MEETING BY BRINGING THE SURPLUS
OF THE GOOD LAND AS AN OFFERING TO GOD
It is hard to find a passage in the Word with this kind of instruction. However, if we do know the Old and New Testaments and have some amount of revelation from the Lord, we will realize that this is something that is revealed in the Scriptures. The worship mentioned in John 4, when the Samaritan woman spoke with the Lord, is not the individual worship but the corporate worship. It is the worship in the meeting. In ancient times, all the males of the people of God had to meet three times a year—at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks (that is, at Pentecost), and at the Feast of Tabernacles (Deut. 16:16). The way they met was to bring the surplus of the good land and to offer this surplus as a worship to God. This surplus was a kind of symbol, a representation, of their life. They all lived on the good land and labored on the good land from the beginning to the end of the year. They tilled the ground, sowed the seed, and watered the plants. Then they had a harvest to reap, and they lived on what they reaped from their labor on the good land. Then from that harvest which they reaped, they put aside a part for their worship together.
The good land typifies Christ. We have been saved by God and brought into Christ. We have been put into Christ as our good land. Therefore, we have to labor on Him day by day to have something to reap, and we live on what we reap of Christ. Then we can come together with what we live on. This is the proper experience of Christ.
Whenever all of Israel came together, they came with a certain amount of the surplus of their produce to offer to the Lord. They offered some as the burnt offering, some as the meal offering, some as the peace offering, some as the sin offering, and some as the trespass offering. Some they offered as the wave offering and the heave offering. All that they brought to the Lord as an offering, they brought from the produce of the good land. A part of what they offered was burnt to be food to God, as a sweet smelling savor for His enjoyment. The rest, however, they enjoyed with one another. If at that time we could have been in that meeting, we would have seen an exhibition of all the rich produce, the surplus, of the good land. God enjoyed those offerings, and all the worshippers also enjoyed those offerings with God, in the presence of God, and with one another. This was their way of meeting.
In John 4 the Samaritan woman raised up the question of worship (v. 20). The Lord Jesus told her, “An hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father” (v. 21). An hour is coming means that the dispensation had changed. Now it is the hour for God’s people to worship not by going to Jerusalem and not with the offerings as types, but to worship in spirit and truthfulness (v. 24). Our worship today is not with the offerings but with the reality, who is Christ. Today we have to labor on Christ. We must reap many riches of Christ for us to live on and to have a surplus to bring to the meeting for worship to God.
The way for the people of God to meet together is to bring the surplus of Christ to the meeting to offer to God by exercising our spirit. Day by day we labor on our good land, which is Christ. Then we have some real experiences of Christ to reap. We live on all that we reap of Christ, and we have a surplus of what we have reaped to bring to the meeting. Then in the meeting we offer what we have experienced of Christ to God for His satisfaction and for our enjoyment in the presence of God with one another. This is the way for us to meet.
LEAVING OUR TRADITION AND OLD CONCEPTS
TO COME TO THE MEETING IN A LIVING WAY
WITH THE CHRIST WE HAVE ENJOYED
Concerning the technique for meeting, there are no rules or regulations. Regardless of what kind of meeting we have—for the Lord’s table, for prayer, for study, or for a message—we almost always sit and wait for a hymn. There is no such teaching that we should always start the meeting with a hymn. From where did we learn this? This is simply a tradition that has crept in. Whether starting with a hymn is right or wrong depends on Christ and the Spirit. Moreover, from whom did we learn that only the responsible brothers should announce a hymn? Who gave us this kind of regulation? We should not condemn the responsible brothers for this, because it is we who have been too much of a “tomb.” Because we do not take the responsibility, the so-called responsible brothers are forced to act as the “clergy.” We may say that we do not have a laity and a clergy, but in actuality we do. Each of us is responsible for this. May the Lord be merciful to us.
We have to change our concept. Our old concept must be dropped. This is not a matter merely of changing the forms. This is a matter that depends on our daily life. We all have to live by Christ. We all have to labor on the good land, and we have to exercise our spirit. Then when we come to the meeting, there is no need to wait. There is no need to have either a prayer or a hymn first. Everything will come out spontaneously. The right way to meet requires that we have a proper daily walk, have an adequate experience of Christ, and exercise our spirit. Then our spirit will be strengthened, living, active, and positive. Then when we come to the meeting, we will spontaneously pray.
Some may say that this spontaneous way will cause confusion. I do not believe it will, but I would even prefer this kind of living “confusion” to a deadened order. If we all live in the spirit to experience Christ, whatever we pray when we come to the meeting will be right. Variety will produce beauty. If we could go to the feasts of the people of Israel, we would see the variety of the riches of the surplus. If we all pray from our experience of Christ by exercising our spirit, even if there is a variety, there will still be the beauty, and there will be the flow of life.
Because we have been influenced by certain kinds of regulations, each one comes just to sit here. We are used to doing this. I am not saying that we need a change of form. Rather, we need a change in life and a change of concept. Then we will be truly diligent, zealous, active, positive, strong, and living in the spirit. As Christian brothers and sisters, we have to conduct our Christian life in this way, day by day laboring on Christ and experiencing Him by our spirit. We must learn how to exercise our spirit, be strengthened, be living, and be active and positive in our spirit to experience Christ all the time.
Then whenever we come to the meeting, we must realize that it is our duty to share something. Deuteronomy 16:16 tells us that the people of God could not appear before Jehovah empty-handed. They had to come to the feast with something of the good land. Likewise, we need to have something of Christ to bring to the meeting. Then we all will be open to Him, and there will be a way widely opened for the Holy Spirit to move among us. Many riches of Christ will come out and be offered to God for His satisfaction and for our enjoyment in the presence of God with one another. This is our way of meeting and our worship to God. In this way there will be no forms, regulations, laity, or clergy. Rather, all the living members will bring something of Christ to offer to God by the exercise of the spirit. This is the proper way to meet.
We are on the way of recovery, and this way to meet is an item in the Lord’s recovery. We have to drop the old way, the way of form and regulation taken from the tradition we formerly practiced. Let us look to the Lord and cooperate with Him. I say again, we should not merely change our form, but we must change our realization, our concept, and our way of life. Then we will come to the meeting in the living way, with a new way of life under a new realization.
(The Ground of the Church and the Meetings of the Church, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)