PERFECTING ONE ANOTHER IN THE GROUP MEETINGS BY MUTUAL TEACHING
Perfecting by teaching comes after shepherding. We may hold the religious concept that the teaching in the group meetings must be done by a brother who is able to teach and who has been appointed by the church to teach. That kind of meeting may be called a Bible study. But if you carefully study the New Testament, you cannot find such a practice in the meetings of the church. According to Hebrews 10:24-25, the teaching was carried out in a mutual way. These verses contain three very crucial words, “consider,” “incite,” and “exhort.” To consider one another may not involve much teaching, but to incite surely does. To incite someone, you have to instruct and teach. Exhortation involves a lot of teaching. Without teaching, how could you exhort others? Both to incite and to exhort imply teaching. This teaching is done by many persons mutually, not by only one person. There should not be one person who only teaches and a group of saints who only are taught. The teaching should be done by all the saints. We incite one another, and we exhort one another. You exhort me and I exhort you; you learn and I also learn. When one of the group members teaches or exhorts another one in the group meeting, the other members of the group are also taught because they hear the teaching or exhortation. This is mutual teaching.
Most of us only know how to practice teaching in the way of religion with a learned and appointed one teaching all the others in the group. Because we may think that we have no responsibility to teach and that our only responsibility is to be taught, we may simply delegate all the teaching in the group meeting to the learned ones. This thought may be very common even among us, but it is altogether wrong. This concept is not the concept revealed in Hebrews 10:24-25. According to this portion of the Word, we must incite and exhort one another mutually. Therefore, we must drop the old concept and the old way of practice.
Forty years ago in Taiwan we practiced meeting in smaller groups. So, we cannot say that to meet in smaller groups is really new among us. But the way to practice these group meetings as I am now presenting it is completely new. On one hand, the group meetings are new, and on the other hand, they are ancient. Two thousand years ago, the things concerning how to meet were recorded in the Bible in Hebrews 10:24-25. To consider one another, to incite one another, and to exhort one another are three things which show that the church life is very mutual. It is a life of mutual considering, mutual inciting, and mutual exhorting.
AN EXAMPLE OF MUTUAL TEACHING
Our practice of the church life through the past years has not included the saints coming together to exhort and teach one another in a mutual way. To testify to one another is one thing, but to teach and exhort one another is a completely different thing. In a group meeting, one brother may ask what it means to be watchful. In such a group meeting, everybody can teach the brother who asked the question with some points. All the saints in this group meeting should try to answer the question concerning watchfulness. As these saints learn more, their teaching will be uplifted more and more.
In the group meeting, everyone speaks and everyone teaches. The group meeting affords the opportunity for everyone to learn to speak and to teach. In the old way of meeting, many saints diligently attended the meetings, yet the level of their spiritual education remained at the elementary level. The reason for this is twofold: first, the teaching was not consecutive, proper, or adequate, and second, most of the saints were given very little opportunity to say anything. According to the New Testament, we all have certain gifts, capacities, abilities, and functions (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:4). But the old way of meeting annulled these gifts, capacities, abilities, and functions. A newborn baby has the gift of speech by birth. After a certain number of months, the mother will begin to hear intelligible words from the mouth of her child. Given the opportunity to develop, the speaking ability will be manifested in the young child. No mother would say to her child, “Don’t speak. Don’t walk. Don’t do any of these things because you don’t know how to do them. I know how to do them, so I will do them for you.” If the mother were to do this, her child would not be able to speak or walk after a period of time, because she never gave the child an opportunity to practice speaking or walking. A mother repeatedly encourages her child to say words such as “ma” or “pa.” Eventually, after a period of time, the child will begin to speak these words, and the parents of the child will be very excited.
We all should speak for the Lord in the meetings. Today, you may still not be able to speak very much in the meetings, but this does not mean that you do not have the capacity to speak. It simply means that your growth has not yet come up to this level. You still need to grow more. My burden is to feed you so that you will grow. While I am feeding you, I am also encouraging you to take every opportunity to practice speaking. After a certain time of meeting in the group meetings, you will be able to speak for the Lord in the way of prophesying. According to the New Testament, the highest function in the church meetings is to prophesy (1 Cor. 14:1, 3-5, 12). To prophesy is not just to teach, to exhort, or to give a testimony. To prophesy is to speak forth the Lord, to minister the living Christ with all His riches into people.
(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 27, by Witness Lee)