THE PRACTICE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT PRIESTHOOD OF THE GOSPEL OF GOD
In the advance of the Lord’s recovery today, we need to be brought into the practice of the New Testament priesthood of the gospel of God (Rom. 15:16). The gospel of God (1:1) does not merely comprise Christ’s salvation of sinners. This is just a small part of the entire gospel of God. The gospel of God is God’s entire New Testament economy. The entire New Testament, from Matthew 1 to Revelation 22, is God’s gospel. The first item of this gospel is the incarnation of the Triune God to be a man, and the last item is the New Jerusalem. These items and all of the items in between them are the gospel of God. When we refer to the gospel of God, I hope we understand that it is the entire New Testament, from the incarnation of the Triune God to the New Jerusalem as the consummation of God’s New Testament economy.
As the priests of the gospel, we preach the gospel of God to regenerate sinners with the divine life (John 1:12-13) for the building up of the church as the organism of the processed Triune God (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:23; 3:19b). The priesthood is the universal priesthood (Rev. 1:5b-6a; 5:9b-10). This means that every believer is a priest. The universal priesthood is for the preaching of the gospel of God’s salvation (1 Pet. 2:9). Our preaching is to produce new believers by seeking and visiting the lost sinners (Luke 19:10; 10:1-6). The main way to preach the gospel is not to invite people to come to us but to visit them where they are. The Lord Jesus came down from heaven to visit the sinners on the earth (1 Tim. 1:15). He visited Zaccheus with His dynamic salvation (Luke 19:1-10), and He visited the Samaritan woman to bring her the living water (John 4:3-15). He sent the twelve to go to the cities and villages to visit the lost sheep of the house of Israel and bring them peace (Matt. 10:5-8, 11-13). He sent the seventy to go to every city and place to seek the sons of peace and even to stay with them in their homes for the preaching of the gospel (Luke 10:1-6). We must learn of the Lord and follow the pattern established in the New Testament.
As the New Testament priests, we offer the saved sinners as parts of the enlarged and corporate Christ to God as the New Testament sacrifices of the gospel (Rom. 15:16). In the Old Testament, the priests’ main work was to offer the sacrifices. These sacrifices are types of Christ. Then in the New Testament, the priests are still offering the sacrifices. These sacrifices are the saved sinners as parts of the enlarged, corporate Christ. As the New Testament priests, we should offer parts of the enlarged, corporate Christ as sacrifices to God for the building up of God’s spiritual house—the church as the organism of the Triune God (1 Pet. 2:5).
We should go to seek out sinners by visiting them and meeting with them in their homes that they may be saved to become new believers. These new believers are for the building up of the church as the very organism of the processed Triune God. This way to preach the gospel is absolutely scriptural and absolutely ordained by God. We need to practice this God-ordained way to preach the gospel.
In order for us to practice this God-ordained way to preach the gospel, we all need a revival. Every morning we need to have a new beginning in our Christian life. We need to be revived and renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16). Leviticus 27 shows us that we need to devote ourselves to the Lord by making a vow to Him. For the new practice of the God-ordained way we all need to make a vow to the Lord. This vow should be like the Nazarite vow in Numbers 6, a vow in which we give ourselves to the Lord to carry out His New Testament economy. In order to carry out His New Testament economy, God sends us out to seek and visit sinners that we may bring them to Christ and that they may become new believers for the building up of the churches, which in totality are the organism of the processed Triune God. We may wonder what the contents of our vow should be. In our vow we can pray, “Lord, keep me faithful so that I will take Your word and Your ordination to go out to seek the sinners, to visit the sinners to bring them to You that they may become Your new members and new believers for the building up of Your Body. Lord, I ask You to make me faithful to always keep two or three new believers under my care.” How can we have these new believers? We can have them by visiting the sinners and getting them saved.
We need to see the best way, practically speaking, to labor in the gospel. We can put the names of all the persons whom we know on a list beginning with those who are closely related to us—our parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, in-laws, uncles, aunts, etc. We can then put down the names of our classmates, colleagues, and friends. We can also put down the names of our neighbors. I believe that each one of us will have the names of at least fifty persons. Then we can consider the persons on the list to see which ones have not been saved. We can pray for all of those who have not been saved. Then we can seek the Lord’s leading by praying, “Lord, among these unsaved persons whom I know, which ones should I visit first?” We can go to visit these according to the Lord’s leading. Before going, we have to pray. Sometimes we must pick up the burden to match our prayer with fasting because we consider this quite serious.
We do not need to go to visit people for the gospel every day. Perhaps we may go one day a week. Also, to go alone is not so effective. It is better for us to go in a little team of three saints. Then we have to fellowship with the other saints. Eventually, by going out to visit people in this way, we will gain two to three for the Lord. It may be that we will not gain anyone the first week, but we should not be disappointed. In the second week, we may baptize two. We need to keep visiting people until there are two or three new ones under the care of each one of us. Then we do not need to baptize any more because two or three new ones are enough for us to take care of. We need to take care of these two or three new ones for about two or three months. After a period of time, we may not have the way to take two of them on with the Lord due to certain circumstances. We will then need to spend some time to baptize more new ones to replace them. In this way each one of us will always have two or three new believers under our care year-round. We take care of the new ones by having home meetings with them to bring them to know the Lord more and more that they may grow in the knowledge of Christ and grow in the divine life.
We should not be hot and burning in our labor for two weeks and then cold the next week. We need to labor in the gospel regularly and constantly. We can first visit all the people whom we know to gain two or three new believers for the Lord. When we have two or three new ones under our care, there will be no need for us to go out to baptize more because we will not be able to care for them all. We should not bring forth too many children. According to God’s natural law, it takes nine months to bear a child. God regulates childbearing according to His natural law. This shows that even in the spiritual realm, we should not bring forth too many new ones too quickly. We have to bring forth spiritual children slowly and steadily.
(A Summary of the Study of the New Testament Way of Christian Service, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)