LEARNING TO FEED THE NEWBORN BABES
When I was young, I was told that no human power can save a person and that we must fast and pray to receive the power from on high. In my hometown there was a Pentecostal denomination that met not far from our meeting hall. They continually cried out for the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and eventually they claimed that they had all received it. However, for many years we saw very few persons saved through them; yet in our hall the new ones were added nearly every day. Besides this, we studied the fruit of the new ones. The new ones who were saved in that Pentecostal denomination did not have a daily walk that glorified the Father. But among us, a good number, right after being saved, were brought into the environment of the church’s edifying. Because of this, they could have a proper living. The principle is this—in the New Testament age, God will not do anything by Himself directly, especially concerning the matter of the gospel. God must keep the principle of incarnation. God is ready to save persons, but we may not be ready; we may not have been trained.
When the Lord Jesus was on this earth, He had Peter, John, James, and the other disciples with Him for three and a half years. The four Gospels do not tell us in detail what the Lord did with Peter for three and a half years, but I do not believe that Peter was merely traveling with the Lord. Surely Peter received much training under the Lord’s care. In John 15:16 Peter was charged, and we all are charged by the Lord, to bear fruit: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and I appointed you that you should go forth and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” The Lord appointed us for three things: that we should go forth, that we should bear fruit, and that our fruit should remain. In the past we may have gone forth and borne fruit, but of the fruit that we bore, not much remained.
We all must go forth, bear fruit, and our fruit should remain. How do we preserve our fruit so that it will remain? The answer is in John 21:15: “Feed My lambs.” If we love the Lord, we are charged to feed His lambs. Every proper mother knows how to feed her newborn babe. Peter was charged by the Lord in John 21 to feed the lambs. Then later, in chapter two of his first Epistle, he wrote to all the new ones: “As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word” (v. 2). Newborn babes cannot feed themselves; they need a nursing mother to feed them. We must be the feeding ones. We can bear fruit and have our fruit remain by learning to feed.
In the past we may have baptized many, but few of them remained. This is because, although we had the bearing of fruit, we did not have the feeding. It is easy to get someone saved, but to keep him, to bring him into the Body of Christ so that he can participate in God’s economy for the Lord’s recovery, is difficult because we do not know how to practice the feeding. If we are going to bear children, we must be prepared to feed them for many years. Even three years of feeding may not be adequate to assure that a new one will remain. Do not expect that the Lord will give you a particular burden to care for certain ones. That is being too spiritual. The Lord may never give you this kind of burden. Then what will you do? When a mother delivers a child, she does not receive a particular burden from the Lord to feed her child, yet she is forced to feed it for many years. Unfortunately, few among us would be willing to labor in this way, to pay this kind of price. Out of so many baptisms, nearly no one is left because few have been feeding the lambs.
It is much easier to knock on doors to bring people to the Lord and baptize them than to feed them in the home meetings. In our experience, we may know how to visit people for the preaching of the gospel, but when we go to hold a home meeting with the newly baptized ones, we may not know what to do. It is hard to carry out a successful home meeting. It is also hard for me to teach this kind of practice. We have to spend much time to learn how to have the home meetings.
You all have to learn the secret to be the proper feeders. When you go out to hold home meetings, you must treat the new ones as babes. Then you have to learn how to talk to these babes. If a new one asks a question concerning science, you must talk to him as you would talk to a babe. If you talk in a natural way, saying, “Sir, I am sorry. I do not know anything about science,” you are talking as to a man and not as to a babe. You have to realize that even if he is a professor, spiritually speaking, he is a babe. Therefore, you should not treat him as a professor, but as a babe in Christ. This is not easy to learn. In your attitude, in your tone, and in every way, you must be as one who is talking to a babe.
Sometimes a new one would not open himself to you; he would not say anything. He would welcome you into his home and would sit with you until you speak something, but he would not say anything. What should you do? Again, you must try to talk to him as to a babe. You may ask, “Shall we sing a song?” Surely he would be very agreeable to this. You may ask, “Do you have a song?” He might have one. This is a start, and this is to talk as to a little babe. Never forget that the new one is a spiritual babe. According to Peter, the newborn babes need milk, yet they do not know how to drink. The way to help a babe who does not know how to drink, is to feed him. When you go to hold a home meeting with the little babes, you must have the proper attitude. You must have the attitude that you are coming to “play” with these little babes. You must learn this. You may even sing a simple children’s song with them. You must learn that regardless of the new ones’ age, position, or social status, they are babes.
(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 19, by Witness Lee)