PREACHING THE GOSPEL
AS THE VITAL AND ULTIMATE GOAL
OF OUR CHRISTIAN LIVING
Scripture Reading: Acts 1:8; Phil. 1:5, 27
Acts 1:8 says, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” I would like to stress the word witnesses. Here witnesses in Greek does not refer to testimonies but to persons. You shall be My witnesses means “you shall be My living, witnessing persons.” Philippians 1:5 says, “For your fellowship unto the furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now,” and verse 27 says, “Only, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, that whether coming and seeing you or being absent, I may hear of the things concerning you, that you stand firm in one spirit, with one soul striving together along with the faith of the gospel.”
The church of Christ is on the earth today to fight the battle for the kingdom of God, that is, to subdue the enemy and to plunder his goods. His goods are souls, the sinners and people of the world. Satan has usurped this earth, especially by keeping the worldly people in his hand. First John 5:19 tells us that the whole world lies in the hand of the evil one. World, as used by the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John and the Epistle of John, refers to the worldly people. The worldly people today are under the hand of the evil one, the usurping hand of the devil. Therefore, on the earth during the New Testament dispensation there is a real battle between God and Satan, a battle over people’s souls. To fight the battle, subdue the enemy, and set free all the souls under his usurping hand is the main purpose for the church’s being on this earth. However, we must realize that this is different from the so-called evangelizing work of Christianity. To subdue the enemy Satan and to release people from his usurping hand is one thing; to evangelize people is another thing. The word evangelize is good, but its meaning is not completely right.
KNOWING AND EXPERIENCING CHRIST AS LIFE
For the proper church life, there are always five things that we must have in a balanced way: life, light and truth, the church, service, and ultimately the preaching of the gospel. The first item is life. We must know Christ as our inner life, take Him as our life, and experience Him as our life. This is the basic matter, the foundation.
KNOWING THE TRUTH
Second, we need the truth, the knowledge, of the Scriptures to balance the inner life. This is like a train, which runs on two tracks. It is dangerous for a train to run on only one track. Two tracks are necessary for a train to run in a proper way. Likewise, we need the track of life and the track of truth. This is why we spend much time to study the Word. The Word affords and supplies us not only with the life supply but also with light. Life is within, and light is without. We pay our attention not only to life but also to light. We may also compare this to our physical body, which needs energy within and the light without. If we are full of energy within but are in darkness, we will do many things wrongly; the more we do, the more we will be wrong. If we have both the energy within and the light without, then the more we do, the better. We need life, and we need light. The light is the truth in the Scriptures. Therefore, every balanced, normal Christian must have abundant life within and must have adequate knowledge, truth, and light from the Word. This is why every one of us must be trained in and with the Word.
LIVING IN THE CHURCH, THE BODY OF CHRIST
Third, we need the church life. In these past years we have seen many people who pay their attention to the inner life and the light of truth, but they neglect the church life. There are not only the two aspects of life and light; we also need the other three aspects: the Body, the service, and the gospel. We are members of the Body, so we need the church life. We might have abundant life and adequate light, but if we are not living in the Body, in the church, we are isolated members. An isolated member is a dead member. We may be dead because of isolation from the Body.
SERVING IN THE BODY
Fourth, we need to function, to serve, in the Body. As members of the church, we must realize what our function is and what kind of members we are. Do you have any member in your physical body which does not function? If someone’s foot does not function, it becomes a burden to him. If we do not function, we become a burden to the Body of Christ. Others have to carry us. We may even be incurably sick to such an extent that we are cut off. The Lord mentioned this kind of cutting off in John 15:6, which says, “If one does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is dried up.” To be cast out as a branch is to be cut off from the Body. We need to function, to serve.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)