During a time of fellowship in 1985, Brother Lee shared a touching word concerning the origin and value of the Life-study messages. He said,
I daily prayed and studied the Bible for fifty years before I began to release the Life-study messages in 1974. I also read the great Bible commentaries…In 1974 I had a deep sense that we needed a life-study of the Bible in the Lord’s recovery. The Life-studies and the Recovery Version of the Bible are our treasures in the Lord’s recovery. I wrote these things based on the saints’ rich commentaries from the past two thousand years as well as what the Lord is revealing to us in the present time. I collected the best, that is, the cream, of the past teaching and incorporated our own experience, knowledge, and revelation. In this sense the Life-studies and the footnotes of the Recovery Version are integrated writings. (CWWL, 1985, vol. 2, “Fellowship with Elders and Co-workers in Taipei,” p. 505)
“The Life-study messages do not merely expound the Bible and present the truth; rather, they also bring people into the truth to enjoy and experience its riches.”
Concerning the purpose of the Life-study, Brother Lee shared on multiple occasions that the Life-study messages are for ministering the divine life. For instance, in a message given in 1985, Brother Lee explained that “the main purpose of the Life-study is to minister life. This is why I call it a Life-study” (CWWL, 1985, vol. 3, “The Divine Speaking,” p. 320). In a message given in 1984, Brother Lee said,
Another function of the Life-study messages is to bring people into life…The Life-study messages do not merely expound the Bible and present the truth; rather, they also bring people into the truth to enjoy and experience its riches. Mere exposition of the Bible is just the impartation of knowledge, which causes people to know doctrines mentally. The Life-study messages bring us into the depths of the Bible to touch and enjoy the life within (cf. John 5:39-40). (CWWL, 1984, vol. 5, “Truth, Life, the Church, and the Gospel—The Four Great Pillars in the Lord’s Recovery,” p. 364)
While many expositions of the Bible have been produced over the centuries, the Life-study of the Bible is distinctive (and outstanding!) in part because it ministers life to its readers. Those of us who have read even a handful of Life-study messages can surely testify that these messages minister the divine life to us and usher us into the proper experience of Christ as life.
Another purpose of the Life-study, inextricably related to that of ministering life, is to open the Bible so that the believers might enter into the truths of Bible. In The Living Needed for Building Up the Small Group Meetings, Brother Lee shares that the Life-study messages are “meant to help people to unlock the Bible and to supply them with spiritual life and nourishment” (CWWL, 1985, vol. 3, p. 82). In Truth, Life, the Church, and the Gospel—The Four Great Pillars in the Lord’s Recovery, Brother Lee shares more concerning the function of the Life-study messages to open the Bible:
Some criticize us, saying that we read the Life-study messages and not the Bible. Those who speak this way are completely misinformed. The goal of the Life-study messages is to bring people into the truths of the Bible. In the past when people read the Bible, they could not find the way to enter in, so they had no way to understand it. This is like having a house with no entryway, no door, and no windows to allow people to enter in. The Life-study messages do the work of paving a way, building a door, and opening a window so that people can enter the house and enjoy everything inside. (CWWL, 1984, vol. 5, p. 363)
In our reading and study of God’s Word, we often encounter things that are, in the words of the apostle Peter, “hard to understand” (2 Pet. 3:16). Faced with such things, we may feel like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, who responded to Philip’s inquiry—“Do you really know the things that you are reading?”—by asking, “How could I unless someone guides me?” (vv. 30-31). Thankfully, we have the Life-study messages to open God’s Word and guide us into the truths in His Word.
“Thankfully, we have the Life-study messages to open God’s Word and guide us into the truths in His Word.”
“...the Life-study messages open God’s Word to us so that we can enter more deeply into His Word and receive both nourishment and enlightenment.”
In Elders' Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision, Witness Lee gives a helpful example of how the Life-study messages open the Bible. Referring to the Life-study messages on Romans 8, he says,
For years I have been a very devoted seeker of biblical truth. Romans 8 was seemingly opened to me before 1954, but I did not realize that it was still concealed to me. I did not see that Romans 8 actually is a revelation of the processed Triune God dispensing Himself into the tripartite man. Without such an unveiling, you cannot enter into Romans 8. We must see that the processed Triune God is dispensing Himself into His redeemed, tripartite man, making this man a man of life—first his spirit is life (v. 10), then his mind becomes life (v. 6), and finally, life is given to his mortal body (v. 11). Until you have seen such a vision, you could never enter into Romans 8. Without such a vision Romans 8 is concealed and closed to you. Once you have received such a vision, however, you will receive not only nourishment but enlightenment. You receive the key that opens Romans 8. This is not replacing the Bible. This is not replacing Romans 8 with the Life-study messages, but this is to get the help from the Life-study messages to enter into Romans 8. (CWWL, 1984, vol. 2, p. 278)
This is but one example among countless others of how the Life-study messages open God’s Word to us so that we can enter more deeply into His Word and receive both nourishment and enlightenment.
We can receive the spiritual benefits contained in the Life-studies by reading them consistently. In a message given in 1985, Brother Lee expressed the following:
I hope that you would read carefully through the books and Life-study messages that we have published. Read them every day and everywhere. You do not need to spend too long each time in reading them. Just spend five to ten minutes each time. Gradually, you will accumulate a great deal. (CWWL, 1985, vol. 3, “The Living Needed for Building Up the Small Group Meetings,” p. 81)
By spending time each day to read the Life-studies, we can gradually accumulate the truth within us. In Elders' Training, Book 3: The Way to Carry Out the Vision, Brother Lee expresses his assurance that “whoever has read through five hundred Life-study messages properly has been an excellent believer” (CWWL, 1984, vol. 2, p. 323). To this he adds: “If you would begin to study the Life-studies every day starting tomorrow morning, you will become a different person even after fifty days” (p. 324). We should not accept the lie that it is too difficult to read through five hundred Life-study messages (or the entire Life-study of the Bible, for that matter). Rather, we should take the way of reading through the Life-studies gradually and consistently with the aspiration of becoming “excellent believers.”
“Read them every day and everywhere. You do not need to spend too long each time in reading them. Just spend five to ten minutes each time. Gradually, you will accumulate a great deal.”
While there are many profitable ways to read the Life-studies, one way is to read through the Life-studies according to the chronological sequence in which they were given by Brother Lee, beginning with the Life-study of Genesis and concluding with the Life-study of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. Those interested in reading through the Life-studies according to this sequence may find the following chart helpful.
As we endeavor to get into the Life-studies, we should bear in mind that being constituted with the truth is a process that requires our persistent practice. We should also be encouraged in our practice by Brother Lee’s assurance that those “who are willing to read all the Life-study messages and to study every word of the Recovery Version of the New Testament will have a solid foundation. This inexhaustible treasure will be within them for their whole life” (CWWL, 1984, vol. 5, “Guidelines for the Propagation of the Lord's Recovery,” p. 124). May we be those who gain such a solid foundation and inexhaustible treasure!
If you would like to learn more about the Life-study of the Bible or to create a schedule for reading the Life-studies, we invite you to visit www.lifestudy.com. We also invite you to share with us how you have benefited from reading the Life-studies. Please send your written testimonies to email@example.com.