Additional Quotes about the Local Church by Witness Lee and Watchman Nee
For this cause I left you in Crete, that you might set in order the things which I have begun that remain and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you:
These words, compared with every church in Acts 14:23, indicates not only that the jurisdiction of a local church is the city in which it is located but also that in one city there should be only one church. The eldership of a local church should cover the entire city in which that church is located. Such a unique presbytery in a city preserves the unique oneness of the Body of Christ from damage. One city should have only one church with one presbytery. This practice is illustrated, beyond any question or doubt, by the clear pattern in the New Testament (Acts 8:1; 13:1; Rom. 16:1; 1 Cor. 1:2; Rev. 1:11) and is an absolute prerequisite for the maintaining of proper order in a local church. Because of this, the first thing the apostle charged Titus to do in setting things in order was to appoint elders in every city.
(Witness Lee, Footnotes, 1012)
But the Bible gives a clear and simple word concerning the matter of the church. It has no confusion. If you read the Acts of the Apostles or the beginning of all the Epistles or the first chapter of Revelation, you can see what the Bible calls the churches. They are called the church in Rome, the church in Jerusalem, the church in Corinth, the church in Colossae, etc. In Revelation 1 there are seven churches in seven localities. We can see that the Bible designates the churches according to only one way. There is no other way. Rome is the name of a city. So is Corinth, Ephesus, Colossae, or Philippi. They are all names of cities. The churches are identified according to the names of cities. Other than the difference in localities, there is no other way for the churches to be differentiated. The church has its locality as its unit. Other than a division according to this unit, the Bible gives no further ramifications.
(Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 2, Vol. 27, 192)
In 1937 Watchman Nee began to see the ground of the local church. This is a further step beyond the boundary of locality and indicates that believers should not be divided by anything. The ground of the church is the ground of oneness. Wherever we go and wherever we are, we should be one with the believers in that place. A city should have only one church. The church is not the church in a home, the church in a factory, the church on a campus, the church on a certain street, or the church with any other kind of designation. The local church is a church in the city. If there is more than one church in a locality, the believers in that locality will be divided.
(Witness Lee, Seer of the Divine Revelation, 162-163)
II. The church in Corintha church in a city, remaining in a definite locality and taking it as its standing, ground, and jurisdiction for its administration in business affairs, which is physical, particular, local and temporal in timev. 2b.
(Witness Lee, Genuine Church, 3)
The ground of locality was not discovered by us until 1937, and that through Brother Nee. Even by 1934, Brother Nee had only discovered the boundary of a local church, which is the boundary of the locality within which a local church is situated. Due to the confusion among the Brethren assemblies (that is, in one city there are several Brethren assemblies) which he saw in 1933, he studied the New Testament once again in order to ascertain the boundary of a local church (assembly). Eventually, he discovered that the New Testament reveals clearly that the boundary of a local church is the boundary of the locality (city) in which the local church stands. Immediately after his new discovery, Brother Nee gave a series of messages on this matter in January of 1934 in Shanghai, and these were published in the same year as the book The Assembly Life. Thus, in his messages and publications subsequent to that time, he began to use the term the boundary of locality, not yet the term the ground of locality.
(Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 3, Vol. 47, 5)
I would like you to see that congregationalism is the result of brothers seeing the truth in the Bible only in part. There is no congregationalism in the Bible. Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Thyatira, and Laodicea are all localities. Throughout many years of church history, the Lords light has become clearer and clearer: from the international church to the national church, from the national church to the independent church, and from the independent church, somewhat beyond the normal standard, to congregationalism. Within these last twenty to thirty years, the Lord has led us to see the local church. It is clear enough. The church today is taking the apostles way. The church is local. We should not be proud to say that this is preached by us. This is the grace of God. God allowed His children to grope for more than a thousand years. Thank God! We have inherited what they gained and have found the way. Thank God!
(Watchman Nee, Further Talks, 122)
Then, based upon the boundary of locality, Brother Nee came to see the ground of locality. Since the boundary of a local church is the boundary of the locality in which it stands, so the ground of the church must be the ground of the locality on which a local church is built. This is the unique ground which keeps the genuine unity of the church. Any ground other than this is divisive.
(Watchman Nee, Orthodoxy, 7)
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