The Vital Groups, by Witness Lee


In God’s oracle we become the prophets of God speaking God, speaking for God, and speaking forth God (1 Cor. 14:1,31).


Our speaking for God is for the fruit-bearing of God’s multiplication and spreading (John 15:5). A tree multiplies and spreads by bearing fruit.


We bear fruit through contacting people by shepherding them. We should be those who are always shepherding and teaching by speaking forth Christ to others. All the apostles are top speakers of the word of God. While they are speaking the word of God, they also shepherd the saints, the churches, and their co-workers. Paul especially was a pattern of one who taught and shepherded people. In 1 Timothy 3:2 Paul said that the elders should be "apt to teach." Then in 1Timothy 5:17 he said that the elders who labor in word and teaching are worthy of double honor. All of us should follow this pattern of speaking for God and shepherding others.

A. According to God’s Love

Our shepherding should be according to God’s love toward the fallen human race. The fallen human race is joined with Satan to be his world in his system, but God has a heart of love toward these people.

B. Following the Steps of the Processed Triune God in Seeking and Gaining the Fallen People

My burden in this message is that we have to learn of the apostles, the elders, and even of the Triune God. We have to follow the steps of the processed Triune God in His seeking and gaining fallen people. Luke 15 records that the Pharisees and scribes criticized the Lord by saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them" (v. 2). Then the Lord told three wonderful parables, which unveil the saving love of the Triune God toward sinners.

1. The Son as the Shepherd Seeking the One Lost Sheep

The Son as the shepherd would leave the ninety-nine to seek the one lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7).

2. The Spirit as the Woman Seeking the Lost Coin

The second parable is that of a woman seeking a lost coin (vv.8-10). This signifies the Spirit seeking a lost sinner. The Son’s finding took place outside the sinner and was completed at the cross through His redemptive death. The Spirit’s seeking is inward and is carried out by His working within the repenting sinner.

3. The Father as the Father of the Prodigal Son

Because of the Son’s step of seeking the sinner by dying on the cross and the Spirit’s step of sanctifying by searching and cleansing the sinner’s inward parts, the sinner comes to his senses. This is shown by the prodigal son’s coming to himself and desiring to return to his father (vv. 17-18). First Peter 1:2 reveals that before we received the sprinkling of Christ’s blood, the Holy Spirit sanctified us. This is His seeking sanctification. The sinner is awakened by the Spirit’s seeking to cause him to return to the Father. When the prodigal son returned, his father saw him while he was still a long way off. This indicates that the father was expectantly waiting and watching day by day for his son to return. When his father saw him, he ran to receive his returning son (Luke 15:20). This shows that God the Father runs to receive the returning sinners.

I hope that there will be a genuine revival among us by our receiving this burden of shepherding. If all the churches receive this teaching to participate in Christ’s wonderful shepherding, there will be a big revival in the recovery. In the past we did much speaking and teaching with very little shepherding. Shepherding and teaching should be like two feet for our move with the Lord. Our shepherding should always be with teaching, and our teaching should always be with shepherding.

We have seen from our crystallization-study of the Gospel of John that its last chapter, John 21, reveals the apostolic ministry in cooperation with Christ’s heavenly ministry. In His heavenly ministry Christ is shepherding people, and we need to cooperate with Him by shepherding people. Without shepherding, our work for the Lord cannot be effective. We must learn all the truths so that we may have something to speak and go to contact people to shepherd them.

Shepherding is something divine. In order to be a shepherd, we must be a witness of Christ, a member of Christ, and a brother of Christ, sharing His sonship. Then we will participate in the oracle of the sonship to become a prophet. As a prophet for God’s oracle, we will speak for the Lord. Meanwhile, we need to shepherd people. This is the way to be fruitful, to have the multiplication and the increase. If this kind of fellowship is received by us, I believe there will be a big revival on the earth, not by a few spiritual giants but by the many members of Christ’s Body being shepherds who follow the steps of the processed Triune God in seeking and gaining fallen people.

(The Vital Groups, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)