THE INITIAL STEP FOR THE BELIEVERS TO MINISTER AS THE NEW TESTAMENT PRIESTS OF THE GOSPEL
As saved believers, we are all priests of the gospel. Paul was a priest of the gospel, and we all also are priests of the gospel. No one can be a priest for anyone else. As Paul preached the gospel and bore fruit, so should we preach the gospel and bear fruit. Since we are priests of the gospel, we should work on sinners. Perhaps someone may say, “I cannot do this; at least, I do it poorly.” He cannot do it or does it poorly because he will not do it or will not do it frequently and regularly. If we do the work of a priest frequently and regularly, we will surely be able to do it and will improve in the way we do it.
The Universal Priesthood
Since we are priests of the gospel, we need to offer sacrifices to God, and what we offer to Him are saved sinners. According to the revelation of the Bible, this should be the ministry of the universal priesthood, not the priestly ministry of a few people (1 Pet. 2:5). All the believers constitute a kingdom of priests; they are a priesthood. It is not that only a few saved ones with special gifts are priests and that the others, the majority who are without gifts, cannot be priests. This is not scriptural. The Bible says that every believer is a priest of the gospel of God. According to our natural man, we cannot preach the gospel. However, when we were saved and regenerated, we received a new life, the life of God, which has its organic capacities that need to be cultivated and developed.
Nevertheless, this is not the condition in today’s Christianity, where the practices of the meetings and service do not help in the cultivation of the spiritual, organic capacities of the saints but allow only a few gifted ones, the “professionals,” to participate in the sacred work. Eventually, these few become the clergy who form the clerical class. They are responsible for everything pertaining to the service of God, and the rest of the believers are the laity, who can at most only help in practical affairs.
Visiting People to Preach the Gospel and Going Forth to Bear Fruit
In the Lord’s recovery today what the Lord intends to recover in us is the universal priesthood, even the universal priesthood of the gospel. Among us, every saved one is a priest, a serving one. As such, everyone should preach the gospel directly to his family members, relatives, colleagues, schoolmates, and neighbors. This way of preaching the gospel is according to our appointment by the Lord to go forth and bear fruit (Luke 10:1-6; John 15:16). We are all branches of the Lord as the vine (John 15:5); as such, we need to bear fruit personally, not asking others to do it for us. We should visit people personally to preach the gospel and lead them to be saved and regenerated, and we should also nourish, teach, and perfect them.
A large church may have three thousand saints, but it may depend upon only a few co-workers and elders to call big meetings for the preaching of the gospel, while the rest, perhaps over two thousand nine hundred brothers and sisters, are merely helpers. If this is the case, the number of those who are brought in after a year will be very limited. However, if three thousand brothers and sisters, after hearing this message and seeing that they are priests of the gospel, are willing to go and work on sinners, I am convinced that after a year everyone will have one remaining fruit not only offered as a sacrifice to God but also brought into the church. As we have three thousand saints, so we have three thousand priests of the gospel. We all work on sinners to save, nourish, teach, and perfect them that they may be able to do what we do. As a result, the church will double its number yearly, and the saints also will be able to progress and serve by ministering as the priests of the gospel for the building up of the Body of Christ.
(The Ministry of the New Testament Priests of the Gospel, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)