Scripture Reading: Psa. 36:9; 119:2, 58; Gen. 6:13-14; Eph. 3:8-9; Tim. 4:6, 8, 15-16; Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19; Jer. 15:16; Eph. 6:17-18; Acts 2:42
I. In the experience of God’s loving seekers, the Word of God is a realm of light—Psa. 36:9; 119:2, 58:
A. Because the Word is a realm of light, the opening of the Word gives light—v. 130; Eph. 1:17-18.
B. In the Word as a realm of light, the Word is a light unto our feet—Psa. 119:104-105; Luke 1:79.
C. In the Word as a realm of light, the Word enlightens our eyes—Psa. 19:8b; John 1:9.
D. In the Word as a realm of light, we are constituted with the truth as the shining of light—John 8:12, 32.
II. In every age the Lord has special things that He wants to accomplish; He has His own recoveries and His own works to do; the particular recovery and work that He does in one age is the ministry of that age—cf. Gen. 6:13-14; 2 Kings 2:2-15:
A. In the Old Testament, Noah had the ministry of that age to build the ark, Moses had the ministry of that age to build the tabernacle, and David and Solomon had the ministry of that age to build the temple—Gen. 6:14-16.
B. In the New Testament, the Lord’s ministry was to build up the Body of Christ—Matt. 16:18.
C. Brother Nee extracted the essence from the divine revelation throughout history and laid down a wonderful foundation for the Lord’s Recovery today; Brother Lee continued this ministry, and built upon the divine revelation further, towards the high peak of the divine revelation—Eph. 1:17; 3:9.
D. It is God’s mercy that a person can see and come into contact with the ministry of that age; we are all in this up-to-date, all-inheriting vision; we should closely follow after it—cf. 1 Sam. 14:1-46; 2 Sam. 6:16.
III. Possessing The Collected Works of Witness Lee is a unique opportunity to preserve the priceless supply of the ministry with which the Lord has blessed His recovery through the speaking of the Spirit—Eph. 3:8-9:
A. “If you lay these things before the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, being nourished with the words of the faith and of the good teaching which you have closely followed”—1 Tim. 4:6:
1. It is a fact of history in the Lord’s recovery that any church which follows the ministry is strong and blessed; but those churches which neglect the ministry and try instead to do something on their own have become a failure—v. 6.
2. My burden is to produce groceries; the churches and the saints are free either to use them or to disregard them; but if the saints cast away the nourishment found in these messages, I wonder what they will feed on; we are what we eat—Jer. 15:16; John 6:57, 63.
B. Let me say in frankness and honesty that the leading ones need to take ‘these things’ and lay them before the saints that they may be nourished—1 Tim. 4:6.
C. The Collected Works of Witness Lee with the comprehensive index will be an invaluable resource for use in personal study, in home meetings, and in the shepherding and care of the saints—Jer. 15:16; John 6:57, 63.
D. The Collected Works of Witness Lee will provide a lasting legacy of the truth for our children and generations to come—8:32; Psa. 119:104-105.
IV. Every church will be a “scholarly family,” and the brothers and sisters will spontaneously pursue the truth and progress in the truth; every saint will become a “scholar”; then when we go out to speak the truth, we will be knowledgeable and able to clearly and logically present the truth—Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19:
A. We must spend time laboring on the truth; all the brothers and sisters in the churches must be like the children in a scholarly family; not only should they understand the truth, but they should also be able to use simple words to teach others the truth; it is a tremendous matter for us to be trained and constituted with the truth—2 Cor. 9:6-8:
1. When people come into our midst, listening to the prayers of the young people and the sharing of the older saints, and observing the labor of the elders, they surely will feel that this family is rich, that it is a learned family with a great future—1 Tim. 5:17.
2. I hope that in every church each household would teach the truth and study the truth; I hope that the elders in each locality will give the saints some help and encouragement so that each household will have a supply of spiritual books—Acts 2:42, 46-47.
B. I encourage you to keep touching and keep seeing by reading the holy Word; eventually, you will become what you read—John 6:63; Rom. 15:16; Ezek. 3:1, 3; Rev. 10:9-10:
1. Just keep praying daily, reading the Bible daily, and digesting our spiritual books; within a half year you will be steadfast; you will be rooted and grounded, and nothing will be able to shake you—Eph. 4:14.
2. We should help the saints to build up a practice or a habit that every day they would spend at least thirty minutes in the Word—Acts 17:11-12; Matt. 4:4; 1 Pet. 2:2.
C. Whether we read a spiritual book, listen to a message, or come to contact the Word of God directly, we must learn to exercise our spirit to receive something healthy for our spirit—1 Tim. 4:8; Eph. 6:17-18:
1. Nothing is as important as our contact with the Lord in our spirit; even reading the Bible, though very important, is not as important as this; what we need is to be fed with the Lord as our living nourishment—1 Tim. 4:6; Rev. 22:1-2.
2. Every day we need to be nourished by the word as our healthy food and to exercise to “walk” spiritually—Matt. 4:4.
3. We need to take care of the inward parts of our being, pray, and receive the healthy, nourishing word of God; this is the right way to exercise our spirit—Eph. 6:17-18.
V. “I wish to live on this earth and witness with my own eyes the truth of the Lord not only being printed into books through our hands, but also being sent through us to every part of the world and prevailing in every place. I absolutely believe that this will hasten the Lord’s return because it is through this that the Lord will prepare His bride.” (The Economy of God and the Mystery of the Transmission of the Divine Trinity, ch. 12)
THE ENTRANCE OF THE WORD GIVING LIGHT
In 119:130 the psalmist says, “The entrance of thy words giveth light.” The Word has an entrance. This means that the Bible has an opening, a gate. According to my experience, the bar to this gate is not on the inside, but on the outside. It is on our side of the gate. This means that if the gate is closed, we are the ones who have closed it. Whether the Word is open to us or not depends on how we deal with it. Sometimes we pray that the Lord would open the Word to us. However, when we pray in this way, the Lord may tell us that, on His side, He has already opened His Word. Now we, on our side, need to open the gate of the Word. Our experience testifies that if we have no problems with the Lord when we come to the Word, the Word will be open to us. But if we come to the Word when we have problems with the Lord, the door will be shut. This indicates that the bar to the gate is on our side. When we come to the Word and open it, then in our spiritual experience, the Word will have an entrance, an opening.
I wish to emphasize the fact that whether the gate of the Word is open or closed depends on us. We need to thank the Lord that the Word has an entrance, a gate, and that the bar of the gate is on our side. We should say, “Lord, thank You for the entrance, the opening, to Your Word.” Often in our experience we sense that, because we come to the Word in the right way, the Word has an opening. This opening seems to depend on the Lord and come from Him. However, it actually depends on us and comes from approaching the Word in a proper way. (Life-study of Exodus, msg. 59)
SEEING THE MINISTRY OF THE AGE
In the Old Testament both Solomon and David represented the Lord. The two persons represented the one ministry in two separate ways. In the Old Testament there were many ministries. After Moses, the judges were raised up. After that, there was Solomon, the kings, and the prophets. After the Israelites were taken into captivity, the vessels for the recovery were raised up. The Old Testament is filled with different kinds of ministries. In every age there is the ministry of that age. These ministries of the ages are different from the local ministers. Luther was a minister of his age. Darby was also a minister of his age. In every age the Lord has special things that He wants to accomplish. He has His own recoveries and His own works to do. The particular recovery and work that He does in one age is the ministry of that age.
Jonathan stood between Saul and David. He was one man standing between two ministries. He should have followed the second ministry. However, because Jonathan’s relationship with the first ministry was too deep, he could not disentangle himself. In order to catch up with the ministry of the age, there is the need for us to see the vision. Michal was married to David, yet she did not see anything. She only saw David’s condition before God, and she could not tolerate it. As a result, she was left behind (2 Sam. 6:16, 20-23).
It is God’s mercy that a person can see and come into contact with the ministry of that age. Yet it is altogether a different thing for a man to take up the courage to forsake the past ministry. It is a precious thing to see, and it is a blessed thing to come into contact with something. Yet whether or not one can set aside his past ministry is entirely up to God’s mercy. (CWWN, vol. 57, “The Resumption of Watchman Nee’s Ministry”, msg. 25)
CLOSELY FOLLOWING THE COMPLETED VISION OF THIS AGE
Since we have the up-to-date and ultimate vision, we should closely follow after it. We are absolutely not following a man; rather, we are following a vision. It is grossly wrong to say that we are following a certain person. We are following a vision that belongs to the present age. It is God’s consummate vision. (CWWL, 1986, vol. 2, “The Vision of the Age”, msg.2)
It is a fact of history in the Lord’s recovery that any church which follows the ministry is strong and blessed. But those churches which neglect the ministry and try instead to do something on their own have become a failure. However, in saying these things, I wish to make it very clear that I by no means insist that the churches or the saints read the Life-study Messages. To repeat, my burden is to produce groceries. The churches and the saints are free either to use them or to disregard them. But if the saints cast away the nourishment found in these messages, I wonder what they will feed on. We are what we eat. If we eat the “groceries” produced in today’s religion, we shall be part of religion. Let me say in frankness and honesty that the leading ones need to take “these things” and lay them before the saints that they may be nourished. (Life-study of 1 Timothy, msg. 8)
LABORING ON THE LORD’S WORD
By the mercy of the Lord, I have been a miner who has opened the mouth of the gold mine of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. However, you yourself must dig out the gold within the mine. If all of us would do this, then in the Lord’s recovery we would be rich in the word, and the churches in all the localities would also flourish. What we should do by the grace of the Lord is bring people into the Lord’s word and not into our teachings. What we should do is bring all the saints into the riches of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. This requires us to enter into this together.
Therefore, the elders still have to spend their effort and take the lead in this matter so that the younger generation can follow and also enter in. In this way in five or ten years, the situations in the various churches surely will be different and will draw the respect of people from deep within. When people come into our midst, listening to the prayers of the young people and the sharing of the older saints, and observing the labor of the elders, they surely will feel that this family is rich, that it is a learned family with a great future.
We must labor on the Lord’s word so that when we speak in the meeting, we would speak the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge instead of the loose words, light words, and meaningless tongues. What the saints need is the proper word—the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. (CWWL, 1985, vol. 5, “Speaking for God”, msg. 4)
EXERCISING OUR SPIRIT TO RECEIVE A HEALTHY WORD
Whether we read a spiritual book, listen to a message, or come to contact the Word of God directly, we must learn to exercise our spirit to receive something healthy for our spirit. We must learn to receive a healthy word, a word that is full of nourishment, not merely a sound or correct word. All day long we need the healthy word, just as our physical body needs healthy food.
Many Christians today are receiving only doctrinal teaching, not healthy food from the word. According to the medical doctors, the best way to have a long physical life is to exercise by walking and to eat properly. Every day we need to be nourished by the word as our healthy food and to exercise to “walk” spiritually (1 Tim. 4:6-7). We need to take care of the inward parts of our being, pray, and receive the healthy, nourishing word of God. This is the right way to exercise our spirit. This is dealt with in a clear, definite, and full way in the two Epistles to Timothy. (CWWL, 1966, vol. 2, “The Exercise of Our Spirit”, ch. 3)
Nothing is as important as our contact with the Lord in our spirit; even reading the Bible, though very important, is not as important as this. We may know much about the Bible, yet we may be spiritually hungry and even dead because we have only the knowledge in letters in our mind, which kills us and causes us to condemn others (2 Cor. 3: 6). What we need is to be fed with the Lord as our living nourishment.
I often spend much time studying the Word; a single subject in the Bible may require hours of study. However, after studying for some time, I need to turn my entire being to the Lord and pray, “O Lord, praise You.” I may do this for an hour or more. The more I pray in this way, exercising my spirit and forgetting about my thoughts and understanding, the more I am satisfied. Sometimes we may pick up a spiritual book and read the entire book without stopping. However, after we finish, we may feel exhausted. This kind of reading does not nourish us. Therefore, we must turn and pray, “O Lord, I love You and praise You.” After doing this for fifteen minutes, we will feel refreshed, strengthened, and even enlightened. We will be brought into the genuine understanding of the Lord’s Word. This proves how beneficial the exercise of the spirit is. (CWWL, 1965, vol. 1, “Exercising Our Gifts to Build Up the Body “, ch. 4)
BEING THE LORD’S CO-WORKER TO PROMOTE HIS TRUTH
I hope that in every church each household would teach the truth and study the truth. The churches in one particular area of the United States are the best pattern in this matter; the homes of the saints there are full of our publications. Whether you go to the study, the bathroom, the living room; the’ bedroom, the dining room, or even the kitchen, you will find open ministry books. Wherever anyone goes in these homes, they seize the time to read a paragraph of a message. ln this way they are nourished. Today in Taiwan we have not arrived at this point, and there are even some saints who complain that we have too many books and too many meetings. They say that they are too busy to read the books. In regard to this, I cannot say anything. Everything, however, depends upon our heart. If we realized that we could obtain “gold and diamonds” every time we read the truth, we would read more, and if we could receive some treasures whenever we read the ministry, we would even sleep less in order to obtain the treasure.
My point is that we do not consider the truth to be precious. As leading brothers in the churches in Taiwan, we should imitate the pattern of the elders in the churches in the previously mentioned area of the United States and lead the saints to become addicted to reading the truth. We should consider the truth to be more important than eating or drinking. If we do this, the truth in the Lord’s recovery will greatly increase and be victorious: furthermore, the number of people in all the churches will spontaneously multiply (Acts 6:7).
Thank the Lord that we have a heart to serve the Lord and that we have obtained His mercy to serve Him in His word. We must have a proper attitude and be positive and aggressive, doing our best to urge people to read His word. If we do not find ways to promote the truth or pray, how can the Lord’s word be spread? If we take the Lord’s word lightly, how can we have the boldness to promote the publications among the saints? Some brothers and sisters spend more time reading the newspaper and watching television than they do reading the ministry publications; this really grieves me. I hope that we could have a jealous heart for the Lord and change the atmosphere so that everyone would have a desire to read the Bible, and each household would make reading the spiritual publications a priority.
We must understand that our service is not to help the Book Room do business and make a profit; rather, it is to bear a burden to minister the word of the Lord and to send out His truth. I hope that our view could be expanded and broadened. The churches in Southeast Asia have been able to maintain their spiritual life for the past thirty years mainly through the publications of the Book Room. Despite the fact that the co-workers frequently go to help the churches, their true, long-term help has come from the supply of the publications. If there had been no books for the past thirty years, the churches in Southeast Asia would not have spread to the extent that they have today. Moreover, during the past twenty years, eighty percent of the more than three hundred churches in the West have been raised up through the publications. Therefore, we must see that serving in book sales is really to be the Lord’s co-worker, to promote His truth, and to spread His divine economy and divine speaking to the whole earth.
Please pick up a burden to return to your localities, fellowship with the elders, and consider this to be an important matter. The primary matter is not to promote the books but to stir up the saints’ interest in pursuing the truth and to encourage them to enjoy reading the spiritual publications. This will depend on the way that we do it. Even the wonderful truth of the excellent gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ requires us to speak much with all our heart and to preach diligently so that people will receive and believe it. Even more, the Lord’s word will require that we bear the responsibility to labor willingly to zealously encourage and urge everyone in all the local churches to pursue the truth and read the spiritual publications. In this way the Lord’s truth will spread widely, and there will be a real revival. (CWWL, 1984, vol. 5, “The Faithful and Diligent Spreading of the Truth—concerning the Publication Service”, ch. 3)