THE GOSPEL BEING CARRIED OUT IN A NORMAL WAY,
NOT MAINLY THROUGH MEETINGS FOR PREACHING
We must realize that the preaching of the gospel is not a kind of movement among us. This is a part of our daily living. Therefore, we all have to live for this and work and labor for this day by day. In order to help us, we sometimes need to have a gospel preaching meeting, but we do not trust very much in the gospel meeting. This is just a small part of our gospel preaching. The main part of gospel preaching is our daily living. Even if we do not have a gospel preaching meeting, after one or two months we still will baptize some new ones. This is normal.
We must not follow the way of today’s Christianity to have a campaign and then baptize people. That is not normal. The normal way is that we in this city simply live in, with, and by Christ. We come together to express Christ and serve Christ one to another. Then we have a testimony to the unbelievers, and some of them are brought in. Without any kind of gospel preaching meeting, new converts are baptized into the Body again and again. This is the normal preaching of the church. I do not mean that we never need a gospel preaching meeting, but I stress the normal way because the traditional way of preaching cannot have a long life. We cannot have a healthy, long life by taking medicine. We can live a long and healthy life only by taking normal, proper food. Our preaching can endure only by the normal way.
A PARTICULAR WORK FOR THE GOSPEL BEING REQUIRED
BASED ON OUR LIFE AND TESTIMONY
The proper preaching of the gospel first depends on our testimony. If we brothers and sisters do not have the proper testimony in our daily living, our preaching will be poor. It will never be prevailing because we will not be able to gain the ground with people. If we all live in Christ and have a real testimony in our daily living, we will gain the ground in our neighborhood, office, and school and among our relatives. This testimony paves the way and gains the ground for the gospel. Then once we have the ground through our living testimony in our daily life, we have to work. First we have the life; then we have to work based on the life. In any kind of orchard, there must be life. The growing of the plants is something of life. However, we also need to work, the more the better.
Two brothers may work together with some sisters, coming together to pray, fellowship, and determine what main steps are needed to take care of the new ones. The first step may be to determine whether they have believed in the Lord Jesus with repentance and confession. We should pray for a person specifically with this in view, and after that we can go to contact him. If we find that he has not truly believed, we have to do something to help him to believe. Also, if we find that he did not have a real repentance and confession, we must explain what it means to repent and confess and help him to know how to repent and confess. This requires that we know how to work, just as carpenters learn how to make furniture out of raw materials. Otherwise, we will do things only in a very general way. This is a lifelong business, a business for the long run, and we must all learn how to do it. Second, we may need to know if the new ones are clear about salvation. As a third step we should know if they are ready and willing to be baptized, and then we should know if they are clear about the church life. If we coordinate in this way, we will help each other mutually.
Each step should be carried out within a deadline of one week. Then after three or four weeks of contacting people in this way, we will be clear about their condition. We should be flexible, though; this is simply an illustration with principles. However, we still should be legal about some things. Every day, for example, we have to sleep once and take at least three meals. If we are not a little legal, we cannot have a proper living. Therefore, we are all under the training, and we are learning. We all have to learn not only to preach the gospel but to be built up ourselves. Therefore, we need much coordination. From the past we have learned that to have the adequate coordination, there is the need of certain brothers to bear responsibility to assign something to others. It is by this coordination that the work will go on and on. This requires much exercise and that we be trained through our practice.
To do all this is not too much. This is something we have to work on. Do not forget that, on the one hand, to preach the gospel is to travail, to give new birth to persons. To this end we need to labor. On the other hand, to preach the gospel is to disciple people, to make people disciples of the Lord. To carry out this kind of education requires that we work in a certain way. We trust in the work of the Holy Spirit; there is no doubt about this. However, the principle today is that without human cooperation, even the Holy Spirit cannot do much. The Spirit’s work needs and depends on our cooperation. The more cooperation we render to the Spirit, the more work the Spirit will do, and the better cooperation we render to the Spirit, the better work the Spirit will do. We need to render an adequate and better coordination with the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes after contacting someone we may encounter certain problems. There may be some problems that are hard to deal with, and we may be unable to solve them. Then in coordination we may determine which brothers can handle this matter. Some brothers may have experience and be able to help this kind of person. We may even feel that one brother is not adequate, so we can assign two brothers to deal with the problems. It is in this way that the whole “machine” will work. This is the way for many brothers to coordinate. It is the proper way to save time and work efficiently. Whether the “machine” will keep going or will stop, however, depends on how we run it.
OUR LABOR BEING NOT A HEAVY BURDEN
BUT OUR NORMAL DUTY
We are limited by time because we are not full-time workers in the gospel. However, if we practice to find the proper way, we can improve our way. I hope we all would learn the best way, not to be too heavily burdened with the work, but to do our work as a duty. We all must learn. We are living here for the gospel. Even if we do not have the time every day, we can separate some time at least once a week for the work of the gospel. If you do a little, I do a little, and every member of the church does a little, we can put all these little portions together into something significant. Moreover, we must do this for the long run, not just once for all or even once a year, but as a regular duty.
If this responsibility is too much for a few brothers, then in fellowship more brothers can be brought in to help. All things can be very flexible. If there are thirty-five new ones, the brothers and sisters can divide into two groups; one can work on seventeen, and the other can work on the other eighteen. The Lord’s yoke is not hard, and His burden is not heavy. The Lord has no intention to overwork us. Still, we must look to the Lord for the patience to learn these things.
The proper church life is just like a family life. We cannot build up a family in a miraculous or special way. We have to build up a family in a very normal and ordinary way. This requires our time. It takes at least twenty years for our children to grow up as mature men. The church life is the same way. Even if today we have some miracles in the gospel, I would like to quench them a little. The brothers who were with me in Taiwan can testify that several times after I returned there, I poured cold water on their work if it was done in a miraculous or extraordinary way. This is because I know the danger. If you drive a car eighty miles an hour, I will ask you to slow down a little. It is better to drive thirty or forty miles an hour in a normal way. Recently the son of a co-worker in Taiwan wrote to tell us about the many miracles and healings there. He even laid hands on others, and people were healed. After I read that, I felt to write something to quench his fire a little. I want to help people to take proper food in a normal daily way. Do not eat strange and special foods. Simply eat the normal food; then your family will be healthy.
Dear brothers, I ask you in the Lord’s mercy and by His grace to learn a little patience and go on in a proper way. Do not expect too much; simply go on little by little. Then in the long run you will see what the result will be. I have no intention to ask you to overwork. I simply have the desire to see that you all learn how to serve the Lord in a proper, normal way, in the way of life. We are living here for the gospel. As to what we have, we simply spend what we can, and as to what we are, we are willing to be spent for the gospel’s sake. Please do your best to work, pray, coordinate, and cooperate. Then this “machine” will keep going on and on. In the long run we will baptize many new ones. This is not too much. Monthly we can have a preaching meeting to help us, and we can all live for the gospel and work in a proper way for the long run. This is a lifelong matter. Gradually, monthly, some new ones will be added into the church. This is just a part of our training. After people are baptized, there is another section of the work that we must care for. Bringing people in is just the beginning, the first part, of gospel preaching.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)