The Lord’s recovery is a recovery of the truth and of life (John 18:37b; 10:10b). Since the truths revealed in the Word of God contain the unsearchable riches of Christ as the divine life (John 6:63; Eph. 3:8), in order for us to experience life and mature in life, we need to know and be constituted with the truths in the Word (John 8:32, 36). Through the centuries many believers have become degraded because they have neglected the truth and thus become deficient in life. Therefore, the ministry in the Lord’s recovery has been burdened by the Lord to perfect the saints to gain the full knowledge of the deeper truths in the Bible and the adequate enjoyment of eternal life in the Spirit so that they may learn to present the truths to others, thereby ministering life to them for the building up of the organic Body of Christ (1 Tim. 2:4; Eph. 4:13, 15-16). The semiannual trainings were established to carry out this burden. The aim of this article is to consider Brother Lee’s intrinsic burden for these trainings regarding the crucial need for the saints to be perfected in the truth, educated in the truth, nourished by the truth, and constituted with the truth for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ.
The Bible is an exceedingly great and precious gift of God to us (cf. John 17:14, 17; 2 Pet. 1:4). At the same time, it is a book of great mysteries and profound depths (Col. 1:26-27; 2:2; Eph. 3:3, 9; 5:32; Rom. 16:25-26; 1 Cor. 2:9-10; 4:1), and many portions of the Bible are “hard to understand” (2 Pet. 3:16) and “difficult to interpret” (Heb. 5:11). History has shown that many readers of the Bible have interpreted it with “an untrained mind” (2 Tim. 2:23) and misaimed concerning the truth, thus carrying others away from the central thought of the Bible or even leading many astray from the faith (1 Tim. 1:6; 6:21; 2 Tim. 2:18). “The unlearned and unstable” have gone so far as to “twist” the Scriptures “to their own destruction” and to the destruction of those who hear them (2 Pet. 3:16; cf. 1 Tim. 4:16). Therefore, we need to be perfected by the New Testament ministry to be “an unashamed workman, cutting straight the word of the truth” so that we may learn to “unfold the word of God in its various parts rightly and straightly without distortion” (2 Tim. 2:15; footnote 1, Recovery Version).
In order to apprehend the divine truths in the Bible, we need to be “trained in the divine revelation” (The Vision of the Divine Dispensing and Guidelines for the Practice of the New Way, pp. 65-73). Such training requires us to “exercise our spirit, have our mind opened, and have our faculties exercised” in order to understand the Scriptures (p. 65). If we would receive the divine revelation in the Word of God, we should not exercise our natural understanding ability or our fanciful imaginations but instead should exercise our “spirit of wisdom and revelation,” our human spirit regenerated by and joined to the revealing Spirit of God, by prayer (Eph. 1:17; 1 Cor. 2:10). To understand the Bible also requires that our mind be opened by the Lord Spirit through His unveiling and enlightening to see Christ as the center and content of the Scriptures (Luke 24:44) and that “our faculties” (i.e., our mind and our spirit) be “exercised” through continual practice (Heb. 5:14).
Further, in order for us to be trained in the divine revelation, we need to be under the ministry that opens the Word of God through the proper interpretation of the Scriptures. Those who have attended the semiannual trainings in the Lord’s recovery can testify, in the words of the psalmist: “The opening of Your words gives light, imparting understanding to the simple” (119:130). Although the Word of God is filled with heavenly treasures, it is only when the Word is properly opened, unfolded, to us through the Lord’s ministry that the Word as the divine light shines over our heart and spirit to impart spiritual wisdom and divine revelation to us, enabling us to see these treasures (Eph. 1:17-18). The ministry in the Lord’s recovery has faithfully and reliably guided us to understand the intrinsic significance of various portions of the Word (Acts 8:30-32). By the Lord’s mercy and grace, may we have the heart and spirit of a disciple (cf. Isa. 50:4-5), one who is willing to be trained by the new covenant ministry to understand the truth, become constituted with the truth, and speak forth the truth.
By the Lord’s mercy and grace, may we have the heart and spirit of a disciple (cf. Isa. 50:4-5), one who is willing to be trained by the new covenant ministry to understand the truth, become constituted with the truth, and speak forth the truth.
A good number of saints who have attended these trainings can testify that the trainings have helped them to be solidly built up in the knowledge of the truth and continually nourished and constituted with the truth, producing a daily living that expresses the Triune God for the corporate manifestation of God in the flesh.
From 1962 to 1974 Brother Lee gave conference after conference in cities throughout the United States, releasing messages on various subjects to supply the saints. However, he realized that although the saints who heard these messages were stirred up and nourished by the messages to a certain extent, they still lacked a basic knowledge of the truth in the Bible, and the intrinsic element of the divine revelation had not been wrought into them to a sufficient degree. According to Brother Lee’s observation even in later years, although many saints in the local churches had learned to release their spirit in praising the Lord and giving testimonies in the meetings of the church, their “grasp of the truth” remained “superficial,” and their speaking lacked “a firm foundation,” that is, “the solid content of truth in knowledge, life, and experience” (Life-study of 1 Peter, p. 282). Brother Lee did not want his ministry of the word to result merely in fleeting inspiration; rather, his desire was for the truth to become a source of constant, long-term nourishment to the saints. This can be accomplished only through our understanding of the scriptural truths by our renewed mind under the control of our regenerated human spirit. This understanding requires a diligent and prayerful study of the books of the Bible with the help of the proper ministry of the word as our guide, and it issues in the truths being thoroughly constituted into our transformed mind, especially into our enlightened memory. Such a solid constitution of the truth not only remains in us forever to supply us constantly but also enables us to present the truth to others as a rich supply of life. In order to carry out his burden from the Lord to help the saints be educated in and constituted with the biblical truths, in 1974 Brother Lee began to take the way of conducting semiannual life-study trainings. In these trainings, which were “in the nature of a school,” the saints were perfected by the ministry to study, understand, and speak the truths in the Bible with the exercise of their spirit and mind (Elders’ Training—Book 3, “The Way to Carry Out the Vision,” p. 90). A good number of saints who have attended these trainings can testify that the trainings have helped them to be solidly built up in the knowledge of the truth and continually nourished and constituted with the truth, producing a daily living that expresses the Triune God for the corporate manifestation of God in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:15-16).
The goal of Brother Lee’s burden to hold semiannual trainings was to release the riches of Christ for the producing and the building up of the church as the testimony of Jesus and the reality of the Body of Christ. In speaking concerning the need to educate the saints in the divine truth through trainings, including the semiannual trainings, Brother Lee stated that the issue of these trainings, through which the saints would be “filled with the knowledge of the truth,” would be “the living testimony of Jesus” (Elders’ Training--Book 3, p. 139). This is because “the nature of the testimony of Jesus…must be a constitution of the proper truth that produces a daily living” (p. 144). In accordance with this thought, Brother Lee said, “If the saints are not properly constituted with the truth, they cannot live a proper life. If they only live by inspiration and not by the constitution of the truth, I do not trust in that kind of living to be a testimony of the Lord” (p. 144). It is only by having the divine truth in the Word thoroughly wrought into us that we can live and magnify Christ in our daily life, preach the gospel to the unbelievers, and present the truth and minister life to the seeking believers, thereby becoming the prevailing testimony of Jesus, the living Body of Christ (Phil. 1:19-21; 2:16; Rev. 1:2, 9; 19:10).
Since the church as the Body of Christ is the fullness of the all-filling Christ, a divine-human organism constituted with His untraceable riches (Eph. 1:22-23; 3:8, 10), the building up of the Body of Christ requires the ministry of His riches into the believers as the members of the Body. For this reason, Brother Lee spoke of the building up of the church as the goal of the semiannual trainings:
In 1974 I moved to Anaheim. At that juncture I was clear that I should put out the Lord’s word…I would say that less than one-third of what Brother Nee spoke was put into print. With so little of what Brother Nee saw and spoke in print, how could the church be built up? This is why by 1974 I was burdened to have the formal training in order to put out the proper understanding of the New Testament according to the top expositions of the top teachers throughout the past nineteen centuries…This is my burden. I must finish my responsibility before the Lord to make the Lord's revelation in the holy Word as clear as I can to all of us. (A Timely Word, p. 39)
In 1974 we replaced the conferences with trainings. Before 1974 I had not released many messages on the books of the Bible; I had mainly held conferences. Brother Nee never had the time or the opportunity to supply the church with the adequate knowledge of the truth. Because of this, Brother Nee’s books are not fully adequate for the building up of the church. I knew what was on Brother Nee’s heart concerning the building up of the church. I decided to concentrate my time on releasing the truth. Temporarily, I sacrificed the churches, but for the long run the truth is in the local churches. The “groceries” provided by the ministry are more than adequate to feed the saints in the churches.
In order to build up the Body of Christ, we need to feed the saints in the churches. Thus, the goal of the ministry in the Lord’s recovery is to supply the churches with spiritual riches for the building up of the Body. (CWWL, 1991-1992, vol. 2, p. 97)
Highlighting the crucial role of the truth in the building up of the church, Brother Lee said,
We fully realized that to produce the church, to have the church exist, and to build up the church we needed to put out the solid, living truths full of Christ, full of the Spirit, and full of life. God's way to carry out His economy is to use His holy Word…A principle has been set up through history that there is the desperate need of the living truth to produce the church, to help the church exist, and to build up the church. (Elders’ Training—Book 3, pp. 102-103)
It was for the producing and building up of the church that Brother Lee conducted the semiannual trainings to release the spiritual riches in the Word of God to the children of God.
In the last sixty years, the Lord has shown us much new light that no one in the past has seen. We have stood on the shoulders of those before us, and we have gained more revelation. This should be released. Thus, I felt that it was necessary to have the life-study trainings. I am like a person who plants a vegetable garden, establishes a farm, and operates a supermarket with a rich and comprehensive store of vegetables, fruits, poultry, fish, and meats to supply the need of God’s children everywhere. (CWWL, 1981, vol. 2, p. 463)
From 1974 until he went to be with the Lord in 1997, Brother Lee tirelessly labored to conduct the semiannual trainings in order to minister the riches of Christ in the Word of God to the saints for the building up of the Body of Christ. Since then, a group of blended brothers who labored with him as faithful yokefellows have continued to carry out his burden for the sake of the Body. May we receive mercy from the Lord to be found faithful in participating in the semiannual trainings so that we may be trained in the divine revelation, be constituted with the biblical truths, and partake of the riches of Christ in the written and interpreted Word for the building up of the church as the radiant testimony of Jesus and the organic Body of Christ.
It is only by having the divine truth in the Word thoroughly wrought into us that we can live and magnify Christ in our daily life, preach the gospel to the unbelievers, and present the truth and minister life to the seeking believers, thereby becoming the prevailing testimony of Jesus, the living Body of Christ.
In order to build up the Body of Christ, we need to feed the saints in the churches. Thus, the goal of the ministry in the Lord’s recovery is to supply the churches with spiritual riches for the building up of the Body.