PREACHING TO SUBDUE THE ENEMY
AND PLUNDER HIS GOODS
The main item of the service in the church is the work of preaching. As the Body, what are we living here for? We are here for the purpose of fighting the battle to subdue the enemy to bring people back to God. This is not a kind of evangelizing work in Christianity. It is the testimony of the church, and all the members are the living witnesses. With these members there is a testimony, and this testimony is in the genuine preaching. The real preaching of the church is the living of the members. All the members live for this purpose. Their living is their preaching.
We have to know the Lord as our life within, we need to have adequate light from the Word, we must be in the church, and we have to function as living members in the church. In this way we become a living Body always cooperating and coordinating together in order to subdue the enemy and release the souls. To release the souls is the ultimate goal of our service. This is not merely a preaching work; this is the vital and ultimate goal of our Christian living.
THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL
NOT BEING A WORK BUT A LIVING
For what purpose are we living here? It is to defeat the enemy and release the souls from his hand. In Matthew 12:29 the Lord said, “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.” The strong man is Satan, and his goods are living persons. We have to plunder his house and release his goods; we must release the precious souls out of his hand. Again it seems that this is just the evangelizing work of Christianity. In actuality, though, it is very different. This is not merely a work; it is a living. We are living for gospel preaching.
All these words are right—evangelize, gospel, preaching—but they are inaccurately used by today’s Christianity. Christianity takes the evangelizing work simply as a work, an activity, a kind of program. The New Testament, however, shows us that gospel preaching must be a kind of living. This is our life. We are living here for this. Preaching is our life and living. Why are you living here? If you say you are living to study at college, you are wrong. As a Christian you are not living to study. Rather, you are studying for your living of preaching. Therefore, you have to preach in your school, not only by your word but also by your conduct, your living, and your work.
You have to speak. Some people say that we should not speak too much. However, you have to speak much. The more you speak the better. If you speak ten thousand words, and only one word is received by others, that is a profit. It is better than nothing. The Communists train their people to speak for their cause. However, if you study human history, you can see that preaching, or “propaganda,” was invented by the church. Do you know how the newspaper was invented? It was invented to a great extent by the Reformation. The reformers were the first to use newspapers for the purpose of preaching. Regrettably, today’s Christianity has lost this inheritance, and the enemy, the devil, and the worldly people have picked the newspaper up to utilize it. The church is far behind in this matter. We have to “propagandize”; we have to preach. Preaching is the invention of the church. We lost it, but now we have to recover it. Therefore, go out to preach.
To be a living person who preaches the gospel, you have to preach with your mouth, ears, eyes, nose, two hands, and two feet. With your two hands you have to write, and with your two feet you have to travel. We have to use our whole being for preaching. We are living preachers, not professional preachers. If you know God’s economy, then you realize that the purpose for the church’s being on this earth is preaching, and this preaching is not merely an evangelizing work. It is the living of all the living members of the Body. The whole Body, with all the living members, lives for the purpose of subduing the enemy, releasing the souls, bringing them to Christ, and building the Body with these persons as the materials.
THE CHURCH’S NEED FOR NEW ONES
History tells us the real situation. I have been on this earth for many years. I have been a genuine Christian for more than forty years, and I have been in this work for more than thirty-five years. Just within the past two decades I have seen many groups in the Far East, in Europe, and in this country. I speak the truth that you can never have a living group of Christians serving the Lord in an adequate way without these five aspects to balance them: life, light, the church, service, and ultimately preaching. I saw some groups that were rich in life but poor in knowledge. I also saw some groups, and I was with one of them, that were rich in knowledge. One person among them was known as a “living concordance.” They were rich in knowledge, but they were very poor in life. In the past I have known some groups that were rich both in life and in knowledge, but they were poor in the church life, so they did not last long. Some groups even proclaim that they are rich in life, rich in knowledge, and also have the church life, but they are short of gospel preaching. After five years passed, there were still the same number meeting with them, and after another five years there was no increase. They always said, “The Lord is with us. This is wonderful!” They were wonderful for ten years but still with the same people. Eventually, in their twelfth year they lost their interest and disbanded. I saw this in 1957 and again in 1963. In another example, I recently received a letter saying that a group that had been meeting for more than twenty years also lost their interest and disbanded. They said, “What are we doing here? Year after year we have the same people.”
In a family with only a wife and husband, the first five years are wonderful. Then the next five, even up to twenty years, are still wonderful. After twenty-five years, however, they will not feel very wonderful. They need some children, some “new ones.” In the same way, the church needs some new ones. In order for the church to be strong, you have to have normal deliveries, normal births. If next week fifty persons are baptized, the whole church will be on fire. On the one hand, I was happy to see several people receive the Lord in a recent gospel meeting. Some may wonder how so many people could confess the Lord Jesus in just one meeting. On the other hand, in the past I have seen one thousand people stand up to acknowledge the Lord’s name. It is good for a few people to receive the Lord, but according to my experience, this seems like two drops of water. Still, though, the brothers and sisters are excited. Some proclaim, “This is wonderful, wonderful!” However, if you would endeavor, pray, and work to bring more people in, next week you may baptize fifty, one hundred fifty, or two hundred people. Then you will be so excited that you will not care to eat. I saw this in the past. The church needs new births, new deliveries. The church needs new ones.
Whenever there is such a suggestion to preach the gospel, the spirit of all the saints responds. The Holy Spirit within the spirit of the saints honors this, because this is the purpose of God in this age on the earth. However, the church has lost sight of this matter, so now we have to recover this. We have to realize what we are doing here. Are we here only to meet together and to have a wonderful message meeting on the Lord’s Day morning and a wonderful Lord’s table meeting in the evening? Are we here to have a wonderful prayer meeting on Wednesday and a study meeting on Friday, and then do it again the next week, the next month, and the next year? There is no need for five years to pass; even within this year if you would not bring in more people, someone will eventually say that there is no need for us to come together. There will be disappointment among us.
(Preaching the Gospel in the Way of Life, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)