THE PRACTICE OF THE RAISING UP OF THE NEW BELIEVERS
After new ones are begotten through our preaching of the gospel, we need to raise them up. We need to go weekly to have home meetings with them in their homes (Acts 5:42). The home meetings are the place for us to function as nursing mothers to nourish and cherish the new ones (1 Thes. 2:7). We need to consider that we are mothers and all the new ones are our children. As the mothers, we need to nourish and cherish them. To cherish the children is to make them happy by nurturing them with tender love and fostering them with tender care. To have home meetings with the new believers is also for feeding them as the Lord’s lambs. In John 21:15 the Lord charged Peter to feed His lambs. The lambs are the young ones.
We need to take care of them regularly and constantly until they are established in the faith and present themselves to God as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). At the time when the new believers were saved, we presented them to God as spiritual sacrifices, the sacrifices of the gospel (Rom. 15:16; 1 Pet. 2:5). While we are caring for them, we are helping them to grow. Over a period of time, we want to lead them to offer themselves to God as living sacrifices.
THE PRACTICE OF THE PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS
In the Lord’s advanced recovery today, He also wants to recover the practice of the perfecting of the saints. This is to have all the saints perfected by the gifted ones (Eph. 4:11-12a) and by the perfected ones. After the saints have been perfected, they will perfect others.
Eventually, this perfecting is carried out through the group meetings (Heb. 10:24-25). In the group meetings, there is the element of teaching the saints as an entreating and consoling father (1 Thes. 2:11). In the new believers’ home meetings, we should function as the nursing mothers. Then in the group meetings, we need to function as fathers who entreat and console the believers. We need to function in this way by taking the Apostle Paul as a pattern (Acts 20:20, 27, 31) until we present every one of them to God full-grown in Christ (Col. 1:28-29). This is the third stage of offering the new believers to God. First, we offer them to God at the time of their salvation as the sacrifices of the gospel. Second, after they have been helped to grow, we lead them to offer themselves to God as living sacrifices. Third, after a certain amount of perfecting, we can present them to God full-grown in Christ.
The practice of the perfecting of the saints is for the purpose of having all the perfected saints do the work of the New Testament ministry to build up the organic Body of Christ (Eph. 4:12b). Then the Body is built up by itself through all the members—the supplying joints and the operating parts—functioning (v. 16). The real building up of the Body is by all the saints functioning either as supplying joints or as operating parts.
THE PRACTICE OF PROPHESYING
The Lord also desires to recover the practice of prophesying. In 1 Corinthians 14 prophesying is not in the sense of predicting, foretelling. In this chapter prophesying is speaking for God and Christ, speaking forth God and Christ to impart (dispense) God and Christ into others, to minister Christ as life and life supply to people. Prophesying is carried out in the proper meetings of the church when all the saints come together (vv. 23a, 26). The proper church meetings are not carried out by one person speaking and the rest listening. The proper church meetings are meetings of mutuality in which all the saints come with something to prophesy, to speak for the Lord.
First Corinthians 14:31 says, “For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all be encouraged.” This shows the universal capacity of each believer to prophesy. The capacity is the ability. The word can indicates the capacity, the ability, to prophesy. This capacity is in the divine life, which the believers possess and enjoy and which needs to increase within them that the capacity may be developed unto their ability.
Every believer not only has the capacity to prophesy but also has the universal obligation to prophesy (vv. 23a, 24-26). This obligation is the fulfillment of our spiritual service, in which we are indebted to God’s salvation. When we come to the meeting, we must be exercised to prophesy because we owe something to God, to the Lord’s salvation, and to the divine life. Since we have God, the Lord’s salvation, and the divine life, we have to speak forth Christ. Because we have the capacity to prophesy, we should bear the obligation to prophesy.
We should desire earnestly to prophesy, seeking it as the excelling gift for the building up of the church (vv. 1, 12, 39a). In 1 Corinthians 14:12 Paul says, “So also you, since you are zealots of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the building up of the church.” Prophesying is the excelling gift among all the gifts, making its seekers excelling. Prophesying is excelling in revealing God’s heart, God’s will, God’s way, and God’s economy to His people. It is excelling in convicting people, exposing people’s real condition, and showing people their spiritual need (vv. 24-25). It is excelling in speaking forth Christ to minister and dispense Christ to people for nourishment. Finally, it is excelling in building up the church (v. 4b) in the organic way that it may be built up as the organism of the processed Triune God for His fullness, His expression.
We also need to learn to prophesy (v. 31) by being perfected by the gifted ones (Eph. 4:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:2) and by practice, rejecting any despising of prophesying (cf. 1 Thes. 5:20). Some prophecies may not seem to be so rich, so high, or so inspiring in the opinion of others. Therefore, they may despise them. While one saint is prophesying, others may show their disapproval. But 1 Thessalonians 5:20 says, “Do not despise prophecies.” We should not lightly esteem any of the saints’ prophesying. Prophesying is for the building up of the church, the organic Body of Christ (1 Cor. 14:3-5, 12).
(A Summary of the Study of the New Testament Way of Christian Service, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)