Category Archives: Resources

Presenting Christ as the Peace Offering

  • The peace offering is the center of the five main offerings; the enjoyment of the peace offering is the issue of the proceeding offerings bringing us into peace, fellowship, and enjoyment with God and one another. 
  • Five main parties are present in presenting the peace offering including God, the offerer, the serving priest, all the priests (the priesthood) and the congregation of cleansed people; the serving priest, however, enjoys a special portion, which is fulfilled in opening our mouth to function in the worship of the Father. 
  • The Lord needs us to enter into the reality of being serving priests who offer Christ to God as the peace offering at the Lord’s table meeting for the mutual enjoyment and fellowship between God and man. 

The Significance of the Peace Offering

Christ as the peace offering is for the fellowship and enjoyment of five parties: God, the serving priest, all the priests (the priesthood), the offerer, and the congregation of cleansed people. The fat and the inward parts of the offering were God’s portion (vv. 3-5); the four kinds of cakes and the right thigh as a heave offering were the portion of the serving priest (Lev. 7:14, 32-34); the breast as a wave offering was for all the priests (Lev. 7:30-31, 34); the flesh, the meat, of the offering was the portion of the offerer (Lev. 7:15-18); and the remaining flesh of the cattle, under the condition of cleanness, was for all the congregation (Lev. 7:19-21). In the New Testament there are no clergy and no laity (see note Rev. 2:61a). Thus, all the believers in Christ should be the serving priests, the priestly body, the offerers, and the congregation.

A portion of the peace offering was presented to God from the ox (3:3-5). This portion was the fat upon the inward parts of the cattle. All the fat upon all the inward parts had to be for God. These items refer to the sweetness and the tenderness of the inward being of Christ. The inward being of Christ can be appreciated only by God. We need to become full in our experience of Christ in His experiences as the burnt offering. Then, we shall have rich utterance in praise not only in the Lord’s table meetings and prayer meeting but also in our private time with the Lord. 

Every time the serving priest offered a peace offering for thanksgiving, he had to take out one cake for a heave offering. If he offered an offering, he had to take out one piece from all the cakes and heave it unto the Lord. Then this piece would become his portion. The one cake and the right thigh were for nourishing and strengthening the serving priest. The cake was for nourishing, the thigh was for strengthening, and both were heave offerings. This refers to the enjoyment of the ascension of Christ, the enjoyment of Christ as the ascended One, the heaved One. This shows that the offering priests, the conducting priests, get the highest enjoyment. The more we serve, the higher the portion of Christ we enjoy.

The breast as a wave offering was a portion of the peace offering to all the priests, including Aaron and all his sons (vv. 30-31, 34). The wave offering is not as high as the heave offering, and the breast is not as strong as the thigh. Thus, all the priests share a portion that is not as high or as strong as that which the serving priests share. The highest and strongest portion is for the serving priests, not for the general priests. The general priests share only a kind of general portion. The wave offering signifies the resurrected Christ. The heave offering signifies the exalted Christ. The exalted Christ, of course, is higher than the resurrected Christ. Until we experience Christ in ascension, we have not reached the goal. We are still on the way.

Five parties participated in offering the five portions of the peace offering: God, the serving priest, all the priests, the offerer, and the congregation (vv. 19-21). No offerer by himself could eat all the offerings, so some “eating helpers” were needed. This is why we all come together at the Lord’s table to enjoy the unsearchably rich Christ. Today, through our practice, we need to reach the level of becoming conducting priests, serving priests. Today, we may come to the meeting merely as a part of the congregation and not as offerers, or we may be offerers, but not yet be that strong in the priestly service (worship). Christ as the peace offering meets the needs of all these parties. We need to progress in our experience of offering him until we reach the level of serving priests. 

The Peace Offering Typifying Our Mutual Enjoyment and Satisfaction at the Lord’s Table Meeting

The peace offering signifies Christ as our peace with God that we may enjoy Him with God and with man in fellowship and joy (Num. 10:10; Deut. 27:7). It is fulfilled primarily in our enjoying Christ at the Lord’s table in the breaking of bread for the remembrance of Him and in the offering of Christ to the Father for the worship of the Father (Matt. 26:26-30). The peace offering, which implies fellowship with the Triune God and includes the enjoyment of the Triune God, is illustrated in Luke 15:23-24 by the fattened calf as the peaceful enjoyment between the receiving father (God) and the returned prodigal (a sinner). After we eat the bread and drink the cup, the Lord takes the lead to come to the Father with all of us. He declares the Father’s name to us and sings hymns of praise to the Father through us and with us (Heb. 2:12). At the same time, we offer Him as the peace offering to the Father. Then we and the Father, including all the serving ones, the offerers, and the congregation, enjoy Christ as the peace offering in a mutual way, not only in the presence of God the Father but also with God the Father.

The peace offering is the Old Testament type of the Lord’s table. At the Lord’s table the believers enjoy Christ as their peace offering for their fellowship with God and with one another. This enjoyment of the peace offering issues from the burnt offering, the meal offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering (v. 5 and note Lev. 3:51). Our enjoyment of Christ as these four offerings has an issue, a result — the enjoyment of Christ as our peace offering for us to have fellowship with God and with our fellow believers. 

As long as we come to the meeting, we can enjoy Christ as the portion common to all the saints. But if we offer Christ in the meeting and function as a serving priest, we enjoy a special portion. When we open up our mouth and function in the meeting, we are the serving priests presenting Christ to God the Father for His enjoyment and our enjoyment. Without this worship of the Father in the Lord’s table meeting, the presentation of the peace offering to God cannot be fulfilled.

Offering Christ as the Peace Offering in our Worship to the Father

According to the record of Leviticus 3, the fat is upon the inward parts. Thus, we may say that the inward riches are the covering for and the protection of the inward parts. The inward parts of the peace offering signify the inward parts, the inward being, of Christ (Phil. 1:8). In the Lord’s table meeting, after the remembrance of the Lord, we should offer the Lord as the peace offering to the Father. What we offer should include, or comprise, the inward parts of Christ. Now we need to consider whether we offer an objective peace offering or a subjective peace offering. In other words, do we offer something produced merely by God or produced by ourselves? According to the typology, the peace offerings were offered by the producers. They produced the cattle and the other items of their offerings. This shows that we have to labor on Christ as the good land.

Of course, according to the Old Testament, some people did not labor but bought something to offer. They took advantage of others’ labor. But these offerings that were bought were not as sweet as those produced by the people’s labor. The best and sweetest offerings are those produced by ourselves. If I do not labor on Christ, yet I offer the Christ you labor on, this is not so good. I must offer what I have labored on. I must offer what is produced by my labor, and you must offer what is produced by your labor.

The fat on the inward parts offered to God should be something produced by us. In other words, if we do not have the kind of tender, rich, and precious intention, will, desire, and purpose in our daily life that Christ had, it will be hard for us to present Christ to the Father in this way at the Lord’s table meeting. If in our daily walk we are really one with the Lord in our intention toward the Father, in our concept, in our thoughts, in our likes and dislikes, in our desire, in our intent, and in our purpose, then these things become our experience. Then we are really one with the Lord in His inward parts toward the Father. If this is the case, we have the reality of the inward parts and the fat upon the inward parts of the peace offering when we come to the Lord’s table meeting.

Of all the inward parts, the kidneys are among the smallest. Furthermore, the kidneys are the most tender of the inward parts. This indicates that we need some small yet most tender things within us toward God the Father. Within us God does not want big things. Within us the Father wants small things that are very tender and precious. The fat, the kidneys, the appendage on the liver, and the fat tail all indicate the riches of life inwardly with the tenderness, the smallness, and the preciousness. To see this, I would repeatedly refer you to the life of the Lord Jesus in the four Gospels. The life in the Gospels is sweeter and more tender than the life revealed in Acts. The life in the Gospels has more fat and inward parts. I am not depreciating the life in Acts, but nothing can compare with the life of the Lord Jesus Himself revealed in the Gospels.

Fellowship Questions

  1. Who were the five parties present in the presentation of the peace offering? What is significant about the different portions they offered? 
  2. What portion did the serving priest offer? Experientially, why is this portion regarded to be the highest and the strongest? 
  3. What experiences of Christ are needed in our daily life to be able to function as a serving priest at the Lord’s table meeting?
  4. What does it mean that nothing can compare with the life of the Lord Jesus revealed in the Gospels? How are we constituted with such inward parts? 
  5. How do we present the peace offering in our worship of the Father? 
  6. What different portions of the peace offering have you observed being presented in our practice of the Lord’s table meeting? 

Excerpts taken from Leviticus Recovery Version footnotes (3:1; 3),
and Basic Lessons on Service ch. 7-9.
Further Reading Life-Study of Leviticus, Messages 17, 27. 

Worshiping the Father

  • Our worship to the Father is subjective because He has dispensed His life into us and because we have been reborn to be His children
  • We experience the sweetness of the Father’s name when we enjoy His life in our spirit, keeping us in oneness 
  • When we say, “Abba, Father,” we have a sweet inward sensation in an intimate enjoyment of the Father’s presence
  • On the one hand, we worship the Lord by drinking of Him as living water dispensed into our being; on the other hand, our drinking of Him leads us back to the Father in the divine dispensing of the Divine Trinity. 

Worshiping the Father in the Dispensing of the Triune God

[John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.”] In [this verse,] the Lord spoke of the nature of God. The nature of God is Spirit. The Lord did not say that we worship God but that we worship the Father, whose nature, as God, is Spirit. The worship here is absolutely different from the Jewish [way of worshiping God as the Creator]. What the Lord spoke of is the worship of the Father in the Son and also in the Spirit. Thus, this is a worship in God’s dispensing, the worship by the divine dispensing. When the Jews worship God as the Creator, they do not have the thought of God being dispensed into them. But if we would have the true worship, we need God to be dispensed into our being.

In John 4 the worship to the Father, the worship in the dispensing of God, is related to drinking the living water (vv. 10, 14). To contact God the Spirit with our spirit is to drink of the living water, and to drink of the living water is to render real worship to God. To expound John 4:24 we need John 4:14. We need to drink of the living water to worship the Father in spirit and in truthfulness. If we do not drink the living water, we do not drink of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), we have no experience of God, and God is not dispensed into us. Without drinking the living water, we cannot have a subjective worship in the divine dispensing. We can have only [an] objective worship to an objective God as the Creator. Today our worship is subjective in the dispensing of God. Our worship is our experience of drinking the living water, the Spirit. In order to have the worship in the dispensing of God, we need to drink of the Spirit so that God may dispense Himself into our being. This is the new worship revealed in the New Testament. [Our worship is] to the Father, who has regenerated us and who has put Himself into our being. Now our worship is subjective with God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—dispensed into us. 

This kind of worship can be practiced mostly in the Lord’s table meeting, because in the Lord’s table meeting, after we partake of the bread and the cup, the Lord takes the lead to bring us to the Father. The Lord leads us back to the Father in the Spirit. Here we must remember Ephesians 2:18, which reveals that our worship is through the Son, in the Spirit, and to the Father. This is fully portrayed in Luke 15 with the parables of the shepherd, the woman, and the father. It is through the Son’s seeking as the Shepherd and through the Spirit’s enlightening as the woman that the prodigal son comes back to the Father. Therefore, this coming back to the Father is in the divine dispensing of the Divine Trinity. The Son and the Spirit are wrought into the returning son. This is the true worship in God’s dispensing.

By Becoming the Father’s Children and Knowing His Name

In John 3 there is the need to be born again, and in John 4 there is the worship in spirit. If we are to worship the Father, we first need to be reborn, becoming the Father’s children (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1a). If we are going to worship God in our spirit, we must be born of the Spirit of God in our spirit (3:5, 6b). In John 17:26a the Lord said that He would make the Father’s name known to His disciples, and in Hebrews 2:12a we see that He declares the Father’s name to His brothers. The name denotes the person. When you call on someone’s name, the person comes, so the name of the Father denotes the Father’s person. He is not only our God who created us but also the Father who begets us. Now we are not only His creatures but also His children born of Him, begotten by Him. He is our Father, and we have to know His person. To know His person is to know His name.

The first aspect of oneness [in John chapter 17] is the oneness in the Father’s name by His divine life. In this aspect of oneness the believers born of the Father’s life enjoy the Father’s name, that is, the Father Himself, as the factor of their oneness. We are one because we have one Father. This sweet title, Abba Father, has been made fully known to us in an experiential way because we have His life. Now we are one in Him by His life.

Because God is your Father and mine, we are of the same family, the family of God. This is so dear and intimate. In fact, I do not sense such an intimacy with my own brother in the flesh. The Lord can testify this for me. Why is this true? Because we were all born of the same Father, have the same life, and are brothers in that life. We are not brothers-in-law—we are brothers in life. Praise the Lord that we are brothers in the Father’s life! For this reason, we must be one. There is no reason for us not to be one, for we are one family having the same Father and the same life. Therefore, we have the real brotherhood in life. In this life we all must be and can be one.

We are one in the Father’s name by enjoying the Father Himself. As the children of God, we all have the same Father. But when we are not one with one another, we do not have the sense that we are enjoying the Father. The more we are one by His life, the more we have the sense that the Father is so enjoyable. When we are together calling, “O Father,” it is so sweet. Suppose, however, we fight and are divided into many groups. In such a situation, when we try to call, “O Father,” we lose the sense of the sweetness of the Father’s name. The sweet flavor of the Father’s name relies upon the oneness of His children. When we are one, we enjoy the Father.

In John 17:13 the Lord said to the Father, “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world that they may have My joy made full in themselves.” The fullness of joy is in the real oneness. When we are one in the Father’s name by the Father’s life, enjoying the Father together, we shall have the Lord’s joy made full in us. This is the reason that when we are truly one, we are filled with praises to the Father. This praise is simply the overflow of the inner joy. We rejoice in oneness with the overflow of joy.

By Enjoying the Father’s Presence

In John 14:23 the Lord said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.” The Father and the Son will come to the one who loves the Son and will make Their abode with him. This is the constant presence of the Father. When we say, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6), we have a sweet inward sensation in an intimate enjoyment of the Father’s presence. By becoming the Father’s children, by knowing the Father’s name, and by enjoying the Father’s presence, we worship the Father. If we are not born of the Father, do not know His person, and do not have His presence, we cannot worship Him subjectively; we can worship only an objective God.

By Being in the Unique Place of God’s Habitation 

We [also] must worship the Father by being in the unique place of worship where God’s habitation is (Deut. 12:5; Eph. 2:22). After we are born of the Spirit of God in our spirit, baptized into one Body in the one Spirit, and drink of this one Spirit, our spirit becomes the unique place of worship because our spirit is the very place where God’s habitation is. Christians are divided today because they will not come to their spirit to worship. If all the Christians would come to their spirit to worship, there would be no division. As long as all the children of Israel came to Jerusalem to worship, they were kept in oneness. The principle is the same today. Many Christians will not come to their regenerated spirit to worship God, so they are divided. Today we have to worship the Father in our spirit mingled with the Spirit of God. 

In the Dispensing of the Triune God

Our worship to the Father in the Lord’s table meeting is in the dispensing of the Triune God. We have been baptized into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). We also enjoy the Father’s love, the Son’s grace, and the Spirit’s fellowship (2 Cor. 13:14). We must be in the dispensing of the Triune God. Then we can have the proper and true worship in the divine dispensing of the Divine Trinity. The worship in the dispensing of the Triune God is the worship to the Father by His many sons with His firstborn Son as the offerings and in His Spirit who mingles Himself with our spirit as the unique place for our worship.

This fellowship should help us in the worship of the Father in the Lord’s table meeting. This is the worship that the Lord revealed in John 4. John’s Gospel tells us in chapter 1 that we have the right to be God’s children. He gave as many as received Him the right, the authority, to be His children (v. 12). These children are born of God Himself, and chapter 3 tells us how to be born of God. We must be born of water and the Spirit to be reborn of the Spirit (vv. 5-6). Chapter 4 goes on to reveal how to worship God as the Father in our spirit as the unique place of our worship and with the Son as the real offerings (vv. 23-24). We have to experience the dispensing of the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Then we can have the kind of worship that the Father seeks.

Fellowship Questions

  1. What does it mean for us to know the Father’s name? How is this related to having His life and enjoying His presence? Why do we pray, Abba Father?
  2. What is the connection between our spirit and worshiping God in oneness?
  3. What is the difference between worshiping God as the Creator versus having Him dispensed into us in our worship? 
  4. How is the divine dispensing related to the “true worship” that the Father is seeking in John 4:23-24?
  5. Exercise. Practice singing and fellowshipping over one of the hymns included in the supplement of this reading. Practice worshiping the Father according to the sentiments in these hymns. 

Excerpts taken from Basic Lessons on Service, Chapter 6;
Life-Study of John, Message 39. Additional Reading: Guidelines for the Lord’s Table Meeting and the Pursuit in Life, Chapters 6-7

SUPPLEMENT: HYMNS THAT CORRESPOND WITH THE FATHER IN HIS BEGETTING, HIS NAME, AND HIS DISPENSING

  • 36, We praise Thee, glorious Father
  • 43, Abba, Father, we approach Thee
  • 48, We bless Thee, God and Father
  • 608, What mystery, the Father, Son, and Spirit
  • 1081, Father God, Thou art the source of life

Calling Hymns

  • The purpose of singing hymns in the meeting is to express our corporate feeling.
  • We need to know hymns according to their categories, and according to the measure of Christ enjoyed by the writer.
  • Each saint has the responsibility to choose hymns according to the leading of the Spirit.

The Purpose of Hymns

In order to select hymns, we must first know the purpose of hymns. Why do we need to sing hymns in a meeting? The hymns that the brothers and sisters typically select show that we do not know the purpose of selecting hymns, and we do not know that a hymn is a poem. A poem is for the expression of feelings. A poem is different from an essay. Whereas an essay may be written according to a train of thought, a poem requires inspiration. To be inspired is to be aroused with a feeling. We must be touched before we can write a poem. Without any feeling there will be no poem. A poem, a hymn, is the expression of our feeling. 

Songs are the expression of man’s finest feelings. The sentiments of man’s prayer before God cannot match the sentiments of his songs before God; the former are never as fine and tender as the latter. God wants us to have fine and tender feelings. This is why He gives us many kinds of songs in the Bible. In addition to the Psalms, the Song of Songs, and Lamentations, there are also songs in the history and the commandments (Exo. 15:1-18; Deut. 32:1-43). Even in Paul’s Epistles, we find hymns interspersed in his teachings (Rom. 11:33-36; 1 Tim. 3:16; etc.). All these examples show us that God wants His people to have fine and tender feelings.

When we come together and choose hymns, we must hold firmly to this secret. There is always an atmosphere when the saints gather together. We need to learn to sense the atmosphere, the feeling. When we touch the atmosphere, the feeling, we can select an appropriate hymn from our memory that matches the feeling we sense. At the end of a meeting, if we sense that the feeling of the brothers and sisters is that the Lord Jesus is exalted, we should sing “All in all forever, / Only Christ I’ll sing” (Hymns, #513, chorus). This hymn can express the feeling of the brothers’ and sisters’ exaltation of Christ. 

Since a hymn is for the expression of feelings, we must touch the feeling of the ones who are singing when we select a hymn. If a hymn matches the feeling of those who are singing, they will be released and will express their inner feeling through the hymn. Hence, we must be familiar with the hymns. 

Knowing Hymns

Concerning the selection of hymns, we need a twofold knowledge. First, we need to know the hymns in their categories; second, we need to know the progression of singing in a meeting. According to categories, there are hymns on preaching the gospel, prayer, spiritual pursuit, spiritual edification, spiritual warfare, praise, bread breaking, and worship. We must be familiar with all the categories. Otherwise, we may touch the Lord’s presence and sense His glory yet select a hymn on rising up to preach the gospel. This would not be fitting, and it would not be proper. For this reason we must spend time to study our hymns. 

We must also know the progression of singing in a meeting. In a table meeting the first hymn is a beginning hymn, which should be longer in order to calm the saints’ hearts and bring the saints to the Lord. Because a meeting has a beginning section, there are beginning hymns.

The experience of Christ among God’s people is not the same. In God’s ordination the good land is allotted to His people in different degrees. The New Testament clearly tells us that, “God has apportioned to each a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). We are also told that, “all the members do not have the same function” (v. 4). Therefore, God gives grace to each member according to its function in the Body (Eph. 4:7). This is God’s ordination and the divine allotment. 

Our hymnal, which was compiled in 1963 and 1964, illustrates this allotment. I would ask you to compare John Nelson Darby’s hymn on the exaltation of Christ (Hymns, #127) with Charles Wesley’s hymn on the incarnation of Christ (#84). As we compare these two hymns, we see that Darby’s hymn is higher than Wesley’s. This indicates that Darby’s experience of Christ as expressed in his hymn was higher than Wesley’s as expressed in his hymn. Although both Darby and Wesley experienced Christ as a bullock, Darby’s bullock was larger than Wesley’s.

Hymns are poetry, and every poem is an expression of the writer’s sentiment. The word sentiment means more than just a feeling. This word implies feeling, realization, understanding, and appreciation. The more we consider our sentiment, the more we will have the burden to write poetry. The kind of sentiment expressed in a particular hymn is a measure of that writer’s enjoyment of Christ; it indicates the “size” of the Christ experienced and enjoyed by that writer. Thus, Wesley wrote his hymn on the incarnation of Christ according to his sentiment, and Darby wrote his hymn on the exaltation of Christ according to his sentiment. Both hymns were written according to the measure of the Christ enjoyed by the writers. 

Selecting Hymns

Leading the meetings is not the responsibility of the elders and deacons only; it is the responsibility of all the saints. Hence, we have an obligation to learn to select hymns. If we are unable to select appropriate hymns, how can we have good meetings? The responsible brothers in all the localities should avoid replacing the saints in selecting hymns at the beginning of a meeting. Any saint can select a hymn according to the moving of the Spirit. In this matter the sisters are not excluded; they can also pray and sing according to the moving of the Spirit. The responsible brothers should never be the only ones to take care of the beginning and ending of a meeting. The responsible brothers are responsible for the administration of the church, that is, to take the lead in administrating the church. However, at the table meeting all the saints come together before the Lord. Moreover, blessing the bread and the cup should not be done exclusively by the responsible brothers. Rather, the responsible brothers should perfect the newly saved ones to bless the bread and the cup. For example, we can begin to perfect a brother who was saved and baptized yesterday to bless the bread and the cup and to pass them to the saints at the table meeting.

When we come into a meeting, we should be prepared in spirit, our entire being should be open to the Lord and to the meeting, and we should exercise our spirit to touch the atmosphere of the meeting. Then we will be a channel for the Holy Spirit, and He will be able to use us as a channel to bear responsibility for the meeting.

if we do not know how to meet when we come together, when the Holy Spirit touches a brother, he may not move. Then the Holy Spirit will find another brother, who also would ignore Him. The Holy Spirit will then come to yet another brother, who also may not think that the meeting is his responsibility. In this case, the Holy Spirit will not be able to find a channel, and the meeting will be poor. However, if the Holy Spirit can find the proper channels in the meeting, the brothers and sisters will enjoy coming to the meetings, because they will be inwardly touched by God and will testify that God is indeed among us in our meetings. 

Practical Training

It is difficult when a Christian goes to a meeting but does not know how to sing hymns. Prayer is often neglected in the meeting, but hymn singing is neglected even more. We must learn to sing hymns. We are not trying to be musicians, but we should be familiar with the hymns. This is an important matter. We must first familiarize ourselves with the table of contents of the hymnal. We must remember clearly how the hymns are classified. If you understand the principle of classification, memorize the nature and use of every category, and know the location of each hymn, you readily will find the desired hymn when you have a need. 

Find a hymn which is most applicable to you and learn it. Understand the words and the punctuation, and find how the writer’s thoughts unfold from beginning to end. Your heart has to be open. You have to have sensitive feelings, a pliable will, and a clear mind. 

After all this, you still need to learn to sing. You can learn two to three hymns a week. At the beginning, if you cannot sing, you can hum a few tunes every morning, or you can make up simple tunes to hum to the hymn. Through this you will touch the spirit of the hymn and increase your spiritual senses.

Hymns cultivate fine and tender spiritual feelings in a Christian. I hope that we can all learn something before God. If we can come to God in a fine and tender way, we will develop a more intimate fellowship with God. Thank the Lord that in eternity all our feelings will be fine and tender. We know that the praises in the heavens are more than the prayers on earth. Prayers will go away, but praises will fill the universe in eternity.

Fellowship Questions

  1. What is the “secret” of choosing hymns?
  2. What is a hymn that has helped you express your feelings to the Lord?
  3. Who should choose hymns in the meetings?
  4. Consider a hymn that you have learned in the past. Based on the principles in this reading, what are some further things that you could learn about that hymn (i.e. sentiment, wording, punctuation, author, etc)?

Excerpts taken from Guidelines for the Lord’s Table Meeting and the Pursuit in Life, Chapters 4-5; Life-study of Joshua, Message 11; Messages for Building Up New Believers (1), Chapter 15

SUPPLEMENT: RECOMMENDED HYMNS

The “secret” to calling hymns is to select hymns that match the atmosphere of the meeting. However, to be able to call these from memory requires knowledge of the hymns, and the hymns vary in substance based off the experience of the hymn’s writer. Below is a representative sampling of treasured, recommended hymns for different sections of the meeting that reflects fine and tender feelings, and substantial experiences of Christ on the part of the writers. This list is simply representative and not intended to be exhaustive or official in any way. 

1. Opening hymns that calm the saints’ hearts and bring the saints to the Lord

  • 162, With praise and thanksgiving 
  • 171, Lord Jesus Christ, our heart feels sweet
  • 523, I have come to the Fountain of Life
  • 1125, Down at the cross where my Savior died
  • 1170, The Lord is my Shepherd forever

2. Hymns that praise and remember the Lord focusing on the Lord Himself, and particular lines appreciating His Person, and His work

  • 86, Though Thou art God, most glorious, high 
  • 124, Praise Him, Praise Him, Christ is Victor
  • 152, O how deep, and how far-reaching
  • 169, Thou, Lord, to God art precious
  • 170, Lord, Thou art our lovely Bridegroom
  • 189, Thou art the Son Beloved
  • 190, O Lord, as we consider Thee
  • 199, Thou art the Rock everlasting
  • 223, On the table of Thy love
  • 233, O what a miracle, my Lord
  • 295, God’s Christ, who is my righteousness
  • 1104, Lord, Thou art our peace offering
  • 1174, What a victory! What a triumph! 

3. Hymns that worship the Father as the Firstborn leads our praise in the midst of the church 

  • 1, Glory be to God the Father
  • 12, O God, Thou art the source of life
  • 13, Thou art love and Thou art light, Lord
  • 16, Our Father as the evergreen
  • 30, What love Thou hast bestowed on us
  • 32, We bow and worship, Father, here
  • 50, Father, Thy Son beloved leads our praise
  • 608, What mystery, the Father, Son, and Spirit 

4. Hymns that express special sentiments at times there are particular tender, sentiments that our appreciation of His supper may release, related to the Lord’s coming and His presence 

  • 491, Lord, Thou didst know when in the flesh
  • 549, Enter the veil and go without the camp
  • 959, Since Thy departure from Olivet’s mountain
  • 1159, Jesus Lord, I’m captured by Thy beauty

Learning to Bear Responsibility for the Meetings and to Touch the Spirit of the Meeting by Learning the Sense of Our Spirit in Our Daily Life

  • There needs to be a group of saints functioning together in every meeting to bear the responsibility for the meeting. 
  • In the Lord’s table meeting, we need to learn to touch the spirit of the meeting, which is a corporate spirit, and follow this spirit in coordination. 
  • We need to learn to touch our spirit in the big and small matters of our daily life to be accustomed to the sense of our spirit; then when we go to the meetings, spontaneously we will touch the spirit of the meeting. 

The Importance of the Meetings

The Christian life is a meeting life. Matthew 18:20 says, “Where there are two or three gathered into My name, there am I in their midst.” Moreover, Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not abandoning our own assembling together.” Since the Christian life is a meeting life and much of the Lord’s work is carried out through the meetings, we must regard Christian meetings as an important matter.

Bearing the Responsibility for the Meetings

It will be difficult for a meeting to have the rich presence of the Lord if we do not bear responsibility for the meeting by exercising our spirit and living according to the spirit. If the Holy Spirit cannot find channels in a meeting, the saints whom we bring to the meeting will not be moved or benefited. The brothers and sisters in a small group meeting must see that they should not only pray for those in their group and fellowship with them, but they should also learn to bear responsibility along with the elders for the meetings.

As described in 1 Corinthians 14, some may have a psalm, a teaching, or a revelation; we should function according to the spirit so that others will see that God is indeed among us (vv. 25-26). This kind of church meeting is a meeting according to the Scriptures. Meetings for preaching the gospel or for ministering the word may be taken care of by a few brothers. But when the whole church is gathered together for exhortation or for the exercise of gifts, all the saints should participate by following the spirit within. The brothers and sisters should follow the spirit to bear the burden and responsibility for the meeting.

At the Lord’s table meeting, if none of the elders or responsible brothers who are sitting in the front row select a hymn, the meeting will not begin. This shows that we are not bearing the responsibility for the meeting. If the elders would not call a hymn, we would simply sit there. It is as if we are behaving as guests invited to a meal instead of cooking it. A meeting should not have to wait for a responsible brother to call a hymn before it can begin. Where does this practice come from? It comes from our unwillingness to bear responsibility for the meetings. When we come to a meeting to pray and worship God, we all have an equal standing; we are all brothers and sisters. 

Touching the Spirit of the Meeting and Following the Spirit

The most important points of a meeting are to learn to touch the spirit of the meeting and to follow the spirit of the meeting. Every meeting has a spirit, and the spirit is not always the same. When we fellowship with the Lord privately, we can follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in us as an individual, but in the meetings we must learn to follow the spirit of the meeting. At the Lord’s table meeting, the move of the Holy Spirit may cause us to sense the Lord’s love or the preciousness and worth of the Lord’s redemption. He may cause us to sense the Lord’s presence or our oneness with the Lord. Every meeting has a spirit, just as every person has a spirit. Because the spirit of the meeting is a corporate spirit, we must learn to touch the spirit of the meeting and follow this spirit. Those who are learned find that it is easy to do this. Sometimes everyone says Amen inwardly when someone selects a hymn. We would have selected that hymn even if a brother had not selected it. If we have learned to touch the spirit of the meeting, we may even feel that a certain brother should select the hymn. Sometimes we have a sense that a particular brother should stand up and speak something, and a moment later he will stand up without being prompted. If each of us learns to touch the spirit of the meeting and to follow the spirit of the meeting, the Holy Spirit would have more liberty in the meetings and would flow out of us more easily.

Living in the Spirit and Walking in the Spirit in our Daily Life

What kind of learning do we need before we can touch and follow the spirit in the meeting? First, we must learn to be before the Lord in our daily life by following the spirit, not our mind. Once we sense that something is wrong, we must deal with it before the Lord. If our spirit senses that we should not speak, we should submit to that sense. If our spirit senses that we should give up certain matters, we should do so. In every matter, big or small, we must learn to touch our spirit. We must learn to bring our being into the spirit and to exercise our will strongly to turn to God from our emotions, preferences, goals, perspectives, and tendencies. We should submit to the sense in our spirit. If we practice this all the time, we will be accustomed to living in the spirit. We will live before God, and we will be spiritual persons. Then when we go to the meetings, we will spontaneously touch the spirit of the meeting. Suppose we have a dish of food that smells delicious. If we have a healthy sense of smell, we will smell the food as soon as we enter the room, but if we have a cold, our nose will not be able to smell. In the same way, if our spirit is clear, transparent, fresh, and sensitive, we will be able to touch the move of the Spirit in the meeting.

Being Fully Open to the Lord and to the Meeting

When we come to a meeting, we must learn to fully open ourselves to the Lord and to the meeting. This affords the Holy Spirit the opportunity to use us and to touch us. This also enables us to sense the atmosphere and flavor of the meeting so that we know which hymn to select and how to pray. Therefore, we must be open in the meetings and be ready to receive the burden from the Holy Spirit. Many brothers and sisters do not prepare themselves before a meeting. They do not remember that there is a meeting until ten minutes before the meeting begins. Then they hurriedly rush to the meeting without bearing any burden for the meeting, and their spirit is still closed. Then at the meeting only a few brothers will take care of the meeting to select hymns and pray; they are like priests for the church who minister on behalf of the saints. Although this is not prearranged, every attendant knows that someone will select a hymn and someone will pray; everyone else can simply sit, watch, and do nothing because a few brothers will bear the full responsibility. Since a few brothers will take the lead to select a hymn and to pray, the rest of the saints can relax and enjoy. We should never be like this. Prior to any meeting we should open our spirit. After we sit down in the meeting, we should seek the Lord as to what He desires us to do. We must touch the feeling of the Holy Spirit and receive inspiration from Him. If we are open in this way, the Holy Spirit will surely move us to receive the burden. 

Needing a Group of Priests to Bear the Ark in the Meetings

The saints must come together to pray and fellowship. There needs to be a group of faithful ones, maybe between ten and twenty-five saints. Every one of these saints must be charged, including the elders, to bear the Ark of the Testimony on their shoulders. Before every meeting, these dear saints should be living in the Spirit and should get themselves fully ready to bear the Ark. The meeting is the Ark, the testimony. We need some faithful ones like the Levites to bear the Ark. The most devastating thing to me is to come into a meeting with no one bearing the Ark. You also must realize that the Ark cannot be carried on by one person. There is the need for coordination. To bear the Ark needs a team. There needs to be a group of priests functioning in each meeting to bear the ark. The church belongs to the saints, and the meetings are the saints’ meetings. Some of the saints are still young, yet a good number have grown up, and they are serving and bearing some responsibility. It is good to have a time of fellowship with the saints to share this burden together. Get with them to reconsider how to take care of the church and the church meetings. If you do this, I believe that you will see something positive. 

We must take the meetings seriously and not conduct ourselves according to our mood and excitement. We all need to realize that we come to a meeting to fulfill our priestly ministry, to function; we do not come to take care of our mood and excitement. If we start work at eight, we should be at our place of work exactly at eight. Likewise, whenever we come to the meeting, we must mean business. We need to diligently exercise our spirit. We should exercise our spirit when we are happy and when we are unhappy. We need to take the meeting as our responsibility. When we come to the meeting, we should function in the meeting and bear the burden of the meeting. If we meet in this way, the brothers and sisters will enjoy coming to the meetings, because they will be inwardly touched by God and will testify that God is indeed among us in our meetings.

Offering Thanksgiving and Praises According to Revelation

Most people praise according to their experiences of God, but generally, this kind of praise is not very high. A brother may pray that the Lord died for him on the cross while he was yet a sinner. Such prayers are low prayers. Thanksgiving and praises that are high come from revelation. If God enlightens us, and we are brought into the Lord’s glory, His holiness, and we see the great accomplishment of the Lord’s death and His exalted resurrection and ascension, our prayer and praise will be vastly different. When the church becomes rich, the tone of its praises will become high. Every one of us should read the Bible and ask God for revelation. We should ask Him to show us His love. The praises in the Bible are all according to revelation. Hannah’s praise in the Old Testament and Mary’s thanksgiving in the New Testament both mention God’s greatness. If the church today sees a little more, our meetings will have richer praises.

Fellowship Questions

  1. Who should bear the burden and responsibility for the meeting? Which verses in the Bible show us this? 
  2. How can we learn to sense the spirit of the meeting and to follow it? 
  3. What are a few helpful steps we can practice to learn how to bear responsibility for the meetings?

Excerpts taken from Guidelines for the Lord’s Table Meeting and the Pursuit in Life,  Chapters 2-3; Elders’ Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision, Chapter 11; and The Recovery of the Church according to the Pattern on the Mountain, Chapter 3

Praying and Praising in the Lord’s Table Meeting

  • We must spend time to learn the principles of praying together in the Lord’s table with fresh revelation of who the Lord is as the bread and as the cup to release life and life supply through our prayer. 
  • Our prayers should be full of revelation according to our relationship with the Lord and avoid “preaching prayers” according to doctrine only. 
  • We need to remember the Lord with praise and well speaking concerning His person and work, and worship the Father by addressing praise to Him. 

Principles of Praying in the Lord’s Table Meeting

We must pay attention to a few principles when we pray at a table meeting. First, our prayers must be fitly connected to one another. The entire meeting, including the selection of hymns, prayers, reading of Scriptures, exhortation, or testimony, should be carried out as if we are in a relay race; there should not be another beginning halfway through the meeting. Second, our prayers should move forward; they should not remain in the same place. Immediately after we offer a prayer in relation to a hymn, we must move forward in our spirit. We must not only move further but also move higher. Third, as we move forward in the meeting, we must learn to maintain the feeling of the meeting in our prayers and hymns. This simply means that we cannot proceed independently. As we move forward in selecting a hymn, and especially when we pray, we should bring the brothers and sisters with us. In a three-legged race we must take care of our partner who is bound to us; we cannot simply run as fast as we wish. Fourth, all our prayers should contain utterances of poetic quality. God is full of feeling. A person with much feeling tends to be poetic in utterance, whereas a person with little feeling tends to be rough in his expressions. The more a person touches God, the richer his feeling will be, and consequently, the more poetic his utterances will be. However, do not think that merely being poetic is good enough; the most important thing concerning prayer is that it should touch people’s spirit. The more we are in the spirit, the more feeling we have. Fifth, our prayers should not only move forward and upward, they should also bring the atmosphere of the meeting to the subject of the meeting. For example, the first section of the Lord’s table meeting is for the breaking of the bread. After a few hymns and prayers we should bring the meeting toward the bread and the cup, to the feeling of breaking the bread. Sixth, we should avoid formal prayers at the table meeting; instead, we should use words of revelation and words that convey spiritual facts. Through our prayer both the bread and the cup are unveiled to the universe. After our prayer everyone should have seen the bread and the cup. This kind of revelation is not received instantly. Therefore, we need to spend the time and energy to exercise diligently. If in every locality there are ten saints who know how to select hymns and another ten who know how to pray, the situation of the various meetings will surely be living and full of the life supply.

Praying with Revelation and Avoiding Doctrinal Prayers

We should pray with words of revelation and avoid preaching prayers. What is a preaching prayer? And what is a prayer with revelation? Suppose we talk with two people concerning [one of the meeting halls] of the church in Taipei. We may tell them that the meeting hall on Ren Ai Road is made of wood and has many glass doors and windows that face different directions. This is giving a sermon. However, we may bring them to [the meeting hall] and say, “Look at the doors, the windows, the courtyard, and the inside furnishings.” This is revelation, a seeing.

Many times our prayers are doctrinal prayers, not prayers of revelation. This means that when we pray, we merely recite a message to others concerning the Lord, as if the Lord is not there. We do not give others the feeling that the Lord is right in front of us, and that we are gazing at Him while speaking of His glory. There is a great difference here. We need to have the utterance of revelation when we pray. Let us consider some examples: “O Lord, we praise You that You became flesh”; this is a doctrinal prayer. “Lord, thank You that today You are in glory, yet You still possess human nature. We praise You”; this is still a doctrinal prayer. “O Lord, although we are touching the bread, we sense You in glory. Lord, we praise You”; this is a prayer with revelation. Although these prayers refer to the same thing, they are expressed in two different ways. Whereas one is doctrinal and formal, the other is living and with revelation.

If we stand on our relationship with the Lord and pray according to this relationship, it is easy to pray with revelation. For example, we may pray, “Lord, You are in glory, but we are still here. O Lord, our eyes are still looking to the future. When You come back, we shall be with You in glory.” With these few sentences we can touch something; it is as if glory has entered the meeting. It is not that glory has been transferred to us from eternity future; rather, the eternal glory is now intimately related to us. If we are afraid that the feeling of the saints is not strong enough or that our words are not clear enough, we may add a few sentences, “Lord, it seems that today only You are in glory and that we are not. But even now we know that the day will come when we shall be as You are; we shall be exactly like You.” We need to give the brothers and sisters a feeling that the glory we enjoy today is not objective but subjective. Our prayer should let the saints touch the Lord’s glory. 

Remembering the Lord by Praising the Lord with
Well Speaking concerning His Person and Work

To remember the Lord (1 Cor. 11:24-25) we have to praise Him, not pray to Him. Remembering the Lord at His table is by praising instead of by praying. We do not come to the Lord’s table meeting to ask the Lord to do things for us. At the Lord’s table meeting we should bless the Lord with well speaking concerning His person and work. Well speaking means praising by speaking the good things. It would be helpful to itemize some of the main points concerning His person, such as His divinity, His humanity, and His statuses as the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Savior, the Redeemer, the Sanctifier, the life-giving Spirit, the Lord, etc. We have to try our best to point out the different items of the Lord’s person, so that the saints can be helped in their praising. Then we also have to point out the various aspects of the Lord’s work, such as His redemptive work, His saving work, His sanctifying work, His transforming work, etc. We have to bless the Lord in such a way as to praise Him, to speak well about Him. When our praise has reached a climax, we should bless the bread and the cup. 

In the section of remembering the Lord, all our praises should be addressed directly to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. To address our praises directly to the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, we need to realize the economy of the Divine Trinity. Matthew 28:19b says that we are baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Second Corinthians 13:14 refers to the love of God, the grace of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. These verses reveal the economy of the Divine Trinity to dispense Himself into His chosen and redeemed people. We need to learn to differentiate the Lord’s names from the Father’s names. In our personal time it would be good to read Hymns, #65 through #80, concerning the names of the Lord. In order to address or praise the Lord Himself directly, we need to know His names.

Worshiping the Father by Addressing Praise to Him

Matthew 26:26-30 shows that we should worship the Father after eating the bread and drinking the cup. Verses 26 through 29 show us that the bread was broken and eaten, and that the cup was drunk. Then in verse 30 there was the singing of a hymn to the Father, showing that the worship to the Father must be after eating the bread and drinking the cup. We worship the Father by praising. This is also based upon Matthew 26:30. This is a unique verse telling us that a hymn was sung. That means to praise. According to the Greek text, we may say that they “hymned a praise” to the Father. To worship the Father at the Lord’s table, we have to sing hymns of praise to Him.

Christ, the Firstborn of God, takes the lead among His brothers to sing hymns of praise to the Father. Hebrews 2:12 says, “I will declare Your name to My brothers; in the midst of the church I will sing hymns of praise to You.” The literal meaning according to the Greek is “I will hymn You.” We, the many sons of God, follow Christ in praising the Father. In Matthew 26:30 it was not only Christ but also His disciples singing a hymn of praise with Him. So He took the lead, and the disciples followed Him. Today it should be the same. Christ, the Firstborn, takes the lead, and we, the many sons, follow Him to praise the Father. In our remembrance of the Lord, we address all the praises to the Lord. Then, when we turn to worship the Father, we have to address all our praises to Him. Thus, we have to call hymns according to the Father’s person, the Father’s being. We also have to call hymns according to the Father’s attributes, such as His love, His kindness, and His glory.

Question: What should we be aware of in beginning the Lord’s table meeting? What should we be aware of as we transition to the worship of the Father? 

It is best to use a hymn, not prayer, at the beginning of a meeting, because at the beginning the spirit is relatively low, and it is difficult to pray. In principle, however, prayer is the best way to begin, because a hymn is not as high as a prayer. But when we are unable to offer suitable prayer, we must use a hymn. Some have asked whether we should first pray or first sing a hymn to begin the worship of the Father after breaking the bread at the table meeting. If we are able to have a good beginning with prayer, it is best to begin with prayer. If the prayer is strong enough to touch the spirit of the meeting, even to touch this particular section of the meeting, then prayer is the best and the sweetest way to begin this section of the meeting.

Fellowship Questions

  1. What principles do we need to pay attention to when we pray at the Lord’s table meeting? 
  2. What does it mean to pray with revelation? Where does this revelation come from? 
  3. Why does our praise turn to address the Father during the second section of the meeting? 
  4. How can we learn to pray and praise together, so there can be more life released in the Lord’s table? What experiences have you had of this? 

Excerpts taken from Basic Lessons on Service, Messages 4-5 and  Guidelines for the Lord’s Table Meeting and the Pursuit in Life, Messages 6-7

Caring for the Lord’s Administration by Enjoying the Lord’s Supper

  • We need to realize that on the one hand, we enjoy the Lord’s table for our enjoyment and satisfaction; on the other hand, we need to also learn to participate in the Lord’s supper for His enjoyment and satisfaction. 
  • The Lord’s physical body was given on the cross to accomplish redemption; the Lord’s mystical Body (His spiritual Body, the Body of Christ) is the means for God to carry out His administration and bring in His kingdom. 
  • God’s administration today is carried out by His kingdom and Body; therefore, we need to prove ourselves to have a living worthy of eating His supper and discern that the bread we partake of is free from division. 
  • In doing so, the church becomes the bridge connecting the Lord’s death to His second coming; “Come, Lord Jesus!”

The Lord’s Table and the Lord’s Supper

Concerning the remembrance of the Lord, Paul uses the terms, “the table of the Lord ” in 1 Corinthians 10:21 and “the Lord’s supper” in 11:20. There is an important difference between the Lord’s table and the Lord’s supper. We should not take these terms for granted. Rather, we should ask why Paul speaks of the Lord’s table in chapter ten and the Lord’s supper in chapter eleven. The Lord’s table refers to the enjoyment of the Lord in fellowship. Hence, the significance of the Lord’s table is enjoyment for participation, enjoyment for fellowship. When we say that we take the Lord’s table, we mean that we enjoy the Lord in the fellowship of Him. This is for our enjoyment and satisfaction. The Lord’s supper, however, is for His satisfaction. It is for the remembrance of Him. Regarding the Lord’s table and the Lord’s supper, there is mutuality. The Lord’s table is for our enjoyment, but the Lord’s supper is for His enjoyment. Sometimes we may say, “Lord, we come to Your table and partake of it.” This indicates that we are enjoying the Lord. At other times we may say, “We thank You that we can have Your supper.” This indicates that we are remembering the Lord for His enjoyment and satisfaction.

The Lord’s Physical Body and His Mystical Body

In 1 Corinthians 11:24 Paul quotes the word of the Lord Jesus: “This is My body, which is for you; this do unto the remembrance of Me.” The body in 11:24 denotes the physical body of Jesus. Paul [later] uses the expression, “not discerning the body”  in verse 29, which denotes the mystical Body. The physical body of Jesus was given on the cross to accomplish redemption for us. But that body has nothing to do with God’s present administration. It is the mystical Body of Christ which is thoroughly and absolutely related to God’s administration today. The church today as the mystical Body is not for us—it is for Christ. When we come to the Lord’s table, our concern is neither redemption nor the divine administration; our concern is for enjoyment. We all come to the Lord’s table to enjoy the Lord in fellowship. The Lord’s supper, however, is related to the Lord’s enjoyment and satisfaction. We should not only care for our enjoyment at the table, but also care for the Lord’s enjoyment at the supper.

If we want the Lord Jesus to be satisfied at the Lord’s supper, we should not only remember Him, but also care for God’s administration carried out by Him. Today what satisfies the Lord the most is the divine administration. If we remember Him without caring for the divine administration, He will not be happy. If we want to make Him happy and satisfy Him, we must be able to say, “Lord, while we are remembering You, we discern Your Body for God’s administration carried out by You. As we remember You, we do not forget what You are doing in the heavens. You are seated in the heavens to carry out God’s administration.”

Until He Comes

In chapter ten Paul does not say anything about participating in the Lord’s table until He comes. But in 11:26 he says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you declare the Lord’s death until He comes.” The Lord’s coming will bring in God’s kingdom for His administration. His first coming was for our redemption, but His second coming will be for God’s administration. When we take of the Lord’s table, we care for our enjoyment. But when we take of the Lord’s supper, we care for His remembrance and God’s administration. The Lord’s table is for our enjoyment. However, the Lord’s supper is for His enjoyment and satisfaction. Furthermore, His satisfaction is dependent on God’s administration carried out by Him. Do you intend to give the Lord the best remembrance? If you do, then you must take care of the mystical Body, the means for Him to carry out God’s administration on earth. We must remember Him in this way until He comes. We do this to carry out His administration until He comes back and brings His kingdom to earth.

Discerning the Body for God’s Administration

We have emphasized the fact that when we take the Lord’s table we enjoy Him, and when we eat the Lord’s supper we satisfy Him by remembering Him and caring for God’s administration. But in what way do we take care of His administration? It is by discerning the Body. To discern the Body is first to realize that Christ has only one mystical Body, and this unique mystical Body of Christ is the means for God to carry out His administration. But Satan’s subtle device is to cut the Body into pieces. This frustrates God’s administration. As long as we are in a division, we are through with God’s administration. Throughout the years we have been deeply impressed with the significance of the Lord’s table. Therefore, we often pray, “Lord, thank You for Your redeeming blood. Lord, we also thank You that you have given Your body on the cross to bear our sins. Lord, now we are here enjoying Your table. You are on the table for our enjoyment.” Now we must also be impressed that to eat the Lord’s supper is to satisfy Him. It is to give Him our remembrance. This implies that we are here for the carrying out of God’s administration. In order that God’s administration may be carried out, we must care for the oneness of the unique mystical Body of Christ. Having such a concern will preserve us in the Body and keep us from any division. If we have this understanding of the Lord’s supper, we shall not be divided by anything. Rather, we shall remain in the unique mystical Body, the means for Christ to carry out His heavenly ministry for the accomplishment of the divine administration.

Proving and Discerning

Regarding the Lord’s supper, Paul uses two crucial words: prove and discern. First Corinthians 11:28 says, “But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” To prove ourselves is to check whether we are eating the bread and drinking the cup in a way that is worthy or in a way that is unworthy. Verse 29 says, “For he who is eating and drinking, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body.” This is the discerning both of the Lord’s physical body and also of the mystical Body for the carrying out of God’s administration. Proving ourselves is for the remembrance of the Lord; discerning the Body is mainly for the carrying out of God’s administration. Whenever we come to the Lord’s table, we should not just enjoy the Lord; we should also remember Him by proving ourselves. We must ask if we are living in a way that is worthy for us to eat the Lord’s supper. This is to remember the Lord. At the same time we must discern whether the bread on the table signifies the unique mystical Body of Christ, or if it signifies a division. If the bread signifies a certain divisive group or denomination, we should not take it, for we discern the Body. We discern the Body in such a way for the carrying out of God’s administration.

Remembrance Being Related to God’s Administration

In 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 we have the phrase “unto the remembrance of Me.” The thought embodied in the word “unto” in these verses is deep and profound. It is, of course, not incorrect to translate the Greek preposition as “for.” However, this does not express the meaning or significance here. Here the word is used with the significance of result, not purpose. What will be the result of your eating of the Lord’s supper? Does your eating of the Lord’s supper result in God’s administration? If not, your partaking of the Lord’s supper is too superficial. The genuine eating of the Lord’s supper must result in the administration of God; it must result in the kingdom. We need to realize that we have been regenerated to become the children of God, to be brought into the kingdom, and to become the members of the Body of Christ. The kingdom and the Body should be the goal of our living. As Christians, we are not here simply to have a good life. Today God’s administration is carried out by the kingdom and the Body. This should be our daily living. Then on the first day of the week we come together purposely to eat the Lord’s supper with the expectation that our life will be a life for the kingdom of God and the Body of Christ. If you understand this, you will know how eating of the Lord’s supper may result in such a satisfaction to the Lord.

Declaring the Lord’s Death

In 1 Corinthians 11:26 Paul says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you declare the Lord’s death until He comes.” At the Lord’s table, while we are eating and drinking, we are making a declaration. Although we are to remember the Lord, we are not told to remember His death. Rather, in verse 26 we see that we should declare the Lord’s death. Christ’s death is not for us to remember—it is for us to declare, announce, display. In verse 26 we also have the Lord’s coming. In between Christ’s death and His coming there is a gap, a gap which is filled in by the church. We may say that the church is a bridge connecting the Lord’s death to His coming. This bridge is also a highway; without this bridge with the highway, there would be no way to go from one side of the gap, Christ’s death, to the other side, God’s kingdom. This means that the church continues the Lord’s death and brings in His coming back. Thus we must see that to declare the Lord’s death until He comes is equal to declaring the existence of the church for the bringing in of the kingdom. As long as there is a people on earth responding to Christ in His heavenly ministry, there is a way for Him to bring God’s kingdom to earth. 

Fellowship Questions

  1. Why does Paul make the distinction between the “table of the Lord” and the “Lord’s supper” in 1 Corinthians chapters 10 and 11?
  2. How is the Lord’s supper related to the Lord’s enjoyment and satisfaction?
  3. How is the remembrance of the Lord related to God’s administration?
  4. What is the bridge between the Lord’s death and His second coming? 
  5. What does it mean to prove ourselves in relation to eating the table (1 Cor 11:28) and to discern the body (v. 29)? 

Excerpts taken from Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Messages 54-56

The Significance of Eating the Lord’s Table

  • The significance of eating is fellowship, enjoyment, and becoming one with what we eat; this eating is typified by the enjoyment of the good land. 
  • Participating in and enjoying the Lord’s table is a practical way to flee idolatry, which is to enjoy something other than the Lord Himself. 
  • Further, this eating enables us to live the Christian life, establish the kingdom of God, and build up the house of God.
  • Therefore, we need to eat and enjoy the Lord every day as the reality of the table, the feast, and the riches of the good land.

Eating signifying Fellowship, Enjoyment, and Oneness

First Corinthians 10:12-22, is part of a long section which deals with the matter of eating. Eating is related to enjoyment. Whenever you eat something, you enjoy it. Furthermore, what we eat becomes us. On the one hand, eating is for our enjoyment; on the other hand, we become what we eat. These basic concepts should be applied in understanding this portion. To eat idol sacrifices actually means to enjoy idols and eventually to become one with idols. In the same principle, to partake of the Lord’s table is to enjoy this table and to become one with it; that is, to enjoy the Lord and become one with Him.

In 1 Corinthians 1:9 Paul says that we have been called into the fellowship of Christ. This means that Christ is our portion for our enjoyment. In 1 Corinthians 10:16 the fellowship is of Christ’s blood and body. When the Lord Jesus ate with His disciples and established the table, He “took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body” (Matt. 26:26). Then taking the cup and giving thanks, “He gave it to them, saying, Drink of it, all of you” (v. 27). Today the Lord invites us to His table and says of the bread and the cup, “This is My body; take and eat…This is My blood; take and drink.” Today the One who presents His body and blood to us is Christ as the life-giving Spirit. This wonderful Christ is everything to us for our enjoyment. All that He is, is for our participation and enjoyment. He gives Himself to us as our food supply so that we may enjoy Him. Oh, may the Lord open our eyes! He, the all-inclusive One, has given His body for us to eat and His blood for us to drink. He has given us Himself so that we may partake of Him and enjoy Him by eating and drinking Him.

The Lord’s Table Being the Reality of the Good Land,
and Eating this Table Enabling us
to Establish the Kingdom and Build Up the Temple

In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul presents Israel as a type of the believers today. Whenever we come to the Lord’s table to enjoy Christ as the all-inclusive One, in our experience we are in the good land enjoying the riches of the land. This means that the good land has become a table, a feast, for our enjoyment. At this table, this feast, we are satisfied, and God is satisfied also. If we see this, we shall realize that to enter into the good land is to come to the Lord’s table. 

Do you know how the children of Israel established the kingdom of God on earth and how they built the temple of God? They did this through the enjoyment of the riches of the good land. Because the children of Israel enjoyed these riches, they could defeat their enemies. The riches of the land not only enabled the people to live; they also equipped them to fight and bring in the kingdom of God. Furthermore, the riches of the land supplied them with what they needed to build God’s temple. Therefore, both the kingdom of God and the temple come into being through the enjoyment of the riches of the good land. The riches of the land were the source of the living of the children of Israel. These riches were also the supply for them to defeat the enemy, establish the kingdom of God, and build the temple of God. One day the glory of God descended and filled this temple. That was the consummate result of the enjoyment of the riches of the good land.

The experience of the children of Israel in the good land typifies our enjoyment of Christ today. Christ is our good land, and the various aspects of the riches of Christ are typified by the produce of the land. If we enjoy the rich supply of Christ, we shall be able to live Christ. We shall also be empowered to defeat the enemies. The enemies are always defeated when we enjoy Christ. Furthermore, through the enjoyment of the riches of Christ, the kingdom of God is established in the church, and the temple is built for God’s dwelling place. All these matters—living the Christian life, defeating the enemies, establishing the kingdom of God, and building the house of God—issue out from the enjoyment of the riches of Christ.

Eating the Lord’s Table to Flee Idolatry 

In 1 Cor 10:7 Paul says, “Neither become idolaters, as some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” This is a definition of idolatry. There is a difference between idol worship and idolatry. Idol worship involves bowing down before an idol and worshiping it. Idolatry is wider in scope, for it involves eating, drinking, and playing. In this country people may not worship idols, but they may practice idolatry. On the holidays or on weekends they may give themselves over to various forms of amusement and entertainment. They may eat and drink and rise up to play. This is idolatry. 

Idolatry involves the enjoyment of something other than the Lord Himself. Today people everywhere are practicing idolatry, for they are enjoying many things which are not the Lord Himself. The living of worldly people is a living in idolatry. They sit down to eat and drink, and then they rise up to play. We should neither worship idols nor become involved with idolatry. As we have seen, the meaning of idolatry is much broader than the meaning of idol worship.

In 1 Corinthians 10:14-26, Paul talks about the Lord’s table using idolatry as a background. In verse 14 Paul says, “Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” Here we see that there are two tables: the table of the Lord and the table of demons. To partake of a table is to eat of it. To drink the cup of the Lord and partake of the table of the Lord is to identify ourselves with the Lord. To drink the cup of demons and partake of the table of demons is to make ourselves one with demons. In the same principle, to eat the body of Christ is to have the fellowship of Christ. It is to participate in Christ and to become one with Him. This is not simply a doctrine or principle; it is a reality.

Christ today is the life-giving Spirit. Demons also are spirits. The life-giving Spirit is rich and all-inclusive. The demonic spirits, on the contrary, are evil and unclean. One can be saturated and occupied either by a demon, an evil spirit, or by Christ as the life-giving Spirit. We live according to that with which we are occupied and saturated. If we eat Christ and are saturated with Him as the life-giving Spirit, we shall live Christ. In like manner, if we eat the sacrifices to demons and are saturated with demons, we shall live demons. Ultimately, in the entire universe there are only two tables: the table of demons, which causes people to be one with demons, and the table of the Lord, which causes the believers to be one with the Lord. In either case, we are what we eat.

If we come to the Lord’s table with this understanding, we shall come with a different spirit and a different realization. The cup of blessing which we bless is certainly the fellowship of the blood of Christ, and the bread which we break is the fellowship of the body of Christ. Today when we partake of the Lord’s table, we are fulfilling the type of how the children of Israel were gathered around the altar, enjoying whatever was offered on the altar for God’s satisfaction. As we are feasting, we satisfy the Lord whom we worship. This is the proper dealing with the matter of eating.

Our Daily Eating of Christ Preparing us for the Lord’s Table

The Lord’s table is the true enjoyment of the Lord Himself. The Lord’s table is not only a matter of a meeting on the Lord’s Day; this table should be our enjoyment every day, even continually. Day by day, the Lord is our good land, our feast, our table. 

The proper way to deal with eating is to feast on the Lord. Do not eat anything other than the Lord, and do not enjoy anything in place of Him. We should not have any enjoyment other than Christ. Christ is our table, our feast, our land. As the good land, Christ is a rich feast for our enjoyment. When we feast on Him, we live Him. Then we are able to defeat the enemies, establish the kingdom of God, and build up His temple. This is God’s goal and the fulfillment of His eternal purpose. 

If the saints in a local church have no problems when they come to the Lord’s table, and if everyone fellowships with the Lord and with others in spirit, that is a church, a temple, which has truly been built up. Furthermore, with the temple of God there is the kingdom of God. Those who have become the temple and the kingdom through the enjoyment of Christ are surely those who live Christ.

Fellowship Questions

  1. What is the significance of fellowship when we connect 1 Cor 1:9 and 1 Cor 10:16? How is this related to our partaking of the Lord’s table? 
  2. Why does Paul use idolatry as a background for presenting the significance of the Lord’s table to the Corinthians? In what ways can the Lord’s table help us to flee idolatry? 
  3. How is the type of the children of Israel a picture of our partaking of the Lord’s table? How are the different aspects of the produce of the good land, the defeating of the enemies, the establishing of the kingdom, and the building of the temple related to our enjoyment of the Lord’s table? 
  4. How does our daily eating of Christ enable us to partake of the Lord’s table? 
  5. How can we help one another to exercise our spirit when we come to the Lord’s table?

Excerpts taken from Life-study of 1 Corinthians, Messages 49-51

Serving God by Ministering Christ in the Lord’s Table Meeting

  • As Christians, one main way that we serve is by meeting together.
  • The reason that our meetings are a service is because we minister Christ to God and to man from what we have experienced and enjoyed of Christ.
  • The Lord’s table is the main meeting of the church; we serve in the Lord’s table meeting by focusing on the Lord and remembering Him by breaking the bread, eating the bread, and drinking the cup.
  • We need to be trained to worship in spirit and to bring the surplus of Christ corporately so that God can be fed and satisfied through our worship.

To Meet Together being to Worship God, to Serve Him,
and to Minister Christ to Others

In the New Testament the Greek word for service really means ministry. To minister is to serve people with something. If I serve you without ministering something to you, that is wrong. In the New Testament, the service, or the ministry, is the stewardship (1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 3:2; Col. 1:25). A steward is always serving people with something. A waiter in a restaurant is a good illustration of one who serves people with something. To serve is not just to come to clean the meeting hall. Service is ministry.

The first thing we need to receive help in concerning service is how to meet. Meeting is a ministry. Meeting is a service. The first time you attended the church meeting was the beginning of your service. This is because in the meetings we render our worship to God, and this is the service. We worship God and we serve God in our meetings, and in our meetings we offer our praises and our thanks to God. 

The crucial thing in the meetings is that we offer Christ to God. At our conversion God gave us His Son as a gift. When we were saved, we became the sons of God. Now we have to serve God, to come to the meetings to offer Christ to God as the unique gift that God the Father has given to us. Our ministry toward God is to minister Christ to God.

In ancient times all the Israelites came together three times a year to worship God (Deut. 16:16). The first thing they did was to bring all the rich surplus of the produce of the good land and offer this surplus to God for God’s satisfaction. That was the top service they rendered to God. That type has to be fulfilled today in the New Testament with us. Our salvation was our passover. Now that we have received God’s salvation with Christ as our Passover, we must offer Christ to God. Offering Christ to God is our service. The more that we stress this, the better. 

Every believer should have something of Christ. Thus, when we come to the meeting, we come to share Christ with others, to minister Christ to others, either by our prayer, by our testimony, or by our speaking. We always have to get ourselves prepared to minister Christ in the meeting. God charged His people not to come to the meeting empty-handed (Deut. 16:16). When you come to the meeting, you must have something to offer. Without anything to offer to God, we can never enter into the tabernacle, so this is a must. If we do not offer something to God, and we try to enter into the presence of God, this is a great deficiency.

The Lord’s Table Meeting 

Acts 2 tells us that the early believers had the Lord’s table, the breaking of bread, every day in their homes (vv. 42, 46). Later, in Acts 20:6b-7a we can see that the saints had a habit of having the Lord’s table on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week. Verse 6b says that the apostle Paul and his co-workers stayed in Troas for seven days. Then the next verse says that on the first day of the week they had the Lord’s table. This strongly indicates that by that time the Lord’s table was conducted mainly on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, the day of resurrection.

To Partake of the Lord’s Table 

The Lord’s table is a feast. First Corinthians 10:21b uses the term the Lord’s table. The table here means the feast. We come to the Lord’s table to enjoy a feast.

To Eat the Lord’s Supper 

First Corinthians 11:20 refers to our eating the Lord’s supper. This is not a breakfast or a lunch but a supper, a dinner. When the Lord established the table, He did it in the evening of the passover, so it was a supper.

Here we must stress that the Lord’s table is not only a feast but also a supper. A feast is mainly a kind of enjoyment, and a supper is a kind of restful eating. After a day’s work, after a day’s labor, people restfully eat their supper. Thus, we come to the Lord’s table not only to enjoy it as a feast but also to take it restfully. After we eat breakfast, we labor, but the Lord’s table is a supper for us to rest because the work is over, and now is the time for rest.

To Remember the Lord 

The Lord told us to do this in remembrance of Him. We remember the person, the Lord Himself. This is the central point of the Lord’s table meeting. Any hymns, testimonies, or messages that distract people from the Lord, the person, are not appropriate. In the Lord’s table meeting, someone may call a hymn on fighting the battle, or in the midst of the Lord’s table, someone may give a testimony of how he was rescued from his suffering. That might be good in another kind of meeting, but it is not fitting at the Lord’s table meeting. The Lord’s table meeting is concentrated on the person of the Lord, so all the hymns, all the praises, and all the speaking should be concentrated on the Lord Himself. 

To Enjoy the Lord as Our Life Supply

In John 6:35a the Lord told us that He is the bread of life, so to eat the bread is to enjoy the Lord as our life supply. Breaking the bread does not imply any enjoyment, but eating the bread surely does.

To Testify That We Live by the Lord 

We also eat the bread to testify that we live by the Lord. In John 6:57b the Lord said, “He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.” By eating the bread we indicate that we enjoy the Lord, and we testify that this is our way to live. This is the real remembrance of the Lord.

To Have Fellowship in Christ’s Mystical Body 

The next crucial point concerning our remembrance of the Lord is our eating the bread to enjoy the fellowship in Christ’s mystical Body. The breaking of the bread mainly implies the Lord’s physical body broken for us on the cross. Eating the bread, which is to take in the bread, mainly implies the fellowship in the mystical Body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16b-17). The same bread, the same loaf on the table, signifies the physical body of Christ and the mystical Body of Christ. The Lord’s physical body was broken on the cross for our redemption, and the Lord’s mystical Body, the Body of Christ, is for our fellowship. Regarding the Lord’s physical body, we break the bread, and regarding His mystical Body, we eat the bread. Eating together means communion, fellowship. A part of the same bread gets into you, a part gets into me, and a part gets into each one of us. This is the oneness in the Body in the fellowship of the Body.

To Worship the Father 

After all this, the Lord will lead us to worship the Father. This is based upon Matthew 26:30, which says that after the Lord finished His supper with His disciples, He and the disciples sang a hymn. That hymn was sung by the Lord with His disciples to the Father. In the Lord’s table the Lord takes the lead to praise the Father, to worship the Father. At the end of the Lord’s table meeting, we need to worship the Father with the Lord. The Lord as the firstborn Son takes the lead to worship the Father (Heb. 2:12), and we as His many brothers follow Him.

Being Trained to Worship and Serve in Spirit 

We all need to be trained to partake of the Lord’s table in a proper way. In the past we may have had the Lord’s table in an untrained way. But now we are receiving help to have the Lord’s table in a civilized way, in a cultured way, in a trained way. In the past we ate wildly, without “table manners.” The table manners at the Lord’s table are not formal things. To have proper table manners at His table means that we exercise our spirit and release our praise to Him in the right way. This is a great thing. The Lord’s table is the best meeting, but it is the most difficult meeting for us to have. No other meeting exposes where we are as much as the Lord’s table meeting does.

How much content the meeting has and how high the meeting is altogether depend upon how much we have experienced Christ. We must come to the meeting not with the objective, doctrinal Christ but with the subjective, experiential Christ. Day by day we should have some experience of Christ. Then something will be accumulated in our being, and we will have something of Christ to minister and impart to others. To get into the name of the Lord, to exercise our spirit, and to offer the Christ whom we have experienced are the basic ways that we should come together.

Fellowship Questions

  1. Why do we consider our meeting together as our service?
  2. Why do we concentrate on the Lord Himself when we function in the Lord’s table meeting?
  3. What is the significance of a “table” and what is the significance of a “supper”? What is the respective emphasis of each? 
  4. What does our breaking and eating of the bread signify?
  5. Why is it helpful to receive some training in the matter of how we meet? How can we receive this training in a way of life and not as formalities or legalities towards ourselves and others? 

Excerpts taken from Basic Lessons on Service, chs. 1-3

Multiplying the Groups

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  • We need to consider the condition and the function of the vital groups; the condition of the group is that the members are intimately related to one another, and the function is to visit sinners or dormant saints to gain them for the Lord; without the proper condition, the function will not have any impact
  • When a group reaches 12-15 members, it is difficult to maintain the condition of the group, and therefore the function of the group gets lost
  • We need to use the little power that the Lord has given to us to learn how to multiply the groups so that there can be more building and more increase in the church
  • Splitting the groups regularly gives us a new start and keeps the vital groups from becoming our “new routine”

The Function and Condition of the Small Groups

[The small group meeting] is the most important meeting for the building up of the church. The function of this meeting is to sustain the brothers and sisters, to recover those who have not been meeting, and to bring in new ones. The ability of the church to increase depends on the condition of the small group meetings, because in the small group meetings there are mutual fellowship, care, shepherding, and exhortation, which constitute the base for the building up of the church.

There are presently three or four thousand brothers and sisters meeting regularly in the church in Taipei. In the past the church in Taipei had only eight to ten elders, and there was no way for them to care for so many people. Presently there are more than eighty elders, but there is still no way for them to adequately care for all the saints. Therefore, all the brothers and sisters must function in the small group meetings and bear the responsibility to feed and care for one another. It is easy for eight to ten people, who meet together once a week in a small group meeting, to know one another. Moreover, even if they do not have any feeling for one another, after meeting together two or three times, they will begin to care for one another, because human beings are social by nature and rich in emotions. They will know one another and care for one another’s condition, health, and job. Instead of feeling as if they are strangers, they will be concerned for one another and cherish one another. There will be a sweet feeling in the meeting. (Three Crucial Matters for the Increase and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 4)

It is best that a group meeting be started with a small number of persons. To start with too many persons makes it difficult to get thoroughly, intimately, and lovingly acquainted. However, with only two to five members it will be difficult to practice the proper function of the group, which needs to visit sinners and gain them for the Lord. It is better to have seven or eight in a group. After a period of time everyone will be acquainted with one another. Before this time we should not go out to work. We should first form ourselves into an acting, working, and moving group by getting acquainted, built up, and trained. Then we can begin to function by visiting people for the preaching of the gospel. In this way new ones can be gained gradually, one by one. If the group gains people little by little, it will not be difficult to follow up on and care for the new ones.

Seven can gain one more and become eight. Then eight can work together to gain another new one. It is easy for eight to care for one new one and thus become nine. Gradually, after working for six months, the group may have fifteen or sixteen. By that time everyone will be acquainted and trained. The group can then divide into two groups. After becoming two groups, everyone will be able to work because they have already become acquainted and have had practice and training. Every group will begin not with new beginners but with trained persons. These will be the foundation for the next generation, and that generation will be ready to go on. We should spend the first five or six months in the groups to get ourselves built up. After this we can double our number in the next half year. This will double the number in the groups. After this number doubles two more times, we will have at least a onefold increase of the whole church. Perhaps our progress will be slower than this, but we anticipate that this way will be successful if everyone will labor. (Fellowship Concerning the Urgent Need of the Vital Groups, Chapter 5)

Splitting a Group When It Reaches a Certain Size
to Maintain its Condition and Function 

On the average each of our groups has about eight persons. When you bring one to your group, this does not mean that he is vitalized yet. He or she is still not vitalized, but they may like to come to your vital group meeting. When we bring two more to join our group and we reach ten saints, we should divide our group into two groups of five each. Each of our vital group meetings presently has about eight members. When we gain two more and reach ten members, we should divide. (Fellowship Concerning the Urgent Need of the Vital Groups, Chapter 24)

Our regular and adequate spiritual exercise is in the small group meetings. We must spend our energy on the small group meetings. The number of people in a small group meeting should not exceed ten. It is best if there are only seven or eight people. If the number in the meeting exceeds twelve people, the meeting should be split into two groups. Because human beings are social, it will not be easy for us to split a meeting after the saints meet together for a period of time. Initially, the members of a group might not know one another, but gradually they will feel that the meetings have flavor because they know one another, care for one another, and fan one another into flame. Gradually, their number may increase to twelve, fifteen, or even twenty. Then they will feel that it is difficult to split the meeting into two groups. However, a meeting that does not split into two groups will not spread. Therefore, the meeting must split. We hope that every home will have a meeting and that these meetings will flourish and split until the home of every brother and sister has a small group meeting. (Three Crucial Matters for the Increase and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 4). Please note that the reason the suggested size at which to split a group varies is because this is not a fixed rule but a principle to help the groups maintain their condition and function. 

Taking this Way with Just a Little Power,
Keeping His Word, and Not Denying His Name

I would like us to take note of a few points to help us go on with the Lord: (1) We all have had some start. (2) We need to improve, to grow, to mature. (3) We are used to analyzing, to lingering, and to doubting about what we have experienced, and we would not forget about what we have experienced and be brought on to maturity, to perfection. 

We need to realize, however, that we are not worthy of being analyzed. We have to say, “Thank You, Lord, that You have afforded me the grace to learn the ‘ABCs.’” This is better than nothing. Yet we also have to say, “Lord, grant me further favor that I could learn more.” Maybe we have the feeling that we have not started so well. This kind of feeling, on the one hand, urges us to go on. Yet on the other hand, it is also a kind of hindrance, because we do not have the assurance that we have started. 

Satan is subtle, and our self is also hard to deal with. No one among us can have a thorough, “one hundred percent,” start. No one among us can have a repentance with a confession that is thorough to the uttermost. So we should not be disappointed, nor should we be contented. We can pray, “Lord, thank You. Since I heard the messages on the vital groups, I have started, Lord, by Your mercy, to repent and confess. Yet dear Lord, You know that my repentance needs to be improved, my confession needs to grow, and my whole practice in the vital groups needs to mature. I look to You to take me on.”I want to say again that the Lord is the One full of authority, full of power. He has the key, the power, to open the door that no one can shut, and He has the power to shut the door that no one can open. Yet He was so clear about the situation of His best church. Even His best church had only a little power. The Lord was satisfied with this. The Lord did not expect that this top church could have great power—just a little power. But why was the Lord so appreciative of this church? Because she had a little power and also kept His word and did not deny His name. We do have a little power, and we can pray, “Lord, thank You for Your mercy. We have started. Yet Lord, we still need more mercy. Have more and more mercy upon us that we could go on, that we could grow, that we could improve, and that we could mature.” (The Training and the Practice of the Vital Groups, Chapter 10)

The Lord has shown us that the only way for us to go on is to come back to His Word, and His Word tells us that He ordained a way in the New Testament for us to take. He has shown us that we cannot take this way as a form or a ritual. If we do, we are just dropping an old ritual and picking up a new one. You hate the old routine, but you love the new routine. We do not want to pick up another routine. This is why you have to go to the Lord directly. (The Training and the Practice of the Vital Groups, Chapter 9) 

Fellowship Questions:

  1. What is the function of the small groups? What is the condition of the groups? How are they related? 
  2. How is the function of a group connected to the number of saints in that group? What has been your experience in this matter? 
  3. Is your group increasing in number? Why do you think this is? 
  4. Has your group grown to a size that is too large to maintain an intimate atmosphere among the members? If so, how can you fellowship about caring for both the condition and function of the group?