THREE PROBLEMS IN OUR PRACTICE
In 1984 I fully realized that we needed to be adjusted and have some advancement in our practice. I saw three major problems in our practice. The first problem was concerning our practice in preaching the gospel. According to the New Testament, the preaching of the gospel should be practiced by the believers going out to visit people, not by inviting people to come to their meeting. Peter spoke to a big congregation on the day of Pentecost, but this happened under God’s sovereignty. That big congregation was prepared by God. The major way to preach the gospel is by going to visit people to bring them the Lord Jesus. Related to the preaching of the gospel, the word go is a strong word in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus charged us to go to disciple the nations (Matt. 28:19), and He Himself set up a pattern of going to people. Instead of inviting people to come to Him, He went to visit them. First, He came down from the heavens to the earth to visit people. While He was on this earth, He went out again and again. He went to village after village (Luke 8:1). He sent out the twelve and the seventy to visit people. The Lord charged the seventy to find God’s chosen sons of peace among the wolves (Luke 10:1-9). The practice of preaching the gospel in the New Testament is a practice of visiting people, but our practice was different from this. When we began to practice visiting people with the gospel by knocking on their doors, the results confirmed the Lord’s way.
The second major problem in our practice was concerning the way to meet. Brother Nee saw the truth concerning the meeting of mutuality revealed in 1 Corinthians 14 in 1937, and his messages were eventually printed in the book entitled The Normal Christian Church Life. In 1948 he released the messages that are now in the book entitled Church Affairs. In that book he pointed out that the Lord’s Day message meeting with one man speaking and the rest listening is not scriptural and is according to the customs of the nations. In 1984 I was reminded of Brother Nee’s fellowship, and I realized that our way of meeting was not up to the standard of the biblical revelation. The third major problem that I saw related to our practice was the matter of how the saints should function.
THREE NEW ITEMS OF REVELATION
As a remedy to these problems, the Lord showed me three major items which are all new to me. He showed me the perfecting of the saints in Ephesians 4, the church meeting in mutuality in 1 Corinthians 14, and the New Testament priesthood of the gospel of God. Ephesians 4 tells us that the Head in His ascension gave His Body, the church, some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers (vv. 11-12). Ephesians 4 does not say that these gifted persons are for doing the particular work in their respective lines. It says that all of these gifted persons were given by the Head to the Body for the perfecting of the saints, so that the saints, after being perfected, can do the work of the New Testament ministry to build up the Body of Christ. Although Ephesians 4 says this clearly, our practice has not matched this revelation. This chapter tells us about the building up of the Body of Christ, which is the very work of the ministry of the New Testament.
The Lord also showed me something further concerning the proper church meeting unveiled in 1 Corinthians 14. This chapter is a chapter encouraging all the saints to prophesy. Paul says that we can all prophesy one by one. We may feel that we cannot prophesy, but Paul says that we all can. We have the capacity to prophesy. When I use the word capacity, I mean the power or the ability. We have the capacity, the ability, to eat and digest food according to the nature of our human life. Furthermore, all of us normally have the ability in our human life to speak. Human beings have the capacity, the ability, to speak according to their very nature. Paul says that we all can prophesy one by one because the capacity, the ability, to prophesy is in the divine life which the believers possess and enjoy. First Corinthians 14:23 through 25 says that if all prophesy when the whole church comes together, there will be the power there to convict people, to judge people, and to expose people’s real situation. When Paul says in verse 24—"if all prophesy"—this means that we all have a universal obligation to prophesy. We have the capacity to prophesy, so we have the obligation to prophesy.
(Elders' Training, Book 09: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (1), Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)