PREACHING THE GOSPEL WITH
CHRIST’S AUTHORITY AND THE LIVING WORD
Scripture Reading: Matt. 12:28-29; 28:18-19; Rom. 10:6-9, 13; 1 Cor. 12:3
Matthew 12:28 and 29 say, “If I, by the Spirit of God, cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter into the house of the strong man and plunder his goods unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will thoroughly plunder his house.” Verses 18 and 19 of chapter 28 say, “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We need to read the word therefore strongly. Therefore refers to the fact that all authority has been given to Christ. For this cause, “therefore,” we must go to disciple all the nations, to make all the nations disciples.
CONFESSING JESUS AS LORD
Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is to confess not only Jesus but the Lord Jesus. The mouth has to confess the Lord Jesus; it must pronounce “Lord.” I have found that especially in the Western world, both in Europe and America, when people pray, they do not use the title Lord very much. Mostly they pray saying only, “Jesus.” This is not a proper way. Whenever we say “Jesus,” it is better that we add the title Lord, “Lord Jesus.” The mouth confesses the Lord Jesus, and the heart believes in the fact that God has raised up Jesus. If we do these two things, we will be saved. Then verse 13 says, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” This is to call not only the name of Jesus but the name of “the Lord.”
First Corinthians 12:3 says, “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking in the Spirit of God says, Jesus is accursed; and no one can say, Jesus is Lord! except in the Holy Spirit.” Here again, this verse stresses our saying that Jesus is the Lord. As long as a person says that Jesus is the Lord, that is a proof that the Holy Spirit is working within him. We have to help people to realize that Jesus is the Lord, and we have to help them to exercise their mouth by exercising their heart to say that Jesus is the Lord and to call Jesus the Lord.
PREACHING NOT ONLY WITH POWER BUT WITH
THE AUTHORITY OF THE HEAVENLY GOVERNMENT
We all have to realize that to preach the gospel is not merely to preach or to teach; it is to fight the battle. Matthew 12 tells us that in order to preach the gospel we have to bind the strong man. Satan is the strong man, the one who usurps all people. The whole world is now under darkness and the usurping hand of Satan. To preach the gospel to bring someone to the Lord is to plunder some goods out of the usurping hand of Satan. Therefore, we have to pray to bind the strong man Satan. For this we need not only power but also authority. We can illustrate the difference between power and authority with a policeman. Cars on the street have power, but a policeman has authority. No matter how powerful a car is, when a policeman gives an order, he has the authority over the car.
Christ said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and disciple all the nations” (Matt. 28:18-19). When we go to preach the gospel, we must not only seek power from on high, but we must learn to exercise the authority of the headship and lordship of Christ. A policeman may be smaller than we are, but he has the authority because there is a government behind him. Because we cannot go against the government, we cannot go against a policeman. I have learned that in this country all the drivers are afraid of policemen. This does not mean that the policemen have the power; it means that they have the authority. Many cars on the street are powerful, but when a policeman gives the signal, everyone has to stop. Authority is over power. Are we going out to preach the gospel only with power? We also have to learn to exercise authority. We are the Body of the Head, and we are under the headship, so we have the Head as the “government” backing us. We have a strong backing, that is, the Head.
STANDING ON THE GROUND OF THE LORD’S AUTHORITY
I have the burden that we would realize what our ground is to preach the gospel. It is not merely the ground that we love sinners or that we feel that there is the need for materials for the building up of the church. All these are good, but they are not adequate. We have to take the ground that Christ has ascended to the heavens. He has been enthroned, and all authority both in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. He is the Head, and He is the Lord. We are under His headship and under His lordship. Moreover, we are the members of His Body. It is on this ground that we are sent out. In actuality, we do not take the initiative; we are the sent ones. The Lord said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore.” We simply take the order. We are the policemen sent by the government. If we realize this, then when we go out to touch people by our preaching, we will have the assurance, the confidence, that the authority is with us.
Recently, there has been a real flow and a burden among us for the gospel, and some people already have been saved. However, I sense that we are still short of something. We are short of the realization that we have to take the ground of authority. Satan is the illegal usurper. We have to announce this, and we have to proclaim this. We have to tell the whole universe that Jesus is the proper Lord, the legal Owner of this universe. Today Jesus is on the throne. He is legally entitled by God as the Lord. He has received an authority that is absolutely unique both in heaven and on earth, and He has passed this authority on to us because we are His members, we are identified with Him, and we are one with Him as the Head. It is on this standing, in such a position, and taking such a ground that we go out. This is something different from mere power. When a policeman comes to us, he does not come only with power; he comes with authority. There is something great behind him. We cannot go against him because he has the authority. If our realization is to such an extent, we will have the faith and assurance that a person will be saved, and he will be plundered out of the hand of the enemy. Let us learn this.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)