EXERCISING TO PRACTICE WHAT WE HAVE HEARD
Our daily business, our trade, is to tell people about Christ, baptize them, and bring them to maturity. On this earth there is such a marvelous trade, but to work in this trade successfully, we have to mean business with the Lord. When I pray, the cry in my heart is, “Lord, You must build up the practice of the new way among us. This should have been built up centuries ago, but it was not. It should have been built up fifty years ago when Brother Nee saw this matter, but it was not. Now, Lord, I have been speaking concerning Your ordained way for over five years, yet it is still not being practiced so fully and adequately.” However, this does not mean that the new way does not work. This way works, but not everyone in this kind of business will succeed. Those who are desperate will succeed. If some fail, it is because they are not desperate.
We must be clear that we are going out to get persons saved and regenerated to be sons of God and members of the Body of Christ. After baptizing some, we have to feed them. All year long we should have two or three newly baptized ones under our care. If we do this faithfully, in one year we will surely gain one or two as remaining fruit. If each of us can gain one or two as remaining fruit in one year, that would be wonderful. Regardless of how much fruit we bear, we must keep going out to labor. If we go out continuously and faithfully for the next thirty years, eventually each one of us could gain fifty as remaining fruit. Then we can go with these fifty fruit to see the Lord and say, “Lord, here are my fruit.” It would be very good if out of one hundred meeting together, fifty would go out to practice the priesthood of the gospel. If not half, at least we would expect one-third to go out. If thirty saints out of one hundred would do this, it is possible for the church to increase fifty percent in one year.
I recently had a long talk with one of the leading brothers from Taipei. He meets together regularly with a group of saints. Last February there were only twenty in this group, but by August it had grown to over fifty; it had more than doubled. By November this group had increased to over eighty. In only nine months, that group has increased more than fourfold. Then he told me the secret. He said, “The secret is to simply go out to practice the four steps of the God-ordained way.” He told me that practicing the new way really works, especially for the new ones. This brother said that many of those brought in were brought in through the work of the new ones themselves. In Taiwan it is possible to find many who have never been in Christianity and who have never learned anything about Christianity. He said that working with this kind of new one for only one hour can accomplish much, much more than working for many hours with one who has already been a Christian for a few years. Someone who has been a Christian for some years can become an “old Christian.” They can become the hardest ones for the Lord to work on.
I want to impress us and encourage us to practice the definite steps of the new way. We should not work in a general way. We may not be so desperate in practicing these definite steps. We may not have a definite work. This leading brother from Taipei was desperate to have morning watch with the new ones every day. Through this, every new one, within one or two days after being baptized, had a good morning revival and became fully revived.
We may do many good works, but we may not have a goal. This leading brother from Taipei does not care for other things; he only cares for these few things—to beget new ones, to feed them, to stir them up, and to revive them. If a school teacher receives a message that his friend is seriously sick, does he stop teaching and go to visit his friend? If he leaves for two weeks, he will lose his job. Even a mother cannot forsake her responsibilities in the household to go to care for someone else. She has a duty to stay home to prepare food and care for her family’s needs. In the same way, we must be occupied with our priestly duty in the gospel. We need to realize our grave responsibility to gain sinners for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ.
After you baptize two or three, you should stop baptizing and endeavor to feed them. You have begotten some children, and now these babes are under your care. You have to feed them. If you do not feed them, you are neglecting your duty. There is no excuse for leaving your babes without any care. Your primary responsibility is to take care of your babes. At least you should be able to complete these first three steps with the new ones—begetting, feeding, and perfecting. Then they will all learn to meet, to pray, to function, and to prophesy.
I am very burdened to strongly encourage you to exercise and practice what you have already heard. This is the present need, yet this is very difficult for us. All of us, including me, are “old-timers.” We have a strong Christian background with many old things. To get rid of this is not easy. Therefore, there is the need for some of the local saints to pick up the burden and be desperate to exercise to practice these steps of the God-ordained way. They must go out regularly and persistently, once every week, with a definite goal each time. They must practice the steps of the new way—begetting, feeding, perfecting, and prophesying—in a definite way. They should always have two or three under their constant care.
In this way some of the local saints will be able to raise up some new churches. Some saints can go to a nearby city to labor, and I hope that the elders will take the lead to send them out in this way. After half a year there can be little churches of about fifteen saints in some surrounding cities. They will produce elders from among themselves.
In the city of Monterey Park, California, about forty began to meet together in April of 1988. Today, after only one and a half years, they have grown to over one hundred. This small church was raised up, nourished, built, and established particularly according to the God-ordained way. In San Gabriel, California, about fourteen began to meet together at about the same time that those in Monterey Park began. Now, after one and a half years, they have close to sixty in their meetings. There is also another church in that area—Hacienda Heights. They have been meeting there for about two years. They began with a few saints, and now they have one hundred fifty. These churches were born through much travail. They have grown and become healthy by practicing the new way.
Luke 19 and Matthew 25 show that the Lord has given us some capital and that we have been charged to do business. He demands a profit from His investment. In Matthew 24 each of us is the servant whom the Lord has set over His household. When He returns, we will receive either a reward or a punishment. In Matthew 25 we are His slaves, and He wants us to do business for Him. When He comes back, He will demand that we give Him an account of our business, and we will either receive a reward or a punishment. This is very serious. If I did not speak this to you, I would not be faithful to the Lord or to you. I only care for the burden I have received from the Lord. I believe that some faithful saints will carry out God’s ordained way on the earth.
(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 26, by Witness Lee)