Elders' Training, Book 09: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (1), by Witness Lee

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After my four-year study in Taipei, I have picked up these four crucial points: 1) begetting by gospel preaching; 2) nourishing by home meetings; 3) teaching by small group meetings; and 4) building up the church by church meetings. These four points are the scriptural way we must take for the building up of the Body of Christ. Now is the time for the Lord to recover 1 Corinthians 14:26 and Ephesians 4:11-16. I have the full assurance that the Lord will move today to recover these two portions of the Word. We must admit that the age for these items is here. The tide has come. Sooner or later we will have to go along with this tide. It is not an accident that the Southern Baptists and other denominations and groups realize that they need to have a change in the way that they preach the gospel and serve the Lord. We must abandon the old, traditional way and pick up the new, scriptural way.

We must be advised, however, not to take the new way in a fast way. We have to take it gradually as I did with the brothers in Taiwan. We spent thirty-seven months to study and to prepare before we completely stopped the old way. We should not take the new way too fast or cause too much loss. We must be careful to go on positively in a gradual way, and we must have a clear view with a definite purpose. We need a clear view that the Lord is finished with the old way. We must have a vision that these two crucial portions of the Word—1 Corinthians 14:26 and Ephesians 4:11-16—need to be fully recovered. The Lord desires to build up the organic Body of Christ, not a congregational church. These portions of the Word must be recovered so that the Body of Christ as the organism of the Triune God can be built up and prepared to be His bride for His coming again. Our senior co-worker, Brother Nee, stressed this matter twice beginning over fifty years ago, and we must pick up this burden. We have to believe that this is the time and that we are the right people for the Lord to use to recover these two portions of the Word.

If you do not want to take this way, I am concerned that you will become a dropout. If we see the vision of the new way and practice it gradually to bring the saints under our care into the understanding of such a change, we will not suffer that much loss. Of course, to change anything in practice will always result in some loss, but the profit that will result over the long run makes the change more than worthwhile.

In order for Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 4 concerning the perfecting of the saints to be carried out, we need to follow his practice in Acts 20 and the practice of the apostles in Acts 5:42. Then the saints will be perfected. According to Ephesians 4:16, the saints in the Body of Christ are categorized into two groups: "every joint of the rich supply" and "each one part." The joints are the gifted persons—the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherd-teachers. The Body grows by being joined closely together through the joints and by being knit together through the operation in measure of each one part. Through the gifted persons’ supply and through all the members’ operation in their measure, all the Body causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love. The Body of Christ is built up organically by causing itself to grow through the functions of the gifted persons and through the members who operate in their measure.

(Elders' Training, Book 09: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (1), Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)