PREACHING THE GOSPEL BY VISITING PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE
We have learned from church history, and it is confirmed by the Bible, that to preach the gospel effectively, we must go where the people are. We must visit them. The first one to visit people for the preaching of the gospel was the Lord Jesus. He came all the way from the heavens, and He even changed His form to become a man in order to visit sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). He went from city to city and from village to village to visit people (Luke 8:1). He sent the twelve to visit people (Matt. 10:5). Later He sent seventy to visit people (Luke 10:1). The Lord’s word in John 15:16 is His sending of us.
When He says, “I appointed you,” He is referring to all the believers. He has set us in a certain position for a purpose. We should (as a command) go forth and bear fruit, and our fruit should remain. This is the God-ordained way to practice the New Testament priesthood of the gospel, and we all must exercise to promote it because it is not easy to carry out.
The old way of having a big congregation with one speaking and the rest listening does not accomplish much. It can only edify people in a general way. I was in a Brethren assembly for more than ten years. I continually went there to sit and listen so that I could be edified. That little Brethren assembly was there for over fifty years, yet no other church was raised up by them. In the mid-1970s, we had more than one thousand saints meeting in Orange County, but today the number is much less. For years we have been very busy going to the meetings yet with very little positive result. We all must realize that to stay in the old way does not work. Christianity has tested this old way throughout the centuries, and they now agree that their way does not work. They cannot go on in that way. When I came to this country in 1958, I heard that the United States had a population of two hundred million and that half of the people were Christians. Today the population might be over two hundred forty million, and only one hundred twenty million may be Christians. In over thirty years, there has only been an increase of twenty million. This is less than a one percent increase per year. Christianity has nearly come to a standstill. Due to this, the Southern Baptists have begun to pick up the practice of door-knocking. Last winter they began to do this in Texas, and this summer they practiced it in Las Vegas.
BEING DISCIPLED FOR BEARING MUCH FRUIT
It is not that this biblical way, the God-ordained way, does not work; it is that we are not faithful to this way. In John 15 the Lord used the word “disciples.” “In this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and you shall become My disciples” (v. 8). The reason we are not fruitful is because we have not been discipled that much by Him. We need to become His disciples. To be discipled is to change our way, our position, and our character, that is, not to be natural. If we go out to visit people in a natural way, our going out will be ineffectual. We must be discipled.
For someone to play the piano properly, he must be willing to be tutored, “discipled.” Furthermore, he has to practice many hours to become discipled. To be discipled is to get out of the natural way and take another way. Are we willing to be discipled? It is not a matter of whether we could or should be discipled. It is altogether a matter of our being willing. Everybody should be discipled and can be discipled, but not many would be discipled. This is why nearly twenty centuries have passed, and the Lord still has not returned. Not many are living in the United States for the New Testament priesthood of the gospel. Not many are willing to be discipled.
(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)