The Lord Jesus told Peter twice that he was a stone (John 1:42; Matt. 16:18). Evidently, he never forgot it because when Peter wrote his first Epistle, he not only said that Christ was a living stone, but also that all who come to Him are living stones to be built up as a spiritual house for God (1 Pet. 2:4-5). The Lord reminded Peter that he was a stone, and later Peter reminded us that we are stones.
GROWTH BY THE PURE WORD
Matthew 13 tells us about the need for growth. First Peter 2 also tells us that we need to grow. As newborn babes we should desire the pure milk of the Word that we may grow and become the living stones. We can become living stones by growing because transformation is included in the process of growth. If we consider the verses in 1 Peter 2 we will realize that both growth and transformation are found there. If there is no transformation with the growth, how can one who desires milk be a living stone? To be sure, the ones who desire milk are not yet living stones. However, after drinking the milk of the Word, they will grow and be transformed into living stones for the building. Again we have growth, transformation, and building. In Matthew 13 we have growth and transformation; in Matthew 16 we have the building. We are stones, and the Lord is building us into the church which is the kingdom. The builded church has authority, and the gates of Hades, signifying the power of Satan, cannot prevail against it. This is the church, a building of transformed materials.
THE LOCAL CHURCH
We all must see what the kingdom is. It is not only a dispensation or a sphere. The kingdom is the building up of regenerated, transformed persons. This building is accomplished in the local church. The builded church of Matthew 16 becomes the local church of Matthew 18. We cannot separate these two chapters. What is built in Matthew 16 is the local church found in Matthew 18. Some say that the church is only universal. If so, where is the universal church? The universal church is the totality of all the local churches, even as a body is the totality of all its members. If there are no members, there is no body. The universal church does not exist by itself; it is a composition of all the local churches. Those who talk only about the universal church are afraid of being built up together with others in the local church. As stones, we must be built into the local church.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)