The Gospel Ministry
For the Gospel is not a mere declaration of good things, being the "power of God unto salvation, to all those that believe" (Rom. 1:16). Though the outward declaration of the Gospel be taken sometimes for the Gospel; yet it is but figuratively and by a metonymy. For to speak properly, the Gospel is this inward power and life which preacheth glad tidings in the hearts of all men, offering salvation unto them and seeking to redeem them from their iniquities, and therefore it is said to be preached "in every creature under heaven": whereas there are many thousands of men and women to whom the outward gospel was never preached. (Prop 5&6, XXIII)
Friends often will use the phrase “Gospel ministry.” This often carries connotations of a Christian message but the Quaker meaning goes deeper than that. It is a ministry that has its beginning and its end in the inward power that teaches us. It has its beginning in the promptings of that life in the minister. It has its end in the receipt of the message in the heart of the hearer. In unprogrammed Quaker worship, where there is greater emphasis on the inspiration of the words than their form, the greatest power is in the faithfulness of the speaker. There is a message in the words but there is a greater message in the example we give of God lifting us up, for however brief a time, and empowering and enabling us to do this specific thing at this specific time.
Friends are often encouraged or exhorted “to let our lives speak.” This is often as part of getting us to take some sort of action. But if we are serious about following our Inner Guide, what we are really speaking is the degree of our faithfulness. If we are letting God guide us in everything, then everything we do will be a witness to how God works in our lives. The our lives will speak of the power of God and we will be witnesses to the inward Gospel.
Of course, our lives always speak. Sometimes the speak to our ability to live in God's Kingdom and be transformed. Sometimes they speak of the degree in which we are still captives in Babylon (or Red Sox Nation). Which gets us back to the nature of our recreations. Does even our fun give testimony to the power of God in our lives?