Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, by Witness Lee

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As we have said, John 12 shows us the way for Christ to be increased. How can one grain of wheat be increased into many grains? We often speak of verse 24, but most of the time we think that this verse applies only to Christ as the one grain. We must realize that in principle this verse is also for us. In these days, we at least have a heart to preach the gospel. Do we realize that to preach the gospel is to have Christ increased through us? We are one grain. How then can this one grain be multiplied? It is not merely by telling our neighbor, “You have to realize that you are a sinner. God loves you, and I love you too. You need Christ.” There is nothing wrong with this, but it is too short.

We preach the gospel not only by speaking. While we speak with our neighbor, the enemy Satan, the subtle one, may work within him, causing him to think, “You say I have not been saved. Do you mean that you are saved? What is the difference between you and me? Are you better than I? If I am a poor sinner, how about you? To me, you are more poor.” The subtle one puts many questions within that person, so this kind of preaching may not work. We cannot convince such a person, and he can point his finger and ask, “What about you and your mother, your wife, your brother, and all your in-laws? You have too many problems. Let me tell you how to deal with your wife. I do not need your preaching; you need my preaching.” Sometimes our relatives, neighbors, schoolmates, and colleagues are polite. They would not say a word outwardly, but they say much within themselves. Sometimes, even many times, the more we preach, the more nothing happens, and people become disgusted with our preaching. In this case it may be better to be silent.

How can the one grain be increased into many grains today? It is by a real crucified life, by being a crucified person, dying day by day. Here is the universal principle. Where there is the divine death, there is the divine resurrection. If we simply will die, Christ will be resurrected. It is by this process of death and resurrection that Christ is manifested to our friends and neighbors. There may be no need for us to preach very much. If we are lifted up on the cross, this will attract people to Christ.

We need a real testimony by experiencing the death and resurrection of Christ in our daily life. If we do not have a real testimony in life, then the more we preach, the more we will hinder the gospel. Many dear Christians simply cannot preach the gospel to their relatives because they have no testimony. No one knows our lives better than our relatives. If we cannot have a proper testimony in life through death and resurrection, then the more we live in a place, the more all the neighbors will keep away from us. The real preaching is a life of crucifixion and resurrection to manifest Christ. This convinces people. Do not argue with people. The more we argue, the more we lose the ground. Rather, we must convince people by our dying, our daily walk, and our daily living.

Throughout the last two thousand years the crucifixion, the death, and the cross of Christ have been speaking to many hearts. We need the death of Christ, we need the cross, and we need the crucifixion to speak Christ more than we need our mouth to speak. This does not mean that we do not need to open our mouth to say something for the Lord. We need this. However, the most basic thing is the life testimony. We need to die; there is no other way. Do not argue with your neighbors, your schoolmates, or your relatives; rather, die to them. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can never be multiplied. This multiplication is the very outreach of the gospel.

We Christians are always dreaming. There is no need to seek the miraculous gift of dreams. We are all experts in dreams. We think that if we pray three nights and three days, we will be empowered, powerful to preach the gospel. In actuality, there is no such thing; I say a thousand times, no. Rather, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, there is no multiplication. Regardless of how many days, nights, months, or even years we pray, the answer to proper prayer is, “You have to die.” If you are going to have the multiplication, if you are going to have the increase, you have to die. Unless the grain dies, there is no possibility of any kind of increase.

I say again, this does not mean that we do not need preaching by speaking. We need it, but the preaching by speaking must be based on the crucified life. The crucified life must open the way for our speaking. Otherwise, our life will only close the way. Regardless of how much we speak from our mouth, our speaking will only make it worse. If we do not have the life testimony, it is better to shut our mouth. The way of increase is death and resurrection. There is no other way. It seems that John 12:24 applies only to the Lord. If we read on, however, we come to verses 25 and 26, which clearly tell us that the principle of verse 24 is also for us. If we are going to serve the Lord, we have to be in the place where He is. He is in the way of death; He is on the way of the cross. Therefore, we have to be there too.

We all have to see that the real gospel preaching is for the increase of Christ. Christ is in us, so we are a grain. Within us there is life, but there is also the outer shell. This shell has to be broken. It must be put into the earth to die there. Then the inner life, that is Christ Himself, will be manifested, and by this manifestation, Christ will be imparted into others. This imparting is His very increase. It is not simply a matter of preaching the doctrine of the gospel. It is a matter of imparting Christ into others by a life that is crucified and resurrected.

(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)