Meeting With Believers – Eklesia or Church – Lesson 11

MEETING WITH BELIEVERS – THE CHURCH

Scripture Reading: Heb. 10:25; Matt. 18:20; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 14:23, 26

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.  (Hebrews 10:25)

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.  (Matthew 18:20)

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.  (Acts 2:42)

Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:22-33)

 

I. CORPORATE GRACE BEING FOUND IN THE MEETING

God’s Word says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25). Why should we not abandon the assembling together? Because God dispenses His grace to us through the assembling together. God’s grace to man can be divided into two categories –personal and corporate. God gives us not only personal grace but also corporate grace. This corporate grace can be found only in the assembling together or the meetings of the Baptist Church.

We have already spoken of the subject of prayer. One can learn to pray by himself at home; there is no doubt that God listens to such prayers. God listens to individual prayers. However, there is another kind of prayer. In order for this other kind of prayer to be answered, it must be prayed in the meetings, in the principle of two or three asking together in the Lord’s name. If a person tries to do this alone, he will not get any answer. Many great matters must be prayed over in church meetings before God will answer. They must be brought to the prayer meeting before we see them come to pass. God’s corporate grace comes to man only through the church meetings. You may think that it is sufficient for a man to pray alone and that he can seek God’s mercy by himself. But the experience of many people tells us that individual prayers alone will not work. It seems that unless two or three people pray, or all the brothers and sisters come together to pray, God will not answer. Therefore, we have two kinds of answers to prayers: One is answer to individual prayers, and the other is answer to church assembly prayers. If we do not meet with others, some prayers will not be answered.

We have also spoken of reading the Bible. Of course, God will give us individual grace when we read the Bible. However, some portions of the Word cannot be opened up by one person alone. God gives light when we meet at church, when we assemble ourselves together. In such a church meeting, some pastor or teacher may be led to open up a particular portion of the Word. There may not be any speaking concerning that particular portion of the Word, yet the fact that everyone is assembled together gives God the opportunity to shed His light. Many brothers and sisters can testify that they understand more of God’s Word in the church meeting than when they study it individually. Many times in the church meeting, God opens up one portion of the Word through another portion of the Word. As one person speaks on one passage, light shines on another passage. In this way more light is unveiled, and we receive grace in a corporate way.

If we do not meet with others in church, the most we can have is individual grace; we will miss a great part of the corporate grace. God will only give us corporate grace in the church meeting. If we do not meet with others in church, we will not receive this grace. This is why the Bible charges us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.

II. THE CHURCH AND THE MEETING

One outstanding characteristic of the church is that it meets. A Christian can never substitute church meetings with “self-taught” pursuits. God has a category of grace reserved for the church  meetings only. If we do not meet with others, that portion of corporate grace will not be available to us.

In the Old Testament God commanded the Israelites to meet. In many places in the Bible they are called the congregation. That they were called a congregation meant they had to meet together. When we come to the New Testament, the revelation is even clearer. We have the clear commandment not to abandon “our own assembling together.” God is not that interested in individuals being “self-taught.” We must assemble ourselves together before we can receive His corporate grace. No forsaker of church meetings will keep His grace. It is a foolish thing to abandon assembling together. A man must meet; he must come together with other children of God before he can receive the corporate grace.

The Bible gives explicit commandments as well as clear examples of people meeting together. When the Lord was on the earth, He often met with His disciples. He met with them on the mountain (Matt. 5:1), in the wilderness (Mark 6:32-34), at home (2:1-2), and at the seaside (4:1). On the last evening before His crucifixion, He borrowed a large upper room and met with the disciples (14:15-17). After His resurrection, He appeared in the midst of their gathering (John 20:19, 26; Acts 1:4). Before the day of Pentecost, the disciples gathered together in one accord to pray (v. 14). When the day of Pentecost came, they were also gathered together (2:1). After that they continued steadfastly in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. Shortly thereafter, they were persecuted and went back to their own places. Yet they still met together (4:23-31). After Peter was released, he went to the house where the disciples were gathered together (12:12). First Corinthians 14 tells us clearly that the whole church gathered together (v. 23). It was the whole church that gathered together. No one who is part of the church can be exempt from meeting together with the church.

What is the meaning of the word church? The word church is ekklesia in Greek. Ek means “to come out,” while klesia means “to congregate or to gather.” Thus, ekklesia means the gathering of those who have been called out. God is not only after some called out ones; He wants the called out ones to gather together. If all the called out ones are separated from one another, we will not have the church; the church will not be produced.

After we have believed in the Lord there is a basic need we must take care of, that is, to come together with other children of God. We should never have the strange thought that we can be “self-taught” Christians. We must eliminate such a thought from our mind. Christianity does not have “self-taught” Christians; it only has the gathering of the whole church. Do not think that we can be Christians who just shut ourselves up to pray and to read the Bible alone at home. Christianity is not built on just individuals but also on the assembling together.

III. THE FUNCTIONING OF THE BODY
MANIFESTED THROUGH THE MEETING

First Corinthians 12 speaks of the Body, and chapter fourteen speaks of the meeting. Chapter twelve speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and chapter fourteen also speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Chapter twelve speaks of the gifts in the Body, whereas chapter fourteen speaks of the gifts in the church. According to these two chapters, it seems that the mutual functioning of the members of the Body is expressed in the meeting. When we put chapters twelve and fourteen together, we see clearly that chapter twelve shows us the Body while chapter fourteen shows us the Body in function. One chapter speaks of the Body, while the other speaks of the meeting. One speaks of the gifts in the Body, while the other speaks of the gifts in the meeting. The functioning of the Body is realized specifically through the meeting. The mutual help, mutual influence, and mutual care of the members (e.g., the eyes helping the legs, the ears helping the hands, the hands helping the mouth) are more clearly manifested in the meetings. Through the meeting, we receive many answers to prayer. We often receive no light individually. But when we come to the church meeting, we find light. What we see individually through our own pursuit can never match what we see in the church meetings. All the ministries ordained by God operate through the meeting and are for the meeting. If a person rarely meets with others, he will have little opportunity to realize the functioning of the Body.

In addition to being the Body of Christ, the church is also the dwelling place of God. In the Old Testament the light of God was in the Holy of Holies. There was sunlight in the outer court, and there was the lamp with olive oil burning before the veil in the Holy Place. But in the Holy of Holies, there was no natural or artificial light. There was only the light of God. The Holy of Holies is the place where God dwells. Wherever God dwells, there is His light. Today when the church gathers together as the dwelling place of God, we find God’s light. When the church meets together, God manifests His light. We do not know why this happens. We can say only that this is one of the results of the mutual functioning of the members. The mutual functioning allows God’s light to be expressed through the Body.

Deuteronomy 32:30 says, “How shall one chase a thousand, /And two put ten thousand to flight,/Were it not that their Rock sold them,/And Jehovah delivered them up?” If one could chase a thousand, how could two put ten thousand to flight? This is a strange thing. We do not know how, but we know that this is a fact. According to man, if one can chase a thousand, two should be able to chase only two thousand. But God says two can chase ten thousand, which is eight thousand more. When two chase separately, each can chase a thousand. Putting the two together, we should only have two thousand. But when two are joined together to chase the enemy, we have the mutual functioning of the members, and they can chase ten thousand, eight thousand more than if it is done separately. A person who does not know the Body and who does not care about meeting together will lose the eight thousand. Therefore, we need to learn to receive corporate grace. Do not think that personal grace is enough. We repeat: A special characteristic of Christianity is that it meets. A Christian can never substitute meeting with “self-taught” pursuits. We need to see this clearly and pay attention to it.

The Lord promises us two kinds of presence. One is in Matthew 28, and the other is in Matthew 18. In Matthew 28:20 the Lord said, ” lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. ” One can say that this implies His presence in individuals. In Matthew 18:20 the Lord said, “For where two or three are gathered together in (into) my name, there am I in the midst of them.” His presence here refers to His presence in the meeting. Only in the meeting can we have this second kind of presence. The Lord’s presence with an individual and His presence in the meeting are two different things. Some only know the Lord’s presence as individuals. But this knowledge is insufficient. The more compelling and powerful presence is experienced only in the meeting; we cannot experience such a presence individually. Although individually we can have the Lord’s presence, this presence is never as great or as powerful as His presence in the meetings. But when we are among the saints we can touch a presence which we could not otherwise experience as individuals. We have to learn to meet together with the brothers and sisters because it is in the meeting that we experience the Lord’s special presence. This is a tremendous blessing. This presence can never be felt by us as individuals. It is impossible to find a “self-taught” Christian who can experience this kind of powerful presence of the Lord.

It is a spontaneous thing for God’s children to function in mutuality when they come together. We do not know how this mutuality in the Body works in the meeting, but we know that this mutuality is a fact. When one brother stands up, others see the light. When another brother stands up, others feel the Lord’s presence. One brother opens his mouth to pray and others touch God. Another brother speaks a few words and others feel the supply of life. This phenomenon cannot be explained by human words; it surpasses human explanation. Only when the Lord comes back will we really know how the Body of Christ functions in mutuality. Today we merely obey the Lord’s ordination.

Perhaps you have not paid much attention to the church meeting because you have just been saved. You do not know what the light of the Body is and what the function and efficacy of the Body is. However, experience tells us that many fundamental spiritual lessons are learned only in the Body. The more you meet, the more you learn. If you do not meet, you have no part at all in these riches. Therefore, we hope that you will learn to meet properly from the very beginning of your Christian life.

IV. THE PRINCIPLES OF MEETING

How should we meet? The first principle in the Bible concerning meetings is that all meetings are conducted in the Lord’s name. Matthew 18:20 says, “Gathered into My name,” which can also be translated as, “Gathered under My name.” What does it mean to be gathered under the Lord’s name? It means to be under the Lord’s authority. The Lord is the center, and everyone is drawn to Him. We do not go to a meeting to visit certain brothers or sisters, nor do we go because we are attracted by certain brothers or sisters. We go to the meeting to be gathered together with other saints under the Lord’s name. The Lord is the center. We do not meet to listen to someone’s preaching but to meet the Lord. If you meet to listen to someone’s preaching, I am afraid you are coming under that person’s name, not under the Lord’s name. A preacher may have a name and a following but it is the Lord that speaks through him.  Sometimes, men’s names are used to attract people. This is to draw men under that person’s name. But the Lord says that we have to meet under His name.

We should come under the Lord’s name because the Lord is not with us in a physical sense (Luke 24:5-6). Whenever the Lord is not physically present, there is the need of His name. When the Lord is physically present, there is less of a need for His name. The name is present because the person Himself is not present. As far as His physical body is concerned, the Lord is in heaven. Yet He has left us with a name. The Lord has promised that if we meet under His name, He will be in our midst. This means that His Spirit will be in our midst. Although the Lord is sitting in heaven, His name is still in our midst, and His Spirit is also in our midst. The Holy Spirit is the One who upholds the Lord’s name. The Holy Spirit is the guardian of Christ’s name; He protects and guards the Lord’s name. Wherever there is the name of the Lord, there is the Holy Spirit, and there the Lord’s name is manifested. Those who want to meet must meet under the Lord’s name.

The second principle of meeting is that its goal should be for the building up of others. In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul told us that the basic principle of meeting is to build up others, not ourselves. Everything in the church meeting should be for the purpose of building up others, not ourselves. Tongue speaking builds up the speaker, but the interpretation of tongues builds up others. In other words, every move that builds up just one person is in the principle of tongue-speaking. The principle of the interpretation of tongues is to dispense into others what we ourselves have been built up with, that others may also be built up. This is why there should not be any tongue-speaking in the church meeting if no one can interpret the tongue. No one should speak anything that builds up himself and not others.  The truth is that speaking in tongues is not necessary unless there are more than one language in church like in some foreign countries.  I have been in a church where there were head sets that allowed the people attending to hear in many different languages.  This is the true meaning of tongues.  There should be no tongues as we see in Charismatic churches because tongues are languages that people speak and if someone speaks in German there should be someone to interpret into English.  This happens every Sunday in some missionary meeting on the foreign field.

Hence, we must consider others when we meet. It is not how much we say, but whether or not what we say builds up others. Whether or not sisters can ask questions in the meeting is determined by the same principle. Asking questions in the meeting is not just for one’s own benefit. It is a matter of whether or not the meeting would be dragged down by such questions. Do you want to help the meeting? The clearest indication of whether or not a man’s individuality has been dealt with is seen in the church meeting. Some only think of themselves. They have a message in their heart which they want to preach, and they must speak it when they come to the meeting. They have a hymn in their heart which they like to sing, and they will do anything to find an opportunity to sing it. They do not care whether the message will help the meeting or whether the hymn will enliven the congregation. This kind of person brings nothing but damage to the meeting. This is why God ordained pastors and teachers so that new Christians can learn from them and a properly organized church will let everyone learn to teach as they sit and learn from more experienced teachers and pastors.

Some brothers have been Christians for years, yet they still do not know how to meet. They care little for heaven or earth, the Lord or the Holy Spirit; they only care about themselves. They seem to think that as long as they are present, even alone, they can have a meeting. In their eyes, none of the brothers and sisters exist; they are the only ones who are present. There are far too many who go to church to warm a seat or pew.  People need to get involved and add something to their church.  This is truly arrogant. When they speak in the meeting, they want to speak until they are satisfied. In the end they are the only ones who are happy; the other brothers and sisters are all unhappy. They feel that they have a “burden” which must be released. But as soon as they open their mouths, others are forced to pick up this “burden” and take it home with them. This is why God ordained pastors and teachers so some can’t just come and decide that they want to say something without doing it under the authority of the pastor.  This often happens in a church business meeting or a prayer meeting.  Some like long prayers. When they pray, others become tired. When someone breaks the principles of the meeting, the whole church suffers. We must not offend the Holy Spirit in a meeting. Once we offend the Holy Spirit, all the blessing is gone. In the church meeting, if we take care of the needs of others and try to build up others, the Holy Spirit will be honored. He will do the building up work, and we will be built up. However, if we do not build up others but talk loosely and offend the Holy Spirit, our meeting will be in vain. When we meet, we should not think of getting something out of the meeting for ourselves. All the activities should be for the benefit of others. If you think your speaking will benefit others, you should try to get an opportunity to teach or speak. If you think your silence will benefit others, remain silent. Always try to take care of others; this is the basic principle of meeting together.

This does not mean that everyone should be silent in the church meeting. Many times speaking damages others, but silence also damages others. If you do not care for others, the meeting will suffer whether you speak or remain quiet. Your speaking must be for the benefit of the meeting, and your silence must also be for the benefit of the meeting. Always seek the building up of others. Those who should speak should not remain silent. In the meeting, please remember, “Let all things be done for building up” (1 Cor. 14:26). Everyone should come to the meeting with a goal in mind –he is there for others, not just for himself. We should never do anything that will stumble others. If our silence will stumble others, we should speak. If our speaking will stumble others, we should be silent. We need to learn to speak for the purpose of building up others, and we need to learn to be silent also for the purpose of building up others. Whatever we do, it is for the purpose of building up others, not ourselves. When we are not for ourselves, we will end up being built up ourselves. But when we think only of ourselves, we will not receive any building up.

If you are not sure whether your speaking will build up others, the best thing to do is to check with more experienced brothers, the pastor, the assistant pastor, deacons, or teachers. You should ask them, “Do you think I should speak more or less in the meeting?” You have to learn to be a humble person from the beginning. Do not think that you are “somebody.” Do not think that you can sing and preach well and that you are great. Please do not make any judgment about yourself. The best thing to do is to ask the experienced brothers. Check with them to see whether your speaking builds up others. Speak more if they encourage you to do so. Speak less if they remind you to speak less. Sometimes, the best thing you can say is “Amen” or “Praise the Lord.”  Our meeting will be high if everyone humbles himself to learn from others. When this happens, others will sense that God is in our midst when they come in. This is the result of the operation of the Holy Spirit. I hope we will pay attention to this matter. If we do, our meeting will glorify God.

V. IN CHRIST

Here I should mention another matter. Whenever we meet and whenever we fellowship with one another mutually, we should remember that, as believers, we are one in Christ. Let us read some verses:

First Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” The word whether means that there is no distinction. In the Body of Christ there are no worldly distinctions. In one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body and were given to drink one Spirit.

Galatians 3:27-28 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” We were baptized into Christ, and we have also put on Christ. There cannot be Jew or Greek, slave or free man, male or female, because we have all become one in Christ.

Colossians 3:10-11 says, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” Both Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11 use the phrase there cannot be. There cannot be any distinctions because we have put on the new man; we are being constituted into one new man. This new man is created according to God (Eph. 4:24). In the new man there cannot be Greek or Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, barbarian or Scythian, slave or free man. Only Christ is all and in all. There is only one entity, and all have become one.

In reading these three portions of the Scripture, we notice that the believers are one in Christ. In the Lord there is no distinction of past status. In the new man and in the Body of Christ, there is no difference whatsoever. If we introduce these manmade distinctions into the church, the relationship among the brothers and sisters will be shifted to the wrong ground.

We have mentioned five distinctions so far: the distinction between Greek and Jew, between free man and slave, between male and female, between barbarian and Scythian, and between circumcision and uncircumcision.

The distinction between Greek and Jew means two things. First the Jews and the Greeks are two different races; they belong to two different countries. In the Body of Christ, in Christ, and in the new man, there cannot be Jew or Greek. The Jews should not boast that they are descendants of Abraham and God’s chosen people, and they should not despise all foreigners. We must realize that both Jews and Greeks have been made one in Christ already. Boundaries no longer exist in Christ. In the Lord all have become brothers. We cannot divide God’s children into different classes. In the Body of Christ and in the new man, there is only one entity. If you bring the idea of kinship and regional flavor into the church, you do not know what the church of Christ is. You are in the church now, and you must see that we have no distinction between Jew and Greek here. It is a hard thing for the Jews to give up this distinction. But the Bible says that in Christ there cannot be Jew and Greek. Christ is all and in all. In the church there is only Christ.

There is another distinction between the Jews and the Greeks. Jews have a zealous and religious temperament, while Greeks represent an intellectual temperament. Historically, whenever you speak of religion, people think of the Jews. Whenever you speak of science and philosophy, people think of the Greeks. This is a distinction in character. However, no matter how different their characters are, Jews can be Christians, and Greeks also can be Christians. Those who are zealous for religion can be Christians, and those who are intellectual also can be Christians. In Christ, there is no distinction between Jews and Greeks. One is concerned with the feeling of the conscience, and the other is concerned with reasoning and deduction. Are these two different? According to the flesh, they definitely are different in disposition. One acts according to feelings, and the other acts according to intellect. But in Christ there is no distinction between Jews and Greeks. A warm person can be a Christian, and a cold person also can be a Christian. The one who walks by intuition can be a Christian, and the one who walks by reason also can be a Christian. All kinds of people can be Christians.

Once you become a Christian, you must leave your past temperament behind. There is no such thing in the church. Often the church suffers because many people try to bring their natural flavor and peculiar traits into the church. When those who do not like to talk gather together, they become a quiet group. When those who chatter gather together, they become a chattering group. When those who are cold gather together, they become a group of cold people. When those who are warm gather together, they become a group of warm people. As a result, many distinctions are built up among God’s children.

However, there is no place for natural dispositions in the church. In Christ and in the new man, there is no place for natural disposition. Do not think that others are wrong because their disposition is different from yours. You must realize that your own disposition is also unacceptable to others. Whether you are quick or quiet, cold or warm, intellectual or emotional, once you become a brother or a sister, you must put off these things. If you bring these natural elements into the church, they will become the basis of confusion and division. When you bring your disposition and temperament into the church, you will make yourself the standard and the criteria. Those who are up to your standard will be classified as good Christians, and those who are not up to your standard will be classified as poor Christians. Those who get along with your character will be deemed right and those who do not get along with your character will be deemed wrong. When this happens, the church will suffer through your disposition and temperament. Such distinctions must never exist in the church.

The second distinction is between free men and slaves. This distinction has also been eliminated in Christ. In Christ, the distinction between free men and slaves does not exist.

Paul wrote the Epistles of 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and Colossians during the Roman era when slavery was practiced. At that time slaves were like animals or tools; they were their masters’ possessions. Children born to slaves were automatically slaves; they had no freedom their whole life. The distinction between the free man and the slave was very great. However, God does not allow this distinction to exist in the church. The Epistles of 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and Colossians all say that there cannot be free man or slave. This distinction has been eliminated in Christ.

The third distinction is between male and female. In Christ and in the new man, the male and the female have the same status; there is no distinction between them. The male does not occupy a special position; neither does the female. Because Christ is all and in all, there is no distinction between male and female. In spiritual matters there is no difference between male and female. A brother is saved by the life of Christ, that is, by the life of God’s Son. A sister also is saved by the life of Christ, the life of God’s Son. The brother has become God’s son, and the sister has become God’s son as well. In Christ we are all God’s sons, and there is no distinction between male and female.

The fourth distinction is between barbarians and Scythians. This is a distinction of culture. There are differences in cultural standards, yet Paul told us that the cultural distinctions of barbarians and Scythians alike have been abolished in Christ.

Of course, we should learn to be a Jew among Jews, and to be as under law to those under law (1 Cor. 9:20-22). Among people of other cultures, we should behave according to their culture. We should learn to be one with all people in all places. When we contact those of a different culture, we should learn to be one with them in Christ.

The final distinction is between circumcision and uncircumcision. This distinction has to do with marks of piety in the flesh. The Jews have the mark of circumcision on their bodies. It shows that they belong to God, that they fear God, and that they reject the flesh. Yet they overemphasize circumcision. Acts 15 speaks of some Jews who tried to compel the Gentiles to be circumcised.

Christians also have their “marks of piety in the flesh.” For example, baptism, head covering, the breaking of bread, the laying on of hands, and so on can all become marks of piety. Baptism has a spiritual meaning, but it can also be a mark of piety in the flesh. Head covering with the sisters has a spiritual meaning, but it can also be a mark of piety in the flesh. Bread-breaking and the laying on of hands have spiritual meanings, but they can also become marks of piety in the flesh. All of these things have spiritual meaning; they are all spiritual matters. However, we may use these things to separate God’s children, boasting about marks which others do not have, and the result is disunity. If we do this, we have downgraded these matters from their spiritual level and made them mere physical marks in the flesh. When this happens, we become, in principle, the same as the Jews who boasted in circumcision; our baptism, head covering, bread-breaking, and hand-laying have become our “circumcision.” If we differentiate between God’s children based on these things, we have made distinctions according to the flesh. However, in Christ there is no distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision. No physical mark of the flesh can be used to differentiate God’s children. In Christ we are made one. The life in Christ is one. All of these things are outside of the life of Christ. Of course, it is good to have the spiritual reality that accompanies these physical marks. But if one has the spiritual reality yet is lacking in the physical marks, we cannot count him out. God’s children should not allow physical marks to damage the oneness in the Lord and the oneness in the new man.

We all are brothers and sisters. We are the new man in Christ. We all are members in the Body, and we all are parts of the Body. Once we are in the church, we should not have any distinction outside of Christ. Everyone stands on new ground. Everyone is in the new man created by the Lord and everyone is in the Body built up by Him. We must see that all of God’s children are one. There is no place for superiority or inferiority. We must eliminate the denominational and sectarian thoughts from our hearts. If we do this, there will be no division in the meeting of the church of God and in the fellowship between the saints. We have to pay attention to these matters in the meeting, and we have to live out such a life in our daily walk. May God bless us.

One of the best lessons on the church is a book by Dr. Jack Hyles, former pastor of the great First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana.  What was written by Watchman Nee is good and he defines the church as a local body of believers meeting together which is very true.  However, due to the fact that he was isolated in China from the Baptist Movement that has been ongoing since the days of Jesus and the Apostles, I have included the online version of this book here:

The Church Defined – Part 1

The Church Defined – Part 2

To read more about the history of Baptists and their persecution through history and also about the attempt by Satan to destroy the Bible in English, the KJV please see the links below and read as much as you can after reading about the definition of the Baptist Church which is the same church that Jesus founded when he ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost

Read about the TRAIL OF BLOOD

View the Trail of Blood Chart of History

The Pre-Millennial Return of Christ

 

History of Pre-Millennialism

Buy the book here – New Age Bible Versions by  Dr. Riplinger

Read Who Were the King James Translators

The Bible that GOD HAS USED

Famous Scientists who Believed in God

Famous Baptists in History.

I CHALLENGE ANYONE WHO IS READING THESE LESSONS TO FIND A GOOD INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCH TO GO TO THAT YOU CAN GET INVOLVED WITH AND LEARN TO WIN SOULS AND TO TAKE A CLASS OR A BUS ROUTE, OR SING IN THE CHOIR OR EVEN HELP CLEAN THE CHURCH AND SET UP CHAIRS OR GET READY FOR MEETINGS.  GOD WILL BLESS YOU AS YOU DEDICATE YOUR LIFE TO HIM AND HIS LOCAL BODY OF BELIEVERS.

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Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.


PRAYER

Scripture Reading: John 16:24; James 4:2-3; Luke 11:9-10; Psa. 66:18; Mark 11:24; Luke 18:1-8

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.  (John 16:24)

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.  (James 4:2-3)

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:  (Psalms 66:18)

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.  (Mark 11:24)

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:1-8)

 

I. PRAYER BEING A BASIC CHRISTIAN RIGHT

Christians have a basic right while living on earth today, the right to receive answers to prayers. The moment a person is regenerated, God gives him the basic right to ask of Him and to be heard by Him. John 16 says that God answers when we ask in the name of the Lord so that our joy may be made full. If we pray without ceasing, we will live a Christian life that is full of joy on earth today.

If we unceasingly pray, yet God does not unceasingly answer our prayer, or if we have been a Christian for years and God hardly or never listens to our prayers, there must be something seriously wrong. If we have been a Christian for three to five years without receiving one answer to prayer, we are ineffectual Christians. We are not just a little ineffectual, but very ineffectual. We are children of God, yet our prayers are never answered! This should never be. Every Christian should experience God answering his prayers. Every Christian should have frequent experiences of prayers being answered. This is a basic experience. If God has not answered our prayers for a long time, it means that there is surely something wrong with us. There is no way to deceive ourselves in the matter of answers to prayer. If it is answered, it is answered. If it is not answered, it is not answered. If it is effectual, it is effectual. If it is ineffectual, it is ineffectual.

We would like to ask every Christian: Have you learned to pray? Has God answered your prayer? It is wrong for prayers to be left unanswered, because prayers are not just a speaking into the air. Prayers are meant to be answered. Unanswered prayers are vain prayers. Christians must learn to have answered prayers. Since you have believed in God, your prayers should be answered by God. Your prayers are useless if God does not answer them. You must pray until your prayers are answered. Prayer is not only for spiritual cultivation but even more for receiving answers from God.

Prayer is not that easy a lesson to learn. A person may be a Christian for thirty or even fifty years and yet not learn to pray well. On the one hand, prayer is not a simple thing. On the other hand, prayer is so easy that a person can pray as soon as he believes in the Lord. Prayer can be considered the most profound as well as the simplest subject. It is so profound that some still cannot pray well despite learning about it all their lives. Many children of God feel that they do not know how to pray even up to the time they die. However, prayer is so simple that the moment a person believes in the Lord, he can start praying and have his prayers answered. If you begin your Christian life in a good way, you will always receive answers to your prayers. If you do not have a good start, you may not have an answer to prayer for three or even five years. If you do not have a proper foundation, you will need much effort to correct it later. Therefore, once a person believes in the Lord, he must learn to receive answers from God for his prayers. We hope that every believer will pay attention to this matter.

II. CONDITIONS FOR PRAYERS BEING ANSWERED

In the Bible we can see many conditions for having prayers answered, but only a few of them are basic. We believe that if we meet these few conditions, our prayers will be answered. These few conditions are equally applicable to those who have prayed for many years. These are very basic conditions, and we should pay attention to them.

A. Asking

All prayers should be genuine petitions before God. After a brother was saved, he prayed every day. One day a sister asked him, “Has God ever listened to your prayer?” He was surprised. To him prayer was just prayer; why did anyone have to bother about whether or not they were answered? From that time on, whenever he prayed, he asked God to answer his prayer. He began to consider how many of his prayers were answered. He discovered that his prayers were quite vague and capricious. It did not matter whether God answered them, and it did not matter whether God ignored them. They were like prayers to God for the sun to rise the next day; the sun would rise whether or not he prayed. He had been a Christian for a year, yet none of his prayers were answered. All that time he had been just kneeling and muttering words. He could not pinpoint what he had asked for. This amounted to not having asked for anything at all.

The Lord says, “Knock and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7). If what you are knocking on is just the wall, the Lord will not open the wall to you. But if you indeed are knocking on the door, the Lord will surely open the door to you. If you ask to go in as well, the Lord will surely let you in. The Lord said, “Seek and ye shall find” (v. 7). Suppose that there are many things here. Which one do you want? You must ask for at least one thing. You cannot say that anything will do. God wants to know what you specifically want and what you specifically are asking for. Only then can He give it to you. Hence, to ask means to demand something specific. We have to ask. This is what it means to seek and to knock. Suppose you want something from your father today. You have to ask for the specific thing you want. If you go to a pharmacy for medicine, you must say exactly what medicine you want. If you go to a market to purchase vegetables, you must say what vegetables you want. It is strange that people can come to the Lord without saying what they want. This is why the Lord says that we need to ask and ask specifically. The problem with us is that we do not ask. The hindrance is on our side. In our prayers we need to speak what we need and what we want. Do not pray an all-inclusive prayer in a frivolous way, caring little whether or not it is answered.

A new believer needs to learn to pray. He needs to pray with a specific goal in mind. “…ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). Many people go through the motion of prayer without asking for anything. It is useless to spend an hour or two hours or even eight or ten days before the Lord without asking for anything. You need to learn to ask for something; you need to knock, really knock hard, at a door. Once you clearly identify the entrance and seek to go in, knock hard at the door. When you seek something specific, you will not be satisfied with just anything; you want that particular thing. Do not be like some brothers and sisters who stand up in the meeting to pray for twenty minutes or half an hour without knowing what they want. It is strange that many people have long prayers that do not ask for anything.

You must learn to be specific with your prayer. You should know when God has answered your prayers and when He has not answered your prayers. If it makes no difference to you whether or not God answers your prayers, it will be hard for you to effectively pray to Him if you come across a difficulty in the future. Empty prayers will not be effectual in times of need. If prayers are empty when needs are specific, one cannot expect any solution for the problem. Only specific prayers can deal with specific problems.

B. Not Asking Amiss

We should ask, but there is a second condition to prayer; we should not ask amiss. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3). We should ask God out of necessity. We should not ask mindlessly, unreasonably, or wildly. We should never ask carelessly or amiss for any unnecessary things according to our lust or our flesh. If we do, our prayers will be in vain. While God often gives us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20), asking amiss is a different matter.

Asking amiss means asking beyond one’s capacity or real need. If you have a need, you can ask God. But you should only ask God to take care of your need. Asking beyond what you need is asking amiss. If you have a great need, it is not wrong to ask God to satisfy such a need. But if you do not have a great need, and you ask for it, you are asking amiss. You can only ask according to your capacity and need. You should never ask foolishly for this and that. Asking carelessly is to ask amiss, and such asking will not receive any answer from God. Asking amiss before God is like a four-year-old child asking his father for the moon in the sky. God is not pleased with evil asking. Every Christian should learn to confine his prayers within the proper scope. Do not open your mouth rashly and ask for more than you actually need.

C. Dealing with Sins

Some do not ask amiss, but God does not answer their prayers. This is because there is a basic barrier between them and God—sin. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psa. 66:18). If a person has obvious and known sins in his heart, yet is unwilling to drop or part with them, the Lord will not answer his prayer. (Note the words in my heart.) The Lord cannot answer a person’s prayer when there is such a great hindrance.

What does it mean to “regard iniquity in my heart”? It means to keep a sin in one’s heart, being unwilling to part with it. Such a person knows something is a sin, yet he continues to cherish it. It is not only a weakness in conduct or appearance but also a craving in the heart. This is different from the person spoken of in Romans 7. Although the person in Romans 7 has failed, he hates what he is doing. The person here, however, regards iniquity in his heart. This means he keeps the iniquity to himself and is unwilling and reluctant to let go of it. The sin remains not only in his conduct but also in his heart. The Lord will not hear such a one when he prays. So long as there is one sin, it will hinder God from answering our prayer. We should not keep any favorite sin in our heart. We should acknowledge all sins as sins and should put them under the blood. The Lord can sympathize with our weakness, but the Lord will not allow us to regard iniquity in our hearts. Our prayers will not prevail if we have removed all the sins outwardly but still regard them in our heart and are unwilling and reluctant to part with them. The moment we begin our Christian life, we have to ask for the Lord’s grace to keep us from falling and to sanctify us in our conduct. At the same time, we must thoroughly reject all sins in our heart. We should not retain or regard any sin in our heart. Our prayer will be useless if sin remains in our heart. The Lord will not listen to such a prayer.

Proverbs 28:13 says, ” He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” You must confess your sins. You must tell the Lord, “I have regarded a sin in my heart. I cannot give it up. I ask You to forgive me. I want to forsake this sin. Please deliver me from this sin. Do not let this sin remain in me. I do not want it. I want to reject it.” If you confess to the Lord this way, the Lord will forgive; you will receive forgiveness. Then, your prayer will be heard. You must never be loose in this matter. You will not receive anything if you do not ask. You also will not receive anything if you ask amiss. Even if you do not ask amiss, the Lord will not answer your prayer as long as you keep back a favorite sin and regard it in your heart.

(To help you with confession of sins, I am putting this download link that I call the SIN AND REPENTANCE CONFESSION LIST.)

D. Believing

A condition on the positive side for having prayer answered is faith. Faith is indispensable. Without faith, prayer is ineffectual. The story in Mark 11 speaks loudly of the need for faith in prayer. The Lord Jesus said, ” What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (v. 24). We must believe when we pray. If we believe that we have received what we are praying for, we will have them. We hope that as soon as a person has received the Lord, even a week after his conversion, he will know what faith is. The Lord said, ” believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” He did not say, “Believe that you will receive them” but, “Believe that you have received them.” We should believe that we have received what we asked for, and we will have them. The believing that the Lord speaks of here is followed by its predicate you have received. What is faith? Faith is believing that we have received what we have asked for.

Christians often make the mistake of separating believe from its predicate you have received. They place it before the expression you will have them. They pray to the Lord thinking that it is a matter of great faith to “believe…and you will have them.” They pray to the Lord that the mountain be taken up and cast into the sea, and they believe that it will be so. They think that this kind of faith is great faith. However, this is to move believe away from you have received and to place it before you will have them. The Bible says that we should believe that we have received, not that we will receive. The two are definitely not the same. Not only do new believers need to learn this, but even those who have been believers for many years need to learn this.

What is faith? Faith is the assurance that God has answered our prayer. It is not the conviction that God will answer our prayer. Faith is when we kneel down to pray and say in an instant, “Thank God! He has answered my prayer. Thank God! This matter is settled.” This is to believe that we have received. A person may kneel down and pray and may rise and say, “I believe that God will definitely hear my prayer.” The expression will definitely hear is wrong. No matter how hard he tries to “believe” in this way, he will not see any result. Suppose you pray for a sick person and he says, “Thank God! I am healed.” His temperature may still be high; there may be no change in his symptoms at all. But his problem is over because he is clear within himself that he is healed. However, if he says, “I believe the Lord will surely heal my sickness,” he will probably need to try harder to “believe.” The Lord Jesus said, “Believe that you have received them, and you will have them.” He did not say that you will receive if you believe that you will receive. If you turn this around, it does not work. Brothers and sisters, have you seen the key? Genuine faith lies in the phrase It is finished. Genuine faith is thanking God for having already answered your prayers.

We need to say a few words more about faith. Consider the matter of healing. We can find some solid examples of faith in Mark’s Gospel. There are three sentences in the Gospel of Mark which bear special significance to prayer. The first relates to the Lord’s power, the second to the Lord’s will, and the third to the Lord’s act.

1. The Lord’s Power—God Can

Let us look at Mark 9:21-23, which says, “And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. ” The father said to the Lord Jesus, “If You can do anything…help us.” The Lord Jesus repeated his word and said, “If You can.” The Lord’s “if You can” is a quotation of the father’s “if You can.” The Lord Jesus was repeating what the father said. The father said, “If You can do anything…help us.” The Lord Jesus said, “If You can. All things are possible to him who believes.” It was not a question of “if You can,” but a question of whether or not he could believe.

When man finds himself in difficulty, he is usually full of doubt; he cannot believe in the power of God. This is the first thing we need to deal with. It may seem at times that the power of the obstacle is greater than the power of God. The Lord Jesus rebuked the father for doubting the power of God. In the Bible we seldom find the Lord interrupting a person as He did in this case. It seems that the Lord was angry when He said, “If You can.” The Lord rebuked the father when the father said, “If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” What the Lord meant was, “How can you say, `If You can’? What is this? All things are possible to him who believes. This is not a matter of `if I can,’ but a matter of whether or not you believe. How dare you ask if I can!” When God’s children pray, they should learn to lift up their eyes and say, “Lord! You can.”

Mark 2 records the incident of the Lord healing a paralytic. The Lord said to the paralytic, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” (v. 5). Some scribes reasoned in their hearts, saying, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” (v. 7). In their hearts they thought that only God could forgive sins and that Jesus could not. They regarded forgiveness of sins as a great thing. But the Lord said to them, ” Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?” (vv. 8-9). The Lord was showing them that to man it was a question of whether or not one could do it, but to God it was a question of which was easier. For man, it is impossible for anyone to forgive sins or to ask the paralytic to stand up and walk. However, the Lord showed them that He could forgive sins as well as make the paralytic rise up and walk. Both forgiving and making the paralytic rise up and walk were easy for the Lord. The Lord was showing them that “God can.” In our prayer we need to know that “God can” and that nothing is too difficult for the Lord.

2. The Lord’s Will—God is Willing

It is true that God can do everything, but how do I know that He is willing to heal me? I do not know His will. Perhaps the Lord is not willing to heal me. What should I do? Let us look at another story. Mark 1:41 says, “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.” Whether or not God can do something is not the question here; rather, it is a question of whether or not God is willing. No matter how great His power is, what does it matter if He is unwilling to heal? If God does not want to heal us, the greatness of His power will be of no consequence to us. The first question that has to be settled is whether or not God can, but the second question that also has to be settled is whether or not God will. The Lord said to the leper, “I am willing.” The Old Testament tells us that leprosy is a very filthy disease (Lev. 13—14). Whoever contacted a leper was defiled. However, the Lord’s love was so great that He said, “I am willing.” The Lord Jesus stretched out His hand and touched and cleansed the leper! The leper entreated the Lord, and the Lord was willing to cleanse him. Can it be that the Lord will not heal our illness? Can it be that the Lord will not answer our prayers? We can all say, “God can” and “God is willing.”

3. The Lord’s Act—God Has Done

It is not enough for us to know that God can and God will. We need to know one more thing—God has done. We need to go back to Mark 11:24, which we quoted earlier: “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” This tells us that God has done something already.

What is faith? Faith is not just believing that God can and will do something but also believing that God has done something already. God has accomplished it. If you believe that you have received it, you will have it. If you believe and are confident that God can and will do a certain thing because He has given you a word concerning it, you should thank Him, saying, “God has done it!” Many people’s prayers are not answered because they are not clear about this point; they still hope that they will receive something. However, to hope means to expect something in the future, whereas to believe means to consider something as being done. Genuine faith says, “Thank God, He has healed me! Thank God, I have received it! Thank God, I am cleansed! Thank God, I have recovered!” When faith is perfect, it will not only say “God can” and “God wills,” but also “God has done.”

God has listened to our prayers! God has accomplished everything! If we believe that we have received it, we will receive it. Very often, our faith is a faith that believes in what we will receive. As a result, we never receive anything. We should have the faith that we have already received. Faith is always a matter of “having been done” rather than of “will be done.”

Consider a simple illustration. A person has just heard the gospel. If you ask him, “Have you believed in the Lord Jesus?”, he may answer, “I have.” You may then ask, “Are you saved?” If he says, “I will be saved,” you know that he is not saved. Suppose you ask him again, “Do you really believe that you are saved?” If he says, “I will surely be saved,” you know that he is still not saved. You may want to ask him again, “Are you really sure that you will be saved?” If he answers, “I think I will,” his words do not sound like someone who is saved. If one says, “I will be saved,” “I will surely be saved,” or “I think I will surely be saved,” there is no guarantee that he is saved. If the person says, “I am saved,” he has the right tone. Once a man believes, he is saved. Any faith, if it is faith at all, believes in what has been accomplished. For example, once a person possesses faith at the time of his salvation, he immediately says, “Thank God, I have received.” Let us lay hold of these three things—God can, God wills, and God has done.

Faith is not a psychological exercise. Faith is receiving God’s word and believing with much assurance that God can, God wills, and God has done. If you have not received His word, do not take the spiritual risk of trying to tempt God. The exercise of psychology is not faith. Take illness as an example: All who are healed through genuine faith are not afraid of a medical checkup (Mark 1:44). The result of a medical checkup for those who have experienced a genuine divine healing will prove that it was a genuine healing rather than something psychological.

When new believers learn to pray, they should pray in two stages. In the first stage they should pray until they receive a promise. They should pray until they receive God’s word. All prayers begin by asking God for something. Such prayers can continue for a period of time, sometimes lasting for three to five years. One needs to keep asking. Some prayers are answered quickly, while other prayers continue to go unanswered for years. This is the period of time when one needs to continue to ask. The second stage begins from the time one receives a promise and extends to the time the promise is realized. It begins from the time one receives God’s word and extends to the time His word is fulfilled. This stage is not for praying, but for praising. In the first stage one prays, but in the second stage one praises. In the first stage he prays until he receives a word. In the second stage he praises the Lord continuously until the word is fulfilled. This is the secret to prayer.

Some people only know two points about prayer: First, they pray on their knees for what they do not have, and second, they have it; God has given it to them. Suppose I ask for a watch from the Lord, and after a few days the Lord gives me a watch. There are only two events: being without something and having something. Some do not realize that there is another event in between these two—the event of faith. Suppose I pray for a watch and one day say, “Thank God, He has already heard my prayer.” Although my hands are still empty, I am clear within that I already have the watch. Indeed, after a few days the watch arrives. We cannot be concerned with just two events: not having and then having. We must be concerned with a third event—an additional event between not having and having, in which God gives us a promise, and then we believe and rejoice over it. Perhaps we have to wait three days before we actually receive the watch. But in our spirit, we received it three days ago already. A Christian should experience this kind of receiving in the spirit. If a person never experiences this kind of receiving in the spirit, he does not have faith.

We hope that new believers will know what faith is, and we hope that they will learn to pray. Perhaps, you have prayed continually for three or five days, a month, or even a year, and still your hands are empty. But deep in your heart, you have a little assurance that the matter will eventually be accomplished. At that time you should begin to praise God. You should continue praising Him until you have received the thing in your hand. Simply put, the first stage is to pray from nothing to having faith, and the second stage is to praise from having faith to actually receiving.

Why should we divide our prayers into these two stages? Suppose a person prays from having nothing to having faith. If he continues to pray, he may lose his faith. Once a person has acquired faith, he should begin praising. If he continues to pray, he may pray away his faith and not receive anything in the end. “You will have it” is an actual having in the hands, while “you have received it” is a having in the spirit. If the faith is already there, but the things have not materialized, one has to remind God with praise; he should not try to remind Him with prayer. If God has said that He will give us something, what else do we need to say? If we have the inward assurance that “we have received it,” what more do we need to pray for? Many Christians have the experience that as soon as their prayer strikes faith, they can no longer continue to pray. They can only say, “Lord! I praise You.” They have to keep their faith and praise, “Lord! I praise You. You have heard my prayer. I praise You because You answered my prayer a month ago.” If you do this, you will receive. Unfortunately, some people do not have the knowledge. God has already promised them something, yet they still pray. In the end their prayer drives away their faith. This is a great loss.

The word in Mark 11:24 is too precious. In the whole New Testament, we cannot find another passage that explains faith as clearly as this one. “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” If a person sees this, he will know what prayer really is, and prayer will be a powerful tool in his hands.

E. Persevering in Asking

Another point about prayer which requires attention is that we must persevere in prayer and never stop praying. Luke 18:1 says, “… men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” Some prayers require perseverance. One has to pray to such an extent that the prayer seems to wear out the Lord and force Him to answer. This is another kind of faith. The Lord said, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (v. 8). This faith is different from the faith spoken of earlier, but they are not contradictory. Mark 11 says that we must pray until we have faith. Luke 18 says that we must ask again and again. We must have the faith to pray to the Lord persistently until one day He is compelled to answer our prayer. We should not care whether or not there is a promise. We should just pray until God is compelled to answer.

Many prayers are inconsistent prayers. A person can pray for one or two days. But after three months, he completely forgets it. Some people can pray about something only once. They cannot even pray a second time for it. Such ones care little whether they receive what they ask for. Please count how many of your prayers have been offered for the second time, the third time, the fifth time, or the tenth time. If you have forgotten your prayers, how can you expect God to remember them? If you do not have a heart to pray, how can you expect God to have a heart to listen? If you have forgotten your prayer, how can you expect God to remember it? Actually, you have never wanted what you asked for. A person will pray persistently only if he has a real need. One prays persistently only when he is pressed in the environment and driven by needs. In such cases he may persist for decades and still not give up praying, “Lord! If You do not answer me, I will not stop asking.”

If you want to ask for something, you should trouble God about it. If you really want it, you must ask persistently until God hears you. You have to ask in such a way that God cannot do anything except answer your prayer. You have to ask until God is forced to answer you.

III. THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER

Every Christian should have a prayer-book, one a year. He should record his prayers as one keeps books in accounting. Each page should be divided into four columns. The first column should record the date he begins to pray for something. The second column should record the prayer item. The third column should record the date the prayer is answered, and the fourth column should record how God answers the prayer. In this way, one will find out how many things he asks God for in a year, how many prayers God answers, and what prayers are still unanswered. New believers should definitely keep such a book. But it is good for those who have been believers for many years to keep a prayer-book also.

The advantage of writing things down in a prayer-book is that it shows us whether or not God is answering our prayers. Once God’s answers stop, something must be wrong. It is good for Christians to be zealous in serving the Lord, but such service is useless if their prayers are not answered. If a man’s way to God is blocked, his way to men is also blocked. If a man has no power before God, he will have no power before men. We must first seek to be a man of power before God before we can be useful before men.

A brother once wrote down the names of one hundred forty persons and prayed for their salvation. Some names were recorded in the morning and the persons were saved in the afternoon. After eighteen months, only two on the list remained unsaved. This is a very good pattern for us. May God gain more Christians who will keep a record of their prayers. I hope you will put this into practice. Write down the items you are praying for one by one and the items that God has answered. Any item that has been recorded in the book, but has not received an answer, should be followed up by persistent prayer. You should only stop if God shows you that a certain prayer is not according to His will. If He has not shown you this, pray persistently until you receive an answer. You should not be careless in any way. You should be strictly trained in this matter from the beginning. You should be this serious before God. Once you pray, do not stop until you receive an answer.

In using the prayer-book, note that some items require daily prayer while others require prayer only once a week. The schedule depends on the number of prayer items you have in your prayer book. If you have little to ask, you can pray daily over every item in the book. If there are many items, you can arrange for certain items to be prayed over on Mondays and others to be prayed over on Tuesdays. Just as men schedule their time to do other things, we should set aside a specific time every day for prayer. If our prayers are not specific, we will not need a prayer-book. If our prayers are specific, we will need a prayer-book. We can place this book in the same place we put our Bible and hymn book. They are to be used daily. After a period of time, count how many prayers have been answered and how many prayers have gone unanswered. It is a blessing to pray in a specific way according to a prayer-book.

As for the prayer that the Lord teaches us in Matthew 6, the prayer of 1 Timothy 2, and prayers for light, life, grace, and gifts for the church, these are general subjects for prayer. They should not be classified under ordinary items for prayer. We should pray for these great things every day.

Prayer has two ends—the person who is praying and the one who is being prayed for. Many times, the one being prayed for will not change unless the praying one is first changed. If the situation on their side remains unchanged, we need to seek after God concerning our side. We should say, “O Lord! What changes do I have to make? What sins have I not dealt with yet? What loves should I forsake? Am I really learning the lesson of faith? Is there anything else I should learn?” If there is a need for change on our side, we must change first. We cannot expect those who are being prayed for to change while there is no change at all on our side.

Once a person believes in the Lord, he must learn to pray earnestly. He must learn the lesson of prayer well before he can have a deeper knowledge of God and a fruitful future for himself.

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Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration in the first lesson was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.

LEADING MEN TO CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Rom. 1:16; 10:14; 1 Tim. 2:1, 4; Mark 16:15

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  (Romans 1:16)

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  (Romans 10:14)

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  (Mark 16:15)

In the previous chapter we said that once a person believes in the Lord, he has to witness for the Lord. In this chapter we want to talk about the ways to lead men to Christ. If we do not know how to lead people to Christ, I am afraid that much of our witnessing will be in vain. There are several things which we must do and learn if we want to lead men to Christ. We can group them into two categories: First, going to God on man’s behalf, and second, going to man on God’s behalf. In addition, we would also like to say something about passing out tracts.

I. GOING TO GOD ON MAN’S BEHALF

A. Prayer Being the Foundation
of Leading Men to Christ

There is a foundational work in leading men to Christ. Before one opens his mouth before man, he first must open his mouth before God. We need to first ask God and then talk to men. We always need to talk to God first, not man. Some brothers and sisters are very zealous to lead men to Christ, but they do not pray for them. A man may have great interest in people, but if he has no burden to pray before the Lord, his work of saving souls will be ineffectual. A person must have a burden before the Lord before he can witness to men.

The Lord Jesus said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”  (John 6:37) According to Acts 2:47, the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. The first thing that we must do is ask God for people, asking Him to give men to the Lord Jesus and to add them to the church. In order for men to be saved, we need to ask God and implore Him. It is very difficult to deal with man’s heart. It is not easy for us to turn a heart toward the Lord. We must first go to God and pray for these people, asking God to bind the strong man “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.”  (Luke 11:21-22).  Afterwards, we can talk to them at length. We have to present these people one by one to the Lord and pray for them fervently before we can effectively lead them to Christ.

Those who are good at leading men to Christ are good at prayer. If you have trouble getting answers to prayer, you will have trouble witnessing for the Lord. If you have no confidence in prayer, you will have no confidence in leading men to Christ. Hence, you must learn to pray in a practical way and not let this matter slip by.

B. Preparing a Record Book

In order to pray for people in a proper way, you should keep a record book. Allow God to put the names of those whom He wishes to save in your heart. When you were first saved, how did you know to whom you should go to make restitution? How did you know whom you should repay? It was the Lord who put the person’s name in your heart and who reminded you of particular things. This reminder compelled you to make restitution with others. One day you suddenly thought of something. Another day something else came to your mind. As a result of this enlightening, you dealt with these things one by one. The same principle holds true in leading men to Christ. Allow the Lord to put some names in your heart. When these names are in your heart, spontaneously you will be burdened to pray for them. The Lord may put a few people or a few dozen people in your heart. In writing these names down, the most important thing to remember is to take the names that the Lord has put in your heart. Do not sit down and simply make out a list at random. You will be wasting your time if you mindlessly write down something. Your success will be dependent upon how good your start is. You have to ask God specifically for a few names. Out of all your family members, friends, colleagues, schoolmates, and those whom you know, a few names will spontaneously come to your mind. You will have a feeling for them, and you will want them to be saved first.

A record book should have the following columns: The first column should be a number; the second column, the date; and the third column, the name. This will remind us of the number we have assigned to a person and the date we began to pray for him. The fourth column should also be a date—the date when the person is saved. If the person unfortunately dies, we can put the date of death in this column. One should persist and not give up once a name is in the book. The prayer for a person should follow him until he dies. If the person is alive and not saved, you should keep on praying for him until he is saved. One brother prayed for his friend for eighteen years before his friend was saved. It is not certain when a person will be saved. Some are saved in a year, and some in two to three months. Perhaps one or two of them may prove to be very difficult, but in the end they will still be saved. You should not relax but relentlessly pursue in prayer for their salvation.

C. The Greatest Obstacle to Prayer Being Sin

Prayer is a test; it exposes your spiritual condition before the Lord. If your spiritual condition is proper and normal, others will be saved one by one. As you intercede continuously before the Lord, you may find one or two persons saved after a few days or half a month. After a while, another three or five may be saved. People should be saved regularly. If your prayers are not answered for a long time, it must mean that you are sick before the Lord. You should go to the Lord for light and find out where your problem lies.

The greatest obstacle to prayer is sin. We must learn to live a holy life before the Lord. We must reject all known sins. The moment we take sin lightly or tolerate it, our prayers will be hindered.  “Sin has both an objective aspect and a subjective aspect. The objective aspect has to do with God, while the subjective aspect has to do with us. On the objective side, sin obstructs God’s grace and promises. Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2) “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:”  (Psalms 66:18) If a person does not take care of the problem of sin properly, he will find hindrance to his prayer. Unconfessed sins, sins which are never dealt with by the blood, are a big obstacle before God; they are the cause of unanswered prayer. This is on the objective side.

 

On the subjective side, sin damages man’s conscience. When a person sins, no matter what he says to himself, how much he reads the Bible, how many promises there are in the Word, how much grace God has, and how much He accepts him, his conscience will be weakened and bound. First Timothy 1:19 says, “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:” A ship may be old or small, but it cannot leak. Similarly, our conscience must not have a leak. As soon as the conscience is not at peace, many prayers cannot be uttered. Thus, there are obstacles not only before God but even within man himself. The relationship between faith and conscience is just like that between a ship and its cargo. Faith is like the cargo, and the conscience is like a ship. When the ship has a leak, the cargo will be damaged. When the conscience is strong, faith will be strong. But when there is a leak in the conscience, faith will be gone. If our heart blames us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”  (1 John 3:20)

If you want to be a man of prayer, you must deal with sin thoroughly. You lived in sin for a long time in the past. If you are not careful with it now, you will not be totally free from it. You have to deal with sin seriously; you have to come before God to confess every sin, putting every sin under the blood, refusing it, and coming out from it. Then your conscience will be recovered. As soon as the blood cleanses, the conscience is recovered. There will be no condemnation, and spontaneously you will see God’s face. Never give in to sin. This will weaken you before the Lord. If you are weak before the Lord, you will not be able to intercede for others. As long as sin remains, you will not be able to utter anything in your prayer. Sin is the number one problem. You should pay attention to it all the time, even daily. If one deals with sin properly before the Lord, he will be able to offer proper prayers, and others will be brought to the Lord through him.

D. Praying with Faith

Another important thing is to have faith in our prayers. If the conscience is blameless, it is easy for faith to be strong, and if faith is strong, spontaneously our prayers will be answered.

What is faith? Faith is freedom from doubt. It is to accept God’s promises in our prayers. It is God who asks us to pray and who wants us to pray. God said, “Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.”  (Isaiah 45:11)  If we pray, God has to answer us. Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:”  (Matthew 7:7)  It is impossible for Him not to open after we have knocked. Jesus said, “Seek and you shall find.” It is impossible for us not to find after we have sought. Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given to you.” It is impossible for us to ask and yet not receive. If we do not believe this, what kind of God do we think our God is? We must see that God’s promises are faithful and dependable. Faith is based on our knowledge of God. The more we know God, the stronger our faith will be. We are saved already; we know God already. Therefore, we can believe; there should not be any difficulty at all for us to believe. When we believe, God will answer our prayers. Learn to be a person full of faith from the very beginning. We should not trust in our feelings or our mind. Instead, we should believe in God’s word. God’s promises are like cash; they work. In fact, God’s promises are God’s work. The promises tell us of God’s work, while His work is the manifestation of His promises. We have to accept God’s promises in the same way we accept His work. When we believe God’s word, abiding in faith rather than in doubt, we will see how real God’s words are and we will find answers to our prayers.

E. Aspiring to Be a Praying Person

We need to have the ambition to be a praying person, a person with power before God. Some people are powerful before God, while others are not. When some people speak, God listens. When others speak, He does not listen. What does it mean to be powerful before God? It simply means that God listens to the person when he speaks. It is as if God is happy to be influenced by such a one. Some people can influence God. Being powerless before God means that God does not listen to the person when he speaks. Such a one may spend much time before God, but God ignores him. We must have the desire and the aspiration to see that God often answers our prayers. No blessing can be greater than God answering our prayers all the time. We have to pray to Him, “May every request of ours be pleasing to Your ears.” It is a most glorious thing for God to incline His ear to us. It is a tremendous thing for God to trust us to the extent that He can give us whatever we ask.

You have to present to the Lord the names that you are burdened with and pray for them one by one. See how long it takes for God to save them. If your prayers are unanswered after a long period, you have to deal with yourself and with God. In order for your prayers to be answered, it is often necessary to go through specific dealings. Unanswered prayer means that there is sickness somewhere. If you do not mean business in this matter, you will always fail.

This is why you need a record book. The record book will show you whether or not your prayers are answered. Many people do not know whether their prayers are answered because they do not have a record of anything. Newly saved brothers and sisters should learn to have such a record book. Then they will know whether or not their prayers are answered. They will know whether there is a problem between them and the Lord. They will know also when they have to deal with themselves and when they have to deal with God.  I have kept such a record book for years, even before I attended and graduated from Hyles-Anderson College because of this teaching.  I have seen many wonderful answers which are recorded in such a record book.  Recently we have begun to send out a voice broadcast that asks people for their prayer request.  Now I have begun to put those prayer requests on my list and some have even been answered before I had even contacted those for whom I was praying.

If you have prayed for a long time and there is still no answer, you should realize that there must be some hindrance. The hindrances always occur because there is sin in your conscience or there is a problem with your faith. New believers need not worry about the deeper aspects of prayer. They need only to pay attention to their conscience and their faith. Before the Lord, we have to confess, deal with, and refuse our sins. At the same time we have to genuinely and fully trust in God’s promises. If we do this, we will see people being saved one by one, and our lives will be full of answers to prayer.

F. Praying Daily

You have to pray for those around you. Is there no one who needs your prayers? How many colleagues do you have? How many neighbors do you have? How many relatives and friends do you have? Always ask the Lord to place one or two special persons in your heart. When the Lord places a person in your heart, He intends to save this person through you. You should write down his name in your record book and continually bring him to the Lord through prayer.

You need to set aside a fixed time daily for this work of intercession. Whether it be an hour, half an hour, or a quarter of an hour, it must be a fixed time. If there is no fixed time for prayer, there will not be definite prayer. As a result, there will not be any prayer at all. Hence, always fix a time for prayers, whether it is a quarter of an hour or half an hour. Do not be too ambitious; do not plan for two hours and end up not being able to carry it out. It is more practical to set aside one hour, half an hour, or a quarter of an hour. Always fix a time to pray for those who need your prayer. Do not relax. Do this every day. After a while, you will see sinners saved one by one.

G. A Few Examples of Intercession

We will mention a few stories here to show you how others have done this work.

1. A Boiler Worker

Once a boiler worker in a ship was saved. He asked the brother who led him to Christ, “Please tell me the first thing that I must do for the Lord?” The brother replied, “The Lord will choose a few of your companions and put them in your heart. You will have to pray for them.” There were more than ten persons working together at his place. He remembered one person in particular and prayed for him daily. That person found out about this, and he became angry. Later, an evangelist came by and preached the gospel to the men there. After the meeting he stood up and said, “I want to believe in Jesus.” The evangelist asked, “Why do you want to believe in Jesus?” He said, “A person has been praying for me for some time. I have to believe in Jesus.” The boiler worker had been praying for this man. Although he did not like this in the beginning, the power of prayer overcame him, and in the end he accepted the Lord.

2. A Sixteen-year-old Youth

A sixteen-year-old youth was working as a copy writer in a construction firm. The chief engineer of the company had a very bad temper and almost everyone was afraid of him. After the youth was saved, he started to pray for the chief engineer. He was afraid of the engineer and dared not open his mouth, yet he prayed earnestly for him daily. After a short while, the engineer asked him, “I have over two hundred people in the company, but I feel that you are different. Can you please tell me why you and I are so different?” The engineer was about forty to fifty years old, and the youth was only sixteen. The young man answered, “I have believed in the Lord, and you have not.” The engineer immediately said, “I also want to believe in Him.” The youth brought him to the church, and the engineer was saved.

3. Two Sisters

In Europe there are guest houses which are open to strangers. They are not hotels, but they receive travelers. Once there were two Christian sisters whose house was open to travelers. Sometimes, as many as twenty or thirty would stay at their place. They noticed the luxury of the travelers’ attire and the vanity of their conversation. The sisters were bothered and wanted to win them over to Christ. However, there were many guests and only two of them. How could they win them over? They decided to sit at the two ends of the room during the conversation and pray for the guests from each end.

On the first day during the after-dinner conversation, each sister sat at one end, praying for the guests one by one. One prayed from one end, and the other prayed from the other end. They prayed for each and every one of them. This stopped the guests’ jesting and chatting on that first day. They asked themselves what had happened. On that day, one person was saved. The next day, another lady was saved. One by one they were gradually all brought to the Lord.

Prayer is indispensable. The first condition in bringing people to the Lord is intercessory prayer. We must pray systematically, orderly, daily, and relentlessly, until our friends are saved.

II. GOING TO MAN ON GOD’S BEHALF

Merely going to God on man’s behalf is not enough. We also have to go to man on God’s behalf. We have to tell men about God. Many people have the courage to speak to God, but they have no courage to speak to man. We have to exercise boldness to speak to men. We have to tell them the kind of Lord our Lord is. When we speak, we need to pay attention to a few things.

A. Never Engaging in Useless Arguments

First, never engage in useless arguments. This does not mean that there should never be any arguments. Acts tells us of a few arguments. Even Paul argued (cf. Acts 17:2, 17-18; 18:4, 19). However, useless arguments do not save people. Sometimes it is all right to engage in arguments. But this is mainly for the benefit of other listeners. Try to avoid arguing with the ones you are trying to save because arguments often drive people away instead of bringing them in. If you argue with them, they will run away.

Many people think that arguments can touch men’s hearts. Actually, this never happens. At the most, arguments can convince men’s minds. Their mouths may be shut, but their hearts will not be won over. Arguments produce little result. Try to say less in the way of argument and more in the way of testimony. You have only to tell others that you felt happy and peaceful after you believed in the Lord Jesus, that you sleep well now, and that even meals are becoming tastier. No one can argue with you about these things. They can only wonder. You have to show them that they do not have your kind of peace and joy and that they should therefore believe in the Lord.

B. Keeping to the Facts

The key to leading men to the Lord is to emphasize the facts, not the doctrines. Just recall what it was like when you were saved. You did not believe because you understood the doctrines. Many people understand the doctrines, but they do not believe. It is impossible for any brother to try to lead others to Christ through arguments and doctrines. The key to leading men to Christ is to keep to the facts. This is why simple ones often are more effective in leading others to the Lord; those who are good at doctrines may not lead others to the Lord. Some people can give wonderful messages. But what use is there in winning the minds of others, if one cannot help them be saved?

Once there was an old man who considered going to church a good habit. He was not saved, yet he would go to church every Sunday and also make his whole family go. But when he returned home, he would lose his temper, and all kinds of bad words would come out of his mouth. The whole family was afraid of him. One day his daughter, who was a believer, came to visit him. She brought her little daughter with her. The old man brought the little granddaughter to the church. When they came out of the church, the little granddaughter looked at her grandfather and felt that he did not look like a believer. She asked him, “Do you believe in Jesus?” The grandfather said, “Children should keep their mouths shut.” After walking a few steps, she said to her grandfather again, “You do not look as if you have believed in Jesus.” Again the old man said, “Children should keep their mouths shut.” After a while she asked her grandfather, “Why do you not believe in Jesus?” This little child saw a fact—the way her grandfather attended church was different from the way other believers attended church. The old man, who was otherwise wild and hard to deal with, became soft after his little granddaughter’s probing questions. On that day he accepted the Lord.

The preaching of the gospel requires skill. One must know the way God works before he can preach the gospel. A person may preach the right doctrines, and crowds of people may come for his messages, but the same crowds may walk away unsaved. You will not get any fish with a straight hook. The fishing hook must be curved before one can catch fish. Those who lead others to the Lord need to know how to use a hook. Use only the words that can catch people. If your words cannot catch people, try to change the way you speak. Facts are words that catch; they are words that can touch others.

C. Being Sincere in Attitude

Do not delve into many teachings. Try to speak more facts. At the same time, be sincere in attitude. Saving a man’s soul is not a light matter. I once saw a person who wanted to lead others to the Lord. He was willing to pray, but his attitude was wrong. He joked around as he spoke about the Lord. Whatever spiritual power he might have had was lost through his jokes. As a result, he could not lead anyone to the Lord. One has to be very sincere in his attitude. He must not be flippant or funny in his attitude. He has to let others see that this is the most serious matter in the whole world.

D. Praying for the Opportunity to Speak

You also need to pray unceasingly for God to provide you with the right opportunity to speak. When you pray, God will give you the opportunity.

One sister gathered a group of women together once a week and led them in a Bible study. The women all worked in the same company, and none of them believed in the Lord. One of them was very particular about her dress. She was very proud and would not listen to anything the sister said. The sister took notice of her and prayed for her. She asked God to give her the opportunity to speak to the woman. One day she felt a desire to invite the woman over for tea. Since this woman loved to socialize, she accepted the invitation. When she came, the sister encouraged her to believe in the Lord. She replied, “I cannot believe. I like to gamble, and I love pleasure. I do not want to lose these things. I cannot believe in Jesus.” The sister said, “If a person wants to believe in the Lord Jesus, she has to stop gambling. Anyone who wants to believe in the Lord Jesus must give up vainglory. You have to give up these things if you want to believe in the Lord Jesus.” The woman said, “The price is too high. I cannot afford it.” The sister said, “I hope you will go back and consider it.” After she said this, she continued to pray for her. The woman returned home and knelt down to pray. After she prayed, she suddenly said, “I have decided to follow the Lord Jesus today.” She changed suddenly. She could not explain it, but her heart just turned. She changed her attire; she no longer dressed the same as before. Wonderful things followed one after another. Within a year many of her colleagues were brought to the Lord one by one.

You may think that it is difficult to talk to someone, but if you pray for him, the Lord will give you the opportunity to speak to him, and he will change. The sister who was having Bible studies had been afraid to speak to the woman because the woman behaved as though she knew everything and could do everything. She appeared to be very arrogant, but the Lord gave this sister the burden to pray for her. One day the Lord told the sister to speak to her. She put aside her considerations and spoke to her. You have to pray on the one hand and learn to open your mouth on the other. After you have prayed for a person for some time, the Lord will impress you to speak to him. You will have to tell him about the Lord’s grace and the things that He has done for you. He will not be able to resist you because he cannot oppose the things that the Lord has done for you. The newly saved brothers and sisters must pray daily for the Lord to provide opportunities to speak to others. What a pity that some people have been saved for several years already, yet they dare not open their mouths to speak to their relatives and friends! Perhaps your fear has caused you to miss many opportunities that were waiting for you.

E. Speaking in Season and out of Season

We mentioned earlier that you must pray before you speak to a person. This, however, does not mean that you cannot speak if you have not prayed. You have to speak to men even if you are seeing them for the first time. Always grasp the opportunity to speak, whether in season or out of season. You never know who you are missing. Speak whenever there is the chance. Always be prepared to open your mouth. Of course, first and foremost, you have to pray for those whose names appear in your record book. But you have to pray for those whom you do not know. You should pray, “Lord, please save the sinners. Whoever they may be, please save them.” Whenever you meet someone and have an urge in your heart to speak, you should speak to him.

If we do not heed this urging, we may let a soul slip away from us. We should not let so many souls slip through our hands. We hope that all the brothers and sisters will testify faithfully for the Lord and bring many to Christ.

F. Studying Carefully

Each time you lead someone to the Lord, you have to do a detailed analysis, just like a doctor who studies each patient’s case in detail. The doctor cannot prescribe the same medicine to everyone. Certain sicknesses require certain drugs. He administers a particular drug to a particular patient. The same is true in leading men to Christ. No one can be a doctor without studying medicine. In the same way, no one can lead men to the Lord without studying. Some brothers and sisters are good at bringing people to the Lord because they have studied the ones whom they brought to the Lord. At the beginning of the work of leading men to Christ, a new believer has to work hard to study each case. You should always study why a particular person accepted the Lord. Why did a particular word open him up? Why did another person not believe after hearing a particular word? Why did a person shy away after listening attentively for a while? Why did a person accept when he earlier had opposed? Why are there no fish after waiting for a long time? We always have to find the reason that the Spirit is working, and we also have to find the reason that the Spirit is not working.

If you fail to lead men to Christ, do not put all the blame on others. Those who are good at leading people to the Lord always look for problems within themselves. We cannot wait by the seaside and hope that the fish will jump to the shore. Leading people to the Lord is not so simple. We have to spend time to study and learn where the problems lie. Leading people to the Lord is a skill, and this skill is acquired through working with people. There is always something we can learn, whether through failure or success. Through failure, we learn the reason for our failure. Through success, we learn the reason for our success. In every situation, we need to study the reasons behind the results.

If you do this conscientiously, you will learn many lessons. Eventually, you will discover an interesting thing—as far as believing in the Lord is concerned, there are only a few types of people in the world. If you meet a certain type of person, you will need only to speak certain words to him, and he will receive the Lord. If you speak something else to him, he will oppose you and not believe. If you know how to handle these few types of people, you can handle most people. You can handle those whose names are in your record book, and you can handle those whom you come across by accident. As soon as you come across someone, you will take the opportunity to witness to him, and you will be able to tell immediately the type of person he is. You will know in your heart what to do with this type of person and how to speak to him. He will most likely be saved. If you study your cases one by one, you will become a very skillful soul-winner after one or two years. You will realize that soul winning takes wisdom. By God’s mercy, you may lead some to the Lord, maybe a few dozen, or even a few hundred. If you study all these cases carefully, you will become a very powerful soul-winner.

APPENDIX:
PASSING OUT TRACTS

A. No Time Limit

During the past two to three hundred years, the Lord has used tracts in a particular way to save many people. One thing special about winning people with tracts is that tracts are not limited by time. If you try to testify with your mouth, you are restricted by time and personnel. You cannot speak twenty-four hours a day, and your audience may not be available all the time. You may be preaching a wonderful message, but the audience may not be there. However, tracts are not limited by time. You can pass out tracts any time of the day, and men can receive and read your tracts any time of the day. Today many people do not have the time to come to our meeting. But tracts are not limited by time. We can give them out to people who are walking on the streets, who are cooking in their kitchens, or who are working in their offices. This is the first convenience that tracts afford.

B. Tracts Can Convey the Gospel in Full

Many people are very zealous in testifying for the Lord and leading men to Christ. However, their knowledge is limited and their words are lacking. They cannot convey the gospel message adequately and fully. In addition to leading men to Christ through other means, a new believer has to do his best to select some good tracts in his spare time and pass them out to others. This will enable him to do what he himself could not do otherwise.

C. Tracts Not Being Affected by Human Factors

There is another advantage to using tracts. In preaching the gospel, sometimes we feel too shy to use strong words in front of people. Tracts do not have this inconvenience. They can go to anyone and say anything they want. A living preacher is often restricted by circumstances. But the preaching of the tracts is not affected by any human factors. New believers should learn to sow seeds with the tracts.

D. Passing Out Tracts Being a Way of Sowing

Another advantage of passing out tracts is that one can sow anywhere. The Old Testament says that we should sow our seed in many waters (Num. 24:7). It takes a considerable effort to speak to three, five, or ten persons together. But there is no difficulty in passing out a thousand, two thousand, or three thousand tracts a day. If one person can be saved out of the thousand tracts we pass out, this is wonderful enough. New believers should learn to pass out tracts in large quantities.

E. God Saving Men through Tracts

God has indeed used tracts to save people. I know of some people who slip tracts under doors. Others drop them into mailboxes. I remember an incident in which a person received a tract and then threw it away on the street. Another person, who had a nail stuck in his shoe, was looking for something to cushion his foot. He picked up the tract and stuffed it in his shoe. He returned home and began to mend his shoe. Then he saw the tract and was saved. There are numerous similar cases of people being saved by tracts. Some of these cases are actually quite marvelous.

F. Much Prayer and Dedication of Heart

A newly saved brother always should have tracts ready in his pockets, and he should pass them out when he is free. Like the work of leading men to Christ, we should do this with much prayer and dedication of heart. While we are passing out tracts, we can speak a word or two to others or we can remain silent. Either way is good. If a new believer practices this, he will receive great benefit from it.

I have used these thoughts and words for many years before I went to Hyles-Anderson College in Crown Point Indiana.  There we learned many other ways to witness besides passing out tracts.  Dr. Hyles’ book “Let’s Go Soul Winning” is probably one of the greatest tools to teach a young convert a very simple way to lead anyone to the Lord with the Romans Road.  You can see me using this same plan if you watch the video on the main page of this site where I am giving the plan of salvation and then leading anyone who is watching the video to pray to receive Christ.  To read Dr. Hyles simple training on soul-winning please click on this link:

LET’S GO SOUL WINNING

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Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.

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