THE FOUR MAJOR STEPS OF THE GOD-ORDAINED WAY
The Lord showed me the new way, and I presented it to the saints, beginning in Taiwan. Since that time, the new way has been opposed, despised, belittled, mocked, and even slandered. Some of us even today would not use the term the new way. It seems that to mention the new way is a shame. This is wrong.
Although some have said that the new way, the God-ordained way, is wrong, no one has dared to condemn any of the four major steps of the God-ordained way. No one can condemn the preaching of the gospel by the New Testament priests of the gospel going to visit people in their homes. They may say: “What is new about preaching the gospel? We did that a lot.” But that was in the way which is really old, and this is in the way that is revealed in the Scriptures as God has ordained. This is new. Even the term the New Testament priests of the gospel is new to us, although it is clearly mentioned in Romans 15:16.
To serve sinners by visiting them where they are is the God-ordained way to preach the gospel. By the time of Acts 8, there were thousands of believers in Jerusalem, but the Lord allowed a great persecution to come upon them so that they were scattered abroad to preach the gospel. They did not hold big meetings. They simply went to visit people and shared with them the good news of the word (vv. 1, 4).
The second step of the God-ordained way is the feeding of the lambs, the care for the new babes. We must feed them properly day by day that they may live and grow. Certainly no one can say that this is wrong. The third step is the perfecting of the saints according to Ephesians 4:12. We do not practice this, but it is in the Word.
The last step of the God-ordained way is to prophesy for the building up of the church as revealed in 1 Corinthians 14. This is altogether not practiced today. Many still consider that to prophesy is merely to predict, but 1 Corinthians 14 does not refer to this kind of prophesying. To prophesy in 1 Corinthians 14 is to speak for the Lord, to speak forth the Lord, and to minister Christ into others that they may grow up in Christ for the building up of the Body of Christ. Who can oppose such a marvelous practice? These are the four major steps that I have condensed from my study over the past four and a half years. These four steps are what we call the new way. It is new to us because we have not practiced it. This new way is the way that God has ordained for us to serve Him.
PRACTICING THE GOD-ORDAINED WAY PERSISTENTLY
Although you may not oppose the new way, you may not practice it persistently. You cannot go out to visit people just for a period of time and expect to gain quite a number for the Lord. In a hot and dry place like southern California, you cannot water your flowers or your lawn only once or twice within one or two months. That does not work.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses put out some statistics for the twelve countries in which they gained the most people in 1987 and 1988. In Japan, they spent more than six thousand hours to get one person. If they worked ten hours a day for one year, that would only be three thousand six hundred fifty hours. They spent over two years, working daily for hours, to gain one person. Their persistence has produced results. We all love the Lord, and we love to see people saved. We are for the preaching of the gospel. In one year, in three hundred sixty-five days, can we not bring one person to the Lord? This is both logical and fair. Many of us, however, have been in the church for years, yet no one has been saved through us. This is because our way of gospel preaching has been wrong.
If we went out to visit people for the gospel twice a week for two or three hours each time, we may get fifteen or so baptized after two months. But suppose not one was brought into the church life. Would we stop going out? To stop going to visit people with the gospel means we do not have the persistence, patience, or faith needed to be a New Testament priest of the gospel. In one year, we may only be able to bring one into the church life out of many baptized ones. That may seem too poor, but if every member in a church brings one new one into the church life in a year, the church is doubled.
We all must exercise our persistence, patience, and faith to visit and preach the gospel to people. In Luke 14, the Lord told us that when there were still vacancies in His salvation, He sent out His slaves to get people to fill His house. He first sent them “into the streets and lanes of the city,” and then He sent them “into the roads and hedges,” not just to invite them, but to “compel them to come in” (vv. 21-23). We need to compel people to believe in the Lord Jesus.
If we baptize a number and still do not bring one into the church life, we must exercise the Lord’s persistence, patience, and faith. We should say: “If I cannot gain one this year, I will gain one next year. If I do not gain one next year, then I will gain one the following year.” Eventually, we will gain someone for the Lord’s testimony. If each saint gains one new one every three years, the church will have a thirty-three percent increase yearly. According to my study, no church on this earth has ever increased consistently by thirty-three percent for many years. The way of persistently preaching the gospel by visiting people is not only profitable but also prevailing. We must all go out to exercise and practice this God-ordained way to preach the gospel. Whether we are meeting together with twenty, one hundred, or one thousand, we all must practice our New Testament priesthood of the gospel by going out to visit people with persistence, patience, and faith. Then we will surely bring some into the church life, and many others will also believe and be baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.
(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)