The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, by Witness Lee

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Concerning Idols

There are some very difficult situations that you will eventually encounter in preaching the gospel and caring for the newly saved ones. The first of these is the matter of idols. A certain man may have been saved through your preaching three days ago. When you go back to his home to hold a home meeting with him, he may immediately ask you, “What are idols?” You have to learn how to “play” with him, that is, to answer him as you would talk to a babe. You must learn to have this kind of attitude and tone. You may say, “What do you mean, idols? Are you talking about some images?” This is the way to “play” with this babe. Then he may answer you by pointing out certain things which he considers might be idols and may say, “Isn’t this thing an idol?” Then you can pick up his feeling and answer, “Yes, this is an idol. What else?”

Do not think that the matter of idols is an easy item to handle. This is a very difficult matter. A number of the newly saved ones have been stumbled by this matter. When you feed them in many other matters they would accept it, but when you come to the matter of idols, they might not accept your word. This is especially true with the Chinese concerning the worship of their ancestors. Many would not forsake this practice, so it is hard to know how to answer them. Of course, we cannot say that it is all right, yet if we condemn this in the wrong manner, we will lose them. Therefore, you must remember that this one is only a babe. He knows many things, yet he knows nothing concerning the Lord. You must learn to “play” with him in your conversation. While you are talking to him as to a babe, you have to look to the Lord for the wisdom to handle the situation without stumbling him. Eventually, you will be able to convince him, but not like a professor convincing a student. That kind of attitude can never work out anything. You must hold the attitude that you are talking to a babe.

Concerning the Clearance of the Past

Another difficult item is the matter of making restitution for past transgressions. We all did things that were wrong in the past. We all wronged others. Sometimes we wronged others financially in material things. After a new one has been saved, they will sooner or later encounter this problem. We must be very careful not to bring up this problem too soon. In the New Testament, there is no teaching that charges us to tell the newly saved ones to clear their past. To do this is wrong. The Lord’s dynamic salvation will work out this result. Zaccheus was saved, and immediately he told the Lord, “Behold, the half of my possessions, Lord, I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusations, I restore four times as much” (Luke 19:8). This was a dynamic reaction to the Lord’s dynamic salvation. It was not the result of any teaching.

In Acts 19 many of the Ephesians took their idolatrous books and burned them. They were not taught to do this; it was a spontaneous reaction to the Lord’s salvation. Therefore, when we come to such a problem, we must remember that the new ones are babes. They have come to know something, yet they do not understand it thoroughly. They might be serious about the idols, yet it is better for you to talk to them in a way that is not so serious. Then they will receive your word. You all have to learn this, not only with idols and with the clearance of the past, but with many items. Because you have helped them to read the Bible, sooner or later, they will bring up these kinds of questions from the Bible. Nearly every time you go back to visit them, they will bring up some questions. In handling these questions, you must always try to talk to them with the attitude and tone that you are talking to a babe. If you learn to do this properly, people will welcome you.

(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 19, by Witness Lee)