FEEDING AND SHEPHERDING THE LORD’S SHEEP
In John 21 the Lord asked Simon Peter three times if he loved Him. When Peter answered that he did, the Lord charged him, “Feed My lambs.…Shepherd My sheep.…Feed My sheep” (John 21:15-17). Many people confuse these three charges of the Lord. The first time the Lord said to feed. The lambs here refer to the young, newborn sheep. They do not need the shepherding yet. They need only the feeding, which is to put the grass by their mouth. When the lambs are grown up, they can be in the flock, and there is the need of shepherding. Hence, in 1 Peter 5:2 Peter said, “Shepherd the flock of God.” The third time the Lord mentioned feeding again. This shows us that the sheep in the flock have not graduated from feeding; they still need the feeding and the supply of the grass. Our home meetings and small group meetings are related to the feeding and the shepherding of the Lord’s sheep.
It is not too difficult for you to be revived every morning and to be overcoming every day. As long as you have the heart and are willing to sacrifice a little of your time, you can make it. But the other three things—the home meetings, the group meetings, and the preparation for prophesying—are not that easy. They require much practice.
FEEDING PEOPLE IN THE HOME MEETINGS
It is quite inappropriate in the home meetings for us to try to help the newly baptized ones to live a revived and overcoming life immediately after salvation. This is like teaching kindergarten children with university material. The new ones are newborn babes and know nothing about revival and overcoming. Therefore, we have to exercise our spirit to speak something suitable to them. There is much to learn here. If we are not proper in our speaking, we will cause problems. Hence, we have to pay close attention to this matter.
Both the home meetings and the group meetings have their difficulties. But one principle is the same: it is impossible to set down rigid rules. However, you cannot come without any preparation. It is like a cable car. There may be no track, but the cable car cannot go where it pleases; above it there is still the cable to which it is joined. You cannot speak whatever you want to a newly baptized one. This will only stir up his curiosity, and it will not help him much in his Christian life.
Basically, what a newborn baby needs the most is feeding. From experience we know that after a person is baptized, he may, experientially speaking, be only half saved. We need to help him to be fully saved. For example, after we preach to a person with the booklet The Mystery of Human Life and the person has prayed and received the Lord, we may perceive that he is ready for baptism. Subsequently we baptize him. But it is possible that the person has not touched the Lord within yet. This is like having the lamps, the electric wires, and the bulbs all installed; but the electricity is not yet connected. For this reason, the key point in our bringing people to salvation is to help them to make the “connection” with the Lord. They have to be quickened by the Lord within. Some of us have had this kind of experience. A person has heard the gospel. He is baptized and can pray. He comes to the meetings and even reads the Bible, yet you still feel that such a one might not have been quickened yet. He does not yet seem to have touched the Spirit of God. Hence, outwardly speaking, his salvation is clear; but inwardly speaking, his salvation is vague. The reason for this is that he is not yet clearly enlivened within. I speak all these things from my experience. When I was in Shanghai, I knew a brother. During the years that I was acquainted with him, I never touched his spirit. One time I asked Brother Nee why this was so. He answered jokingly, “This person might have been saved without being regenerated!” As far as the truth is concerned, he who believes and is baptized is saved (Mark 16:16); but for all the time that I was with him, I never touched his spirit. This is why Brother Nee joked that he “might have been saved without being regenerated.”
(Messages in Preparation for the Spread of the Gospel, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)