Scripture Reading: Rom. 12:5; Matt. 16:15-18; Eph. 1:23; Gal. 1:2; Acts 8:1, 13:1; 1 Cor. 12:20; Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 20:7, 2:46-47; 1 Cor. 14:26, 31; Acts 12:5, 5:42.
A seeking Christian must know the body of Christ:
The church is the body of Christ, consisting of all the members of the body – Rom. 12:5.
The church is the congregation called-out by God – Matt. 16:18.
Not only must we know Christ; we must know the church as well – Matt. 16:15-18.
The body of Christ is manifested as many local churches in practicality – Eph. 1:23; Gal. 1:2.
Based on the principle of one church one locality – Acts 8:1, 13:1.
Needing to discern the body and to remain in the body.
We must live in the body of Christ to receive all the supply from the body – 1 Cor. 12:20.
The principle of the meeting and the meeting life:
Meeting is ordained by God for the believers – Heb. 10:24-25.
Meeting is the requirement of the spiritual life.
Meeting enlivens us and revives our spirit.
Corporate grace being found in the meetings.
Separating the Lord's Day – Acts 20:7.
Various meetings in the church life:
Bread-breaking meeting – Acts 2:46-47.
Prophesying meeting – 1 Cor. 14:26, 31.
Prayer meeting – Acts 12:5.
Group meeting – Acts 5:42.
Bible Verses for Pray-Reading Rom. 12:5 So we who are many are one Body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Matt. 16:18 …. upon this rock I will build My church, ….
The Church is the body of Christ, consisting of al
The purpose of God's salvation is to have Christ reproduced in millions of saints that they may become the members of His Body, not separate and complete individual units but parts of a living, functioning, coordinated, corporate whole. Although these parts have different functions, they are not detached from one another. Rather, they are “individually members one of another.” Each member is organically joined to all the others, and each needs the function of all the others. All the members must be coordinated together to practice the Body life that is revealed in Romans Chapter 12. (New Testament Recovery Version, Romans 12:5 footnote 2)
The Church is the congregation called-out by God
The church is firstly an ecclesia…. denotes a called-out congregation. In ancient times when the city called its citizens together for a gathering, that congregation was an ecclesia. The New Testament, beginning with the Lord Jesus in Matthew 16, uses this word to denote the church (v. 18). The church is a congregation called out by God unto Himself. The Brethren prefer to use the word assembly. I believe this is a better word to use, because the word church in English has been very much spoiled. (The Basic Revelation in the Holy Scriptures, pp 65-66)
Although there are several types in the Old Testament typifying the church, the word “church” is not found in the Old Testament. Therefore, in the Old Testament the church is a mystery hidden in God. None of the ones…. The Old Testament saints did not know why they were fearing and worshipping God and why God was caring for them…. They did not know that God wanted to obtain a church as the Body of Christ. In the New Testament, John the Baptist appeared, calling people to repent and to believe in the gospel. The Lord Jesus continued what John had preached, and as a result, Peter, James, John, and many others received it. Of these, the Lord appointed twelve as apostles and sent them out to preach the gospel, but none of them knew that all this was for the church.
Not only must we know Christ; we must know the chu
[One day the Lord brought the disciples] to the region of Caesarea Philippi.... There the Lord asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16)…. He received the revelation and saw that according to His ministry, the Lord Jesus is God's Anointed for the fulfillment of God's purpose, and that according to His person, He is the Son of God, the embodiment of God. Here Peter uttered some stunning words. Immediately the Lord told him that this was not revealed to him by man but by God the Father. Furthermore, the Lord said, “On this rock I will build My church” (v. 18). In this word the Lord showed Peter that it is not enough just to know Him as the Christ; Peter must also know that…. He will build the church. Christ is only the Head; He needs a Body, which is the church, to be His match. The Head and the Body cannot be divided; Christ and the church is a great mystery (Eph. 5:32). Not only must we know Christ; we must know the church as well. (The Economy of God and the Building Up of the Body of Christ, pp 54-55)
Bible Verses for Pray-Reading Eph. 1:23 Which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all. Gal. 1:2 ….to the churches of Galatia:
The Consciousness of the Body
In the church life,…. some Christians are like butterflies; they act independently. Others are like bees; they live and move together. The butterfly flies from flower to flower, going its own sweet way; but the bee works for the hive. The butterfly lives and works individually, but the bee has a body-consciousness. We should all be like bees, having the consciousness of the Body so that we can live together with other members in the Body of Christ. Wherever there is Body-revelation, there is Body-consciousness, and wherever there is Body-consciousness, individual thought and action are automatically ruled out.
The Body of Christ is Manifested as Many Local Chu
The Body of Christ is not only universal; it is also local. Every local church is the manifestation of the Body of Christ in that locality. All of the riches of Christ are vested in the local church…. The entire company of believers in a locality, not just a section of the believers, constitutes the church in that locality. The church is not one member; it represents the whole Body in a locality. Hence, when we touch the local church, we touch the Body. Participating in the fellowship of the local church is participating in the fellowship of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is not something abstract or unfathomable; the Body of Christ is manifested in the local churches. Anyone who wants to live in the Body in a practical way has to be in the local churches. He should fellowship with the local saints, be edified in the local church, and be built up together in mutuality. (The Mystery of Christ, pp 17, 69)
Based on the Principle of One church One locality
Churches' appearing, is on one hand in a locality within the jurisdiction of a city, and on the other hand, based on the one church one locality principle. At each locality, there can only be one church… In a small locality, there is one church. In a large locality, there can only be one church as well. Jerusalem is a large city with many people. But there can be only one church there… The cities in Asia, though small and with less people, should have one church at each locality, but cannot have one church for two localities. In the Bible, there is only the church in Jerusalem and the church in Antioch (Acts 8:1, 13:1, the “church” at these localities is singular in original text.) There are no churches in Jerusalem and churches in Antioch. …Church should be one per locality.
On the other hand, when a region or a province is mentioned in the Bible, because many localities are included, therefore “the churches” of that region or province are mentioned. The “churches” are plural. For instance, in Acts 15:41, there is mentioning of “the churches in Syria and Cilicia.” In Galatians 1:2 and 1 Corinthians 16:1, there is mentioning of “the churches of Galatia”. …in verse 19 there is mentioning of “the churches of Asia.” 2 Corinthians 8:1 mentions “the churches of Macedonia.” …the churches' appearing is local and based on the principle of one church one locality. (Knowing the Church, pp 20-22)
Needing to Discern the Body and to Remain in the B
since I left mainland China in 1949, about three hundred eighty churches have been raised up on five continents through this ministry…. What God needs on earth today is the practical expression of the mystical Body of Christ…. The future of the Lord's recovery is glorious. I surely believe that whatever the Lord has spoken in the New Testament will be fulfilled. There is no doubt that the Lord is working to recover, to gain, His mystical Body. We need to discern His Body and remain in the Body so that we may enjoy the Spirit for God's administration. (Life-study of 1 Corinthians, p 624)
Bible Verses for Pray-Reading 1 Cor. 12:20 But now the members are many, but the body one. Rom. 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
We must live in the Body of Christ to receive all
Every Christian.... is only a member. If he does not have the other members, he will not survive. In the Body all the members must be joined together before they can become the Body. All the members in the Body are related to one another, and they cannot be separated from one another. Between the members there must be a mutual supply and a mutual relatedness. Only then can the members survive. If a Christian lives an independent life, sooner or later he will weaken and dry up…. In order to go on with the Lord, we must recognize His supply for us in the Body and avail ourselves of it…. The whole Body is built up through the interdependence among the members…. Romans 12:3 says, "Not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think." We should not think too highly of ourselves…. Those who think highly of themselves and despise other members will end up in trouble sooner or later. In the Body of Christ everyone is a member and nothing more than a member. Hence, no member can live without the other members, much less despise them. (The Mystery of Christ, pp 19-20)
Meeting is God's Ordination for the Believers
since the church is the assembly called out by God from the world, it should meet continually. Meetings enable God's called out congregation to be supplied, established, and perfected, that the goal of God's calling this assembly may be accomplished. [Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” Here the assembling of ourselves together refers to our Christian meetings. God has ordained the way in which every living thing in the universe should exist. God's ordination is the very law by which a particular species lives. If the living thing obeys that law, it will survive and be blessed. God is the same toward us who have believed in Christ. God's ordination for us,….is the meetings. As water is to the fish, and air to the birds, so are the meetings to the Christians…. The Christians must maintain their spiritual existence and living by the meetings.
Meeting is the requirement of the spiritual life
Every kind of life has its own characteristic, and usually, many characteristics. The spiritual life we believers have received, being the life of God in us, also possesses many characteristics. For example, the hatred for sin and the separation from sin are characteristics of this life. The desire to draw near to God and the willingness to serve Him are also its characteristics. One of the many characteristics of our spiritual life is to flock together, to meet together. John 10:3 and 16 show us that since we are saved, we are the Lord's sheep. The characteristic of the sheep's life is to flock together and to dislike isolation from the other sheep. Hence, the Bible says that we are not only the Lord's sheep, but even more, His flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2). In order to be a sheep which shares in the blessing of the flock, we must meet together with the flock. The characteristic of the spiritual “sheep life” within us requires this of us. (Life Lessons, Vol. 2, pp 90-91)
Meeting is to enliven us, to revive our spirit
The way of meeting revealed in the Bible is to enliven us, to revive our spirit, and to inspire our organic function and to inspire our initial gift received from God. This initial gift is God's divine life, and this divine life will grow up as the life growing up in the infant. The more this life grows, the more function will be developed, enabling him to see, to hear, to speak, to work with hands and to walk with feet…. The saints grow by this way, and the growth of the saints is the building up of the church. (Messages Concerning Life and Practice, Vol. 2, pp77-78)
Bible Verses for Pray-Reading Acts 20:7 And on the first day of the week, when we gathered together to break bread,…. Psa. 118:24 This is the day that Jehovah has made; Let us exult and rejoice in it.
Corporate grace being found in the meetings
God's Word says, "Not abandoning our own assembling together" (Heb. 10:25).… Because God dispenses His grace to us through the assembling together. God's grace to man can be divided into two categories --personal and corporate. God gives us not only personal grace but also corporate grace. This corporate grace can be found only in the assembling together or the meetings.
We have already spoken of the subject of prayer. One can learn to pray by himself at home; there is no doubt that God listens to such prayers. God listens to individual prayers. However, there is another kind of prayer. In order for this other kind of prayer to be answered, it must be prayed in the meetings…. If a person tries to do this alone, he will not get any answer. Many great matters must be prayed over in the meetings before God will answer. They must be brought to the prayer meeting before we see them come to pass. God's corporate grace comes to man only through the meetings.
We have also spoken of reading the Bible. Of course, God will give us individual grace when we read the Bible. However, some portions of the Word cannot be opened up by one person alone. God gives light when we meet…. [that] gives God the opportunity to shed His light…. If we do not meet with others, the most we can have is individual grace; we will miss a great part of the corporate grace. God will only give us corporate grace in the meeting. If we do not meet with others, we will not receive this grace. This is why the Bible charges us not to abandon our assembling together. (New Believers Series: Meeting, pp 204-206)
separating the Lord's Day
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 ….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.
We should consider this day as a day of the Lord a
We need to say a little word here about the difference between the Lord's Day and Sunday. Sunday is a heathen, idolatrous term adopted by Catholicism and maintained by our tradition. Actually, it is idolatrous to say a day belongs to the sun. The Bible refers to this day as the first day of the week. Revelation 1:10 calls this day "the Lord's Day." We must respect the first day of the week as a memorial of the Lord's resurrection. We should consider this day as a day of the Lord and for the Lord…. In ancient times, the saints eventually had the Lord's table on the Lord's Day, the first day of every week…. Today the best day for the Christians to meet together is the first day of the week, the Lord's Day. (Basic Lessons on Service, pp 16-17)
This is the day that Jehovah has made; let us exul
“This is the day that Jehovah has made; / Let us exult and rejoice in it.” (Psalms 118:24) Before this verse, it says in verse 22, “The stone which the builders rejected / Has become the head of the corner.” Peter pointed it out in Acts 4:10-11 that this verse is concerning Christ's resurrection. Therefore, “the day that Jehovah has made” is the day of the resurrection of the Lord. The day of the resurrection of the Lord did not happen accidentally but was ordained by God. God already mentioned in the types and prophesy in the Old Testament (Leviticus 23:10-11, Hosea 6:2). The Lord also mentioned clearly before His death (John 2:19, Matthew 16:21). This is a day which God especially ordained with a special purpose. Here it says, In this day, let us exult and rejoice in it. It is because in this day, the Lord resurrects, the Lord begins His new creation and the Lord makes us new creation. Therefore, we should exult and rejoice in this day, testifying the Lord's resurrection and should not be discouraged, nor sorrow, not like someone in the new creation in resurrection. (The Crucial Points in the Bible, Vol. 5, pp1341-1342)
Bible Verses for Pray-Reading Acts 2:46-47 And day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they partook of their food with exultation and simplicity of heart, Praising God and having grace with all the people. And the Lord added together day by day those who were being saved.
Mutuality is the Characteristic of the Body
The functioning of the Body is mutual. Mutuality is the characteristic of the Body…. Every Christian should have a part in the meeting and render supply to other members. This kind of supply is the ministry of the members and the function of the members. It is also the fellowship of life. No member should cut himself off from this fellowship. If you stop this fellowship, life will stop flowing, and you will become a burden to the Body…. In the physical body no member can cease functioning without there being a loss to the whole body. This is also true in the Body of Christ. (The Mystery of Christ, pp 28-29)
Various Meetings in the Church Life
“And on the first day of the week, when we gathered together to break bread….” (Acts 20:7) The meeting we who are redeemed by the Lord should firstly have is the bread-breaking meeting. [Bread-breaking is to eat the Lord's supper, to remember the Lord who died for us.] Other meetings are for us to receive something. Only the bread-breaking meeting is for the Lord to receive something. (The Crucial Points in the Bible, Vol. 3, pp 628-629)
The bread breaking meeting is not for anything other than remembering the Lord with the remembrance of the Lord as its center for the Lord's enjoyment. Everything in this meeting, whether hymn singing, prayer, Bible reading, or words of inspiration, should take the Lord as the center, speaking either concerning His person and work, His love and virtues, His living or suffering on the earth, or His honor or glory in heaven, that others may consider or realize these things in order to remember the Lord Himself. In such a meeting, we should think of the Lord in our hearts and behold the Lord in our spirit that we would be inspired concerning the Lord. Then we will express our inspiration through songs, prayers, reading of the Bible, or words, that the feeling of the entire meeting would be directed to the Lord and that all would remember the Lord.
The meeting for the breaking of bread is a meeting for the believers' worship. According to the procedure in God's salvation, we first receive the Lord and then draw near to the Father. Thus, in this meeting for worship, we should first remember the Lord and then worship the Father. The center of the section of remembering the Lord is the remembrance of the Lord, and the center of the section of worshipping the Father is the worship of the Father, where all the prayers, hymns, and words should be directed toward the Father.
“Whenever you come together, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up” (1 Cor. 14:26). The meeting mentioned here is for the exercise of spiritual gifts and for mutual building up. In this kind of meeting, there is not a special person doing a specific thing, but everyone is exercising the spiritual gifts; one has a psalm, one has a teaching, one has a revelation, one does this, and another does that. Each one may participate with the goal of building up and edifying others. (Life Lessons, Vol. 2, pp 102-103, 110, 97-98)
According to our experience and observation, the best way to build the church is to prophesy, that is, to speak for Christ and to speak forth Christ, ministering and dispensing Christ into people.
First Corinthians 14:31 says, "For you can all prophesy one by one." This verse is one of the clearest verses in the entire Bible. It says that all the believers have the capacity to prophesy. Capacity denotes ability by birth…. We, members of the Body of Christ, all can prophesy one by one…. In the meetings all the members can prophesy (1 Cor. 14:24, 31). (The Practice of Prophesying, pp 6-7)
Bible Verses for Pray-Reading Acts 12:5 …. Peter was kept in the prison; but prayer was being made fervently by the church to God concerning him. Heb. 10:24 And let us consider one another so as to incite one another to love and good works,
Prayer meeting Matthew 18:19-20 says, “If two of you agree on earth concerning anything, whatever they may ask, it shall come to them from My Father who is in the heavens. For where two or three are gathered together…” Here the Lord is speaking concerning the prayer of a meeting. This kind of prayer is more powerful than the prayer of an individual, being able to bind on earth what has been bound in heaven, and to loose on earth what has been loosed in heaven…. [In Acts chapter 12, we see that] on the day when Peter was imprisoned, the church prayed fervently for him…. That prayer caused God to perform a great miracle, delivering Peter out of prison. (Life Lessons, Vol. 2, pp 96-97)
The basic requirement for brothers and sisters to pray together is to be in one accord. In Matthew 18 the Lord tells us to be in harmony, that is, in one accord. The prayer in Acts 1 was also a prayer in one accord. Hence, the first condition for carrying out a prayer meeting is to have the one accord…. How can our prayers be in harmony? ….What we see in the Bible is men praying for specific matters…. When the subject is specific, it is easy to pray in harmony.
Another basic requirement is to be genuine in our prayer…. Genuine prayer is the result of a desire that comes from the heart. It is something that flows out from our inner being. Genuine prayer is not made up of flippant and nice words. Only genuine words that flow out from the deepest part of the heart can be considered as genuine prayer. The goal of our prayer should be an answer from God rather than pleasing the brothers and sisters. (New Believers Series: Meeting #10)
The proper group meetings should consist of two sections. The first section should include fellowship, intercession, mutual care, and shepherding, and the second section should carry out the perfecting of the saints through teaching. In the first section of the group meeting, the attendants should fellowship concerning each person's present spiritual condition and practical environment. This fellowship should not be by only one or two persons. All the attendants should make their situations known to the others in each meeting…. After fellowshipping about each other's situations, the attendants in the meeting will spontaneously be stirred up to intercede, to pray, for one another. This prayer…. will be sincere and practical. After the fellowship and prayer, the attendants in the group meeting should extend their loving concern for one another in the exercise of a definite and practical care…. Hebrews 10:24-25…. say, “And let us consider one another for inciting to love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom with some is, but exhorting one another….” …. Considering one another, inciting one another, and exhorting one another cannot be accomplished in the big meetings. They can be carried out only in the small group meetings.
The purpose and goal of the group meetings is the perfecting of the saints through teaching in mutuality…. The way to have the proper teaching in a group meeting is not by waiting for an assigned teacher to speak. Rather, the best way is to teach by asking questions. There are no assigned teachers in the group meetings; all the attendants are teachers…. The sisters.... can [still] teach in the way of exhortation…. In this way every attendant in the group meeting can teach, regardless of how little he can do. Each answer to the questions raised in a group meeting becomes part of the teaching in that meeting. (The Practice of the Group Meetings, pp 45-48)