Locality as the Church Ground of a Local Church
Separating the Church in Existence
but Not Dividing the Church in Essence
We also need to know the Body in practice. Locality as the church ground of a local church separates the church in existence but does not divide the church in essence. The existence of the churches is separated, but their essence is inseparable. The saints who live in Atlanta and those who live in Anaheim cannot come together always as one church. This is impossible. For the sake of existence, the local churches are separate. The saints who live in Atlanta have to be the church there, and the brothers and sisters in Anaheim have to be the church here. This is a separation for the purpose of existence, but this has nothing to do with the essence. The church in Atlanta, the church in Anaheim, and all the local churches are one Body in essence. Essentially, we are still just one Body on the entire globe. Our thought needs to be revolutionized. We should consider our local church as a part of the Body of Christ.
The Regions of the Work
Brother Nee taught about the regions of the work in his book Further Talks on the Church Life (see chapter six entitled "The Way for the Work Hereafter"—pp. 153-170). We have to realize that in the New Testament, for the apostles’ work, there were only two regions. One was the Jewish world, and the other was the Gentile world. In these two regions, there were no sub-regions.
Peter was working in the Jewish region, and that area was relatively small. But the Gentile world in which Paul worked was vast with different countries. These different countries, such as Asia Minor, Greece, and Macedonia, were different geographical regions. Rome with its surrounding areas could also be considered as a geographical region. But the New Testament does not have this kind of consideration concerning the work. In the Gentile world, there was only one region with one group of co-workers.
Did Paul, because of the vastness of his region, let some brothers take care of the work in Rome and another group take care of Greece with Macedonia? There was not such a thing. There were not different groups of workers under Paul taking care of specific regions or sub-regions. Paul and those with him were altogether just one group.
(Elders' Training, Book 11: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (3), Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)