Witness Lee on the local church: Eating and Drinking Christ in the Local Churches
Witness Lee on the local church: Oneness

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III. Simply Eating and Drinking Christ


We have already seen from the book of Revelation God’s intention for His children to meet in oneness according to the principle of one local church in one city.For the believers to fulfill His desire, therefore, they would need to drop all of the things that denominate and divide them and meet simply and purely as the local churches.But having done that, what should the believers do in the local churches?What does God intend our church life to consist of?One traditional thought holds that the church’s role is to teach the believers all of the proper doctrines; thus, the measure of their success as a Christian is the extent of their knowledge.But is the accumulation of knowledge God’s actual intention for His children?What does the Bible tell us of God’s real intention?Once again, the book of Revelation provides the answer.In the following passage, Witness Lee continues with his exposition of the proper local church life by focusing our attention on the Lord’s words concerning eating, drinking, and feasting:

We must be in the local churches. And the Lord’s intention in the local churches is simply for us to eat and drink. The Lord did not say that He would teach us or that He would instruct us. He said He would give us something to eat. The local churches are a matter of eating. All the time we must be feeding on Christ. Our meeting hall is really our dining hall. Whenever we come together, we come to eat.“To him that overcometh will I give to eat…”
What is the right condition of a local church? If it is full of teaching, it is wrong. The local churches must be full of eating. Whenever we come to the meeting, we should be nourished. Then after the meeting we will say, “Praise the Lord, I am filled and I am satisfied!”
If when we leave a meeting we say that we are clear, then we know that we have been taught and not fed. The first one who was clear was Eve. After tasting the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, she was made clear. Formerly, in a sense, she did not know, but then she knew. This is awful! But I am sorry to say that this is the concept of today’s Christianity. They try their best to help people to know and be more clear. But the more teaching people receive, the more fruit of the tree of knowledge they eat.
Every meeting of the local church must be full of Christ as food, and after every meeting we all must say, “Hallelujah, I am satisfied!” Though we do not know much, yet we are full. This is a proper local church. The local church is not a place for us to know, but a place for us to eat! The local church is not a school, but a dining room for heavenly eating. “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life….” The very Tree of Life in Genesis 2 which Adam lost is now opened to us in the local churches. The Lord told John to write to the church in Ephesus that he who overcomes will be given the Tree of Life to eat in the local churches. It is so clear that it is in the local churches where the Lord gives us something to eat.
In the last 20 years, it has always been difficult for me to give a message of mere doctrine. This does not mean that I lack doctrines to give. But there is no anointing from the Lord to give such a message. When I speak, I must say something according to the inner anointing. And the only burden that I have within is to help the Lord’s children to know how to enjoy Christ by eating and drinking of Him. (46-47)

Witness Lee also clarifies below the significance of the hidden manna; that is, Christ as our hidden enjoyment:

We all must learn that the local churches are not places for teaching. They are places for eating! The local churches are places where the people of God can come together to eat and to drink of Christ. Christ is the Tree of Life, and He is also the hidden manna. Today’s Christianity only knows Christ in a public way. They do not know a hidden Christ. The hidden Christ is in the local churches. Many times others have asked why we go to meetings all the time and what we do in these meetings. When we tell them we go to the meetings to feed upon Christ, they simply cannot understand. This is because it is something hidden. This is Christ as the hidden manna. We all have eaten of this hidden manna in the local churches. We enjoy daily something which nobody understands. Even if they come to our meetings, they still cannot understand. They only say that we are beside ourselves! We are satisfied, but they cannot enjoy it. It is something hidden. Praise the Lord! It is hidden, but we enjoy it!
So many of us who have been in Christianity and are now in the local churches have found a hidden enjoyment. This is not only the Tree of Life, but also the hidden manna. This is the real enjoyment in the local churches. And it is not only the Tree of Life and the hidden manna, but also a feast. “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and sup [feast] with him, and he with me.” Every meeting is not only a dining table, but also a feast. We are not only eating, but we are feasting on Christ. (47-48)

Witness Lee stresses that in the local churches the believers should not merely accumulate doctrine, but rather the Lord’s children should learn to enjoy Him as their spiritual food, even their hidden manna. The enjoyment of Christ as our satisfying feast is the purpose and content of a proper local church.