SUBSTANCE, EXISTENCE, AND EXPRESSION
The church is not only universally one, but also expressed locally in many cities. In the whole universe there is only one Christ, one Spirit, and one church. Why then are there the seven churches? Because of the need for an expression. For existence, one is sufficient. But for expression, many are needed. If we would know the church, we must know its substance, existence, and expression. Substantially, the church, and even all the churches, are one. In expression, the many churches are the many lampstands. What is the church? The church is the expression of the Triune God, and this expression is seen in many localities on earth. The church is signified not by just one lampstand, but by seven lampstands. In Revelation 1 there are seven lampstands with forty-nine lamps shining in the universe. This is the testimony of Jesus.
The church is the testimony of Jesus. This means that the church is the expression of the Triune God substantially and expressively. Substantially, it is of one substance in the whole universe; expressively, it is many lampstands with the lamps shining in the darkness to express the Triune God. The Father as the substance is embodied in the Son, the Son as the embodiment is expressed through the Spirit, the Spirit is fully realized and reproduced as the churches, and the churches are the testimony of Jesus. If we see this vision, it will govern us, and we shall never be divisive.
We have seen that the lampstand is the divine gold embodied into a substantial form to fulfill God’s purpose in His move. The expression of the stand is in the shining of the light. As the expression shines, the shining fulfills God’s eternal purpose. Thus, the lampstand signifies not only the Triune God, but also the move of the Triune God in His embodiment and expression. We have also seen that the local churches are the reproduction of the embodiment and expression of the Triune God. We should not be satisfied with saying that the local churches are the lampstands shining in the dark night. Although this is correct, it is rather shallow. We must see that the local churches are the reproduction of the embodiment and expression of the Triune God.
IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
ON THE GROUND OF ONENESS
We have pointed out that when God’s people in the Old Testament lost the ground of oneness, they spontaneously lost so many spiritual and holy things. However, when they returned to Jerusalem, to the ground of oneness, all these holy and spiritual things spontaneously returned. The principle is the same in the Lord’s recovery today. Today our God, the Triune God, is the Father embodied in the Son and the Son realized as the all-inclusive Spirit. Today this Spirit is speaking to the churches. Hence, in order to hear the Spirit’s speaking, we must be in one of the churches. Eventually, the Spirit and the Bride, constituted of all the churches with all the saints, will be one and will speak with one voice. Today we are listening to the speaking of the Spirit. But the day is coming when together the Spirit and the Bride will say, "Come!’’ Praise the Lord for this vision! With such a clear vision in front of us, we know where we must be today—in the local oneness, that is, in the local church on the ground of oneness.
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.
(The Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)