Life or Death

“Some of the saints may take my word concerning the groups and attempt to practice it, but after a short time their practice may not have a positive result and they may become disappointed. The probable reason for their failure is that they did not labor… Merchants labor because they are desperate; that is their livelihood. However, we are not desperate. Whether we gain one this year or do not gain one, we can still live; we can still come to the Lord’s table to enjoy the Lord… I would like to impress you with the fact that the people of the world are busy, but in relation to the Lord’s work, many of the saints are not busy. The worldly people are industrious, but many of us are not.” (Witness Lee, Fellowship Concerning the Urgent Need of the Vital Groups, Message Four, pg. 30.)

It seems that the ministry just would not leave us alone. It keeps on bothering us, interfering with our routine “good” church life where we can go on cruise-control. Actually, the ministry is merely relaying and opening up the Word of God. According to Luke 19 and Matthew 25, the Lord is our Master who has given us the talents and asked us to do business until He comes (Luke 19:13). If we are faithful to invest our talents, we will be greeted with, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful over a few things; I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21). If not, we will be cast into the outer darkness where there will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:30).

Similarly, the Lord said in John 15:2 and 6, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes it away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it that it may bear more fruit… If one does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is dried up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” If we really see these warnings in the Bible, we will treasure the ministry’s exhortation for us to become vital functioning members who are building up the Body of Christ. This will also instill in us a desperation to make a profit for the Lord as businessmen and to bear fruits for the Father’s glory as branches.

A picture of desperation for increase can be found with Samuel’s mother, Hannah. Because she wanted a child so desperately, “she was bitter in soul and prayed to Jehovah and wept much” (1 Sam. 1:10). She also made a vow and consecrated her future son to Jehovah, which son, Samuel, would eventually turn the age. This is similar to Jacob’s wife, Rachel, who “envied her sister and said to Jacob, Give me children, or else I die” (Gen. 30:1). These and other women in the Old Testament were desperate for increase. To them, it is not only a shame but even a life-or-death situation to not have children. This should be our attitude toward having spiritual children as well. While we should not be envious of others, we should have the same spirit of desperation before the Lord: “Give me children, or else I die!”

We need to realize that it is only normal for an abiding branch to bear fruit, at least once a year. If we are not bearing fruit, we have to ask the Lord, “Lord, what is wrong with me? Why am I not bearing fruit? Lord, I cannot go on like this!” If we go before the Lord in such a way, the Lord may begin to shine on us. He may expose us in certain matters and require of us to repent, confess, and consecrate (more on these in previous posts). After such dealings with the Lord by being pruned, life will flow and fruits will spontaneously be produced. May the Lord help us to see this matter and produce in us the desperation He needs for us to become vital members of the Body of Christ.

2 thoughts on “Life or Death

  1. This word is so timely. I am reading the book, “Taking Christ as Our Person for the Church Life.” Chapter 11 is titled, “The Lord Being a Hard Master.” In this chapter, Brother Lee says, “Anyone who cannot save one person in a year should be ashamed to call himself a Christian.” The whole chapter is very enlightening but I was very struck by this sentence because I have no problem calling myself a Christian even though it has been many years since I have helped someone get saved. We are in the process of migrating and the Lord has been working on me that I would not move in the same dead, old way that I have been living. But I also realize that a physical change of location is not going to make me a different person. So the Lord is working from within to change my way of thinking. Lord, have mercy on me and don’t let me go!

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