First Corinthians 12 speaks of the Body, and chapter fourteen speaks of the meeting. Chapter twelve speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and chapter fourteen also speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Chapter twelve speaks of the gifts in the Body, whereas chapter fourteen speaks of the gifts in the church. According to these two chapters, it seems that the mutual functioning of the members of the Body is expressed in the meeting. When we put chapters twelve and fourteen together, we see clearly that chapter twelve shows us the Body while chapter fourteen shows us the Body in function. One chapter speaks of the Body, while the other speaks of the meeting. One speaks of the gifts in the Body, while the other speaks of the gifts in the meeting. The functioning of the Body is realized specifically through the meeting. The mutual help, mutual influence, and mutual care of the members (e.g., the eyes helping the legs, the ears helping the hands, the hands helping the mouth) are more clearly manifested in the meetings. Through the meeting, we receive many answers to prayer. We often receive no light individually. But when we come to the meeting, we find light. What we see individually through our own pursuit can never match what we see in the meetings. All the ministries ordained by God operate through the meeting and are for the meeting. If a person rarely meets with others, he will have little opportunity to realize the functioning of the Body.
In addition to being the Body of Christ, the church is also the dwelling place of God. In the Old Testament the light of God was in the Holy of Holies. There was sunlight in the outer court, and there was the lamp with olive oil burning before the veil in the Holy Place. But in the Holy of Holies, there was no natural or artificial light. There was only the light of God. The Holy of Holies is the place where God dwells. Wherever God dwells, there is His light. Today when the church gathers together as the dwelling place of God, we find God’s light. When the church meets together, God manifests His light. We do not know why this happens. We can say only that this is one of the results of the mutual functioning of the members. The mutual functioning allows God’s light to be expressed through the Body.
Deuteronomy 32:30 says, "How shall one chase a thousand, /And two put ten thousand to flight,/Were it not that their Rock sold them,/And Jehovah delivered them up?" If one could chase a thousand, how could two put ten thousand to flight? This is a strange thing. We do not know how, but we know that this is a fact. According to man, if one can chase a thousand, two should be able to chase only two thousand. But God says two can chase ten thousand, which is eight thousand more. When two chase separately, each can chase a thousand. Putting the two together, we should only have two thousand. But when two are joined together to chase the enemy, we have the mutual functioning of the members, and they can chase ten thousand, eight thousand more than if it is done separately. A person who does not know the Body and who does not care about meeting together will lose the eight thousand. Therefore, we need to learn to receive corporate grace. Do not think that personal grace is enough. We repeat: A special characteristic of Christianity is that it meets. A Christian can never substitute meeting with "self-taught" pursuits. We need to see this clearly and pay attention to it.
The Lord promises us two kinds of presence. One is in Matthew 28, and the other is in Matthew 18. In Matthew 28:20 the Lord said, "I am with you all the days until the consummation of the age." One can say that this implies His presence in individuals. In Matthew 18:20 the Lord said, "For where there are two or three gathered into My name, there am I in their midst." His presence here refers to His presence in the meeting. Only in the meeting can we have this second kind of presence. The Lord’s presence with an individual and His presence in the meeting are two different things. Some only know the Lord’s presence as individuals. But this knowledge is insufficient. The more compelling and powerful presence is experienced only in the meeting; we cannot experience such a presence individually. Although individually we can have the Lord’s presence, this presence is never as great or as powerful as His presence in the meetings. But when we are among the saints we can touch a presence which we could not otherwise experience as individuals. We have to learn to meet together with the brothers and sisters because it is in the meeting that we experience the Lord’s special presence. This is a tremendous blessing. This presence can never be felt by us as individuals. It is impossible to find a "self-taught" Christian who can experience this kind of powerful presence of the Lord.
It is a spontaneous thing for God’s children to function in mutuality when they come together. We do not know how this mutuality in the Body works in the meeting, but we know that this mutuality is a fact. When one brother stands up, others see the light. When another brother stands up, others feel the Lord’s presence. One brother opens his mouth to pray and others touch God. Another brother speaks a few words and others feel the supply of life. This phenomenon cannot be explained by human words; it surpasses human explanation. Only when the Lord comes back will we really know how the Body of Christ functions in mutuality. Today we merely obey the Lord’s ordination.
Perhaps you have not paid much attention to the meeting because you have just been saved. You do not know what the light of the Body is and what the function and efficacy of the Body is. However, experience tells us that many fundamental spiritual lessons are learned only in the Body. The more you meet, the more you learn. If you do not meet, you have no part at all in these riches. Therefore, we hope that you will learn to meet properly from the very beginning of your Christian life.
(New Believers Series: Meeting #10, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)