THE BIBLE STUDY MEETING
The brothers and sisters in Shanghai used to have a Bible study meeting. We studied the books of Romans, Ephesians, and 1 John. Unfortunately, this meeting has stopped for a few months. This kind of Bible study meeting is not for only one person to speak; it is for the brothers to study the Word together before God. Some brothers may open up a passage, while the other brothers may speak some, discuss some, ask questions, or supply explanations for that particular passage. In this way, verse by verse, a passage is covered, and the whole chapter is read and studied. Unfortunately, because no brother was particularly willing to take up the responsibility of the Bible study meeting, it stopped after a period of time. I feel that in the places where there is an assembly, it is a failure if we do not have a Bible study meeting. If there is to be a Bible study meeting, the brothers should be trained in this matter. The sisters should also do the same thing in the sisters’ meeting according to the same principle.
There are no definite leaders in a Bible study meeting. Some brothers can read a passage, others can ask questions, while still others can answer or give interpretations. The principle of this meeting is that nothing is done for one’s own benefit. No brother should involve his personal feelings in the meetings; they should all be left outside the door before entering the meeting. We have to take care of the expression of the Body life. This is true not only for the Bible study meeting but for all meetings. All the meetings are for the brothers. In the meetings, we are not expressing ourselves, and we should not wait passively for others to help us. In the meetings, we are here to serve our brothers. The Lord once said that the ones who are served are not great; rather, the ones who serve others are great. Every time we come to the meeting, we have to remember that we are here to be a servant to the brothers and sisters; we are here to serve the brothers and sisters and not just to listen to a message. Every time we come, we should consider ourselves as ones who serve and help the brothers. We should not have the proud thought that by doing this, we are greater and better than others. We do this because we ought to do this. Therefore, in this kind of meeting we should not wait for others to open their mouth. Perhaps we should open our mouth first to ask questions and show the other brothers something and then leave time for others to answer. In this way, everyone will be able to go on along the same line. If we realize that a question is adequately covered, we can go to another question. We have to remember that the purpose of these kinds of questions is not for taking care of ourselves or understanding something for ourselves. We should strive to make sure that the other brothers receive the benefit. Therefore, when we ask questions, we should not ask only questions that we want to ask and skip other questions that we already know the answers to. Although we may know many answers already, the new brothers may not know them. If we know the answers, we should ask on their behalf and express what they want to know in their hearts.
The message meeting is for helping strong Christians, while the Bible study meeting is for helping weak believers. In the message meetings, only those who can receive the message receive help; those who cannot receive the message do not receive help. The message meeting can be considered as being mostly for the knowledgeable or intelligent ones. (Of course, knowledge or wisdom depends on God, not on man.) Those who are foolish, illiterate, slow, or dull can receive only forty to fifty percent of what is released in the message meetings. The Bible study meeting is designed to help the weak believers. In the Bible study meeting you will realize how much your brother understands. You may think that some brothers ask unrelated or meaningless questions. You may think that they are dull. Actually, this is exactly what they need to know. Through their questions, you will learn what is affecting them or touching them. It may be a small thing to you, but to them it may be something great. It may be an insignificant thing to you, but to them it may be as great as a mountain. Therefore, do not think that the Bible study meeting is too shallow and of no help to you. You are there to help the meeting; you are there as a servant. Even the sisters, who do not open their mouths in the meeting, are there to help the meeting; they are there to serve the brothers and be the servants also. Perhaps your absence will become a loss for others. If everyone skips these meetings, the meetings will become small in number, and it will be a loss to the meeting. For you to come is to agree with this meeting and support the meeting.
I do not know if you realize that it is wrong for us not to help or serve the brothers and sisters. We care only for our own spiritual growth and do not want to help or serve the brothers; we do not care for the brothers’ benefit or for the advancement of the meetings. The sisters should not think that they do not need to come anymore because they do not open their mouths and since they already understand the things being covered. Actually, their sitting in the meeting is a help to the meeting. Moreover, if some brothers feel that they know and understand a certain subject, they can ask questions on behalf of others and answer on behalf of others. They should not think that they understand the subject, considering it to be repetitious because they have heard it several times. I hope that the brothers and sisters learn to behave as brothers and sisters in the meetings and learn to behave as human beings among human beings. I hope that the brothers and sisters can have a common progress together. Therefore, I expect to resume the Bible study meeting among us within a short time.
In the meeting, do not raise controversial questions. During the past year, in all of our meetings, we have made progress and seen God’s blessing in many aspects. But one day I saw a dreadful situation: two brothers were arguing about something to the extent that both were flushed with anger. They did not know how to behave as brothers among the brothers. The apostle said that we should not be involved with doubtful disputations. This is a very important principle. If you insist on arguing, you are doing wrong to your brother; you are not helping your brother but merely insisting on your own ideas. If you prevail in your own ideas yet have not rendered help to your brother, what good does that do? Therefore, in any kind of meeting, all of our flesh must be restrained and all of our self must be put to death. It is easy to say this at other times, but our flesh encounters the greatest test in the meetings. At other times we may see the gentleness, love, and patience of a brother, but in the meetings we learn whether a brother is raw, sour, or sweet. Therefore, in the meetings we should try our best to drop doubtful things and not argue about them. Unfortunately, almost every brother thinks that his ideas should be accepted by others.
The only principle in the Bible study meeting is to drop the self. Being prideful or withdrawing in a meeting is an undesirable situation. Pride is looking at one’s virtues; withdrawing is looking at one’s own weakness and uselessness. If a person appreciates his own virtues, he will open his mouth often. If a person is conscious of his own weakness and uselessness, he will not open his mouth. Actually, it is equally bad to open one’s mouth or close one’s mouth. Where there is self, there is pride; where there is self, there is withdrawal. Both of these are the flesh and should be dropped. All questions should be for the Lord to receive the glory. As long as He has the glory, there should not be any problem.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 22: The Assembly Life & The Prayer Ministry of the Church, Chapter 6, by Watchman Nee)