A TEACHING AND PREACHING MEETING
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). The early saints were a teaching and preaching people. In homes and in the temple they taught and preached. Today’s situation is quite similar to what prevailed in Jerusalem in the time of the Acts. Then there was a strong background in Judaism. Now here in the United States there is a strong background in Christianity, including Catholicism. To meet this situation there needs to be a place and time set, known to all the people in the city, where the Word of God is taught in an atmosphere of preaching. In Anaheim we have already begun to do this on Lord’s Day mornings at 10:45. There is Bible teaching, but it is not in dead letters; it is delivered as gospel preaching. We teach the living Word and preach the high, all-inclusive gospel.
Many of you young saints lack the proper knowledge of the gospel. What, for instance, is the difference between redemption, salvation, justification, and reconciliation? What is the difference between being saved by the death of Jesus and being saved by the life of Christ? There is more to the gospel than telling people they are lost and bound for hell, but that God loves them and Jesus died to save them; if they believe in Him, they will be saved and go to heaven. Consider the Gospel of John. This whole book is the gospel. It tells us of the Word being God and becoming flesh; of the vine, the husbandman, and the branches; and of the Lord’s deep, rich prayer in chapter seventeen. Even that mysterious prayer is part of the gospel. Have you ever realized that the gospel is so comprehensive? It is not only others who lack knowledge; even we ourselves are short.
A Shining Lampstand
Because of insufficient knowledge, both secular society and the so-called Christian churches are in darkness. In every place where the church is, that church must be a shining lampstand, shining forth the light of the truth of God’s Word. The churches can be such by having a preaching, teaching meeting regularly. We can then advertise the meeting by word of mouth, telling our relatives, neighbors, classmates, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances. Such a meeting, with an hour-long, attractively given message, will bring in a good increase, not from among the drifters but from those we know. The word will spread that there is such a place with the shining of the truth, and seekers will be attracted. In this way the whole church becomes a lampstand, with all of us as lights shining together.
Laboring to Get a Message
If you are to have such a meeting, all of you must get into the Word. This is not the work of only two or three. Then the leading ones must be desperate to get a proper message for each Lord’s Day. It must be convincing and logical to the listeners. At first there may not be many new ones, but if you continue this way for a period of time, they will come. You can not preach the same thing every time, like “Jesus can satisfy your hunger.” People will be turned away by such repetition. Every meeting must be full of truth, logical, and convincing. It must be able to subdue all the differing opinions. The burden for the meeting must be on the whole church, not just a few.
It is not easy to take the lead. First Timothy 3:2 tells us that one of the qualifications of an elder is that he be skillful in teaching, “apt to teach.” He must enjoy teaching and teach well. The elders are not the teachers in Ephesians 4:11, but they nonetheless must be skillful in teaching. First Timothy 5:17 says further regarding the elders, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.” This verse says that the elders should be supported with the material supply, especially those who labor in the Word. When their time is fully occupied in taking care of the church, they will have no way to make a living. Thus I encourage all the elders to go to the Lord desperately each week to get a message for the teaching, preaching meeting. Do not take this matter lightly.
When Brother Nee was a young man, he picked up a burden to preach the gospel. Every Saturday he would fast for the whole day, while he prepared. He would kneel, reading the Bible, praying about his burden, and preparing a convincing message. Then the next morning he would deliver a logical, well-reasoned message. This is an example of how the elders must labor in the Word.
(Life Messages, Vol. 2 (#42-75), Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)