Note 98 - Opposition to the Recovery Version
Brother Lee often spoke of his burden for the translation of the Recovery Version into different languages, the need to lead the saints into the divine truths through the Recovery Version, and his desire to see the truths in the Lord's recovery spread using the Recovery Version.
We owe so much to many teachers of the Bible who have gone before us, and today we are standing on their shoulders. I consider the notes we have published in the Recovery Version as the aggregate of the proper understanding of the New Testament. We are really blessed to be living in these latter days. We have received the aggregate understanding of the Bible because we are standing on the shoulders of many who have gone before us. ( The World Situation and the Direction of the Lord's Move , p. 35)
Those of us who have read the Life-study messages can testify that these Life-studies with the Recovery Version and all the footnotes open the Bible to us whenever we touch them. The Life-studies and the Recovery Version not only convey the nourishment to us, but they become an opener...
If you read the book of Romans by yourself without any help, I am afraid that you will not see that this book ends with the local churches and that the revelation in this book intends to bring you from a sinner to a son of God and a member of Christ to the local churches. We need this vision today. We can understand such a vision with the help of some proper, advanced exposition like the notes of the Recovery Version and the Life-study messages. If the Recovery Version, the notes, the outlines, the cross-references, and the messages were Brother Nee's writings, I would spend day after day to go out and promote them. Because they are my writings, I am restricted in what I would say. ( Elders' Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision , pp. 53-54)
Through the past ten years up to the present time it has been fully proven among us that the most profitable writings and publications are the Life-study messages with the notes of the Recovery Version. I wrote these things, not for scholarly study for people to get a degree, but for life ministering, for truth releasing, and for opening up the books of the Bible. ( Elders' Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision , p. 103)
Anyone who does not have this knowledge of the truth cannot take care of the church, God's flock, in a proper way. If you would be a leader in the church caring for the flock, and if you would keep spiritual germs away from the church life, you must have an adequate knowledge of the New Testament truths. As a help to gaining the full knowledge of the basic truths, I would encourage you to go through the entire New Testament using the Recovery Version with the notes and the Life-studies.( Elders' Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision , pp. 132-133)
In the next few years, in step with the promotion of the truth, the Recovery Version of the New Testament in English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, French, Portuguese, and Spanish will be completed one after another. This will be the best means by which we can go out and proclaim the truth. ( A Blessed Human Life , p. 64)
The Lord has commissioned us with His recovery, and He has surely opened up the New Testament to reveal many dear and precious truths to us. What the Lord needs is for thousands of His dear saints who love Him, who live to Him, and who know nothing but His recovery to take one way. Regardless of whether the saints are from Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, England, Thailand, Indonesia, or the United States, we all bear the same burden, take the same way, and spread the same truths. We dispense the truths embodied in the "gold bar," the Recovery Version. We have no other merchandise! If we would be like this, the entire earth will be taken! (Elders' Training, Book 8: The Life-Pulse of the Lord's Present Move, p. 114)
Translation of the Portuguese Recovery Version, though started in 1988, was still incomplete nearly twenty years later. When Living Stream Ministry stepped in to move the project forward, Brother Dong and his co-workers became very critical of the Recovery Version and sought to keep their followers from ordering it.
Letter from Fernando Monte-Serrat, October 26, 2007:
Just a few months ago Brother Dong told Brother Juracy Reis, a brother from the church in Uberlândia, that he does not want the Portuguese Recovery Version distributed in Brazil.
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E-mail from Osterne Fausto, August 21, 2008:
In this meeting, Helcio spoke many negative things, and we will mention two:
- That we have become the cup of Revelation—without is gold, but inside is full of abominations and blasphemy.
- That we are like the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons because we have our own Bible. Referring to the Recovery Version, he said he has "AVERSION."
We with sadness pass on to you these facts.
Interview with Juracy Reis, December 19, 2007:
Earlier Brother Dong came to Uberaba [Brazil] to give a conference. Brother Dong flew into Uberlandia since it is about 100 kilometers from Uberaba. I drove Brother Dong to Uberaba in my car with my wife and children. During the trip, I purposely asked Brother Dong about Laerte Salvador, Fernando Monte-Serrat and the Recovery Version translation to see what Brother Dong's position was. Brother Dong said that he tried his best to keep Laerte by all means including offering him a bigger salary and a bigger region of the work. Brother Dong even asked Laerte what else he needed but Brother Dong was not successful in keeping him. Concerning Fernando Monte-Serrat, Dong Yu Lan said that Fernando was a rebel and that even though he rebelled, he was received by LSM to translate the Recovery Version. Dong Yu Lan said that the Recovery Version would not be used in Brazil because of that.
Salomon Ma, e-mail to Ezra Ma, Amir Silva, André Dong, Cezar Menegucci, Helcio Almeida, Ildeu Rodrigues, Miguel Ma, Nelson Matos, Pedro Dong, Reinaldo Silva, Roberto Graner, and Roderick Wilson, June 20, 2008:
If they are going to distribute the Portuguese Recovery Version to the Christian groups, they can count on the dissidents that they support, but not us and not even in our situation, between the churches. We had a good time already to inoculate all the churches of the Federal District and region 1, since the Recovery Version passed through the hands of the dissidents. Nobody of our region would buy the Portuguese Recovery Version.
Helcio Almeida, e-mail to Nelson Matos, Ezra Ma, Amir Silva, André Dong, Cesar Menegucci, Ildeu Rodrigues, Miguel Ma, Pedro Dong, Reinaldo Silva, Robert Graner, Roderick Wilson, and Salomon Ma, June 22, 2008:
I am against anything promoted by LSM.
E-mail from Ildeu Rodrigues Santos to Pedro Dong, André Dong, Ezra Ma, Miguel Ma, Salomon Ma, Helcio Almeida, Cesar Menegucci, Reinaldo Silva, Nelson Matos, Amir Silva, and Roberto Graner, December 22, 2008, in response to an e-mail sent out about the Portuguese Recovery Version:
We knew this would happened sooner or later. My feeling is that the majority of the churches and saints in Brasil do not have the culture to use the Recovery Version. Therefore, my feeling is that the less importance we give to this matter (the product or the work of spreading by the dissenters), the less the impact will be among us. The fact that it is not being promoted among us by EV, the coworkers, the cooperative and the church literature service but by the dissenters, is already a sign, at least a yellow, for the brothers who are being taken care of by the coworkers and responsible brothers in the churches. I believe that they will realize that something is abnormal.
E-mail from Salomon Ma to Nelson Matos, Ildeu R. Santos, Pedro Dong, André Dong, Ezra Ma, Miguel Ma, Helcio Almeida, Cezar Menegucci, Reinaldo Silva, Amir Silva, Roberto Graner, December 23, 2008:
I share the same feeling. As I have said, the orientation for all the responsible brothers in the churches in region 1 is simply to ignore the matter and not to promote the product anywhere. In general, the saints are not interested in this matter; they do not even ask about it.
Dong Yu Lan, Conference in Piracicaba, Brazil, September 29, 2007, Message 1:
We have six young brothers who went to Taiwan for their gospel move with the view to learning from them about preaching the gospel. I will not go into detail, but I am very disappointed. Instead of pray-reading the verses in the Bible, they only pray-read the footnotes in the Recovery Version. What a pity! The Bible is the Word of God. When we pray-read it, we see Brother Lee's light and are filled with Brother Lee's riches. They pray-read the footnotes in the Recovery Version just like other books...like the books of Confucius. However you read them, you will not touch the Spirit. You will only get knowledge in your mind, but no Spirit whatsoever.
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Dong Yu Lan, Daily Food: Growth in Life for the Kingdom, Week 5, Friday:
Why do we have conferences? In the conferences the Lord gives us a direction that we should follow. If we do not take in the word spoken to us in a conference, then there is no effect. We have had this experience in the past. We have had many, many messages and truths ministered to us. After Brother Lee's conferences and trainings, we got into those messages for a few weeks. Then new messages would come and we just put aside the previous messages. God's word cannot penetrate into us this way. We get a lot of Bible knowledge but God's word cannot get into us. "You are going to minister on Matthew 13? I don't need your message. I will just read the footnotes in the Recovery Version." Because of this kind of attitude, the seed cannot get into us.
Another indication that we have too much traffic in our mind is when we say, "Brother Nee didn't say this" or "This is not in the Recovery Version of the Bible." We have heard too many messages. In this way we cannot take in a new word. We are too filled with Bible knowledge, but not with the organic word.
Examples of Intentionally Contradicting the Footnotes in the Recovery Version
Brother Dong and his co-workers have on many occasions purposely contradicted the truths presented in the Recovery Version. One of the most prevalent of these contradictions is Brother Dong's interpretation of the fire in Matthew 3:11.
Matthew 3:10-12 -  And already the axe is laid at the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not produce good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.  I baptize you in water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is stronger than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He Himself will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire,  Whose winnowing fan is in His hand. And He will thoroughly cleanse His threshing floor and will gather His wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with unquenchable fire.
Brother Dong claims that he received "new light" that led him to understand that the fire is something of the Spirit purging out the negative elements in the believers. Brother Dong's interpretation is wrong. Concerning Matthew 3:11, Brother Nee pointed out in a series of messages on Matthew which he began in 1931:
...This verse mentions three kinds of baptism: (1) the baptism of water, (2) the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and (3) the baptism of fire. The fire here refers to hell. In the original language the conjunction "and" indicates that the two terms that are conjoined should be treated in the same manner. Since "Holy Spirit" is interpreted literally, "fire" must also be interpreted literally. John said that the Lord "will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire" because at that time two groups of people were standing before him: one group belonged to the Lord and the other was not truly seeking the Lord. John's baptism could not differentiate them, but the Holy Spirit and fire could. Matthew 3:12 categorizes people into wheat and chaff. Some think that "fire" refers to the tongues of fire at Pentecost (Acts 2:3). If so, then the mentioning of "the Holy Spirit and fire" in Matthew 3:11 would be redundant and meaningless. In Matthew 3:10, 11, and 12 fire is mentioned three times. Since in the first time and third time "fire" refers to the fire of hell, how can "fire" in the second instance not refer to the fire of hell? This shows that at the beginning of the kingdom of the heavens, the Lord baptizes people in the Holy Spirit, and that at the end of the kingdom of the heavens, He will baptize people in fire (2 Thes. 1:7-8). ( The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 15: Study on Matthew , pp. 21-22)
In a book in which he presents basic principles for interpreting the Bible, Brother Lee says:
Some expositors have interpreted the fire here spiritually as tribulations and trials. Some have even interpreted this to be the Holy Spirit burning as a fire. All these have interpreted the word fire spiritually. But in this verse, the water mentioned by John is actual water, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit, literally. Therefore, the fire in the latter part should not be interpreted spiritually, but rather, literally. If the word fire has to be interpreted spiritually, then the water should also be interpreted spiritually. However, it is impossible to do this. This is an important principle in the interpretation of the Bible. For the different parts within a same passage, either they must all be interpreted literally, or they must all be interpreted spiritually. They cannot be interpreted both ways. ( On Knowing the Bible , p. 56-57)
Thus, interpreting the word fire in Matthew 3:11 in the way Brother Dong does is not something new but is actually an old interpretation that both Brother Nee and Brother Lee rejected because it was not consistent with the language of the Bible. Brother Lee's realization is also reflected in his footnote on Matthew 3:11 in the Recovery Version:
According to the context, the fire here is not the fire in Acts 2:3, which is related to the Holy Spirit, but is the same fire as in vv. 10 and 12, the fire in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15), where the unbelievers will suffer eternal perdition. John's word spoken here to the Pharisees and Sadducees means that if the Pharisees and Sadducees would genuinely repent and believe in the Lord, the Lord would baptize them in the Holy Spirit that they might have eternal life; otherwise, the Lord will baptize them in fire, putting them into the lake of fire for eternal punishment. John's baptism was only for repentance, to usher people to faith in the Lord. The Lord's baptism is either for eternal life in the Holy Spirit or for eternal perdition in fire. The Lord's baptism in the Holy Spirit initiated the kingdom of the heavens, bringing His believers into the kingdom of the heavens, whereas His baptism in fire will terminate the kingdom of the heavens, putting the unbelievers into the lake of fire. Hence, the Lord's baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is based on His redemption, is the beginning of the kingdom of the heavens, whereas His baptism in fire, which is based on His judgment, is the ending of that kingdom. Thus, in this verse there are three kinds of baptisms: the baptism in water, the baptism in the Spirit, and the baptism in fire. The baptism in water by John introduced people to the kingdom of the heavens. The baptism in the Spirit by the Lord Jesus commenced and established the kingdom of the heavens on the day of Pentecost and will carry it on to its consummation at the end of this age. The baptism in fire by the Lord according to the judgment at the great white throne (Rev. 20:11-15) will conclude the kingdom of the heavens.
Brother Dong has made a strong point of disagreeing with the teaching of Brother Nee and Brother Lee, even calling their teaching leaven.
Special Meeting of Responsible Brothers, July 19, 2006:
Dong Yu Lan: Who has the Life-study? What does it say in the footnotes?
Brother: [others also speaking] Recovery Version of the New Testament [others also speaking] lake of fire.
Dong Yu Lan: The Bible says...it does not say "baptize you in the Holy Spirit or fire." Does it say that or not?
Unidentified voices: No, "and."
Dong Yu Lan: "And". Thank the Lord. Now we have been given to see something new. Not only do we want the Holy Spirit, but we also want fire. Fire is to burn away all the negative things. We used to interpret this verse in this way: we are saved by receiving the Spirit of the Lord Jesus; otherwise we will be put into fire, because the next verse says, "He will burn up with unquenchable fire." But, dear brothers and sisters, these two fires are different [in v. 11 and v. 12]: one comes up from hell; the other comes from the Holy Spirit. Tongues as of fire sits upon my head. Dear brothers and sisters, the tongues refer to the word. What is our word? At Pentecost, fire was needed. The children of Israel had just crucified the Lord Jesus fifty days ago; now it was impossible for them to receive Him or to repent. Therefore, fire was needed to burn up. The fire is in the word; the word is like fire. This is what we need. The Holy Spirit is not only like water but also like fire.
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Brother Dong has repeated this teaching on several other occasions:
Dong Yu Lan, Daily Food: The Organic Study of John's Writings, Week 7, Tuesday:
The work of John the Baptist was to baptize. In other words, he buried people in the water who had turned, that is, who had a change in their thinking, in their mind. This prepared them for the One who would come and baptize them "in the Holy Spirit and fire." One way of interpreting this verse is to link it to verse 12, which says, "Whose winnowing fan is in His hand. And He will thoroughly cleanse His threshing floor and will gather His wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with unquenchable fire." Thus, to be "baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire," means that whoever believes in the Lord is baptized in the Spirit, but whoever does not believe in the Lord is baptized in the fire that is to come. If this interpretation were correct, then the expression should be, "He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit or fire," because it is conditional. However, there is no condition here. Rather, it says, "in the Holy Spirit and fire." One day we all repented and were baptized in the Holy Spirit, but we still need to be baptized in fire. We are baptized in the Spirit when we receive the Spirit. Nevertheless, fire must come to burn what is natural in us.
Dong Yu Lan, Daily Food: God's Life and Nature – The Epistles of Peter, Week 5, Friday:
Matthew 3:11 says, "I baptize you in water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is stronger than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He Himself will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire". One way of interpreting this portion is that if someone receives the Lord Jesus, He will baptize him in the Holy Spirit, but if he does not receive Him, he will be baptized in fire—the lake of fire. However, verse 11 does not say, "He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit or fire," but "He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire." Hence Peter said that we must not think the fiery ordeal among us is a strange thing, for the Lord has ordained it (1 Pet. 4:12).
Dong Yu Lan, Daily Food: God's Life and Nature – The Epistles of Peter, Week 14, Wednesday:
In Matthew 3:11 we read: "I baptize you in water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is stronger than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He Himself will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire." After we are regenerated, we need to grow in life. For this, in addition to experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit for regeneration, we also need to experience trials of fire for purification. Because of the influence of the teachings of the Brethren, we used to interpret baptism in fire as being the lake of fire, because we understood that the unquenchable fire was related to eternal perdition (v. 12).
The teaching of the Brethren in this verse was based on the premise that it was written in the following way: "He Himself will baptize you in the Holy Spirit or in fire." That is, if we believe in the Lord Jesus, we will receive the baptism in the Spirit, but if we do not believe in Him, we will receive the baptism in unquenchable fire—the lake of fire—in the future. However, the Bible says: "He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire." The verse has the conjunction of addition: "and," and not the conjunction of alternates: "or." If it were the conjunction "or," we would be able to understand it thus: "If we believe, we will be baptized with the Holy Spirit, or, if we don't believe, we will be thrown into the lake of fire.["] Thank the Lord that we who are saved can be baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire. The Spirit baptizes all the saved ones and the fire also baptizes them in order to purify them and remove all the impurities of their natural life.
The baptism in the Holy Spirit refers to the salvation of our spirit, whereas the baptism in fire refers to the salvation of our soul. We were regenerated through the baptism of the Holy Spirit and received the life of God, but we still need to be baptized in fire, as was Peter's experience. God will surely baptize us in fire for us to gain the salvation ready to be revealed at the last time (1 Pet. 1:5). This salvation refers to full salvation. If we have full salvation we will be able to enter into glory. Therefore, we all need to pass through the trial of fire.
Dong Yu Lan, Daily Food: God's Life and Nature – The Epistles of Peter, Week 16, Wednesday:
In Matthew 3:11 we read, "I baptize you in water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is stronger than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He Himself will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire." Many Bible scholars interpret the fire in this portion as though it were referring to the lake of fire; therefore they say, "If you believe in Jesus, He will baptize you in the Spirit, but if you don't believe, He is going to baptize you with unquenchable fire." But the Lord has given us another revelation. The verse doesn't say He will baptize you in the Spirit or fire but in the Spirit and fire.
Dong Yu Lan, International Conference in Bolivia, Special Meeting in El Alto, November 3, 2008:
There are people who mix in leaven with the word of God, thus making the word easier to be accepted. When the Lord Jesus was about to be baptized, John said that there is one who is coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He said: I truly baptize you in water for repentance, so that you may set aside all of the old things. I am preparing the way for the one who is coming after me. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire. Dear saints, it is very clear here that the Lord will baptize us in the Holy Spirit and fire. But many times in our concept, if we do not have the light and the unleavened revelation, then our understanding will be in this way: if we believe in the Lord Jesus, He will baptizes us in the Holy Spirit, and if we do not believe in the Lord Jesus, He will baptizes us in fire. The fire here is not mentioned in a negative sense. This fire here is the purifying fire. Here it is said that He will firstly baptize you in the Holy Spirit and secondly in fire. Yes, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is only once, but the baptism of fire will forever continue in us.
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Brother Dong's teaching is not only incorrect, but it also is directly contrary to Brother Lee's charge in A Word of Love to the Co-workers, Elders, Lovers, and Seekers of the Lord to avoid overstressing any subordinate truths lest they lead in a direction that divides the Body of Christ. In other words, even if Brother Dong's interpretation was correct (which it is not), the stress that it has received has led the workers and churches that follow him in the direction of division. Brother Lee even warned against uplifting any basic truths (which this is not) that might cause division (A Word of Love..., pp. 62-63).
Other Examples of Contradicting the Footnotes in the Recovery Version:
Brother Dong has criticized the study of the genealogy of Jesus. In Message 3 of his International Conference at Estância Árvore da Vida on September 7, 2008, he said:
If we analyze each forefather in the genealogy of Jesus, we will easily fall into the soul.
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Brother Dong's depreciation of the study of the genealogy of Christ contradicts Brother Nee's use of the genealogies of Christ recorded in Matthew and Luke as an example of how to study the Bible ( The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, Vol. 54: How to Study the Bible & The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit , p. 119) and the first seven messages of Brother Lee's Life-study of Matthew , as well as the footnotes on the first seventeen verses in the Recovery Version of the New Testament. Both the Life-study and the Recovery Version, far from leading people into their soul, bring the reader into a deep insight into the Old Testament and a real appreciation of the Lord's salvation.
Dong Yu Lan, Conference in London, Canada, October 13, 2007, Message 2:
It [Matthew 5, 6, and 7] could be also considered the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens. A constitution is something that is fixed, right? But here besides being a constitution, these three chapters also have a very, very organic aspect. Before we read Matthew in a very judicial way; now the burden John gives us in his ministry is that when we read the gospel of Matthew, Matthew becomes very organic. So Matthew 5, 6, and 7 are not just laws for us to fulfill, for us to keep. It's not something so rigid.
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This speaking is a direct criticism of Brother Lee's ministry on Matthew, including his labelling of Matthew chapters 5 through 7 as the constitution of the kingdom. Brother Dong misrepresents what Brother Lee meant by constitution and then criticizes it as " something that is fixed" or " judicial" (that is, legal) or " just laws for us to fulfill," unlike his " organic" insight. Far from some kind of outward, fixed, objective standard, Brother Lee said that the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens shows "a revelation of the spiritual living and heavenly principles of the kingdom of the heavens" ( Life-study of Matthew , p. 162). This living is based on the believers in Christ having been regenerated with the Father's life and nature: "The constitution of the kingdom of the heavens is composed with the Father's life and nature" ( Life-study of Matthew , p. 273). " We must be deeply impressed with the fact that the constitution of the kingdom of the heavens is based upon the divine life and nature of the kingdom people. We need to keep in mind that the constitution of any people is always according to the life and nature of that people. No one can fulfill the requirements of this constitution unless he has been regenerated and possesses the life and nature of the heavenly Father" ( Life-study of Matthew , p. 295). Thus, in his footnote on Matthew 5:20, Brother Lee clearly shows that the standard of our righteousness in the kingdom of the heavens is just the subjective Christ Himself lived out of us:
Matthew 5:20 - For I say to you that unless your 1righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens.
fn. 5:20 1 - Righteousness here does not refer only to objective righteousness, which is the Christ whom we receive when we believe in Him and are thus justified before God (1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 3:26); it refers even more to subjective righteousness, which is the indwelling Christ lived out of us as our righteousness that we may live in the reality of the kingdom today and enter into its manifestation in the future...
The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees is the righteousness of letters, which they practiced by their own life according to the old law of letters; the surpassing righteousness of the kingdom people is the righteousness of life, which they live out by taking Christ as their life according to the new law of life. Both in nature and in standard, the righteousness of life far surpasses the lifeless righteousness practiced by the scribes and Pharisees.
To speak of Brother Lee's term " the constitution of the kingdom" as " just laws for us to fulfill" betrays either a fundamental lack of understanding or a purposeful distortion of Brother Lee's meaning.