The False Gospel of Witness Lee and the Living Stream Ministries

Witness Lee was born in China in 1905. He moved to the United States in 1962. Lee claimed to be an apostle who was leading and fulfilling “The Lord’s Recovery” of the church prophesied in books of the Old Testament like Nehemiah. He established the “Local Churches” by teaching that there should only be one church per city and to call a church anything other than “The Church in [Anaheim]” is fornication with the whore of Babylon.

The Christian Research Institute condemned Lee’s teachings in the late 70s. In 1977 E. Calvin Beisner co-authored an article for CRI The Teachings of Witness Lee and the Local Church. You can hear a lecture by Walter Martin (the original Bible Answer Man who founded CRI in 1960) delivered sometime in the 70s here where he clearly lays out the heresies of Witness Lee and the Local Churches. There was also an open letter published online several years ago An Open Letter To the Leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the “Local Churches” signed by numerous apologists and Christian theologians.

In late 2009, the Christian Research Institute (which is now headed by Hank Hanegraff, who is plagued with controversy and criticism and whose proper succession to Martin at CRI is disputed) published a special issue of the Christian Research Journal simply titled “We Were Wrong.” The whole issue is an apology to the Local Churches and an explanation of how CRI was wrong and how the LC are actually “soundly orthodox.” Norm Geisler and Ron Rhodes wrote a response to the CRI piece to which Hank Hanegraaff subsequently wrote a response in the latest issue of CRJ.

My Encounter

Members of the Local Churches, also known as Living Stream Ministries, are very active on college campuses. A friend of mine ran into them several times at Cal State Fullerton. She went to one of their meetings and eventually had a few of the members meet with her, myself, my wife, and another friend of ours several times over the last few months to hear them explain their beliefs. The goal was to understand what they believe and then determine if they were a Christian group or not.

Much of what you may find online for and against the group can perhaps be a bit confusing and maybe even a little abstract. My friend considered the possibility that it may all be the result of a language barrier between us and Lee’s original writings. However, these meetings, along with further study of their writings, have made it very, very clear what these people believe – and it is not Christian at all. I’m writing this to give you an overview of what exactly the group teaches and how it is heretical. My goal is to teach you what the LSM Statement of Faith should teach you, if they were honest. I have not come across anything that summarizes the issue in this way, so I hope this may be of help rather than just spilling more ink on what has already been said.


The title of my blog is contrast. If you look in the about page, you’ll find the following quote:

“When one author constantly criticizes other authors, the reader may be repelled by the negativism. Let it be repeated that contrasting views bring both sides into sharper focus.”
Gordon Clark  :  What is Saving Faith?

When a group like LSM uses biblical language and biblical imagery, it can be difficult to discern the error because when you read what they write, you think they mean one thing, but they actually mean something else completely. Thus things became clear to me when I was able see the negations made by LSM. This is the error of Hank Hanegraaff and those who are defending Lee and LSM. Rather than looking at the contrast, they have devoted all their effort to finding similarities. But what Lee and LSM believe becomes clear when they say what they do not believe. Thus this post will teach by way of contrast.

The Triune God

Much of the debate about Witness Lee’s teaching is focused on his view of the Trinity, so I won’t spend a lot of time discussing it. I encourage you to read Besiner’s article and Geisler’s article above.

The statement of faith on the Living Stream Ministries website says “God is eternally one and also eternally the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, the three being distinct but not separate.” Sounds fine, but note what Beisner says in this 2003 article:

Look closely. Notice that it doesn’t say what the three are as “distinct”? What are the Father, the Son, and the Spirit? Cabbages? Angels? Compact discs? Extensive reading in Witness Lee’s writings discovers considerable hesitation to affirm what Christianity has affirmed through the ages: that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, though they are one God, are distinct Persons.

For example, Lee says:

The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are not three separate persons or three Gods; they are one God, one reality, one person… God is triune; that is, He is three-one. In some theological writings, the preposition in is added between three and one to make three-in-one. However, it is more accurate to say that God is three-one.

Witness Lee, The Triune God to Be Life to the Tripartite Man
(Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1970), p. 48

Lee clarified what he meant by triune. He meant three-one, not three-in-one. And, to make sure people did not misunderstand him, he said he was teaching something different than the “traditional” understanding of the Trinity:

“The traditional explanation of the Trinity is grossly inadequate and borders on tritheism. When the Spirit of God is joined with us, God is not left behind, nor does Christ remain on the throne. This is the impression Christianity gives. They think of the Father as one Person, sending the Son, another Person, to accomplish redemption, after which the Son sends the Spirit, yet another Person. The Spirit, in traditional thinking, comes into the believers, while the Father and Son are left on the throne. When believers pray, they are taught to bow before the Father and pray in the name of the Son. To split the Godhead into these separate Persons is not the revelation of the Bible, but the doctrine of the Nicene Creed”

Witness Lee, Life Messages
(Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1979), p. 164

These quotes are both found in the Open Letter. The people I met with gave me a binder full of Lee’s writings that corresponded to the quotes in the Open Letter. Their intent was to show me the whole context of the quotes. I’m not certain what they thought that would prove however, since none of the quotes were taken out of context. The context only worsened what Lee was communicating.

When I spoke with the Local Church members, they continually insisted that the Triune God is distinct, but not separate. They would then explain that by “not separate” they mean “The Son is called the Father; so the Son must be the Father.” And “the Lord Jesus is the Spirit.” But when the London Baptist Confession says the Triune God is not separate, it means

“the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations.” LBC 2.3

Other examples include the French Confession of Faith (1559)

the three persons not confused, but distinct, and yet not separate, but of the same essence, equal in eternity and power.


We believe and teach that God is one in essence or nature…Notwithstanding we believe and teach that the same immense, one and indivisible God is in person inseparably and without confusion distinguished as Father, Son and Holy Spirit
The Second Helvetic Confession, Ch 3

I shouldn’t even have to provide these examples as proof. Witness Lee already clarified himself that his view was different from the traditional view and that it was not Nicene. No orthodox statement of the Trinity ever says “not separate” means the Son is the Father and the Son is the Spirit. So again, the Local Church uses biblical and traditional language, but mean something entirely different by it.

But my purpose here is not to address each issue in depth, but rather to show how each issue works together to create a false gospel. I encourage you to read the Open Letter, as well as Beisner’s and Geisler’s articles to understand more.

The Processed God

The way LSM attempts to defend their view is to say ontologically the three members of the Trinity are distinct, but economically they are all one. However, LSM misunderstands what those terms mean and therefore misapply them. In his response to CRI, Norm Geisler notes:

The “operational [economic] Trinity” is, at best, only a way of speaking about the one and only essential Trinity’s activities, not His essential Being. But even here when one member of the Trinity acts in the world, He is still distinct from the other members, even if they are co-acting with Him. For example, when co-authors such as ourselves mingle our minds and act together by co-authoring the same thoughts and words in the same book, we are still in this action two different persons. And no such co-action justifies anyone calling Ron “Norm,” or calling Norm “Ron.” We are two really distinct persons with different names.

Using this artificial distinction, Lee and LSM teach what they call a “Processed God.”

The Bible reveals that God is immutable in His essence and that God has been processed in His economy. As the processed God, the Triune God has passed through crucial and interdependent steps in the divine economy in order to dispense Himself into His chosen and redeemed people…God’s process ultimately is related to becoming flesh through incarnation and becoming the life giving Spirit through resurrection.
Our Unchanging, Processed God

First in this process is the Triune God becoming flesh. Jesus Christ is not the Second Person of the Trinity. Instead,

“the Christ in whom we believe is the center of the Triune God.” Because of this, “the Triune God became mingled with man… He is not only the Triune God, but also a man… He is the Triune God mingled with man. Therefore, He is the Triune God-man.
Witness Lee, The All-Inclusive Spirit of Christ
(Los Angeles: The Stream Publishers, 1969), pp. 8-11

According to our thinking the Son became flesh and the Son was the One who was manifested in the flesh. The Bible, however, tells us that the Word became flesh and that the Word was God. John 1:1 does not say that the Word was the Son, but that the Word was God. Do you believe that only one-third of God became flesh, one-third remained on the throne, and one-third was as a dove soaring in the heavens? The Bible does not divide God, the entire God, into thirds. Paul also tells us in 1 Timothy 3:16 that God was manifested in the flesh. This again shows us that the entire Godhead, the Triune God, became flesh… We believe that Jesus was the complete God and the perfect man. He was the Father, the Son, and the Spirit-man. He lived on this earth as the Triune God for thirty years…
Witness Lee, God’s New Testament Economy
(Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1986), p. 230

We firmly resist the notion that the Son was incarnated as a man separably from the Father and the Spirit
A Confirmation of the Gospel: Concerning the Teaching of the Local Churches and Living Stream Ministry

Second in this process is Jesus, the Triune God-man becoming the Spirit.

…When Jesus was glorified in resurrection, a change took place economically, not essentially, in the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God, who is the eternal Spirit, became the life-giving Spirit, the Spirit of the glorified Jesus.

…The Gospel of John is also the autobiography and history of the “journeying” Triune God, and the destination of the journeying Triune God is the human spirit of His chosen and redeemed people. The word journeying describes the Triune God in His economical move and work to accomplish His eternal plan (see God’s Eternal Plan section below).

Our Unchanging, Processed God

In summary:

…This process can be summed up in three words: the Word, the flesh, and the breath. The Word is God, the flesh is man, and the breath is the Spirit. The Word became flesh, and the flesh became the breath to be breathed into man to make him a regenerated man of God with the breath of God. The Word became flesh, and the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. These two great “becomings” were the major processes of the journeying Triune God in His move in man to accomplish His plan (again, see below).

…The move of the processed God is centered on man. Whereas the Old Testament reveals God’s indirect move with man, the New Testament reveals God’s direct move in man. God’s move with man in the Old Testament was a typological preparation for His ultimate move in man in the reality of the New Testament. God’s move in man is to deify man, making man the same as He is in life, nature, and appearance but not in the Godhead for the glory of God, the expression of God.

Our Unchanging, Processed God


Perhaps your ears perked up in what you just read about the deification of man. Man, according to Lee and LSM, is a tri-partite being made up of the body, the soul, and the spirit. Far from being a sideline theological debate between dichotomy and trichotomy, this is central to their faith. It is illustrated and emphasized in the introductory literature they hand out on campuses.

The spirit is a unique element within man. It was described to me as a baseball glove waiting to hold God’s life in it.

The man created in God’s image was merely an empty vessel. He could not express and represent God because he did not possess God’s divine life.
A Defense of the Gospel – Response to an Open Letter

Man, the highest created life, needs to receive another life for his completion…
…The function of the human spirit is to contact God. Our spirit was made by God for the purpose that one day we would exercise it to contact Him and receive Him into our being.
Faith, Regeneration, and the New Creation

This brings us to another one of the key focuses of LSM. Lee says “Regeneration is the central part of God’s salvation.”


This is another point where it is crucial to understand what Lee and LSM mean by regeneration and not simply assume they mean the same thing as you. The London Baptist Confession describes regeneration as:

1.  Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

2.  This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.

London Baptist Confession 1689, Chapter 10

As a consequence of the Fall, man is dead in his sin, has a heart of stone, and is in rebellion against God. So God removes the sinful heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh that is no longer in rebellion. That is regeneration.

But not according to Lee:

God’s purpose is that we may obtain His own uncreated life and be transformed by this life into His image to be like Him. Even if our human life had not been corrupted by the fall of man in Genesis 3, we would still need to be regenerated. In Genesis 1 and 2, Adam was without sin, yet he was void of God’s life. Thus, God placed him before the tree of life that he might receive the life of God and be regenerated. God’s purpose in creating man is not merely to obtain a sinless man, but even more to have a God-man, one who has God’s own life and nature.

The Lord Jesus was very wise in using Nicodemus as the example of regeneration. If He had used the sinful woman in John 4 as the example, we might conclude that only sinful people need to be born again… the Lord revealed that regardless of how good we are, we still need regeneration. Regeneration is the primary need of man. Moral people, as well as immoral people, need to be regenerated. Some Christians hold the mistaken concept that people need regeneration simply because they are sinful and fallen. However, if Adam had never fallen into sin, he still would have needed regeneration because he was lacking the life of God.

…Since we are human beings, we all have human life. The question is not whether our human life is good or bad. Regardless of the kind of human life we have, as long as we do not have the divine life, we need to be regenerated. To be regenerated simply means to receive the divine life in addition to our human life. God’s eternal purpose is for man to be a vessel to contain the divine life. We are earthen vessels to contain God as life (2 Cor. 4:7). This is the true meaning of regeneration.

Faith, Regeneration, and the New Creation

Lee and LSM mean something utterly different than Christians do when they talk about regeneration. For them, it is the process by which we are deified. The entire Triune God enters into our spirit and we become a new creation. No longer human, we are now God-men.

Lee describes how this process works:

The divine life received through regeneration is the seed of our new being. Speaking of the one who has been begotten of God, 1 John 3:9 says, “His seed abides in him.” The seed here denotes God’s life, which we received of Him when we were begotten of Him. This life as the divine seed abides in every regenerated believer. This seed is actually the Triune God Himself. In regeneration the Triune God was sown into us as the seed of life. The believer has the divine seed in his spirit. It is a marvelous fact that this seed of God now abides in us…

…A seed is a container of life. The word of God as the incorruptible seed contains God’s life… God is mysterious and abstract, and for this reason it is difficult for us to receive Him. But the abstract, mysterious God is embodied in the word, which has been preached to us. When we heard the word and received it, we received God, who is embodied in the word. The embodiment of God in the word is the very seed of life sown into our being for our regeneration.

Faith, Regeneration, and the New Creation

So the word of God is like a pill – something that makes the abstract, mysterious God digestible for us. It contains God in a digestible form. This happens through preaching.

The proper preaching of the gospel is the preaching not of a doctrine but of Christ, the Son of God, the One who is the embodiment of the Father and who is realized as the Spirit… The Christ who has been preached to them will become in them the faith by which they believe. (ibid)

At this point Lee changes the common phrase “believe in Christ,” which means to believe what the Bible says about Him (that He is God and has ransomed sinners from the wrath of God) to instead say “believe into Christ.”

…believe into the Lord…believe into His name…believe into Him…To believe into the Lord means to receive Him (John 1:12). The Lord is receivable…This faith creates an organic union in which we and Christ are one. The expression out of faith in Christ actually denotes an organic union accomplished by believing into Christ. The term into Christ refers to this organic union. (ibid)


At this point we have become God-men, just like Christ.

Christ’s resurrection was a birth both for Him as the firstborn Son of God and for us as the many sons of God…in His humanity He was born as the firstborn Son of God through His resurrection. (ibid)

Although the incarnate Christ was the Son of God by virtue of His divinity (Matt. 16:16), His humanity, that is, His human flesh, was not the Son of God—for, though sinless, it did not have divinity. To bring Christ’s human nature into the divine sonship, God begot Christ in His humanity by imparting the divine life into His humanity in His resurrection.
Piper’s The Pleasures of God (A review/critique)

In the same way that God begot Christ in resurrection, God has regenerated us to be His many sons (1 Pet. 1:3; Heb. 2:10).
Sproul’s Saved from What? (A critique)

We are literally the reproduction, the actual offspring of the Triune God. We are sons of God by birth.

By regeneration we refer to the organic process by which God makes us His children not simply by adopting us through the declaration of His sovereign decree but more intrinsically by begetting us through the impartation of His eternal life (John 1:12-13; 3:5-6; 1 John 3:9). We believe that, through regeneration, God becomes our genuine Father (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6), and we become His sons genuinely, organically, and intrinsically, possessing His life and nature (1 John 5:11; 2 Pet. 1:4). Witness Lee understands deification as the full import of biblical sonship:

Man cannot be God in His Godhead, but he can be God in His life and nature. We are what we are born of. Anything born of a dog is a dog. Likewise, if we were born of a monkey, we would surely be a monkey. God created man not according to a monkey’s kind or a dog’s kind, but according to His kind, in His image and according to His likeness. Furthermore, the Bible tells us that the believers in Christ are God’s children (John 1:12-13; 1 John 3:1-2). The children of a man are also men. Because we are children of God, we are God in nature and in life, but not in the Godhead, that is, not in God’s position or rank. (The Organic Union in God’s Relationship with Man, 27).

When we say that we are one with God, we do not mean that we become the person of God. This is to make ourselves an object of worship and should be condemned as blasphemy. To be one with God is to be one with Him in His divine life and nature. Every life produces offspring after its own kind (Gen. 1:11, 21, 24). As children of our physical father we have our father’s life and nature, but we are not the same person as he is. A grandfather, a father, and a son all have the same life and nature, but they are different persons. In life and nature they are the same, but in person they are different. As the children of God (Rom. 8:16; 1 John 3:1) we have been “deified,” not in person but in life and in nature. We are one with God in His life and nature, but not in His person. (The Experience and Growth in Life, 209-210)

In God’s new covenant (Jer. 31:33-34), we have been made God in His nature and in His life, but not in His Godhead. This is because we have been begotten of God (John 1:13). Dogs beget dogs; lions beget lions; and man begets man. Since your father is a man, and you are born of him, are you not a man? As believers in Christ, we have been born of God; we have been regenerated by God. God is our Father, and we are His sons. Since our Father is God, what are we, the sons? The sons must be the same as their Father in life and in nature. We have been born of God to be the children of God (1 John 3:1). Eventually, when Christ comes, He will make us fully the same as God in life and in nature (v. 2). However, none of us are or can be God in His Godhead as an object of worship. In a family, only the father has the fatherhood. The children of the father do not have his fatherhood. There is only one father with many children. The father is human, and the children also are human, but there is only one father. In the same way, God is our unique Father; only He has the divine fatherhood. But we as His children are the same as He is in life and in nature. (The Christian Life, 133-134)

The goal of God’s salvation in the divine life is to build up the believers into the Body of Christ, the corporate and organic expression of Christ. We maintain that the Body of Christ is not simply some apt metaphor for the unity of the believers in the church but the spiritual and intrinsic reality of the church (Eph. 1:22-23)—a divine-human organism that encompasses Christ, the firstborn Son, as the Head and the many believers, the many sons of God, as the members of the Body (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12, 27).

A Defense of the Gospel – Response to an Open Letter

Because we are sons of God by birth, we are not sons of God by adoption. No one adopts their natural born children.

When we were born of our parents, we obtained human life. When we were born of God, we obtained God’s divine life… When we have the life of God, we are the sons of God. The life of God gives us the right and authority to become the children of God (John 1:12)… Since regeneration means to be born of God, it automatically causes us to become the children of God (John 1:12-13). We are His children and He is our Father. The divine life we receive through regeneration is our authority to be His children.
Faith, Regeneration, and the New Creation

[Sproul] writes that “Jesus is God’s only natural Son. All others enter His family through adoption in Christ” (110). Such a statement directly contradicts the revelation of the holy Scriptures, which tell us in unmistakable terms that we as believers have actually been born of God and are consequently His actual progeny.
Sproul’s Saved from What? (A critique)

This came out in one of our meetings. The LSM members became very passionate as they told us how Christians have completely misunderstood what the Bible says about adoption. They explained at length the argument above, telling me I would not adopt my son when he was born because he was my son. When I asked them if they then denied the legal aspect of adoption they said “Oh, no, absolutely not. We completely affirm the legal aspect.” I was thoroughly confused and had no idea how they could “completely affirm” what they were spending our whole time arguing against: adoption.

After I got home I did some reading and found out that I was very misled by these people. They do not affirm legal adoption at all. They actually argue that “adoption” is a mistranslation of uiJoqesiva, claiming it means “sonship” instead. They have absolutely no legitimate reason to do so based on the Greek meaning of the word, but insist that the Greek meaning simply does not fit with their understanding of regeneration, so it must mean something else.

The language of regeneration in the Bible, being drawn from the natural realm of birth and growth, indicates that regeneration is a birth, not just a judicial procedure of adoption. To translate the term uiJoqesiva adoption (according to its non-biblical Greek use) rather than sonship (having the place and quality of a son) is misleading and inconsistent with the language of regeneration and the ability of God to impart His life into those whom He has created in His own image.
The Language of Regeneration

For a good refutation of these claims, see

Hopefully you can begin to see how all of these things work together in a chain, a system. Because Lee and LSM so passionately dispute the Christian’s legal adoption into God’s family, we must see how they view a Christian’s forensic, legal justification.


First off, for Lee and LSM, justification is a stepping stone. God justifies us so that He can regenerate us. Remember, regeneration/deification is the focus. Sin introduced an annoying speed bump along the course of “God’s journeying.” The title of LSM’s critique of Sproul’s book “Faith Alone” is called “Justification Alone” because “God’s judicial redemption as the procedure is purposeless without God’s organic salvation.” They criticize Sproul for focusing just on justification and not on the most important part of the gospel – our deification (organic salvation). Lee states:

“Through justification we have come up to the standard of God’s righteousness and correspond with it, so that now He can impart His life to us” (Recovery Version, Rom. 5:18, note 2).

But moving on to the legal question – watch this video of R. C. Sproul explaining the gospel:

Lee and LSM strongly reject what you just heard.

It is not accurate to say, as Lutheran and Reformed writers usually do, that the righteousness of Christ is reckoned to our account. We do not have something called “the righteousness of Christ”; rather, as those who have entered into an organic union with the Lord by believing into Him, we have Christ Himself, the person, as our righteousness.
Faith, Regeneration, and the New Creation

Keep in mind what Lee said about “believing into Christ.” He said “The term into Christ refers to this organic union (deification).” Lee and LSM profess that we are justified by faith, but they redefine what faith is:

“This faith is not of ourselves but of Him who imparts Himself as the believing element into us that He may believe for us” (Recovery Version, Heb. 12:2, note 3). This means that for our justification by God, we believe in Jesus Christ through Him as our faith. Paul, therefore, speaks of “the faith of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 3:22)…

…We would emphasize the fact that to believe in Christ is actually to believe into Him (John 3:15-16, 18, 36). When we believe in the Lord Jesus, we believe into Him. By believing into Him, we enter into Him to be one with Him, to partake of Him, and to participate in all that He has accomplished for us… Faith in Christ brings us into an organic union with Christ, and it is in this union that we are justified by God. If we would be justified by grace, by faith, and through the redemption which is in Christ, we must be in Christ, that is, we must be in Him as a realm, a sphere… To be justified by God, we not only must believe Him or believe in Him—we must be in Him as the One who was resurrected to be our Savior… justification is not only a matter of faith in Christ but also of being in Christ through believing into Him.

To clarify, they say that faith/believing is not an intellectual act of our mind/heart/soul with Christ as the object of our faith. No, instead, they say that Christ is our faith.

It is by means of our organic union with Christ that God can reckon Christ as our righteousness… We should not have a mere doctrinal understanding of justification by faith. According to the concept of some Christians, Christ is the just One, the righteous One, on the throne in the presence of God, and God reckons Christ to be our righteousness when we believe into Christ. This understanding of justification is not adequate.

…it is not unreasonable to say that faith is Christ. This is like saying that holiness, love, righteousness, patience, and endurance are Christ. Because the unique faith is Christ Himself, we who believe into Him have a common faith… The faith with which we believe is not ours but God’s. When the pneumatic Christ was revealed in us through the preaching of the gospel, He became the believing element and ability within us.
Faith, Regeneration, and the New Creation

My intention here is to show you how theology is systematic. You cannot alter one doctrine without it having an effect elsewhere. LSM understands this and have sought to work out the implications of their heretical view of God into all the other Christian doctrines:

It is my intention here, against the background of the classic forms of the doctrine thus far reviewed, to present a view of justification that respects the outlook of this journal, an organic view of God and His work in humankind… there is undeniably some dissatisfaction with the models of justification that have gone before, and these compel further consideration and refinement. In what follows, the studied reader will not find a wealth of innovation, except perhaps in the definition of faith, but instead a reapplication of a number of notions previously presented. Luther will echo [though they misinterpret Luther], as will also Trent [Roman Catholicism], and Osiander will come alive again, hopefully with some needed correction. Who will not be heard, in their most austere and radical forms, are Melanchthon and Calvin, and this, I hope, will not disappoint too many… Protestant justification, in the strident forensic form that Melanchthon and Calvin pressed on their followers, is in many respects like the emperor’s new clothes, which, even a child can see, leaves much to be desired for covering and propriety.
Justification of Life

So they are clear that they are rejecting the Protestant (Christian) doctrine of justification and replacing it with a new doctrine of justification that implements their heretical view of God and mankind.

Recall the video above. R. C. Sproul makes it clear that the debate of the Reformation was imputation vs. infusion. The Reformers argued that we are justified by the alien rightouesness of Christ imputed to us. It is something outside of us that is credited to our account (imputed). Rome, on the other hand, rejecting this idea and said righteousness is infused into our hearts, making us actually righteous. LSM attempts to form a hybrid between these views, using their newly invented (and absurd) definition of faith: infusion imputed.

We must say here, above the objections of the Protestants, that God infuses something into us for our justification, that is, the faith that justifies us. But for this we must understand the preaching to be something more than the simple delivery of gospel truths… It is important to realize that the faith infused into us through the gospel is not something different from Christ Himself; it is not some emanation from God into us. Rather, the Christ who is preached to us is infused into us through the word of the gospel. Faith is not merely a mental comprehension of the things preached but the apprehended reality of what is preached; it is the actual token of the things we believe.

Our believing in Him, initiated through the preaching and helped by His infusion within us, is indeed righteous because it is the first and only response within us that matches the real state of affairs with regard to the righteousness of God… for the first time in our lives there is a righteous and justifiable response within us… Contrary to the harsher forms of Reformation justification, this justification is real because it is indeed within the believer.

Luther described Christ’s righteousness as something imputed to the believers for their justification, and this need not be rejected… the righteousness that He is, is imputed to us, not simply through some judicial transfer of merit but more profoundly on the basis of an organic union and the certainty of what that union will ultimately do within us… Because our justification, even in this initial, objective aspect, is not based on a righteousness that is external or alien to us, there is no need to speak of a forensic notion of justification, that is, the notion that God justifies us without any regard for what is within us… This objective justification is actual because there is righteousness within us, indeed the righteousness of the God-man in both His divine and human natures, and our union with Him allows us to possess His righteousness for our justification. In this sense, God justifies our organic union with Christ. Our initial justification does not require a forensic judgment on God’s part because it is based on an actual reality within us. Further, our justification is not hollow or a mere “accounting trick,” because while being based certainly and solely on the accomplishments of Christ for our redemption, it also looks forward to what Christ will do within us as we grow in His life, are transformed, and are ultimately glorified.

Justification of Life

And in order to crystal clear:

Objective justification is actual because there is righteousness within us, indeed the righteousness of the God-man in both His divine and human natures, and our union with Him admits us into His righteousness for our justification. In this sense, God justifies our organic union with Christ.

Objective justification is not forensic in the sense that it is based on a righteousness that is external or alien to us and is externally imputed to us by God without regard for any righteousness within us.
Justification of Life

With one single word, LSM has denied the gospel. They have given a very clear definition of the gospel, and then entirely negated it with the word “not”.

In summary, LSM describes how their doctrine of justification fits in with their belief that God’s ultimate purpose in all things is to express Himself through G0d-men.

In the final analysis, justification is the great act of God to make us like Himself in the matter of righteousness… It is not God’s intention to simply justify us on a juridical level, to get us “legal,” so to speak; His intention is to gain in us a degree of righteousness that expresses who He is, so that He may be glorified in His righteousness through us.

…Why does God justify?… [A] profound desire that we become what He is in righteousness so that He may be expressed in all that He is. Justification, based on who He is and because of our living out of Him, proves to be the aspect of salvation as deification relative to His exquisite attribute of righteousness.

So God uses man, an empty vessel, to process Himself into God-men, in order to express His righteousness through us.

It is true that the Bible describes man as a vessel of God’s attributes – but not righteousness.

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory (Romans 9:21-23).

We are not vessels of God’s righteousness, but of His mercy!

The Purpose of God

And so this brings us to the eternal purpose of God. Is God’s eternal purpose the glorification of Christ in the redemption of His people, all to the praise of God’s righteousness, mercy, and love? No:

Doubtless God rejoiced over becoming a man, for only this God-man could accomplish the redemption of God’s fallen creatures… Yet, more significantly, in view of God’s eternal purpose — formed long before the fall of man – God delighted in becoming a man to establish a prototypical God-man — a man who lives God for the expression of God in humanity. From the manger to the cross, Christ, the first God-man, unceasingly manifested God in His human living as the prototype for His believers, the many God-men, His mass reproduction (John 5:19; 6:57; 14:10).

Pleasures neglects the crucial place humanity occupies in God’s eternal purpose. Though correctly underscoring God’s pleasure in His Son as the reflection of His perfections, the book falls short of underlining God’s pleasure in humanity as the means of His manifestation… with regard to His eternal economy to enlarge His expression through creation, God longs to reproduce His Son in humanity as His enlarged corporate manifestation.

…From the creation of humanity to the culmination of the New Jerusalem, the entire Bible abounds with intimations that God’s thought is focused and His heart is set upon humanity, for it is humanity that fulfills God’s heart’s desire for His corporate duplication and expression.

Nathan Betz  :  Affirmation & Critique 2003.01, Review of John Piper’s “Pleasures of God”


The End

A thorough re-alignment of thought must take place in the Christian community concerning the definition and thus the experience of the salvation that God has prepared for us.
Sproul’s Saved from What? (A critique)

the “Triune God and His regenerated, sanctified, transformed, and glorified elect will be joined and mingled as one to constitute an organism as the enlargement and expression of God in eternity”
Piper’s The Pleasures of God (A review/critique)

Some of Lee and LSM’s favorite verses to quote to try to prove their heretical view of the Trinity (that the Son is Father) are John 10:30 “I and the Father are one” and John 14:10-11 “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Now, a valid objection to this false interpretation, and one that I raised, is that John 17:11 says that the Body of Christ is one in the same way that the Father and Son are one – so Jesus must be referring to something else – namely, unity of mind. But some an objection does not phase LSM, because they believe that just as the Son is the Father, so also the Body of Christ is the Father.

The Son prayed that that those who believed through the preaching would be one, but He refined this oneness by making it equivalent to being in Him and the Father. He desired not just that we would believe the precious word of the gospel but that we would be made one through it, and this oneness is not simply a oneness of belief nor a oneness among the believers themselves but is more deeply a oneness that results from the believers being in the Father and the Son. Characterized in this way, this oneness that enlarges is the oneness that already exists between the Father and the Son. The Son prays that in the same way that the Father and the Son incorporate one another (“even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You”), the believers would also be incorporated into them (“that they also may be in Us”). Thus, this oneness is the enlargement of the divine and eternal incorporation to now include the believers and may be rightly called the divine-human incorporation (“I in them, and You in Me”).

…The Jesus of John, as we have seen, is not simply a man who happens to be God but God incarnate having a particular kind of human living that incorporates the entire Divine Trinity and who ultimately brings His believers into that same incorporate living.
The Johannine Jesus as Bridge and Model for the Incorporation of the Believers into the Divine Trinity (2)

And here, ladies and gentlemen, we reach the Grand Finale of Witness Lee’s false gospel: the Processed, Four-in-One God.

Ultimately, the church is a group of people who are in union with the Triune God and are mingled with the Triune God. The Triune God and the church are four-in-one. Because the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all one with the Body of Christ, we may say that the Triune God is now the “four-in-one God.” These four are the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and the Body.
Witness Lee, A Deeper Study of the Divine Dispensing p.203-204

Because the believers are incorporated into Him, He as the heavenly ladder serves as the personal bridge to the Triune God, incorporating in Himself the Divine Trinity and the believers. This is the very center of the universe, for in Him God and man are joined together, and the ministrations of God are focused on Him as this heavenly bridge. Within Himself He incorporates the unique enterprise of God’s economy, that is, the Triune God operating through Him by the Spirit in the believers for the manifestation and expression of God the Father on the earth.

…In this way the believers become the reproduction, expansion, and physical continuation of the incarnate and incorporate Son of God and indeed the organism of the Triune God Himself.
The Johannine Jesus as Bridge and Model for the Incorporation of the Believers into the Divine Trinity (2)

The salvation of God is not primarily to save us from hell and to bring us into heaven, but rather to impart His divine life into us. By regeneration, we receive His divine life into our spirit. From our spirit, He is spreading into our soul by the process of transformation, and at His second coming, He will even saturate our body.
Faith, Regeneration, and the New Creation

New Jerusalem is actually a corporate person who includes the processed and consummated Triune God and, as the issue of God’s complete salvation, all the chosen, redeemed, regenerated, sanctified, renewed, transformed, built-up believers in Christ.
The Gospel in Romans

A False Gospel

Witness Lee taught a false gospel and Living Stream Ministries continues to propagate that false gospel throughout the world. They have successfully stopped many publishers from exposing them by bankrupting them in lawsuits. Perhaps in fear of facing such bankruptcy, Hank Hanegraaff led CRI on a multi-year journey to defend their teaching. If Hanegraaff and the others involved at CRI honestly believe that Witness Lee and Living Stream Ministries teach “sound orthodoxy” then they are just as damned as Lee. Update: Listen to this account of Hank’s experience with LC/LSM given by Minoru.

Side Note

On a side note, in my effort to clearly demonstrate the errors of Lee and LSM and show the contrast between their views and Christianity, I have to note how counterproductive Westminster Theological Seminary has been in this process. You can see just how necessary it is to clearly proclaim Christian doctrine in order to refute errors like Lee’s. WTS has not done this. Instead, they have enabled their errors. First, their most praised former professor Cornelius Van Til argued “We do assert that God, that is, the whole Godhead, is one person.” In CRI’s article, they note:

Lee’s thinking was very close to that of the late Reformed theologian Cornelius Van Til on this point, and although Van Til has been criticized for his view, no one that I am aware of has charged him with heresy.

Likewise, LSM looks to WTS Professor Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. for a defense of their false interpretation of 1 Cor 15:45:

In his approach, he begins to probe the seminal importance of Paul’s economical description of Christ – the last Adam, the life-giving Spirit. Professor Gaffin forcefully addresses the hesitation within evangelical circles to engage Paul’s utterance by arguing that 1 Corinthians 15:45 is at the center of Paul’s pnuematology. He confronts the theological concerns that inform this hesitation by identifying the life-giving Spirit with the Holy Spirit… Gaffin points out that the principal concern is a reluctance to identify the life-giving Spirit with the Holy Spirit. The underlying base of this concern, however, goes much deeper because it seemingly places proponents of this identification at odds with orthodox understandings of both the Trinity and Christology, including Paul himself. Consequently, his utterance is often diluted, rationalized, or ignored. Gaffin, however, does not ignore this verse.
Gaffin’s “Life-giving Spirit” (review)

In contrast, men like John Robbins who have clearly and sternly proclaimed the gospel in the face of its deviations cannot be looked to for support by LSM. No, instead Robbins’ proclamation forces them to confront the biblical gospel. For example, see their defense of Gaffin and attempted refutation of Robbins’. May we all learn to stand firm in the face of opposition and clearly differentiate the gospel from its deviations the way that John Robbins did.


I appreciate all comments from anyone who desires to interact with what I have written here. However, all comments that are not directly related to what I have written will not be approved. The Combox is not a place for you to share your personal opinions and experiences that do not interact with what I have written.

150 thoughts on “The False Gospel of Witness Lee and the Living Stream Ministries

  1. Andrew

    Speaking of “adoption”, as a Catholic I always find it interesting when I stumble upon a Protestant website like this where all of Christ’s bastard children seem to be bickering away about, once again, interpretation of Scriptures.

    (Calm down all you Protestants. I know the vein in your neck is starting to pulsate. Just let me talk for one minute for God’s sake!)

    Not only do I find it interesting but I always thank God I’m Catholic, where not only do I have the Scriptures (which we put together for you guys in the 1st place a long, long time ago) but I have all the writings of the Early Church Fathers, stretching all the way back 2000 years to the Apostle Peter. We don’t have this silly stuff going on in the church founded by Jesus Christ (oh, we have plenty of silly stuff; just not this). We just go back to what the very disciples of the Apostles said in their writings.

    I know this will be an introductory course for many of you Protestants (including you Leeites who are reading this and are probably ready to burst one of those veins because I dare group you in with all the rest of Christ’s bastard children–I know how much you guys hate being called a Protestant…but you are) but the Apostles had disciples–like Ignatius of Antioch (disciple of John), Irenaus (a pupil of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John), Clement of Rome (a disciple of both the Apostles Peter and Paul) and on and on. These incredible philosophers carried the oral and written tradition from age to age. What a gift! Sorry most of you Protestants don’t even know what I’m talking about….it’s truly sad.

    Where was I? Oh, the authority of the Church. Did you know you can trace today’s Pope all the way back to the Apostle Peter when it comes to leadership in the church? Who has the authority in the Protestant community with over 25,000 denominations? Anyone? Anyone? Oh, that’s right: you’ll all say, “Well, Christ is our authority.” That’s what Chuck Smith will say. That’s what John Piper will say. That’s what Joel Osteen (MBA in Marketing from Oral Roberts University and NYT best selling author) will say. That’s what best-selling author and pastor Rick Warren will say. And on and on.

    Catholics have Christ as our authority but we also have His EARTHLY authority: the Church leadership (which again can be traced all the way back to Peter). When we have an issue with interpretation of Scripture, we just go to what the Church has been saying for thousands of years.

    Well, to sum up: The Leeites are just yet another splinter group off the Catholic church like all Protestants (sorry again Leeites, I know how much you hate to be classified as Protestants). They’re Asian by culture (something like 99% or something like that and a few Caucasian fanatics trying so desperately to fit in–it’s kind of funny actually). Sectarian by sub-culture (like many Asian originated religions, e.g., moonies–so serious all the time: “We have the right way and all you out there are on the outside unless you come in and become recovered. Listen. Just listen. We discovered the Truth. And if you don’t come in or don’t believe EVERYTHING Witness Lee says in his volumes and volumes of books, get out! Because you are a dissenter.)

    I don’t mind most Protestants today. You guys are pretty cool: the rock music, coffee shops, business networking in the lobby before and after the service, “feel good Christianity” (you deserve that Mercedes and McMansion–now give God his 10% damn it….and, um, become a patron of MY denomination!), all those cool Recovery Programs (like Sex Addicts Anonymous, AA, etc), hooking up on singles night, and wearing shorts and sandals to church. Very cool. Believe it or not, the Catholic church is taking on some of these cool traditions.

    But the Leeites are kind of a dangerous breed. Witness Lee was so zealous he made his own Bible. It’s called the Recovery Version. Yup, that’s right–to recover all the so-called truths that had been so-called lost for 1000s of years (but, pay attention Leeites, all those truths are contained in the early writings of the Church Fathers and in the Catechism).

    But seriously, the thing that makes them dangerous is their exclusivity.

    Like in their Recovery Bible in Matthew 15:3 footnote 1 where it says “The Roman Catholic Church and most Protestant denominations make void the word of God because of their traditions.”

    And, ah, my favorite, also in their Recovery Bible, Matthew 16:18 footnote 4 where it says, “The Lord is not building His church in Christendom, which is composed of the apostate Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant denominations. This prophecy is being fulfilled through the Lord’s recovery, in which the building of the genuine church is being accomplished.” You see, the Leeites think that THEY ARE THE LORD’S RECOVERY. Sad.

    Sadly, and I hate to rub all you sensitive Leeites the wrong way because I know how serious you guys really are, but Witness Lee stole much of his doctrine from the Catholic teachings, which are contained in the Early Church Fathers’ writings and the Catechism (like St. Anathius’ “God becoming man so that man can become God but not in the Godhead” kind of stuff and words like “Triune” and “Godman” and “Godhead” and “churchlife”). Ouch! I know that stings all you Leeites. But if you want the truth go read The Fathers of the Church by Mike Aquilina and pick up a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Shhhhhhh….but Witness Lee really didn’t come up with one original thing in all of his writings–seriously.

    As for you, Brandon. You seem like a pretty cool guy. You have a pretty good BS Detector. But I hate to say it, Protestantism used to be called “the Revolt” by us Catholics and Martin Luther was really not a good guy. He pretty much cause the Body of Christ to break up into a million different pieces. Remember that thing called “unity in the Body?” What the Protestant Revolution (oooh, “Revolution” sounds so good….how about the Protestant Revolt?) ended up doing is causing false gospels like Witness Lee’s to find ground and build. I also hate to say it but you too are part of a heretical movement: the Protestant Revolt.

    Maybe you should become Catholic and join the oldest Christian church on the planet.

    God bless and grace to all you bastard children I hope to see in the New Jerusalem some day.


    1. I will not respond to anything else you write here Andrew, as I do not appreciate you hijacking the thread to spread Roman nonsense.

      We just go back to what the very disciples of the Apostles said in their writings.

      Why don’t you just go to the Apostles themselves? Why do you have to go to the disciples of the Apostles instead? This is an inherent problem with the supposed appeal to RC authority. Just as Scripture needs interpretation, so does every statement made by Rome – the myth of a united Rome free from division (contra Protestantism) is a myth.

      The Roman Church-State Doctrine of Authority, Robert Zins

      Did you know you can trace today’s Pope all the way back to the Apostle Peter when it comes to leadership in the church?

      First of all, no you can’t. Second, EO makes the same claim – so there goes your leg up on Protestantism (you know, that part where only Protestants have problems with disagreements). Third,
      Boston College theologian Francis Sullivan says that “apostolic succession in the episcopate remains a church-dividing issue,” a source of debate even within the Catholic Church.

      But seriously, the thing that makes them dangerous is their exclusivity.

      That’s a stupid thing for a Roman Catholic to say.

      Maybe you should become Catholic and join the oldest Christian church on the planet.

      But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Andrew

        I take back what I said . . . um, not all that anti-Protestant stuff. That part about you (Brandon) seeming to be a “cool guy.” You’re just another misinformed (and uneducated) Protestant with an ax to grind against yet another heretical Protestant group. There are just so many of you guys fighting each other over that whole “interpretation” thing.

        What happened? Did they excommunicate you because you had another interpretation of Scripture, one that didn’t align with theirs, one that you’ve been putting together diligently outside of the approval of the Protestant seminary in your very short years (how old are you for God’s sakes–16?)?

        Maybe you’re a prophet . . . or perhaps just another Protestant with a Messianic complex and yet another version of the Scriptures (should we expect the New Recovery Version, edited by Brandon so and so with footnotes provided by Wikipedia?). I think I’ll stick to the disciples of the Apostles and their disciples and their disciples and . . . oh yeah, the Apostles, which, by the way, went without saying. Sigh.


    1. Somehow, I don’t think you’ve made much of a case for the Roman Catholic Church here…

      In all seriousness, please don’t assume that ‘Protestants’ know nothing of the Church Fathers or Tradition. I understand we are all bastard children compared to the righteous of the Roman Catholic Church, but there are many strands of Protestantism – particularly the older ones – that do appreciate the Church Fathers and even many of the traditional beliefs (the immaculate conception and transubstantiation come to mind) but may have other theological issues with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

      On a more positive note, I do think you have a point when it comes to the irony of a non-Magisterial Christian denouncing another sect as heretical but that is just a cross we silly feel-good Protestants will have to bear.

      As an Anglo-Catholic, I actually found it fascinating how a lot of the best stuff that Watchman Lee comes out with just echoes the words of the Church Fathers. At his most coherent, Lee’s theology – particularly on the soul and the working of salvation etc – seemed almost Catholic and it was a bit of a shock to later read he considered the Roman Church to be ‘heathenish’. However, considering this was a man from a culture without the baggage of 1000 years of Christianity, whose first taste of the Faith was from Christians heavily influenced by the Plymouth Brethren, it isn’t surprising that he repeats many of the anti-Catholic myths propagated by some Protestant Christians. I just took it as a sign of how the wisdom of the Church Fathers is validated, considering a fundamentalist Protestant preacher from another continent, almost 2000 years later was echoing their thoughts, however unwittingly (and I do believe it was unwittingly. He was very ignorant about the basics of Church history such as his idea that Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Empire and even paid people to be baptised. Very strange).

      Having said that, it would be nice if Roman Catholics like you could learn the definition of Christian charity towards ones brethren – even if we are bastards – and stop with all the assumptions about ‘Protestants’ (as if we are one monolithic entity. Ha!). We’re not all about ‘feel-good’ Christianity, just as you aren’t all about flagellations and ‘vain ritual’. Some of us, you’ll find are even more Catholic than the Catholics on some issues! [you’ll never find ‘liturgical dance’ in an Anglican or High Lutheran Church, for example… 😉 ].

      Futhermore, I think you’re a bit behind the times. Martin Luther is so 16th century.


  2. Dan

    Watchman Nee was a wonderful Christian and his book “A Normal Christian Life” changed my life. Too bad Witness Lee brought sectarianism, scandal, and spiritual pride to the local church movement.

    Witness Lee was a megalomaniac. Think about it, the name Lee gave to himself was “witness,” which in Greek means martyr. Martyr Lee? I think not.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eric

    I don’t understand why, as christians, we continue to debate the nature of our God. The only thing we need to understand is that He is holy, gracious, loving and our creator.

    While I do agree that LSM’s teachings are false, the divide mustn’t be over such things as the precise nature of God’s existence- such things are beyond us and not necessary for our salvation. The divide should be because LSM’s focus is on everything BUT salvation. It is on the science of God and our place as a part of him…

    Think over those things when your bored- not as an aspect of your salvation. Embrace Christ and Him crucified.


  4. RA

    I am a ex-menber of LC, I was in that church for more than 40 years, It took me 10 years to find out all his error and get back to the true faith. What your points written above are totally correct, you do not misunderstand or misinterpretate their teaching.
    “When a group like LSM uses biblical language and biblical imagery, it can be difficult to discern the error because when you read what they write, you think they mean one thing, but they actually mean something else completely. Thus things became clear to me when I was able see the negations made by LSM. This is the error of Hank Hanegraaff and those who are defending Lee and LSM. Rather than looking at the contrast, they have devoted all their effort to finding similarities. But what Lee and LSM believe becomes clear when they say what they do not believe. Thus this post will teach by way of contrast.” ( It is very decieving)
    “Witness Lee taught a false gospel and Living Stream Ministries continues to propagate that false gospel throughout the world.” Witness Lee taught a false gospel and Living Stream Ministries continues to propagate that false gospel throughout the world. (They try to gain acceptance and get into christianity in order to expand their empire.)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. jacob ier

    Dear brother Brandon

    I know compared to you I may be the less than the least, but I think I still have the Spirit of the Lord. So please allow me to speak this which might offense you.

    Although I am not hundred percent with brother Lee’s, I think your disproving of his teaching is not solid. Because you quoted London Baptist Confession and Westminster Confession of Faith, which shows that you have your personal favor instead of purely standing on the Bible. You tried to look at the speck in others eyes but do not notice there is log in yours.

    I was amazed some people said what you wrote is good because you just quoted brother Lee’s teaching but not gave any deep biblical explanation to support your view. Please forgive my frank words. All I have seen is that you stand on what you subjectively think is the true “gospel” and search brother Lee’s teaching. Once you found something was different from your view, you documented. Finally you collected them into this letter.

    If you read brother Lee’s teaching thoroughly, you will find that the stressing is mainly on Christ as our life(Col 3:4) and this life is abundant (John 10:10). Does this violate the gospel? What is gospel? Isn’t it the unsearchable rich of Christ?(Eph 3:8). If so, why shall we argue on those mysterious thing of God that mankind could not understand now? In fact, John 14 says that the Father is in the Son plus who see the Son see the Farther plus no one can come to the Father except through the Son. So we come to the Son we have already come to the Father(John 14:10 ); we come to the Father we also come to the Son(John 14:6). Consider these, is there any effective difference for us, if the Father and the Son are separated or not?

    So Brother, let us not behave like pharisees, taking tradition or human teaching as grant and making meaningless attacking to each other; but study the scripture itself eagerly (Act 17:11) and enjoy Christ as our life(Gal 2:20, Phil 1:21) from the words (John 6:63).


    1. Jacob, thank you for your comments. I fear you have misunderstood the purpose of confessions. The purpose of having a confession is to be able to provide a short summary of doctrine that has been debated and agreed upon previously. It allows me to reference doctrines such as justification without having to spend 100 pages explaining and defending it. The Westminster Confession took years to write. I don’t have years to spend writing a single blog post, so I am happy to simply refer to the work of these godly men that I agree with. If I were writing a book or a more in depth study, then I would obviously expound upon the doctrine of justification in much more depth. A single blog post simply isn’t the place to do so. This post is written for those who agree with the Protestant understanding of justification. If you don’t agree, then I would encourage you to study the Reformation. This post is not meant to be a replacement for such study.

      Simply because Lee focuses on “Christ” doesn’t mean he preaches the same gospel. The Apostle Paul warned against the Judiazers who also focused on Jesus, yet preached a false gospel of Christ. The gospel is never ever described as something that cannot be understood. It was a mystery that was hidden, but has now been revealed (Eph 1:9).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jarrod

        Out of all that he wrote you focus on his minor points and still do not explain your blatant lack of Scriptural evidence in your criticism of Witness Lee.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Andrew

    Only those who lack a spirit of wisdom and understanding may make this kind of falseful statements about Lee’s life ministry. I was saved in Methodist Church in 70’s but did not have any experience of enjoying Christ as my life in my daily walk with God, needless to speak of experiencing the lesson of the cross then. Even the denominational pastors might preach the lesson of the cross but they did not know the true meaning of the cross experientially. I brought up the question to them as to why there were so many denominations in Christianity, most of the pastors would want to avoid this question and my confusion continued for some years until I came to meet with the brothers and sisters in Christ in the local church. They love our dear Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins judicially and is now saving us organically in life to feed us, renew us, transform us and build us for His corporate expression (the very purpose of His creation of man). Lee’s ministry in life has really brought me to experience the divine life of God not in doctrine but experience and reality. May the Lord have mercy on you dear brother!


    1. Andrew, we do not rest on our experience. Our experiences can be deceiving. Proverbs 3:5. We rest on Scripture.

      Lee’s local churches are no different from any other denomination. They think they have it right and everyone else has it wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jacobier

        Jeremiah 15:16 “Thy words were found, and I did eat them.” When you eat some thing, you experience it instead of studying it with your mind. Am I right?


      2. Jarrod

        If we don’t rest on experience then why do you read the whole New Testament since Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, 1 & 2 Peter (to name a few) were all written based upon their experience?


  7. Alex

    The word Pharisee means “the chosen” in the Aramaic language. They were an elite group of scribes and high priests of Judaism at the time of Jesus. They were the guardians of the Scriptures or the Law. Most of them rejected Jesus as the Messiah at the time, because they claimed that he didn’t fulfill the prophesies written about him. They were expecting that the Messiah would give them a temporal kingdom when he came. Their interpretation of the Scriptures was distorted and they continued to distort the Scriptures until they’d convinced themselves that Jesus was an imposter. No matter what miracle he performed they denied it. Even when he rose from the dead, they didn’t believe in him. Jesus told a parable about humility, which we have updated so that the truth He taught can be clearly discerned.

    Here’ how I see it. I call it, “The Lee-ite and the Baptist”

    Two men went into their Church Meeting Place, one a Lee-ite and the other a Baptist. The Lee-ite stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people. I always read Witness Lee’s Recovery Bible, I am an Overcomer, I call on the name of the Lord in a most Lee-ite way, I pray-read Witness Lee’s writings, and I scream louder than most. I thank You that I am not like this Baptist. I am not in a man made denomination. I am only in the Local Church like Witness Lee said’. But the Baptist, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to Heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man (the Baptist) went to his house justified rather than the other (the Lee-Ite); for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jacobier

      Brother, surely we stressed that we should be overcomers according to Phil 3:14 and the rewards in Revealation. But none of us can say that he is an overcomer until the end of the age. And thank you for your reminding that we should not exalt ourself but only exalt Christ. I hope we can all humble ourselves and cease fighting, because we are all dear brothers in Christ.

      PS: I have never heard any brother in our church call himself a Lee-ite nor any so-called Lee-ism. For although we appreciate brother Lee’s teaching, we do not belong to him but Christ. Just as we appreciate Paul’s revealation of deep mysteries of God but we shall never named a church after him. In the contrary, I did witness some brother in denomination proudly talking about their “**ism”. Our stand point is that, we love any BELIVERS even in those are in denominations, but we reject DENOMINATION SYSTEM because it violates the scripture(1Cor 1:12).


      1. Alex

        There are many Christian denominations. You are in a denomination though you do not even realize it. You are simply another so-called non-denominational Christian church (although I would call you the LSM denomination). Do not think you are special because you say you are not in a denomination? You have more strict regulations/expectations/rules than any denomination I have ever seen. You say you don’t not have a pastor. Yet Witness Lee, Ron Kangas, et al are your pastors. You say you don’t have a hierarchy. Yet you have elders and people in position that govern LSM and tell you how to live your lives.

        The recovery is also the most religious of Christian churches. In one breath you will say “We all need to eat from the tree of Life” and “Jesus hates religion” and out of the next breath you will say “All churches outside the recovery are pagan and are not truly following Christ” and “you need to go to the full-time training even if it means quitting your job, leaving your family and loved ones…whatever it takes (see Andre Petrossian’s comments on this board)” and “you need to leave everything and move to another city to be a lampstand” and “you need to go to the meetings 5x/week” and on and on–which are all from the tree of knowledge and based on religion.

        Your “church” (I know you think you are not part of a church and that you ARE the true church) is the most religious and hypocritical of all Christian denominations because you have erected a barrier between “you” and “us.” Spiritual pride is the sin of satan and his demons and is the main error of the recovery. Repent of your spiritual pride, leave the recovery, and meet with the believers outside of the recovery. Then you can call me brother. Until then, you are not my brother. You are a sectarian of the worst kind.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Suzanne

    Hey… as a former member of the LC thanks for the post. While I left many years ago I was involved in it for 10 years it left a terrible scar on me and a distrust of churches. I left when he declared himself to be the oracle of God and got into another false religon. I am thankful to the Most High that I am now a blood bought child of the most God. The Father had mercy on me.. I have been freed from this kind of false teaching. Yours! Suzanne.. am a Harvest Bible Chapel type! The word is proclaimed there without apology.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. jacobier

    brandonadams :Nope.
    You experience God’s Word with your mind. Studying it is simply preparing the meal to be digested by the mind.

    First, thank you to agree with me we can exeperience God.

    Secondly, mind is not only the way to experience Christ:

    1. Gal 2:20 says: “life which I now live in the FLESH I live in faith, the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

    2. Rom 1:9 says Paul experinced God through preaching gosel with his spirit.

    3. In John 4:24, Lord Jesus said that we can experience God through worshing Him by spirit.

    4. Phil 3:10, says we can fellowship with the Lord through suffering. There were many dear brothers in China (for example Watchman Nee) experienced the sufficient grace from Lord Jesus during the Cultural revolution.

    “Experience” inclues a lot. If “mind” is only used, surely we will miss a lot of enjoyment of the Lord


    1. You are very confused. Life in the flesh means life before the resurrection. It has nothing to do with worshiping God through the flesh instead of through the mind. Your references to worshiping in spirit are excellent. The mind is synonymous with the spirit.

      Yes, experience does include a lot. The problem is that you have too narrow an understanding of the mind, which is the root of all experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Top Posts of 2011 « Contrast

  11. Andre' Petrossians


    Most of your comments are argumentative and are harmful to the Body of Christ. By voicing such point of views you are not building but destroying. Do you honestly think by bad mouthing the true believers of the Lord Jesus Christ you can bring us out of Christ? Your views are harmful and has only one purpose. That is to frustrate God. I did not see Christ when I was reading your opinion. Please do not destroy the believers fellowship with the Holy Spirit by paraphrasing somebody else’s opinion. Be in Christ and express Him. The only way you can do this is to be in Christ. Please read Galatians 4 and you will see that Christ has to be first revealed in you then He will live in you and lastly, He will be formed in you.

    Andre’ Petrossians


      1. Andre' Petrossians

        Galatians 4 shows us that Christ is superior to the Law. He is our cornerstone that the builders (Jewish people) rejected.

        Please consider the circumcision practiced by Jewish religion. Jewish religion was fully built according the Law or basic foundation. The Law was given by God through Moses.

        When we are in Christ, we have the reality of the circumcision that means the sign of circumcision was cutting of the flesh means that we have to rely on Christ not in the strength of our flesh and the sign of ownership of our flesh on God’s part of us. In the New Testament sense we have the Spirit and the cross working by the Spirit to be the reality of the circumcision and not just on an outward way but also in an inward way. If we rely on something else we are in effect saying that Christ is nothing and we need something else. That means we can be brought to nothing. Book of Galatians brings us to Christ He is our real Law, He is our circumcision, and He is the real Temple. The crucifixion of Christ on the cross was a perfect demonstration of circumcision as well as it provided the sins of the sheep. Also, it provided an atmosphere to create the Church from Jews and Gentiles. On the other hand it was to rescue us from the foe (John 10) because God was making the One New Man.

        Andre’ Petrossians


      2. Andre' Petrossians

        Hello Brandon,

        Hallelujah! Thank you for pointing to Galatians

        1. In this Epistle, the Apostle Paul reveals Christ Replacing the Law and Being Versus Religion and Tradition. The Will of God to Rescue Us out of the Evil Religious Age GALATIANS1:1-5. God’s Son versus Man’s Religion. The Spirit by Faith in Christ versus the Flesh by Works of Law. Christ Replacing the Law GALATIANS 2:11-21. You actually agree with me as well as with all the Brother’s in Christ from Living Stream Ministry.

        The Spirit Being the Blessing of the Promise
        by Faith in Christ

        1 O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly portrayed crucified?

        2 This only I wish to learn from you, Did you receive the Spirit out of the works of law or out of the hearing of faith?

        3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

        4 Have you suffered so many things bin vain, if indeed it was in vain?

        5 He therefore who bountifully supplies to you the Spirit and does works of power among you, does He do it out of the works of law or out of the hearing of faith?

        6 Even as “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

        7 Know then that they who are of faith, these are sons of Abraham.

        8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles out of faith, announced the gospel beforehand to Abraham: “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

        9 So then they who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

        10 For as many as are of the works of law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all the things written in the book of the law to do them.”

        11 And that by law no one is justified before God is evident because, “The righteous one shall have life and live by faith”;

        12 But the law is not of faith, yet, “He who does them shall live because of them.”

        13 Christ has redeemed us out of the curse of the law, having become a curse on our behalf; because it is written, “Cursed is every one hanging on a tree”;

        14 In order that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

        2. The Law Being the Custodian
        of the Heirs of the Promise

        15 Brothers, I speak according to man, though it is a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one nullifies it or makes additions to it.

        16 But to Abraham were the promises spoken and to his seed. He does not say, “And to the seeds,” as concerning many, but as concerning one: “And to your seed,” who is Christ.

        17 And I say this: A covenant previously ratified by God, the law, having come four hundred and thirty years after, does not annul so as to make the promise of none effect.

        18 For if the inheritance is of law, it is no longer of promise; but to Abraham God has graciously given it through promise.

        19 Why then the law? It was added because of the transgressions until the seed should come to whom the promise was made, it being ordained through angels in the hand of a mediator.

        20 But a mediator is not a mediator for one, but God is one.

        21 Is then the law against the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given which was able to give life, righteousness would have indeed been of law.

        22 But the Scripture has shut up all under sin in order that the promise out of faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

        23 But before faith came we were guarded under law, being shut up unto the faith which was to be revealed.

        24 So then the law has become our child-conductor unto Christ that we might be justified out of faith.

        25 But since faith has come, we are no longer under a child-conductor.

        26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

        27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

        28 There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there cannot be slave nor free man, there cannot be male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

        29 And if you are of Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.

        CHAPTER 4
        3. The Spirit of Sonship
        Replacing the Custody of the Law

        1 But I say, As long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave, though he is lord of all;

        2 But he is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

        3 So also we, when we were children, were kept in slavery under the elements of the world;

        4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under law,

        5 That He might redeem those under law that we might receive the sonship.

        6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father!

        7 So then you are 1no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, an heir also through God.

        4. Christ Needing to Be Formed
        in the Heirs of Promise

        8 However at that time, not knowing God, you were slaves to the gods which by nature are not gods;

        9 But now, having come to know God, or rather having been known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and poor elements, to which you desire to be enslaved yet again?

        10 You observe days and months and seasons and years;

        11 I fear for you, lest I have labored upon you in vain.

        12 Become as I am, because I also am as you are, brothers, I beseech you; you have not wronged me at all.

        13 And you know that because of weakness of my flesh I announced the gospel to you the first time.

        14 And that which was a trial to you in my flesh you did not despise nor 1loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, indeed as Christ Jesus.

        15 Where then is your felicitation? For I testify concerning you that if possible you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.

        16 So then have I become your enemy by presenting the truth to you?

        17 They are zealous of you, but not rightly; but they desire to shut you out that you may be zealous of them.

        18 But it is always good to be zealous in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.

        19 My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you,

        20 Indeed, I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone because I am perplexed about you.

        5. The Children Born according to the Spirit
        versus the Children Born according to the Flesh

        21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?

        22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one of the maidservant and cone of the free woman.

        23 However the one of the maidservant was born according to the flesh, but the one of the free woman was born through promise.

        24 These things are spoken allegorically, for these women are two covenants, one from Mount Sinai, bringing forth children unto slavery, which is Hagar.

        25 Now this Hagar is Sinai the mountain in Arabia and corresponds to the Jerusalem which now is, for she is in slavery with her children.

        26 But the Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother;

        27 For it is written, “Rejoice, barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not travailing, because many are the children of her who is desolate rather than of her who has her husband.”

        28 But you, brothers, in the way Isaac was, are children of promise.

        29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.

        30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the maidservant and her son, for the son of the maidservant shall by no means inherit with the son of the free woman.”

        31 So then, brothers, we are not children of the maidservant but of the free woman. Like yourself, we are all followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

        Thank you for your reply. Living Stream Ministry is very Rich in Christ. They don’t ask for placing our palms on the TV screen to bless us with their prayers and they don’t do any stage diving, nor do they promote speaking in tongues. In fact they don’t even have a membership list and don’t collect donations in the Church. To them, Christ is the True Church and the True Temple.

        We picked up our cross and followed Christ for Christ to be revealed in us, for Him to live in us and for Him to be formed in us so that we will become the overcomers to defeat God’s enemy and to Glorify our Father under the Headship of Christ. He is our cornerstone that mingled His Spirit with our spirit to produce the One New Man.


        Andre’ Petrossians


        1. Alex

          “They don’t ask for placing our palms on the TV screen to bless us with their prayers and they don’t do any stage diving, nor do they promote speaking in tongues. In fact they don’t even have a membership list and don’t collect donations in the Church.”

          True. But they put enormous pressure on young people to (1) go to the Full Time Training (you are basically an outsider until you attend 3 years of full-time Bible training, which demands a strict regime–no work, no dating, etc.), (2) attend numerous weekly meetings and seminars all over the world, (3) hold Friday night meetings in your homes (no matter if you can’t afford to feed 10 people every Friday–it’s still expected), (4) pray scream, (5) pray just like everybody else (saying “Amen” and “Oh Lord Jesus” repeatedly and short one line prayers–you are actually taught that this is the proper way to pray), (6) interpret Scripture exclusively through Witness Lee’s and Watchman Nee’s extremely voluminous and dense writings, (7) be polite all the time (hence all the feigned niceties on this board by “the brothers”), (8) abstain from forming real, intimate friendships (which is why you will never forge a true friendship with anyone in the Recovery, i.e., there is always a barrier) and on and on.

          The pressures are so intense the Recovery is borderline coercive/cultish. I feel bad for the people who get sucked into the hype. Most of the so-called “Saints of the Recovery” are born into, what should be called, the Living Streams Denomination. It’s a system more rigid than any denomination I have ever witnessed in the world, which can be explained by pointing to its Asian roots. Many people don’t realize how bad it is until they leave the church. Then the people who you thought were your brothers and sisters in Christ (and friends) treat you like a leper. It’s very dangerous.

          Liked by 2 people

  12. Andre' Petrossians

    If the Living Stream Ministry bring anyone to Christ, then they are my brothers. I don’t call everyone Brother just because Christ has to be revealed in them, Christ has to Live in them and Christ has to be formed in the person for me to call them my Brother. Otherwise, I will be insulting The Lord and His Body. Whatever pressure anybody requires it’s OK as long as the ministry brings us to Christ. That’s all I care because, I want to live with Christ my Lord until eternity. They are not associated with any cult. That was a label that was placed after some so called churches took them to court and they lost the battle. They are simply rich in Christ. I heard so many preachers but I never was brought to Christ the way Living Stream Ministry brought me to Christ. If they require the things you listed, then that’s good because you can serve Christ by spreading the Word and if it requires for you to leave your job and get a part time job to pay for your bills then its OK because you have to be separated from this world unto the Lord. You sound like Peter when he said, Lord we left our everything even our wife and home for You. To put things in perspective what did Peter really have a pair of sandals, a broken boat, a torn net, a house made of clay and his wife. Aren’t these things worth leaving to The Lord?
    I already gave up $120000 in cash and left my job to follow the Lord. When The Lord tells us to Leave and Follow that means everything. I am selling my house next and will leave my family for the Lord because if they are not going to be for the Lord, then, I don’t need them. Christ loved me and I love Him. This is the difference between Abraham’s seed and Adam’s seed. After the Lord called me, I dropped everything and said Yes Lord I will pick up my cross and will Follow You. There is no need to argue because arguing doesn’t accomplish anything and many think by debating they can uncover the Truth. I am afraid, many people like to hide behind religion and imitate that they love Christ but when it comes to be separated from this world they label the ministry with childish words like ” coercive/ cultish, hype, Asian roots and alike” and do not truly repent. To be sanctified in the Lord Jesus means we have to take our cross and follow Christ. That means we have to go to the cross willingly having everything that is not of Christ be crucified so we can live a resurrected life with Christ. We can’t tip toe in the Word and be in the world. If that means we have to do or give up everything for Christ that means yes we have to otherwise we will be like the pillar of salt that Lots’ wife turned out to be which is a sign of shame. I will give up everything you listed in expressing your opinion and I don’t care what it takes because God made this earth and the man for Himself but Satan stole everything from God who owns the title deed. We have to recover the earth for The Lord. We have to bind Satan as The Body of Christ has to recover The earth for Christ by Christ being the Head of the Body. I do not care to have so called friends in this world because, no one has friends we all have flies hovering on top of cakes. As soon as you stop being nice to your so called friends you will see that they will leave you in a heart beat. The only true friend we have is Christ.
    Imagine, one day everyone will call The Lord’s Name on this earth. See Psalms 8:1 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
    I live to see that day and to spend the eternity for The Lord. I hope I am a testimony for The Lord.

    Andre’ Petrossians

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Andre' Petrossians


        First of all, I was not responding to your comments so take the back seat and allow Christ to gain you.

        Is this how you would bring someone to Christ?

        What did I say that made you to voice your opinion in such a manner?

        I have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ from the Living Stream Ministry (LSM). There is nothing you or anybody else can say that would change my mind.

        All I said ” I was brought to Christ by LSM ” and you blew a fuse.

        Is it because, I love the Lord Jesus that you became envious?

        Keep saying your hurtful things I am getting my reward in heaven. Don’t think by labeling me as worse than an unbeliever I am going to stop going to LSM. l believe in Christ only. I follow Christ not churches established by pastoral system which is a man made organization.

        I get it. It is your turn to get attention and tell those whom you are kissing up to, show that you defended the faith.

        I did not reject Christ. I rejected other so-called churches that I did not see Christ in there. Believe me, if Christ was here today in person, all of these so-called church leaders including those who bad mouth LSM will crucify Christ again because, they are in it for the money. Today’s pastoral churches are like a business with a Logo of a cross.
        They pass the bucket in the halls to get donations and do lots of stage diving or another example is they organize trips to Israel to make money and to kiss up to the Jews who rejected the Christ from the get go.

        Grow up.

        I know it is hard for you because you did not say anything of Christ. I doubt that you are a follower of Christ!

        The reason, I don’t go to Calvary Chapel is because, Greiner was fired by Chuck Smith because he was a child Molester.



  13. Alex


    Andre’s comments above are an excellent exposition of the dangers of the local church movement and should be highlighted somewhere on your website to warn people from having anything to do with the local church movement, which is indeed totalitarian, coercive, and extremely dangerous.


    Liked by 1 person

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