A Summary of the Study of the New Testament Way of Christian Service, by Witness Lee


As a remedy to these problems, the Lord showed me three major items which are all new to me. He showed me the perfecting of the saints in Ephesians 4, the church meeting in mutuality in 1 Corinthians 14, and the New Testament priesthood of the gospel of God. Ephesians 4 tells us that the Head in His ascension gave His Body, the church, some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers (vv. 11-12). Ephesians 4 does not say that these gifted persons are for doing the particular work in their respective lines. It says that all of these gifted persons were given by the Head to the Body for the perfecting of the saints, so that the saints, after being perfected, can do the work of the New Testament ministry to build up the Body of Christ. Although Ephesians 4 says this clearly, our practice has not matched this revelation. This chapter tells us about the building up of the Body of Christ, which is the very work of the ministry of the New Testament.

The Lord also showed me something further concerning the proper church meeting unveiled in 1 Corinthians 14. This chapter is a chapter encouraging all the saints to prophesy. Paul says that we can all prophesy one by one. We may feel that we cannot prophesy, but Paul says that we all can. We have the capacity to prophesy. When I use the word capacity, I mean the power or the ability. We have the capacity, the ability, to eat and digest food according to the nature of our human life. Furthermore, all of us normally have the ability in our human life to speak. Human beings have the capacity, the ability, to speak according to their very nature. Paul says that we all can prophesy one by one because the capacity, the ability, to prophesy is in the divine life which the believers possess and enjoy. First Corinthians 14:23 through 25 says that if all prophesy when the whole church comes together, there will be the power there to convict people, to judge people, and to expose people’s real situation. When Paul says in verse 24—“if all prophesy”—this means that we all have a universal obligation to prophesy. We have the capacity to prophesy, so we have the obligation to prophesy.

Verse 1 and verse 39 of 1 Corinthians 14 both say that we should desire earnestly to prophesy. We have the capacity and the obligation to prophesy, and we should desire earnestly to prophesy. Paul also told us in verse 12 that we should seek to excel to the building up of the church. This means that we should seek to prophesy because as Paul said, “He who prophesies builds up the church” (v. 4).

I became clear that it is altogether possible to have the meeting of mutuality revealed in 1 Corinthians 14. Of course, this requires much exercise and practice. Due to the traditional practice of Christianity throughout the centuries of church history, many may feel that it is impossible to have the meeting that is revealed in 1 Corinthians 14. But since I saw the universal capacity, the universal obligation, and the universal desire to prophesy, I began to see that it is possible. There is the full possibility for the attendants of a church meeting to prophesy one by one because all of us have the divine life. There are many spiritual abilities, or capacities, in the very nature of the divine life which we possess. A dog cannot speak a human language because the dog’s life does not have this capacity. Human beings can learn a language because in the nature of the human life there is the ability to learn a language. In the same way, there is a spiritual capacity, an ability, in the divine life to speak for God.

When I began to help the saints in Taipei to practice the God-ordained way, someone said to me, “Brother Lee, everything that you have shared in the past two years is scriptural, but it cannot be worked out.” I must say, however, that I have the full assurance that this God-ordained way can be worked out because the Bible tells us so. The Bible says we can all prophesy and that whenever we come together each one has something for building up. This is our obligation. Why do we say that we cannot do this? If we give up this obligation, our attitude is that we need a “clergyman” to replace us so that he can speak to us all the time. We may feel that we need someone to speak to us who has the learning and skill. We may have the attitude of letting a few brothers bear the burden while we rest. But this practice annuls the spiritual capacity of all the saints. I believe that many of the so-called “laymen” in Christianity may be more gifted than many of the pastors.

In the spring of 1989, the Lord also showed us the priesthood of the gospel in the New Testament. The Brethren stressed that all the believers are priests, and we followed them in this matter. We stressed the universal priesthood of the believers, but it was not until recently that the Lord showed us the main offering of the New Testament priests. What should a New Testament priest offer to God? In the past we saw that our praises to God and the things we do for God are spiritual sacrifices (Heb. 13:15-16; Phil. 4:18). However, we did not see that the main work of the New Testament priests is to offer the persons saved through their preaching as spiritual sacrifices to God. The sinners saved through our gospel preaching are the main offerings we should offer to God in His New Testament economy. In Romans 15:16, Paul said that he was a laboring priest of the gospel of God. Today we should preach the gospel as priests.

(A Summary of the Study of the New Testament Way of Christian Service, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)