The messages published in The Ministry of the Word are the continuation of the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. They comprise the further development, the “digging out, of the riches of the Word as it was opened to the Lord’s children by these two ministers of the age. In 1984 Brother Lee said,
I have made an attempt to open every book of the New Testament to you, but I have left the further digging to you. I have only “opened up the mine,” but I have not dug that much. The foundation that Brother Watchman Nee laid in China helped me greatly…Through many direct talks with him for over at least eighteen years, I received a very solid foundational word to build on. As a result, I picked up the burden...to open each book of the New Testament to the seeking saints. Both Brother Nee and I did not have that much time to dig further. I want to dig further, and I am still digging, but I do not believe that I can do that much. Therefore, I leave this further digging matter to you.
The basic truths have been presented to us, and much life nourishment has been put into print, especially with the Life-study messages. Also, the obstacles have nearly all been removed. We now have a clear way for our study, and every book is open to us. In mining, the hardest thing is to open the mine. Once the mine has been opened and the treasure is exposed, it is easy for someone to dig out the treasures. I have left only this one matter of further digging to you. I believe that the Lord will continue this digging work either through you or through some others. After a period of time I believe that many of you will be “good diggers.” The intention and the goal of our publishing the Life-study messages is to open up the mine for you to go in and dig. (The Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1984, vol. 2, “Elders’ Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision,” pp. 311-312)
The content of today’s ministry is the “digging out” of the treasures of the Word of God, and it is always living, new, fresh, and full of light. This up-to-date speaking is recorded, edited, and published in The Ministry of the Word.
Brother Lee had a great regard for the value of the publication work in the Lord’s ministry. He speaks of its long lasting and widespread effect:
The usefulness of the publications is long lasting and widespread. Like water, the publications can spread widely and imperceptibly “seep” into people. A published message can have a great effect simply by “flowing” into a home and reaching someone whom we do not know. The effect of the publications lasts forever and is not as shallow as the effect of only hearing a message. A person may be touched as he listens to a message, but after three days his feeling may wane, and he may forget it. However, the more a person reads the messages, the more he will understand, and the messages will stay in his memory a longer time and give him a deeper impression...Thus, the value of the publications lies in the fact that their effect is long lasting and widespread. The Bible has been among human beings for a few thousand years, and its effect is self-evident. (The Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1984, vol. 5, pp. 216-217)
Thus, it is not enough merely to enjoy the inspiring messages in the conferences and trainings. In order to absorb the riches of this ministry in a way that is long lasting and operative, one should read the published ministry and read it habitually. This is our purpose in publishing The Ministry of the Word. As we draw near to the consummation of the age, may we all receive a fresh and uplifted valuation of the ministry of the age.