THE RECOVERY OF SOME IMPORTANT WORDS
OF THE SCRIPTURES
After six years of study, I discovered some passages in the holy Word that we had altogether neglected. The first is Romans 15:16 concerning the priests of the gospel. We have said that all believers should preach the gospel and that all are priests; but in practice we still have the clerical class in that only a few are functioning in this way. The second passage is 1 Corinthians 14:26. More than forty years ago Brother Nee saw the matter mentioned in this verse and spoke concerning it, but up to the present time we have not practiced it. The third portion is Ephesians 4:11-16, which says that the Lord has given some gifts to the church unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of His Body. These gifted persons need to perfect the saints, and then the saints will be able to do what the gifted persons do and will properly function. In this way the entire Body grows gradually and is built up organically. The fourth portion is John 15:16. There the Lord said, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and I appointed you that you should go forth and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain." As we enjoy Christ as grace and as our life, the result will be that we will bear remaining fruit. Then, another passage is John 21:15-17, which says that the fruit we bear becomes the flock under our shepherding. Finally, Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider one another for inciting to love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom with some is, but exhorting one another." This kind of meeting, in which we consider one another and exhort one another, refers to the group meeting. We must admit that we have not been properly practicing what is taught in the aforementioned verses.
THE STEPS FOR THE OFFERING OF SACRIFICES
BY THE NEW TESTAMENT PRIESTS OF THE GOSPEL
We have said that the main work of the priests is to offer sacrifices. However, the sacrifices offered by the New Testament priests are absolutely different from the sacrifices offered by the Old Testament priests. In the Old Testament, the priests offered bulls and goats, but in the New Testament, the priests offer as sacrifices those who have been saved into Christ and who are joined to Christ. The bulls and goats as sacrifices in the Old Testament are types of the coming Christ (Heb. 10:5-7); but the redeemed sinners are in the Christ who has come, and they have become members of the Body of Christ. They are presented to God by the New Testament priests of the gospel as living and spiritual sacrifices. First Peter 2:5 says that we are "living stones, being built up a spiritual house, into a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." This shows that the intention of God’s heart is to have a spiritual house for Him to dwell in and to have a priestly body, a priesthood, to serve Him. As priests, we serve corporately in coordination to "tell out the virtues of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light," as mentioned in 2:9, that we may offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, that is, saved sinners, according to God’s economy. Therefore, we need to realize that to preach the gospel is to tell out God’s love, grace, forgiveness, redemption, and so forth, that we may bring sinners to the Lord and offer them, the members of Christ, as sacrifices to God. This is the first step of the priests’ offering of sacrifices.
The second step of the offering of sacrifices is to nourish the believers that they may grow in life so that they can present themselves as sacrifices to God. Romans 12:1 speaks of this. We should beseech the believers through the compassions of God that they may offer themselves as a living sacrifice to God. The third step is that we who are priests should do according to what Paul said in Colossians 1:28-29, that is, warn every man and teach every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man to God full-grown in Christ. This requires us to labor and to struggle. All that we have is Christ, and all that we offer also is Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 14:26 and note 1). Only by doing this can we be the priests of the gospel.
(The Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)