The Training and the Practice of the Vital Groups, by Witness Lee


Today our Lord is prevailing. No one in Hades, on the earth, in the air, or even in the third heaven can defeat the Lord Jesus. In His ascension the Lord Jesus transcended and surpassed Hades, the earth, the air, and also the third heaven (Heb. 4:14). The Lord needed to transcend even the third heaven because the third heaven was polluted by Satan’s presence (Job 1:6). Because Satan still has a place in the third heaven, even the third heaven needs to be under the feet of Christ. Hence, Hebrews 7:26 tells us that today Christ, our High Priest, is higher than the heavens. He is not only higher than Hades, the earth, and the air, but also higher than the heavens. He is at the peak of the universe. According to Ephesians 1:20-23, Christ’s transcendence is for Him to form the church.

In Ephesians 1:3-14 the threefold dispensing of the Triune God only produces the materials to constitute the church; it does not form the church. Before the transmitting of the transcending Christ in Ephesians 1:22, there were the materials, such as Peter and the one hundred twenty in Acts 1, but there was no church. On the day of Pentecost the church was formed not by the crucified Christ nor the resurrected Christ, but by the transcending Christ who passed through and surpassed the power of darkness in Hades, the opposition on earth, the rulers and authorities in the air, and even God’s abode in the third heaven. He is the One who has the power to overcome all kinds of circumstances to form the church. When He formed the church, He was the transcending One. Caesar, the high priests, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the elders were all opposing Him. Jesus did not care for these opposing ones. He is transcending. When He poured out Himself on the earth, the church was formed. Peter and the one hundred twenty became one. On the day of Pentecost, when Peter stood up to speak, he did not stand up by himself; he stood up with the eleven (Acts 2:14). It was not Peter who spoke; it was the church that spoke. The church had come into existence; hence, from Acts 2 the church is mentioned specifically (5:11; 8:1, 3; 9:31; 11:22, 26; 12:1, 5; 13:1; 14:23, 27; 15:3, 4, 22; 18:22; 20:17, 28).

The unique transmitting of the transcending Christ is not for producing materials to constitute His Body but for forming the materials into one Body. Today we need to realize that our going out to visit people belongs to Christ’s transcending. Hades is opposing, the whole earth is opposing, and the rulers and authorities in the air are opposing. Even God’s abode in the third heaven was polluted by the presence of Satan. Christ has transcended and surpassed all these. No one can compete with Him in His transcendence. He is the One who has every kind of power. In Matthew 28:18 He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Then in verse 19 He said, “Go therefore and disciple all the nations.” Our going out to visit people is a response to Christ’s transcendence, in which He received all authority. This is for the forming of the church. If we do not go, the church cannot be formed.


We should not think that a vital group will do wonders. To think this way is Pentecostal. The vital group is like a fruit tree that bears fruit. It is not a miraculous thing. Year round, from spring to winter, the same tree stands there apparently the same, but every year that tree bears fruit.

The Lord trusts in His members, not in the spiritual “giants.” As small members in the Lord’s Body, we all are very useful to Him. Every member must work; every member must function; every member must visit others. Then we will all become vital. Do not think that by hearing a stirring message and praying for three days and three nights something miraculous will happen to us to cause us all to be vitalized. There is not such a thing. Through my study I have found out that no revival really works. But the sevenfold Spirit is now moving on this earth (Rev. 5:6). He is moving in Australia, in New Zealand, in South America, in Central America, and in North America. He is moving in many places and in many hearts. He is also moving in our hearts. If we all would realize that we do not need a great “revival” but simply need to go out to visit people, this would be much more effective than a hundred spiritual giants.

We should not trust in specially gifted persons. We should not consider them more capable than we are. In reality, we may be much greater than they are. We need to receive mercy from the Lord to labor. According to my experience, if I do not labor, I cannot be healthy. When I labor, all the illnesses become afraid of me. However, when I cease to labor, illness may come. We should not welcome sickness. Rather, we should love people. Every day we need to be beside ourselves, doing things that other people would consider foolish. Every day we need to contact people and speak to people about Christ.

If you are such a person, surely you will have companions. The Lord will give you companions. Furthermore, your endeavoring will be very contagious. Some people will be attracted by what you are. Then they will come to you. Spontaneously you will have a group, and that group will be your vital group.

We need to take the apostle’s word in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 concerning the labor of love, and his word in Colossians 1:28—2:1 concerning his laboring by struggling to gain every man, to admonish every man, to teach every man, and to present every man full-grown in Christ. If Paul can do this, we also can do it. We should not say that we cannot do it. We can do it.


In addition to our labor of love, we also need the endurance of hope. We need to be willing to suffer opposition. We need to be a person who endures in hope of the Lord’s coming. According to Luke 16:9, in the kingdom age many will welcome us into the eternal tabernacles because of our labor.

Our hope is in the coming Christ with His glory, and it is also in the reward of the coming kingdom. The endurance of hope is the long life of our work of faith. Through such an endurance we can subdue all kinds of disappointments, discouragements, and impossibilities, and we can also overcome all kinds of oppositions, obstacles, and frustrations. Such an endurance consummates in gaining sinners, feeding the believers, perfecting the saints, and building up the church, the Body of Christ, for the kingdom of God and of Christ.

Some may say that to be vital is impossible. However, we must say that it is not impossible. Everything is possible. No one has ever overcome Christ. Christ has overcome all His opposers, including us. Since this is the case, He can overcome everyone. We should simply go out with Him. We should go out in His name to let everyone whom we visit know that we are working for Jesus Christ. This will work.

(The Training and the Practice of the Vital Groups, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)