Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, by Witness Lee

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A. The First Meeting of the Church Before Pentecost

[After His resurrection, the Lord came to meet with His disciples, starting from the evening of the first day. Thus, in the Lord’s resurrection, the matter of meeting with the saints is crucial. Mary the Magdalene met the Lord personally in the morning and obtained the blessing (John 20:16-18), but she still needed to be in the meeting with the saints in the evening to meet the Lord in a corporate way to obtain more and greater blessings (20:19-23). In this first meeting of the Lord with His disciples after His resurrection, we have the Lord’s presence, the peace, the Lord’s sending, the breathing, and the authority to bind and loose. These are the blessings which the Lord brought to His disciples in that church meeting. However good Mary’s fellowship was with the Lord during the morning watch, she still needed to come to the evening meeting to obtain all these blessings. These blessings are greater and more important. We may receive something from the Lord and even of the Lord during the morning watch, but this is something we need personally and individually. We must also come to the meetings to receive something more important. The morning watch and the church meetings are two aspects. We need the personal blessing of the first aspect as well as the corporate blessing of the second.

Thomas missed the first meeting the Lord held with His disciples after His resurrection. However, he was compensated for what he missed in that meeting by attending the second meeting (John 20:25-28). Oh, we must not miss any of the church meetings! We should not say that it does not matter and that we shall rest at home. If the Lord comes, we, like Thomas, may miss Him. Thomas missed the Lord’s appearing. Due to his absence from that church meeting, he really lacked something. This chapter is full of revelation, but Thomas missed it all. He missed the revelation, the discovery, and the experience of the Lord’s resurrection because he missed the morning watch and the church meeting. He missed the revelation that the disciples are the brothers of the Lord and the sons of God. He missed the peace, the breathing of the Holy Spirit, the divine commission, and the authority. He was saved and he was a brother, but because he did not attend that meeting, he missed a great deal.]

After seeing the Lord openly ascend to the heavens on a cloud, the disciples stayed in Jerusalem to wait for the power from on high (Luke 24:49). They did not idly wait but met together for ten days to pray in one accord (Acts 1:14). There was no division, only oneness in the Spirit. Their meeting brought about a major step in God’s economy for the building up of the church. On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit was poured out upon them for the formation of the Body of Christ. If they had not met, the Spirit would have had no place to be poured out. If they had been praying at home, the Spirit could not have been poured out upon the assembled believers in order to form the Body. Because they were meeting together, the Spirit was poured out upon them. This again shows us the importance of meeting. After His resurrection, the Lord showed Himself to over five hundred brothers at one time (1 Cor. 15:6); however, many of the brothers were not present. They may have had “more important’’ things to do. Unfortunately, they missed one of the greatest events of church history.

B. The First Meetings of the Church After Pentecost

On the day of Pentecost, after the outpouring of the Spirit, the disciples preached the gospel and 3,000 people were baptized. The church life in Jerusalem had begun.

[According to Acts 2:46, day by day the believers broke bread from house to house. The early believers remembered the Lord by breaking bread daily in their houses. This shows their love and enthusiasm toward the Lord.

The Greek words rendered “from house to house’’ also mean “at home,’’ in contrast with “in the temple.’’ The Christian way of meeting together is fitting to God’s New Testament economy, differing from the Judaic way of meeting in the synagogues (Acts 6:9). The Christian way of meeting in homes became a continual and general practice in the churches (cf. Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philem. 2).

In Acts 2:46 we see that the believers “took their food with exultation and simplicity of heart.’’ The Greek word for “simplicity’’ also means singleness. Here it describes the heart being simple, single, and plain, having one love and desire and one goal in seeking the Lord. These early believers were simple, single, sincere, and pure in heart.

According to Acts 2:47a, the believers in the early church life praised God and had favor with all the people. They lived a life that expressed God’s attributes in human virtues, as Jesus the Man-Savior did (Luke 2:52).]

(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)