A FEW GIFTS PERFECTING ALL THE SAINTS
Ephesians 4 speaks of the perfecting of the saints, whereas 1 Corinthians 14 speaks of prophesying by all the saints. The apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers should not only carry out their respective works. Instead, they should perfect the saints to be able also to do what they do. The evangelists should not go out by themselves to preach the gospel; rather, they should perfect others to be able to preach the gospel like them. If we rely only on a few gifted evangelists to preach the gospel, then there will be too few who are able to preach. The result will be that a small number of people will become the evangelistic clergy, while the majority will become the laity. This kind of distinction is unscriptural. The intention of the New Testament is that all of us, the saved believers, would be the “clergy.” It does not allow anyone to be a layman. All of us who are saved have been called by God to be the “clergy.”
It is the same with prophesying. We have a wrong concept, thinking that speaking for God and speaking forth God are such great matters that not every saint is able to do them. On the contrary, the New Testament tells us that every believer can prophesy without any distinction between clergy and laity. If only a group of clergy prophesies while all the others are the laity, then a religious hierarchy will be formed. In the Catholic Church, there is a strong hierarchy. They even say that the only ones who can understand the Bible are the clergy under the leadership of the pope; the laity not only cannot speak for God but also are not qualified even to understand the word of God. This is a grave error. Then, what is the situation in the Protestant churches? The Bible was released from the chains of the Catholic Church in the 1500s and has been translated into many languages over the centuries. Today, it is possible to obtain a copy of the Bible in almost every place in the world. Nevertheless, there are still many in the Protestant churches who cannot find the way to enter into the Bible when they read it.
The Bible, which is a divine book of God’s revelation, contains many special terms that are beyond the comprehension of ordinary people. Therefore, God has raised up a group of teachers among His children to explain and define His holy words in the Bible. In Acts 8 the Ethiopian eunuch sat in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah without understanding what it meant. At that moment, Philip, who was sent by the Spirit, approached his chariot and asked him, “Do you really know the things that you are reading?” The eunuch answered, “How could I unless someone guides me?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he announced Jesus as the gospel to him (vv. 26-35). In Luke 24:44-45 the Lord appeared to His disciples after His resurrection and opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. What the Lord Jesus and Philip did is what today’s teachers should do. Their particular function is to explain God’s scriptural revelation to His children and teach the holy word to every saint. The result should be that every saint is able to teach the Bible to others.
(The Ministry of the New Testament Priests of the Gospel, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)