THE NEED OF PROPER DISCERNMENT
To read others’ old books needs quite an amount of proper discernment. Since I came to the United States, in my speaking I have rarely referred you to some other writings. I did this purposely. Books such as Andrew Murray’s The Spirit of Christ, however, I did have and still have the peace to refer you to. When I was writing the notes for the book of Luke, I asked my helpers to turn to Dean Alford for a certain point. I used Dean Alford very much, but his interpretation of this certain point was absolutely wrong. This shows that we must have the proper discernment in reading the others’ theological writings.
The first year of my study of the Bible and of the so-called theological matters was in the year 1925. The books I first received were mainly from reformed theology. I was very much interested and burdened to know the seven parables in Matthew 13. I collected the books which the reformed theologians had translated into Chinese. Their theological teaching told me that the leaven referred to in Matthew 13:33 was very good. They say it is the influence of Christianity, the influence of the biblical truth, or the entrance of the gospel. Eventually this gospel will influence the entire world and the world will become a utopia. They also say that the big tree in Matthew 13:31-32 was something positive. I was wondering about their teaching.
A year later, I began to contact the Brethren. They taught me exactly the opposite. At the beginning I was wondering who was right. The books I had read by the reformed theologians were translated by the missionaries in China and were published by the top Christian publication firm in Shanghai. The local Brethren Assembly I was attending, however, was small. An old British brother taught there all the time. I had to consider and weigh which teachings to take.
TAKING CARE OF THE YOUNG ONES
I passed through this stage of picking up wrong interpretations and concepts of the Scriptures, so I learned something. I do not like to see that the Lord’s recovery is being brought backward to the old writings. I also do not like to see that the young generation would be brought back to the old things to occupy them. We must realize that we only have one life to live. Even with two or three lives, you cannot exhaust the reading of the Christian books. I do not like to see people misdirected in reading things that will waste their time.
By the Lord’s mercy, there has been a kind of laboratory work done through Brother Nee and us. We have picked up the necessary, basic items of the divine, spiritual, and heavenly things. We have put all these things, not in a scholarly form, but in a “layman’s form” which is John’s form in the book of John.
My burden is that we must take good care of the young ones among us. Do not bring them into peril so that they would be occupied with the wrong things. We have a pure system of publications which comprise all the main things of the divine, spiritual, and heavenly things. These publications are very adequate for all the young saints among us to have a good foundation laid and a strong standing established. Then they could go on, not to learn more things from the old books, but to check the old books and to get themselves confirmed.
For us to bring the young ones into the old books without consideration is a peril and a risk. It is not safe. What you young ones can use as reference books, however, are the dictionaries, lexicons, and concordances. Nearly all the dictionaries have some good points. No dictionary, however, is complete and all differ from one another. Never be satisfied with one. You must use more than one. When you investigate a word, do not be satisfied with one dictionary’s definition. You must look into others. These are the only things which I would recommend for you young ones to use—the lexicons, the dictionaries of languages, and the concordances of the Bible. You should use these references in the way of comparison. This will help you.
(Elders' Training, Book 04: Other Crucial Matters Concerning the Practice of the Lord's Recovery, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)