THE VISION CONTROLLING THE GOSPEL OUTREACH
This morning, I hope that every one who is going to participate in the gospel outreach is a man of vision. It must not be that some others are persuading you to join the gospel outreach. Persuasion will work for only three days. I am afraid that after three days, it will become useless. It has to be something that touches you within, which is the God of glory unveiling Himself to you and enlightening you, who will give you unspeakable strength for you to go on in serving the Lord step by step.
When I came back to Taiwan a few days ago, I received a call from one of the gospel teams. The brothers and sisters were very excited. They told me that within three weeks they had baptized eighty-two persons. The first Lord’s Day they had twenty-three new ones attending their bread-breaking meeting. This is indeed encouraging. But we have to see that such excitement will ebb quickly if there is not a vision as the underlying support. It is like the weather that we have been experiencing these few days. At times a cold front comes, and the temperature goes down and up erratically. But if you have seen the vision, whether there is a cold front or a warm front, you will not be affected. We have to realize that we have the outreach in the villages because we have seen an inward vision. This glorious vision controls us and gives us the boldness to go on.
THE VISION BRINGING IN THE SPEAKING OF GOD
At present, we very much encourage the brothers and sisters to prophesy in the district meetings on the Lord’s Day. This is to speak for God. However, there is a basic qualification to speak for God which is that we must first see God. For you to describe my appearance to others without having first seen me is a rather difficult thing to do. Nor could you say much. But while you are sitting here this morning in this meeting, you see my every slightest move, and you will have a lot to say to others about me. Hence, if we want to prophesy and to speak for the Lord, we must first have fellowship with the Lord. We must see Him and know Him before we can speak Him forth.
We also must deeply realize that our outreach is not a kind of work. Rather, it is a going out in ecstasy. If we are not ecstatic, the gospel outreach will not be effective. If we see the vision, our going out for the work will be different. When Isaiah was called by God to speak for Him, he did not go forth to give predictions. Rather, he spoke words of rebuke to others.
The majority of the sixty-six chapters of Isaiah were a speaking for God. The reason Isaiah spoke was because God had granted him the vision. He saw the God of glory sitting on the throne, and he said, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (6:5). This is Isaiah’s message. In 1:9 he said, “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” He had truly seen the vision and had come forth to speak for the Lord.
I hope that every one of you who are going to participate in the outreach in the villages would also have such an inward vision. Whenever you see people, there is the burden within to speak, even to speak unceasingly like a “madman.” In the Old Testament, every prophet was a “madman.” In the New Testament, every apostle was also a “madman.” Every evangelist is all the more a “madman.” I have noticed that the brothers and sisters in the five teams that have gone out are a little bit crazy. I believe that more or less it is because they have been affected by the vision that they have received.
We can take a look again at the story of the calling of Peter, James, and John. While they were fishing, the Lord called them (Matt. 4:18-22). But that call did not affect them too much. One day the three of them followed the Lord Jesus to go up to the mountain. On the mountain the Lord suddenly was transfigured. His face shone like the sun, and His garment became white as the light (Matt. 17:2). Later Peter told us in his Epistle that he was an eyewitness of the Lord’s majesty on the mount of transfiguration. This is not merely a seeing of the glory of the Lord. It is a beholding of His majesty. Glory is comparatively common. But majesty brings people awe. Peter said that he made known the things to us because he became an eyewitness to the Lord’s majesty. What he made known to us was not cleverly devised myths, but was what he had seen with his own eyes (2 Pet. 1:16).
Now we know why Peter and John were so powerful when they preached the gospel and worked for the Lord. The reason is that they had all seen a vision. This vision was their calling. The majesty that they saw became the message that they preached. Hence, if we are to give ourselves to the move of the gospel outreach, we must first see the glorious vision.
A LIFETIME OF SERVING GOD ACCORDING TO THE VISION
When the Apostle John was old, he was exiled to the island of Patmos. There he saw scene after scene of visions. The whole book of Revelation from the first chapter to the last is on visions. The last scene is the New Jerusalem (Rev. 22). Hence, you can see that what John spoke were the visions that he saw. He was not telling people stories; rather, he was speaking to others every aspect of what he saw. This is the book of Revelation. It is truly an unveiling.
I hope that when you go down to the villages for the outreach, you will speak to others about the vision that you have seen. That will become a revelation to others. This will not be merely some empty teachings. Instead, what you tell others will be a vision that you have seen. This will become others’ revelation. By this they will also be able to see. This is what I mean by the glorious vision.
Second Peter 1:3 says that God “has called us to His own glory and virtue.” In the New Testament, every saved person should be one who has received God’s glorious calling. We have all seen His glory, have been attracted by Him, and are under His influence. We can no longer be the same as we were, common worldly persons. We are a special people, because the Lord has called us. We do not care about heaven or earth. This glory that we have seen is the meaning of our life. It has also become our goal, our commission, and our burden. We do not care what the circumstance is nor what others think of us. There is something within us which we cannot deny or disobey. It is the glorious vision. We have to serve God according to this vision throughout our whole life.
(A message given by Brother Witness Lee in Taipei on March 7, 1989)
(The Glorious Vision and the Way of the Cross, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)