As believers in Christ we are laboring priests of the gospel of God by serving God in our mingled spirit in the gospel of His Son (Rom. 15:16). We are laboring priests of the good news, the glad tidings, by serving God unceasingly in our spirit and worshiping, enjoying, and being mingled with God in spirit.
As the Lord shines on us in our deeper study and enjoyment of the matter of the recovery of the priesthood for the building up of the Body of Christ, we are being enlightened, convicted, exposed, and at the same time encouraged, supplied, and strengthened to cooperate with the Lord for the recovery of the priesthood of the gospel.
As to our daily living and our inner being, we need to be those who spend much time with God to be infused with God, filled with God, and saturated with God so that we may express Christ in a corporate way. As to our service, our function as priests is to bring sacrifices to God, and these sacrifices are first Christ as the reality of all the sacrifices, then the saved sinners and perfected believers, and finally our body, our time, and all the things we have to be used for God’s purpose.
As priests of the gospel we can offer the saved sinners to God for His food, satisfaction, and delight. The Apostle Paul was a pattern of a minister of Christ, a public servant, one who ministers Christ into people; he was like a waiter serving people at the universal dining table with Christ as the most delicious food.
Paul ministered Christ to others so that they would be filled with Christ, and this Christ as the life-giving Spirit became the transforming element in their being; then, he offered the believing Gentiles as a sweet sacrifice for God’s satisfaction.
As priests to God, we need to minister Christ to people so that they may be sanctified and transformed with the essence of Christ and thereby become an offering to God. We need to preach the gospel with the firm conviction that we are ministering Christ to people so that Christ might become within them the sanctifying element to change their very being.
As we minister Christ into a sinner to make him a son of God, we enter into God’s delight; God delights in having Christ increased and enlarged in humanity for His building. What makes God happy is to have Christ enlarged in man, and when we minister Christ to others and offer them to God as acceptable sacrifices being sanctified by the Holy Spirit, God is happy and we are satisfied. Hallelujah!
Being Laboring Priests of the Gospel Offering Saved Sinners to God for His Delight
First, as priests of the gospel we need to lead sinners to repent and believe into the Lord that their sins may be forgiven and that they may be regenerated in their spirit; this is through preaching the gospel and ministering Christ to sinners so that they would enter into the first step of God’s salvation, regeneration.
Second, we need to lead the repentant regenerated ones to be gradually transformed in their soul by the renewing of their mind (Rom. 12:2); after being regenerated, we need to be renewed in our mind (the leading part of our soul) so that we may be transformed in our soul – this takes a long period of time.
Through this process of transformation the believers allow Christ to spread from their spirit into their mind, emotion, and will, so that they may grow in Him day by day. As priests of the gospel we need to help others be renewed in their mind to be transformed in their soul and thus grow in the divine life.
Third, as believers grow unto maturity in the divine life, they are prepared and ready for the Lord’s return to transfigure their body and fully redeem them (Phil. 3:21) so that their entire being – spirit, soul, and body – will be filled, saturated, and mingled with the Lord.
The priesthood of the gospel encompasses the entirety of God’s salvation from regeneration to glorification, and as priests of the gospel we need to be those who cooperate with the Lord to minister Christ to others for their regeneration, sanctification, renewing, transformation, conformation, and glorification.
God’s New Testament gospel is for us to be regenerated in our spirit, transformed in our soul, and eventually redeemed and glorified in our body so that our entire tripartite being would be saved and filled with God’s divine life.
The greatest joy for a Christian is to preach the gospel and save sinners, because these sinners can be offered up to God for His happiness, joy, and delight. Whenever we baptize a repentant sinner we are offering up a treasure on the altar and we are happy since God is happy and satisfied!
In order for the church to be living, enlivened, and revived, we need to be those who preach the gospel day by day so that we may offer up to God the saved sinners for His delight and our joy. Our God is rejoicing when Christ is increasing in us and in others; He is happy not because of our “success in the gospel” but because of Christ increasing in more human beings!
As we preach the gospel to sinners and they receive the Lord, God is happy. Then, as we minister Christ to the saints for their renewing and transformation, they become spiritual sacrifices offered to God sanctified in the Holy Spirit, acceptable to God (Rom. 15:16).
Lord Jesus, make us the laboring priests of the gospel who cooperate with You and are one with You to minister Christ to others for their regeneration, transformation, and glorification. Lord, it is our greatest joy as Christians to preach the gospel to save sinners so that we may offer them to God for His satisfaction! Oh Lord, fill us with Yourself and keep us ministering You into people so that Christ would be increased in man and God would be satisfied! We want to enter into God’s happiness by living the life of a priest of the gospel offering the saved sinners to God for His joy and delight!
Learning from the Apostle Paul as a Pattern of the Priesthood of the Gospel
The Apostle Paul was a good pattern of a laboring priest of the gospel of God to minister Christ to the Gentiles; the Gentiles whom he gained through his gospel preaching were an offering presented to God (Rom. 15:16; 1 Pet. 2:5). By his priestly service many unbelieving Gentiles, who were unclean and defiled, were sanctified in the Holy Spirit to become an offering that is acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:16; 16:4-5).
These Gentiles were set apart from all the common things and were saturated with God’s holy nature and element, being thus sanctified both positionally and dispositionally; such a sanctification is in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:19; 15:16).
The Epistle to the Romans, written by the apostle Paul, concerns the gospel of God, and it begins with sinners. Paul tells us how sinners can be saved and justified by believing in the Lord, how they advance in Christ by being sanctified and transformed, and how they present themselves to God as living sacrifices that they may become members of the Body of Christ to live the church life, expressing Christ corporately and awaiting the Lord’s coming. Paul did not only speak in this way concerning the gospel of God; he also served as such a priest of the gospel. He was sent by God from one place to another to preach the gospel, and he offered the saved ones as sacrifices to God (Rom. 15:16; 1 Pet. 2:9). Then he continued to work on the saved ones by nourishing and cherishing them that he might lead them to present themselves to God as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). As such, Paul was a pattern of the priesthood of the gospel. He took care of the new believers in Christ that they might grow by the word of God and that thereby the fruits of the gospel would remain. Furthermore, he carried out the work of teaching and perfecting in the saints, working individually and directly on them daily, that they might be perfected in their gifts. Thus, like him, they could do the work of the building of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:12), and they could all become the New Testament priests of the gospel. (Witness Lee, The Ministry of the New Testament Priests of the Gospel, pp. 11-12)
Amen, what a pattern we have laid up before us in the gospel of Romans! Paul’s pattern is so enlightening, convicting, exposing, and encouraging. In 1 Thes. 2:1-12 we also see many details related to what Paul went through and lived out while being with the believers in that city; he encouraged them to remember how he was with each one of them so that they might walk in a manner worthy of God.
In Acts 20:17-36 he also testified that the saints knew his living and being with them, how he taught them publicly and from house to house as a laboring priest of the gospel. The joy of the Lord was truly Paul’s strength, and he was a laboring priest of the gospel being inwardly fully energized by the enjoyment of the Triune God.
May we also have such a living that is one with the Lord who is the Laboring Priest of the gospel, so that we may cooperate with Him in His burden for man for the sake of the Body of Christ!
Lord Jesus, bring us into a daily living of a laboring priest of the gospel of God for the sake of the increase of Christ, the Body of Christ. We want to be sanctified both positionally and dispositionally and cooperate with You by being one with You as the laboring priest of the gospel to save sinners, minister Christ to them, and help them advance in Christ by being sanctified and transformed, so that they would present themselves to God as living sacrifices to be the many members of the Body of Christ living the church life and expressing Christ corporately and awaiting His coming!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my Christian experience, bro. Dick Taylor’s sharing in the message for this week, and portions from, The Ministry of the New Testament Priests of the Gospel, ch. 1, by Witness Lee, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Recovery of the Priesthood or God’s Building, week 6 / msg 6, Being Laboring Priests of the Gospel of God by Serving God in our Spirit in the Gospel of His Son.
- All Bible verses are taken from, Holy Bible Recovery Version.
- Hymns on this topic to strengthen this burden:
# That I might be a minister, / A minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, / A laboring priest of the gospel of God, / A laboring priest of the gospel of God, / In order that the offering, / The offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, / Having been sanctified in the Holy Spirit, / Sanctified in the Holy Spirit. (Song on Rom. 15:16)
# We must ever preach the gospel, / Thus our friends and neighbors gain; / House to house with vital partners, / That our new ones will remain. / We must ever preach the gospel, / Cherishing and nourishing; / Loving them as our dear children, / As our priestly offering. (Song on Preaching the Gospel)
# Lord, anew we give our bodies; / May we be transformed to prove / All Thy will, to know Thy Body, / And therein to serve and move. (Hymns #913)