking their words out of context and twisting them to mean what they did not say, the saints surely should not trust such a one to expound the proper way to follow the Lord in the practice of the ministry or the church life.

2006-2018 DCP. All Rights Reserved.
DCP is a project to defend and confirm the New Testament ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee and the practice of the local churches.
email