PREACHING THE GOSPEL NOT BY MIRACLES
BUT BY THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
This corresponds with the book of Philippians. In that book we can see that the preaching of the gospel is in the experience of Christ and is the experience of Christ. When the apostle Paul preached the gospel, there were some miracles, but eventually he was brought into the realization that the proper preaching is not a matter of miracles but a matter of life. If gospel preaching were a matter of miracles, Paul would not have been martyred. However, the Lord would not do anything miraculously to deliver His apostle. He left His apostle in the prison to be martyred without a miracle. The unbelievers might have come to challenge Paul, saying, “Paul, where is your Jesus? If He is able, He should save you. It seems that He is not as powerful as we are. We put you into prison, and He can do nothing to save you.”
Even the Lord Jesus Himself suffered this kind of challenge, yet He would not do anything to save Himself. Let us learn the lesson. The more people say that we are poor, the more we have to be poor. Any kind of challenge is from the enemy, and we should never take it. The people said, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” (Matt. 27:40). It is as if the Lord replied, “No. For you there is no other sign but the sign of the prophet Jonah. I have to die, and I have to be buried.” Never be challenged. The Lord Jesus, who was God, was never successfully challenged. The more people challenged Him, the more He was silent. Today the gospel is prevailing through death and resurrection. The Lord did no miracle to deliver the apostle from prison, but there was the mighty, prevailing manifestation of Christ through this apostle. He said, “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death. For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:20b-21a). This is the real preaching of the gospel.
NOT HAVING A MOVEMENT BUT ABIDING IN CHRIST
AND BEING BUILT UP TOGETHER
I look to the Lord that we all would not expect anything in a miraculous way. Rather, we all must pray, fellowship with the Lord, and learn to abide in Christ, to be built up, and to be one in Christ. Then we will allow life to flow out to regenerate others, to bring life to others. This kind of preaching will be a part of our life, a part of our living, and a part of the church life. We all must realize that we do not have a certain kind of activity. We do not encourage the brothers to have a movement. This is not a movement. If we consider this as a movement, we are one hundred percent wrong; we are “in one bed with different dreams.” I speak the truth: I do not have the dream that we are here in a movement or activity. I say one hundred times “no.” I have the clear vision that we are here simply as small Christians. We are poor, and we are nothing. We have nothing, and we do not want to have anything. We never pretend to be anything, but by the Lord’s mercy, we want to learn how to live and abide in Him and how to be built up with one another.
I am just a little finger; by myself I am nothing. We as members have to be built up together as a living Body—living by Christ, living with Christ, and living out Christ. This is the proper Christian life. If you would receive the mercy and grace of the Lord, forget about your background. I was in a certain background for years, but I have forgotten it. We must never be so foolish as to neglect the lessons of history throughout the last two thousand years. The proper way to bring people to Christ is the way of life, and the proper way for the church to be built up is also the way of life. We are not the people in the first century. We are in the twentieth century. Nineteen centuries have passed already, and there have been many lessons.
Many persons sought the miraculous things, but what came out of that? I would ask someone to point out from history the benefit of that. On the day of Pentecost there were miracles, but what was there after that? Was there the real building up of the church in the book of Acts? It seems only that jealousy and other problems came in. There was not the real building up. After Acts there is the book of Romans. Is there anything miraculous mentioned in the book of Romans? After that we need the two Epistles to the Corinthians to adjust us from the wrong thought to the life of the cross. Then there is Ephesians, the unique book written purposely concerning the church. Is there anything miraculous in the book of Ephesians? Let us come to the Lord in a quiet way, forgetting about our backgrounds. The proper way to have the church life today is the way of life, to know Christ inwardly, to know our flesh, our self, and the natural man through the cross, and to learn to abide in Christ and live by Christ, not by ourselves. Then we will be built up together. Then we will have a spontaneous issue of the church life, which will be the prevailing and proper preaching.
We must be delivered from the wrong concept. Never be frustrated; do not challenge yourself and do not be challenged by others to try to have the power to do miracles. Forget about that. I saw much of that in the past. Recently in Taiwan six hundred people were healed in two days. To speak the truth, however, I do not appreciate that very much. We all have to learn to know Christ in the living way, in the inner way, to know Christ in our spirit. It is in Christ as our inner life that we are built up as one to be a living expression, the living Body to express Him. And it is through this expression that people gradually, one after another, are brought into the life of Christ and also into the church life. It is in this way that the gospel will be preached and the Body will be built up.
Never be frustrated, never be confused, never challenge yourself, and never be challenged by others. I say boldly that the way of miraculous preaching is the wrong way. The right way for the church to be built up is the way of life, and the right way for the church to preach the gospel is also the way of life. Do not listen to so many voices. Within you there is the discernment. The Lord Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice (John 10:16). Do you feel those challenges are the voice of the Lord Jesus? There is no need to argue. We must use our inward discernment to realize what voice is the voice of the Shepherd.
I would like to stress a thousandfold: The proper way for the church to be built up is the way of life. We do not want to have any more confusion. There already has been too much confusion and frustration in history, even up until today. We do not like to have these frustrations again. We want to be simple. We just pay attention to one thing, that is, Christ as our life and everything. We do not care for anything else. Do not be frustrated and confused, and do not frustrate and confuse others. Simply learn to be simple. We are nothing. We are just little members of Christ. Therefore, we must learn to live in Him, live with Him, and be built up together. We do not expect and we do not appreciate those miraculous things. This is my speaking not only today; since I have been in this country it has been the same. The trouble I have seen in various places was simply that people repeated the tragedy of history. We, however, have learned the lessons from history, and we do not like to repeat the tragedies.
Forget about teachings, the so-called gifts, miracles, and other such matters. Only one thing works well, that is, to take Christ as life in an inner way and to be built up in this life as the living Body. All the apostles—Peter, Paul, and John—were brought into this same realization when they became old. Read their writings. In the last book of the whole Scriptures, Revelation, nothing miraculous is presented in a positive way. According to Revelation 13, it is the Antichrist and his false prophet who will do many miraculous things when they rise up. Rather, Revelation tells us clearly that we have to sacrifice, to die, to be martyred, as the last apostle, the aged John, did.
Learn to live by Christ, live with Christ, and live in Christ, and learn to be built up in this life. Then the preaching of the gospel will be the issue of this kind of life. I look to the Lord that we all will be brought into such a proper understanding. Allow me to say once again, we have to forget about our backgrounds. We must not be influenced by these backgrounds. We are not speaking here about preaching in the old way of our old backgrounds. We are talking about gospel preaching as a part of the church life. I look to the Lord, and I hope that one day the church here will have not only a formal gospel preaching, but that gradually people will be brought into the church not mainly through that kind of preaching but through the daily living of the believers. Do not have the concept from your old background that we are having a kind of movement or activity. Rather, when we speak about the preaching of the gospel, we mean that it is a part of the church life. This is why in this chapter we have read from Philippians and the Gospel of John, to show us that the preaching of the gospel is a part of the church life.
I say again, do not challenge yourself, do not challenge others, and do not be challenged to take the way of movement or miracles. We simply realize that we are little members of Christ, abiding in Him, learning to live with Him and to be built up together. Then we believe there will be the spontaneous issue that people will be brought into the church life through us. This is the genuine gospel preaching.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)