Every member of the Church (whose names were "written in heaven") in the early times was a preacher. We know this not only because it is recorded that they "went every where preaching the Word" (Acts 8:4), but because we know that no one then or now led of the Spirit of Christ could help being a preacher of the glad tidings. If the anointing of the spirit led Jesus to preach; if the same spirit in Paul led him to feel "woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:16), wherever the same mind or spirit of Christ may be, it will have the same general effect, it will make a preacher of the one controlled by it as surely as it did of those referred to above. Of the Church whose names are written in heaven—every member is a preacher. Are you one? Are you faithful to your ministry?
The Greek word rendered "preach" in the above citations is euagg. It signifies—"To tell good news or tidings."—Young. One definition of our English word preach is, "To give earnest advice on moral or religious grounds."—Webster. From this, it will be seen that to confine the use of the word preach to a public discourse, as it usually is, is an error, begotten no doubt of the custom of having a special class do all the expounding of the glad tidings, while others feel themselves relieved from it.
The secret is this: The "glad tidings of great joy" which always did and always will kindle a flame of holy fire, which must find vent through tongue or pen, and to restrain which would be "woe unto me" if I preach not—has been so handled by Satan and his able assistant "Babylon the Great," that the "glad" element has been obscured, and the whole turned into "bad tidings" of great evil to ninety-nine in every hundred of the race.
It is greatly to the credit of the Church, that many have lost interest in the promulgation of the bad news. It makes evident, too, another thing, viz.: that the bad news, called gospel, now preached by those who are paid good salaries for so doing, must be a very different story from that which every member of the early Church preached for nothing. Nay, they got regular wages, but instead of money and titles and respect, they got stripes, imprisonments, and revilings, being accounted the filth and offscourings of the world—driven from their homes, "they that were scattered abroad, went every where preaching the Word." (Acts 8:4.)
Ah, yes! with such exhibitions of self-sacrifice and devotion on the part of the preachers, could we doubt that their message was really "glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people," and that the humblest of them felt, as Paul expressed it, that he was "not ASHAMED of the gospel of Christ." What wonder, too, that "under such a message" by such preachers—"the number of the disciples was multiplied"? (Acts 6:1.)
And now, when under the providence of God THE CHURCH is getting back to the "good tidings" as originally held by THE CHURCH in the days of the Apostles, and getting rid of the traditions of men under which it had been buried for centuries by contending sects and factions, we find that the real "glad tidings" has to-day the same effect that it had in early times upon all imbued with its spirit of truth. It is now, as then, impossible for anyone to receive the glad tidings and the spirit of it, without becoming a preacher of it, even though by so doing such meet with the same opposition as did their brethren in early times with the same glad tidings of the ransom for all and consequent resurrection hope for all.
Some inquire where are our Bishops, Apostles and preachers? We reply that Jesus is still recognized as the great Bishop (1 Pet. 2:25). And we have under-shepherds or overseers of the flock to-day as Timothy and others were in the early Church. We still have the words and teachings of the genuine Apostles—James, John, Peter, Paul, et al., and, judging from letters received there are not less than two thousand preachers and evangelists, who, being "scattered abroad, go every where preaching the Word," and referring those who "have an ear to hear," to the words of Jesus, Apostles and Prophets.
Beloved fellow-preachers, ministers (dispensers) of the grace of God which is through Jesus Christ our Lord, let us [R671 : page 1] make full proof of our ministry, that we may not be ashamed before the Great Bishop, when giving an account of our stewardship. The more we learn of the "glad tidings of great joy," the more we will feel with Paul that we would be in distress and woe, if you could not tell the joyful message: the more you will feel as Peter and John expressed it: "we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:19,20, and 5:29,40,41.)
Your zeal in the spread of this good news is very precious to us and we are sure also, that it is so to our Chief Shepherd. Probably one-half of all the letters received indicate that by one means or another the writers are preaching daily. The majority find their greatest success in preaching, to be by means of a wise circulation of special numbers of the TOWER, with special articles marked, and accompanied by "a word in season"—among those who seem to be "the meek," and to have "an ear to hear."
We repeat what some do not seem to have fully understood heretofore, viz.: that "ZION'S WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY," (whose funds are voluntary donations only) provides reading matter for gratuitous circulation on these precious subjects, to all who will use discretion in circulating it.
During the four years of the Society's existence nearly two hundred million (200,000,000) pages of tract matter has been circulated, and the experience thus obtained is, that greater results proportioned to the outlay, are derived from the use of specially prepared numbers of the TOWER (the last number was one of these) than by any other form of tract. Hence, efforts are at present mainly aimed in that direction, and thousands of papers in English and Swedish are printed and sent forth continually. We mention this that you may know that you have a supply to draw from so long as the Master shall supply the funds. Order as many "sample copies for distribution," as you think you can use to advantage in preaching the "glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people."
Though you may have a bountiful supply, use it not wastefully; but as wise stewards seek to use each paper or pamphlet according to the value of its message in your appreciation, and as men who shall render an account to a Master.