Christís Speaking to the Local Churches in Revelation
Additional Quotes about the Local Church by Witness Lee and Watchman Nee
In Revelation 2 and 3 with the seven churches, all the black, charred parts of the wicks can be seen. In the church in Ephesus the coldness came in and the first love was lost (2:4). This was the black part. In the church at Pergamos worldliness came in along with hierarchy (2:13-15). Christ as the High Priest in Revelation is snuffing all these black charred parts of the wick. At the same time, He is adding the oil into the churches. In principle today it is the same. When the church exists in a certain locality, at the beginning it may have been somewhat pure because worldliness and fleshly activities could not be seen there. But after a number of years, the worldly things, the fleshly activities, the human opinion, the natural activity, the old creation, and the traditional things may gradually come in. Then there is the need of a snuffing of these black elements. The High Priest comes to snuff all the negative things and to add in more and more of the sevenfold Spirit. The Spirit in essence is the golden element, even God Himself. The Spirit being added into the church indicates that Gods divine element is being added into the church. By this way the flesh, the natural life, and the old creation are being reduced in the local churches and Gods divine element is being increased. Through this process, the churches become the pure golden lampstands in reality, and this is the testimony of Jesus in todays age on this earth.
(Witness Lee, Divine Economy, 131)
In Revelation 2 and 3 the Lord rebuked the churches. He even told those in Laodicea that He would spew them out of His mouth (3:16). Still the Lord says to them, He who overcomes, to him I will give to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne (v. 21). Regardless of the condition of a local church, as long as it is set up on the proper ground of oneness, it is still the church. The ground of the church is the deciding factor as to whether that is a local church or not. If it is, we have to remain there, but we should not remain there in a routine way. We have to be vital.
(Witness Lee, Training and Practice, 15)
In none of the seven epistles does the Spirit speak to a particular church. All the churches should be common, not unique. During the past years, I have heard many say that every church must be distinctive. Those who hold this concept say that every church must have its local uniqueness. Although this thought sounds attractive, actually it is quite repulsive. To make your local church unique is to separate yourself from all the other churches. If you do this, you are through with the Spirits speaking. Which is betterto be unique or to be common? Although you may say that it is better to be common, the fact is that everyone likes to be unique. In your heart, you want the church in your locality to be unique. Nevertheless, in the local churches, do not try to be unique. We all must be common because the Spirit speaks to the churches, not to any unique church. When we are in the church and among the churches, we have the right position and the right angle to hear the Spirits speaking.
(Witness Lee, LS of Revelation, 122)
The seven local churches in Asia were sovereignly arranged by the Lord so that they might typify all the churches in the seven stages of the church age. Thus, regardless of what stage we are in as a local church, we should take care of all the eleven cases of negative things in the proper way as shown in Revelation 2 and 3. May the Lord have mercy on us and afford us His grace and blessing that we might not be negligent and indifferent in dealing with all these oneness-damaging problems.
(Witness Lee, Eldership (2), 89)
In Revelation 1:11-12 and 20, the seven golden lampstands, symbols of the seven local churches in Asia, are all identical in essence, nature, shape, color, appearance, function, and expression. In all these aspects the seven lampstands are identical. This signifies that all the local churches should be the same in essence, nature, shape, color, appearance, function, and expression. The seven lampstands were identical to the point that if they were placed side-by-side before our eyes, we could not discern which is which.
(Witness Lee, Eldership (2), 55)
Concerning this matter, we need to look at the seven epistles to the seven local churches in Revelation 2 and 3. The word of the Lord to one church is the word spoken by the Spirit to all the churches (Rev. 2:1, 7). At the beginning of each epistle, it is the Lord speaking to a specific church (2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14), but at the end of all the epistles, the Word says, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). What was said by the Lord to the church in Ephesus was the word that all the churches should hear. Every epistle was a particular word to a certain church, yet this particular word was to be heard and taken by all the churches.
(Witness Lee, Leadership, 36)
Chapters two and three portray the practical condition of the seven churches on the earth. The lampstands were bright, shining, of pure gold, and in the heavens, but on the earth their practical situation as the local churches was full of degradation .By looking at the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, we can see the chaos in the practical situation of todays church. Thus, we see the heavenly vision of Christ in the midst of the golden lampstands in Revelation 1 and the earthly practicality of the local churches in chapters two and three.
(Witness Lee, Satanic Chaos, 65-68)
It is a great advance for us to know and practice the local churches. Concerning the church, the book of Revelation is in the advanced stage. To know this book, we must advance from the understanding of the universal church to the realization and practice of the local churches, because this book is written to the local churches. Only those who are in the local churches are positioned rightly, with the right angle and the proper perspective, to see the visions in this book. The Triune God is expressed in Christ (John 1:1, 14; 1·Tim. 3:16; Col. 2:9); Christ is realized and experienced as the Spirit (John 14:16-18; 1·Cor. 15:45; 2·Cor. 3:17; Rom. 8:9; Phil. 1:19) and is expressed in His Body, the universal church (Eph. 1:22-23; 1·Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:4); and the universal church is expressed in the local churches. Therefore, to know and experience God, we need to know and experience Christ; to know and experience Christ, we need to participate in the universal church through the Spirit; and to participate in the universal church, we need to participate in the local churches.
(Witness Lee, Footnotes, 1234)
This books being sent to the seven churches equals its being sent to the seven cities. This shows clearly that the practice of the church life in the early days was the practice of having one church for one city, one city with only one church. In no city was there more than one church. This is the local church, with the city, not the street or the area, as the unit. The jurisdiction of a local church should cover the whole city in which the church is located; it should not be greater or lesser than the boundary of the city. All the believers within that boundary should constitute the one unique local church within that city.
(Witness Lee, Footnotes, 1236-1237)
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