The service of the church as the Body of Christ is the service of the New Testament priesthood of the gospel (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). It is the service of the New Testament, and it is of the gospel and of a priesthood. A priest is individualistic, whereas a priesthood is corporate. It is much like a ball team which is a corporate entity. A ball game is not played by any one individual, but by a group. Our service must also be carried out as a corporate entity, the New Testament priesthood of the gospel. The foremost thing of this service is to center on the preaching of the gospel to save sinners and to offer them as sacrifices to God (Rom. 15:16). In a general sense, gospel preaching is soul-winning. This is not wrong, but such a goal is not high enough. Our emphasis in gospel preaching is not on this but on God receiving an offering. According to the revelation of the Old Testament, our God daily anticipates our offering to Him. Actually, the offering of sacrifices must be done not only daily but also every morning and evening.
Our gospel preaching today is not merely to win souls but to save sinners one by one and offer them as sacrifices to God. This is the focus of our service. When I was first saved, I heard that I must preach the gospel diligently to save souls. Later, I also heard that I must preach the gospel diligently in order to bear fruit. Fruit-bearing seems a little higher than soul-winning. In the last two years, I began to realize that we are God’s priests and that our gospel preaching cannot merely be soul-winning or fruit-bearing. It is to save the sinners and offer them to God as sacrifices. Suppose you preach the gospel to someone and baptize him after he believes and receives. Now you must remember to offer this person as a sacrifice to God in your prayers. If you do this, you will be a joyful person. This is the focus of our service as the New Testament priests of the gospel.
Furthermore, the service of the New Testament priesthood of the gospel has as its goal the building up of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12). The focus of our service is to save sinners and offer them to God, while the goal is to build up the Body of Christ. After we preach the gospel, lead a sinner to salvation, and offer him as a sacrifice to God, that sacrifice becomes material for the building up of the Body of Christ. In returning to Taipei this time, I am very happy to see that you have gone on in the new way. Although the speed of advancement is not that great, you are nevertheless progressing in a solid way. I am especially delighted to see so many new ones brought in through the spread of our gospelization work. They are being offered to God as sacrifices, and they have all become materials for the building up of the Body of Christ. Without materials, it is vain to talk about building. Now we have so much material for the building up of Christ’s Body. This is the result of the new way.
Furthermore, we must take Christ as Lord in the service of the Body of Christ and of the church (Acts 2:36; 2 Cor. 4:5a; Acts 13:2). This is according to Christ’s desire and for Christ’s purpose. We must not take any person as Lord except Christ. When we serve in the Body of Christ, we must learn to seek the Lord much in all things through prayer, and ask Him to lead us in order that we may know His heart’s desire and understand His purpose. Only He is the Lord. Though we do not see Him, He is still the Lord, and though we cannot touch Him, He is present with us. Through Him, we can deal with and be brought through all the hindrances and problems that we encounter in our service. Thus, we must learn to acknowledge Him as Lord, to fellowship with Him constantly, to seek His presence, and to know His heart’s desire and His purpose.
In the service of the Body of Christ we not only take Christ as Lord but also take the Holy Spirit as power and authority (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:18-19). To do anything we need power and authority. The Holy Spirit is our power and authority in the service of the Body of Christ. The Lord said in Matthew 28:18-19, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and disciple all the nations.” When the Lord spoke this word, He had already given us all power and authority. Thus, we must consider it a fact that the Christ who was transfigured as the Holy Spirit is with us when we go to preach the gospel. The Holy Spirit who is present with us is our power and authority.
There may be times when you preach the gospel to a stubborn and unyielding person. You should pray in your heart, “Lord, Your authority is here. Exercise Your authority over this one.” When you apply the authority which the Lord has given to you in this way, quite often you will witness people being softened to such an extent that they eventually receive the Lord into their hearts, call upon the Lord’s name, and get baptized. Therefore, learn to preach the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31b; 1 Cor. 2:4; Acts 6:10) and to dispense life by the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:18). The Holy Spirit is present with you. Do not speak by the natural man outwardly, but rather speak by an inward exercise of the power and authority given by the Holy Spirit.
(A Thorough View of the Body of Christ, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)