THE PROBLEM TODAY CONCERNING THE CHURCH
Now we come to the New Testament. The record of the New Testament is a record of the Head with the Body, a record of Christ and the church. Christ is the Head and the church is the Body. A number of years ago, some young people in the Far East claimed that they saw the revelation concerning Christ and the fullness of Christ. They said there was no need to talk about the church because as long as we have Christ, everything is all right. It is absurd to say this. If you truly have the revelation of Christ, you will also have the revelation of the church. You cannot have a revelation concerning the Head without the Body. If you do see something of Christ, the church will follow. In Matthew 16:16 Peter saw the revelation from the heavenly Father concerning Christ. He said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then immediately after that, the Lord said, “Upon this rock I will build My church” (v. 18). If you know Christ, surely you will know the church. It is not possible to have the Head without the Body. Look at the writings, the teachings, the preachings, of the apostles, especially the apostle Paul. How much he spoke concerning the Body of Christ! Nearly all the Epistles written by the apostles stress not only Christ the Head but also the church, the Body.
Today the problem among the believers is not mainly concerning Christ but concerning the church. I do not believe that the genuine believers are very wrong concerning Christ, the Head, but unfortunately, most of the believers are wrong with the Body. I have been a Christian for nearly forty years, and I have been serving the Lord for more than thirty years. I have to tell you, I have suffered only a little for the Lord Himself, but I have suffered very much for the church. Therefore, there is a great problem related to the Body. As long as you simply speak about Christ without mentioning the Body, you will be considered wonderful, but you will be wonderful “in the air,” not practically. However, if you are going to speak practically concerning the church, you have to be ready to suffer persecution. Today the subtle enemy, the old serpent, is still trying his best to frustrate, to damage, to spoil, even to kill the church life, the Body of Christ. Do you realize what the Lord said to us? He said, “Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). This proves and reveals to us that the church will be attacked by the gates of Hades, but praise the Lord, we can be at peace. Do not be scared away. You have to take the Lord’s word, because He told us clearly that the church built with living stones on this divine rock can never be defeated by the gates of Hades. All the power of death, all the power of hell, and all the power of the satanic forces cannot prevail against the church which is built on the solid rock. Nevertheless, we have to realize that here is a real battle. As long as we are going along with the Body of Christ, we have to be ready to suffer for the Body.
Now you can see that the ultimate intention of God is to have the church built up for Himself and for His Son, as a building for Himself and as a Body, a bride, an increase, for His Son. This is the central thought of God. This is the very central thing which the Lord Himself is seeking after. If we see this, we are ready for the last two chapters of the Scriptures concerning the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is nothing other than the ultimate consummation of the divine work throughout the generations. After the old creation, God’s work throughout all the generations is a work for the new creation with a new man—the New Jerusalem—in a new heaven and new earth.
(The Central Thought of God, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)