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"Witness Lee Was the Acting God " —
What Did Ron Kangas Really Say?

Three recent articles posted by those who call themselves "Concerned Brothers " (CBs) condemn the expression "the acting God " used by Witness Lee and more recently by Ron Kangas in message 9 of the 2005 winter training. The CBs falsely claim that Ron Kangas declared that "Witness Lee was 1 the acting God." This purported quote for which the CBs censure Brother Ron is a blatant fabrication. Furthermore, instead of giving any context for our brothers' use of the term "the acting God" or their carefully presented biblical underpinning of their use of that term, the CBs decry it as an example of teachings "which are offensive to believers and appear to justify the 'cult' label."

Because the biblical principle expressed in our brothers' use of the term "the acting God" is so critical and fundamental to our Christian life and work, it is important to see their words in their original context and to understand the truth they convey. The term "the acting God," which Witness Lee applied to Samuel and Elisha in the Old Testament as a type of what the believers in Christ in the New Testament age can and should be and which Ron Kangas echoed in his message, is very much in harmony with a key principle in the New Testament, namely that God accomplishes His desire to be expressed and represented by man in the principle of incarnation. This principle is clearly evident in Paul's word that God was entreating the believers through the ministers of the new covenant as His ambassadors.

Based on these considerations, it becomes clear that either the CBs do not understand or they choose not to stand for these fundamental biblical truths. Whichever is the case, their public attempt to discredit one of the co-workers by fabricated quotes and false implications (transmuting New Testament truth into implications of heresy) is shameful and should discredit them in the eyes of all of those who care for the truth.

Brother Lee's Use of the "The Acting God"

Brother Lee first used the term "the acting God" in the Life-study of 1 and 2 Samuel. There he said [note: throughout these excerpts all emphases have been added]:

The picture portrayed in these verses [1 Sam. 7:1-5] is very beautiful. Here we have a people returning to God and a man-Samuel-who was one with God on earth. We may say that Samuel was the acting God on earth. At least we may say that Samuel was the representative of the very God in heaven to rule over His people on earth. As such a person, Samuel began to minister. ( Life-study of 1 and 2 Samuel , pp. 27-28)

Samuel was faithful to God to do according to what was in God's heart and mind. His whole being and person, not just his doing, living, and work, were according to God. Samuel's being and God's heart were one. For this reason it is not too much to say that Samuel, a man according to God, was the acting God on earth. God's mind was Samuel's consideration. He had no other thought, consideration, or thinking. His living and working were for the carrying out of whatever was in God's heart. As a consequence, Samuel was one who turned the age. ( Life-study of 1 and 2 Samuel , pp. 28-29)

In this replacing priesthood, Samuel anointed Saul and David to be kings (10:1; 16:1, 13) as God ordained that he should go before His anointed continually (2:35b) to supervise the king, observing what the king was doing. This indicates that Samuel, the acting God on earth, was greater than the king. Samuel could be qualified to such an extent because for many years God had been perfecting him for His economy, not for anything else. ( Life-study of 1 and 2 Samuel , pp. 29-30)

Fourth, Samuel ministered as a judge. A priest served God, a prophet spoke for God, and a judge carried out God's governmental administration. Samuel stood on the earth to be the acting Godthe one representing God and acting for Him-in his priesthood, prophethood, and judgeship. In the church life in the Lord's recovery today, we have the priesthood, the prophethood, and the kingship. As a result, things are not upside-down but right-side-up. ( Life-study of 1 and 2 Samuel , p. 32)

At the end of his ministry, by the time that Saul was raised up to be the king in Israel (9:3-10:27), Samuel had reached the highest position. We may say that in the whole universe, there was only one who was above him, and that one was God. We may even say that, as God's representative, Samuel was the acting God. God intended to move, to act, yet He needed a representative. Samuel thus became a prophet, a priest, and a judge. He was God's oracle and God's administration. As such, he was the acting God on earth. ( Life-study of 1 and 2 Samuel , p. 43)

Saul disobeyed, offering up a sinful offering, yet he complained against Samuel that Samuel had not come at the appointed time. At that time Samuel was the acting God. Saul had an appointment with Samuel, but Saul did not have the freedom to do whatever he liked. He should have been subordinate to Samuel. Apparently, Samuel was mistaken in his delay, but Samuel's delay exposed Saul. ( Life-study of 1 and 2 Samuel , p. 63)

Brother Lee subsequently applied the term to Elisha as well:

II. IN HIS MINISTRY ELISHA BEHAVING HIMSELF AS GOD'S REPRESENTATIVE ON THE EARTH

In his ministry Elisha the prophet, as the man of God, behaved himself as God's representative, as the acting God, on the earth. As believers in Christ, we can be the same. ( Life-study of 1 and 2 Kings , pp. 93-94)

In all of Brother Lee's sharing it is clear that he was using the term "the acting God" to convey that these men, by their oneness with God and His heart, were His representatives on the earth. Because they were one with God and with His heart, God could act through them to the extent that their acting was His acting.

Ron Kangas' Use of "The Acting God"

The same emphasis is evident in Ron Kangas' speaking in the recent winter training entitled "The Crystallization-study of the Building of God." There he said:

If we would do the work of the divine building, we must be one with the wise master builder, who is the acting God. In the Life-study of 1 and 2 Samuel Brother Lee indicates that Samuel's heart was according to God's heart, that his being was one with God's being, and that Samuel, as one who represented God, was the acting God on earth (p. 28-29). The apostle Paul, as seen in 2 Corinthians and elsewhere, surely was the acting God, representing Him. ( The Ministry Magazine, vol. 10, no. 1, January/February 2006, pp. 212-213)

That is the sum total of Brother Ron's speaking concerning "the acting God" in the message cited by the CBs. He did not say, as the dissenters claim, "Witness Lee is [or was] the acting God." That statement is neither in the printed message, nor in the spoken message (LSM tape code W05 BLGT 09).

Brother Ron did not use the term "the acting God" in any sense of being deity. If anyone made such a claim, it would be ludicrous and blasphemous. Ron did not speak of a person usurping the position of God to act in His place, but rather of a person who is one with God to the extent that he represents God in caring for the accomplishment of His interest on the earth. In fact, Brother Ron's word echoed Brother Lee's ministry. By stripping the words of our brothers of any proper context or definition, the CBs attempt to scandalize these servants of our Lord in the sight of the saints.

The Principle of Incarnation

To understand the truth behind the term "the acting God" we need a proper understanding of a fundamental principle of the New Testament-the principle of incarnation. The very first chapter of the Bible records God's desire to be expressed and represented by man (Gen. 1:26). This is the purpose of God in His creation of man.

How, then, does God realize His purpose in His creation of man? He does it through the principle of incarnation. The principle of incarnation is that God enters into man to become one with man, firstly by incarnating Himself in Christ as the unique God-man and then by reproducing the unique God-man Christ in many sons, so that He is their inward life and they express and represent Him in their outward living and work. Our brothers' speaking concerning "the acting God" is based on this principle of incarnation.

First, God did a wonderful thing to make Himself one with man. Since that time, concerning His economy God would never do anything apart from man. He will never do anything merely by Himself. Without man, we may say that God is crippled; He cannot "walk" or do anything without man. God must do everything in the principle of incarnation. The Old Testament says Jehovah's Spirit came upon the prophets (1 Sam. 10:6, 10; 19:20; 2 Chron. 20:14-15; Ezek. 11:5) or that the burden of Jehovah's word came upon them (Zech. 12:1)... In His New Testament economy, apart from man, God cannot do anything. Even the all-inclusive death of Christ was accomplished by a God-man who died a vicarious death for us. The One who died on the cross was not only man but also God, not only God but also man. This is incarnation, and this is the incarnated One. ( The Practice of the Church Life according to the God-ordained Way , pp. 102-103)

This is why we need much preparation to make ourselves one with the indwelling Triune God. Wherever we are and wherever we go, we should be able to say that we are one with God. Whenever we speak, we should speak in the principle of incarnation. We should not speak to others by ourselves, but we should speak together with our indwelling Lord. It is our speaking, yet the Lord speaks. This is according to what the apostle Paul expressed in 1 Corinthians 7. He gave his opinion (vv. 10, 12, 40), even though he said he did not have the Lord's commandment (v. 25). Then eventually he said, "I think that I also have the Spirit of God" (v. 40). This shows that he and God the Spirit spoke together. We should always practice this principle.

In the Old Testament the word of Jehovah came upon a prophet (Jer. 1:2; Ezek. 1:3), the prophet being simply the mouthpiece of God. But in the New Testament the Lord becomes one with His apostles, and they become one with Him; thus the two speak together. His word becomes their word, and whatever they utter is His word. This is the principle of incarnation. ( Fellowship Concerning the Urgent Need of the Vital Groups , pp. 198-199)

In the Old Testament, when the prophets prophesied for God, their prophecies many times began with, "The word of the Lord came unto me" (Jer. 1:4; Ezek. 3:16; Isa. 38:4) or "Thus saith the Lord" (Isa. 7:7; Jer. 2:2; Ezek. 2:4). This indicates that the Lord was separate from the prophets. The word of Jehovah came objectively upon the speakers, and they declared that it was not their word but the Lord's. However, in 1 Corinthians 7:25 Paul said, "Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord, but I give my opinion as having received mercy of the Lord to be faithful;" and in giving his opinion he said, "But I think that I also have the Spirit of God" (7:40). Paul indicated that what he spoke was not a word from the Lord; it was his opinion. Yet in the giving of his opinion was the speaking of God. God lived in Paul and spoke in Paul's speaking, even in his opinion, because God had become one with Paul and had made Paul one with Him. While we are speaking, it is not only we but Christ, the embodiment of God, who speaks with us and speaks in our speaking. This is the principle of incarnation. ( The Experience and Growth in Life , pp. 201-202)

Ambassadors to Represent Christ

The Apostle Paul was one who lived and magnified Christ (Phil. 1:20-21) for the accomplishment of His ministry through the manifestation of the truth (2 Cor. 4:2). In 2 Corinthians 5:20 he clearly stated that his service as a minister of the new covenant was to be an ambassador representing Christ. There he said that God was entreating the Corinthian believers through the apostles as the ambassadors of Christ to be reconciled to God.

Phil. 1:20-21 - [20] According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I will be put to shame, but with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death. [21] For to me, to 1live is Christ and to die is gain.

fn. 1:21 1 - Paul's life was to live Christ. To him to live was Christ, not the law or circumcision. He would not live the law but would live Christ, not be found in the law but be found in Christ (3:9). Christ was not only his life but also his living. He lived Christ because Christ lived in him (Gal. 2:20). He was one with Christ in both life and living. He and Christ had one life and one living. They lived together as one person. Christ lived within Paul as Paul's life, and Paul lived Christ without as Christ's living. The normal experience of Christ is to live Him, and to live Him is to magnify Him always, regardless of the circumstances.

2 Cor. 4:2 - But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of the 2truth commending ourselves to every conscience of men before God.

fn. 4:2 2 - The truth is another expression for the word of God (John 17:17 and notes). It means the reality, denoting all the real things revealed in God's word, which are mainly Christ as the reality of all the things of God. The manifestation of the truth refers to the apostles' living of Christ. When they lived Christ, who is the truth (John 14:6), they manifested the truth. As Christ was lived out of them, the truth was manifested in them. By this, they commended themselves to every conscience of men before God. The apostles behaved themselves not in the way of adulterating the word of God but in the way of manifesting the truth for the shining of the gospel of the glory of Christ, by the excellent power of the priceless treasure, the very Christ who entered into them and became their content (v. 7) through the enlightenment of God's shining (v. 6).

2 Cor. 5:20 - On behalf of Christ then we are 1ambassadors, as God entreats you through us; we beseech you on behalf of Christ, Be reconciled to God.

fn. 5:20 1 - The apostles were commissioned with a definite ministry, to represent Christ to accomplish God's purpose.

For Paul to say that God was entreating the believers in Corinth through the apostles means that the apostles were one with God and with His desire to reconcile the believers to Himself. Thus, their word was God's word and God was speaking through them. In this sense they were the acting God.

In verses 18 through 20 Paul goes on to speak of the ministry of reconciliation: "But all things are of God, Who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; how that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not accounting their offenses to them, and putting in us the word of reconciliation. On behalf of Christ, then, we are ambassadors, as God entreating through us; we beseech you on behalf of Christ, Be reconciled to God." We need to read these verses very carefully. The word "then" in verse 20 is a connecting word joining verse 20 with the preceding verses. According to verse 20, the ambassadors of Christ are one with God; they are like God, and they entreat as God. Their word is God's word, and what they do is God's doing. Furthermore, the words "on behalf of Christ" mean representing Christ. As those who represent Christ, the apostles were ambassadors of Christ. Today an ambassador is a person authorized to represent his government. In like manner, the apostles were authorized by Christ to represent Him to do the work of reconciliation.

Paul's composition in 5:20 is unusual. After saying "we are ambassadors," he says, "as God entreating through us." Paul seems to be saying, "We are ambassadors of Christ, and we are doing a reconciling work. This is like God entreating you through us. We are one with Christ and one with God. Christ is one with us, and God also is one with us. Therefore, God, Christ, and we, the apostles, are all one." The ministry of the new covenant is a ministry in which God, Christ, and the ministers are one.

Paul's word in verse 20 is strong and emphatic. He says, "We are ambassadors, as God entreating through us; we beseech you on behalf of Christ, Be reconciled to God." God, Christ, and the apostles were one in carrying out the ministry of reconciliation. ( Life-study of 2 Corinthians , pp. 332-333) [emphasis added]

In the Crystallization-study of 2 Corinthians, Ron Kangas said:

As an ambassador of Christ, Paul was "the acting God" (2 Cor. 1:3-4, 12, 15-16; 2:10; 10:1; 11:2). Paul was one with Christ to be the acting God in comforting the believers (1:3-4). Paul conducted himself in the singleness of God, for he was an imitator of the simple God and lived God (v. 12). His coming to the Corinthians was the coming of God as grace (vv. 15-16). He forgave a particular matter in the person of Christ (2:10) and entreated the believers through the meekness and gentleness of Christ (10:1). Also, Paul was jealous over the saints with the jealousy of God (11:2).

God's economy in its highest definition is to make us the same as God in life, nature, constitution, appearance, expression, and function. This is not the function of creating the universe, raising the dead, or being omnipresent, but the function of carrying out God's interests according to His desire. When someone who is one with God to be an ambassador of Christ functions, he is the acting God there. Moses, when he was eighty, was put into this function, and he said, "I am not a man of words" (Exo. 4:10). Therefore, the Lord gave him Aaron to match him. He said, "He shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be as God to him" (v. 16). Surely this is the acting God. Samuel also, again and again, was so one with God to turn the age to the kingdom. He was the acting God. Elisha, in his ministry that typified Christ's ministry of grace, was the acting God. It is not logical to have people who are the acting God in the Old Testament and yet have none in the New Testament. In 2 Corinthians there are strong indications that Paul, as an ambassador of Christ, was the acting God. (Ron Kangas, "Ambassadors of Christ and the Ministry of Reconciliation," The Ministry Magazine, vol. 7, no. 5, pp. 209-210.

This word is also foundational to understanding Brother Ron's use of the term "the acting God" in the 2005 Winter Training. Ron also spoke a further and fuller word on "the acting God" in the last message of the 2006 Spring Term of the Full-Time Training in Anaheim. That message was entitled "Being One with God and Constituted with God, Living God and Expressing God, Moving with God and Representing God to Be the Acting God in Ministering the Building and Builded God for the Intrinsic Constitution of the Building of God." This message is available on video or audio tape from Living Stream Ministry and will be in print in a future issue of The Ministry Magazine. We commend it to all of the saints.

Conclusion

One of the dissenting articles accuses Ron Kangas of seeking "to achieve a little 'shock value' by declaring, 'Witness Lee was the acting God,'" although the article admits, "We realize this speaking did not appear in print." These words did not appear in print because Ron did not speak them. In fact, it is the CBs who try to achieve "shock value" by using manufactured quotes and wrenching Brother Ron's word about "the acting God" from its original context, omitting his careful and proper definition of the term based on Brother Lee's ministry. However, if the term is properly defined and understood, there should be nothing shocking about saying that those brothers who act in the principle of incarnation as ambassadors of God are the acting God, not in any sense of acting in God's stead, but as persons who are one with God for the carrying out of His interest on the earth.

The CBs have launched a campaign to discredit the co-workers in the Lord's recovery by misrepresenting their speaking. The CBs' clear motivation is to drive a wedge between the churches and the co-workers who are continuing the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, which is the ministry given by the Lord to produce and build up the churches in His present recovery. This they do, not out of concern for the Lord's recovery as a whole or for the body of truth that has been delivered to us, but because they seek to draw away men after themselves (Acts 20:30).

Acts 20:30 - And from among you yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverted things to 1draw away the disciples after them.

fn. 20:30 1 - The perverted ones among the believers in the church are always used by the devil, who hates the church, to draw the sheep away to form another flock.

What they really object to is Brother Ron's word about the need for all of the saints in all of the churches in the Lord's recovery to be one with the design of the divine building as revealed to Paul. This is the pattern that has been presented to us through the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.

Anyone who would do the work of the divine building today must be one with the wise master builder. This oneness means that first they are one with Paul and with Paul's revelation. However, we have needed help from the ministry of the age to understand and see what Paul saw, to receive the design that he received. Thus, we believe that, in principle, in the Lord's recovery our Brother Lee was the wise master builder. ( The Ministry Magazine, vol. 10, no. 1, January/February 2006, p. 213)

Here to be one with a person ("one with Paul") is to be one who receives, closely follows, and teaches the revelation released through that person's ministry. Such a oneness with the ministry is apparent from the initiation of the church life in Jerusalem, when the disciples continued steadfastly in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles (Acts 2:42), to Paul's reminder to Timothy in the midst of the degradation of the church concerning how Timothy had benefited from closely following Paul's teaching (1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 3:10).

Acts 2:42 - And they continued steadfastly in the teaching and the fellowship of the apostles, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.

1 Tim. 4:6 - If you lay these things before the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, being nourished with the words of the faith and of the good teaching which you 5have closely followed.

fn. 4:6 5 - We must first closely follow the words which we would teach others.

2 Tim. 3:10 - But you have closely followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, endurance.

Similarly, to turn away from the person is to turn away from his ministry.

2 Tim. 1:15 - This you know, that all who are in 1Asia 2turned away from me, of whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.

fn. 1:15 1 - I.e., the province of Asia. The phrase all who are in Asia points to the general situation among the believers in Asia and does not include every particular believer; for Onesiphorus is mentioned as one from Asia who often refreshed Paul and sought him out (vv. 16-18).

fn. 1:15 2 - This indicates that the believers in Asia who had formerly received the apostle's ministry now forsook him. In spite of such desertion, the apostle grew stronger in the grace that was in Christ, who is the same and will never change. Not being discouraged, he exhorted his son in faith to persevere steadily in the ministry in the midst of the failure and ruin of the churches.

In 2 Timothy 1:15 Paul says, "...all who are in Asia turned away from me." Asia was a province of the Roman Empire in Asia Minor, far away from Rome where Paul, who was in prison, was writing his Epistle to Timothy. When Paul said that all who were in Asia turned away from him, this does not indicate that they turned away from the person of Paul because the person of Paul was far away from them. This verse indicates that they all turned away from Paul's ministry. Among the churches in Asia was the church in Ephesus, which was fully established by Paul's ministry as recorded in Acts 19. They received the gospel, the teaching, the edification, and the establishment from the ministry of the Apostle Paul. But by the time Paul was imprisoned in Rome, they had all turned away from his ministry. ( Elders' Training, Book 7: One Accord for the Lord's Move , p. 128)

The CBs hope to turn away the saints from following the New Testament ministry of Brother Nee, Brother Lee, and the co-workers in the Lord's recovery to gain a following for themselves and those with whom they are associated. They are willing to sacrifice the truth to do so, including the truth concerning the proper meaning of the term "the acting God," that is, of God being expressed and represented in man in the principle of incarnation.

Brother Lee was always seeking terminology to express the standard of truth that the Lord was releasing in His recovery. "The acting God" is one of those terms. In both Brother Lee's and Ron Kangas' usage, it is defined and used to mean a person who is one with God and with God's heart, who therefore acts as God's representative on the earth for the accomplishment of His purpose. Rather than seeking to inflame the saints and the churches against the co-workers who are faithful to the standard of biblical truth in Brother Lee's ministry, the CBs, as well as all of the believers in the Lord's recovery, should endeavor to become such persons themselves and to lead others to become such persons.

Notes:

1The articles on the CBs' site are inconsistent in misquoting Ron Kangas' word. Some of the CB articles say "was" and some say "is". Both are false, but since the article which uses the present tense arrives at its perverse interpretation via an even more convoluted twisting of Brother Ron's word, this article will focus on the claim that he said, "Witness Lee was the acting God."

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