Additional Quotes about the Local Church by Witness Lee and Watchman Nee
Importance of the Ground of the Local Church
First Corinthians was not written to individual believers or to the so-called church in the heavens. Paul said in 1:2 that this book was written to the church of God which was at Corinth, to the church in a locality, a local church. Thus, if we want to understand, to know, to realize, and to apprehend this book, we have to be in the local church. This is a book to the local church. Thank the Lord that we are in the local church, and we are positioned to receive this book. If we are in the right position, it is easy for us to see certain things. Because we are in the local church, it is easy for us to see a book written to the local church.
(Witness Lee, Growth of Christ, 53)
If we are not in the local oneness, we are not in the church in a genuine and practical way. Furthermore, we cannot have the full experience of the processed, all-inclusive Triune God. The reason many Christians today are in spiritual poverty is that they have neither the genuine oneness nor the full experience of the all-inclusive Spirit. They have the Bible, but they do not have much experience of Christ as life. They have the name of Christ, but they have very little reality of His Person. So many spiritual things are lacking because the ground of oneness has been damaged and even lost. Only on this ground can we have the full experience of the processed Triune God. Remember, the dispensation of the Triune God, according to Revelation 1:4 and 5, is to local churches.
(Witness Lee, Genuine Ground, 137-138)
Let me relate a true story that illustrates this fact. Many of you are familiar with the books of Jessie Penn-Lewis on the subjective work of the cross. Anyone who knows the Lords recovery will admit that her messages on the subjective work of the cross were part of the recovery. Before Mrs. Penn-Lewis was raised up by the Lord, not many Christians knew the subjective aspect of the Lords cross clearly and adequately. A young Baptist pastor who had been somewhat influenced by modernistic teachings was made clear regarding the Lords salvation through Mrs. Penn-Lewiss ministry. Later he became a co-worker with her. Eventually, this young pastor saw something beyond what Mrs. Penn-Lewis had seen. She had seen the subjective aspect of the cross, but he saw the principles of resurrection for the Body of Christ. What he saw was very deep. It was something about which others had had no concept. This young man worked together with Mrs. Penn-Lewis for some years, always considering her as his senior. But the day came when he could no longer work with her, and he left. Thus, the one work became two, the way of Mrs. Penn-Lewis and the way of this brother. He himself (204)told me the story in detail. This story indicates that two spiritual persons who had seen something of so-called spirituality did not see the ground of the church. Neither of them had any ground for the work. Mrs. Penn-Lewis was suspended in the air and so was this brother.
Some time later I spent more than a month having fellowship with this brother day and night. Every contact between us lasted two or three hours. I eventually learned that he had no intention of knowing this matter of the ground. He simply would not give any heart, mind, or spirit to this matter. On the contrary, he was utterly closed to it. For more than thirty days I tried to convince him regarding the ground of the church, and he tried to convince me to abandon it. When he found that I would not leave it and when I learned that he had no intention of accepting it, we inwardly said good-bye to each other. That was the end of our fellowship. This took place approximately twenty years ago.
This illustration shows that if we do not have a definite site for building, yet we begin the work of building, we are doing something ridiculous. How ridiculous it is to prepare the materials for building and to begin the work of building, yet not to know the site of the building! Nothing is more foolish than this. Nevertheless, many Christians today are just this foolish.
In the Bible it is clearly revealed that we Christians should be corporate and built up. But can you show me where the genuine building is today? It can hardly be found anywhere. Todays Christians have truckloads of building materials, but they are driving around looking for a place to unload them. Sometimes they unload the materials on the wrong site, and after a period of time they shift the materials to still another ground. This is the actual situation today.
(Witness Lee, Spirit and the Body, 203-205)
Do you know why many of Gods people remained in Babylon instead of making the long journey back to Jerusalem? The reason was they were settled comfortably in Babylon and did not want to pay the price to return to the good land. The same holds true of many Jews in the United States today. They may be very devoted to the nation of Israel, but they find it inconvenient to move there to be part of that nation. Having a settled place in American society, they may prefer to be American Jews. This indicates that they are not willing to pay the price to stand on the unique ground. Sorry to say, the same thing is true of many Christians. A number of them have seen something of the truth of oneness. But the problem is they are not willing to pay the price. Returning to the ground of oneness would cause many to lose their position, name, reputation, or popularity. By the Lords mercy, we have chosen to take the narrow way of the cross and to stand on the ground of oneness. We have no choice except to take the Lords choice, even though we may be defamed, despised, and criticized. We must pay the price to stand on the ground of local oneness no matter what evil things others may say about us.
(Witness Lee, Genuine Ground, 146)
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