In the July 2023 issue of “Having This Ministry…” we presented the first part of our interview with Brother Ron Kangas concerning the history of the Life-study publication work. In this issue we present the second part of that interview.
Brother Ron continues:
I want to make it clear that I did not edit every Life-study message. In January 1992, when Brother Lee asked Ed Marks and me and some others to move to Anaheim from Irving, Texas, he knew that it was impossible for me to move when Ed did. So, I just continued doing my work in Irving. On Wednesday nights in Anaheim, Brother Lee was giving additional messages on the Life-study of Psalms and the Life-study of Hebrews, and Brother Ed edited those. I don’t want anyone saying that I did every Life-study. When you read the ones that Ed did, you’ll find out that they are the same.
When I was able to move back to Anaheim, Brother Lee asked Ed and me to come see him in his library. We didn’t know what he wanted, but as we were sitting with him, he looked at us and said, “You brothers ate what you were editing.” In other words, we were the oxen without anything holding us back. This to me is of the utmost importance, because these are life-studies. I’m not aware of any other writer or teacher of the Word who has used this exact term. Maybe now some will borrow it and pretend that they got it directly from God. That is religious Christianity; we know how they function. So, we have to have this two-fold view. There is life in every message, but it is also a study. Somewhere Brother Lee said that this was quite a challenge to him, because he had to clearly present the truth of very difficult verses like 1 Peter 3:18, which says that the Lord was made alive in the Spirit on the cross and that he descended into the depths, into the abyss, to proclaim His victory to the evil spirits who were bound there. Brother Lee said that he was being pressed on both sides, so it was a labor. If we read any Life-study with an exercised spirit, a properly functioning mind, and a heart and soul that are engaged, then we will realize that there was a particular burden in every message that Brother Lee spoke.
Brother Lee’s messages were not unusually long, maybe seventy minutes or so. A number of times he would be sharing some marvelous things, and then he would say, “Now I come to my burden.” I thought, “Wow! All of this has been in addition to his burden!” He didn’t usually do that, but I realized that this was how every message was presented. There is a burden. If the saints realize this, they will read the whole message exercising all the way through, and when they touch a stream of life, they will realize, “This is the burden.” Then they’re touching the crucial matter instead of trying to absorb every detail or being distracted by interesting little details.
Brother Lee finished the Life-study of the New Testament in the December training of 1984, just before I moved to Irving, Texas. He finished the Life-study of the whole Bible with the training on Song of Songs in 1995. Ed and I got beautiful flowers, put them in a vase, and brought them to Brother Lee at his home. We told him that it was to honor his completion of the Life-studies. What an event! At his age he was faithful to the Lord to accomplish something that, as far as I know, no other servant of the Lord has ever accomplished.
Secondarily, because the Lord is always first, Brother Lee carried out his life-study of the Bible in honor of dear Brother Watchman Nee. Brother Nee himself said in his book on being trained for ministry that before we go on, we have to assimilate all that has been recovered until now, and then we can build upon it (see CWWN, vol. 53, “The Ministry of God’s Word,” pp. 67, 70, 75). This is what Brother Lee did. The Life-studies are not just a repetition, as in, “Brother Nee said this, Brother Nee said that, Brother Nee said...” Also, Brother Lee made it very clear, and it is in print in certain places, that when it comes to the biblical truths and what is revealed from the New Testament in the Life-studies, do not say, “Brother Lee says.” Say, “This is what the Bible says.” If we are referring to some practical fellowship that Brother Lee had for us, then we can say in a proper way, “Brother Lee really helped us in this matter.” Brother Lee did not care for the credit. His desire was that the saints would present these truths not based upon himself as the source but upon the pure revelation in the Scriptures.
A brother came to visit me in the little room where I was working in 1975 or ’76. I said, “Brother, this is exactly where the Lord wants me—to be doing this.” That labor went on for twenty-one years. When the Life-studies had been completed, then we worked on the Crystallization-studies.
To be continued…