THE CHURCH IN THE GOSPELS
The verses in the New Testament concerning the church are very mysterious. The Bible is not an ordinary book, and the verses in it concerning the church are even more extraordinary. In Matthew 16:16-18, Peter first had the realization that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Then, immediately afterwards the Lord told him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in the heavens. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church.” This rock refers not only to Christ but also to the revelation concerning Christ which Peter received from the Father. That is why this portion of the Scripture is so mysterious that almost no one can expound it thoroughly.
THE CHURCH IN 1 CORINTHIANS
First Corinthians 12:12 says, “For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ.” The Christ, which is a literal translation, refers to the corporate Christ. This means that the Body has become Christ. Verse 13 goes on to say, “For also in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and were all given to drink one Spirit.” Very few Christians realize that when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, they were baptized into one Body. The believers are baptized through water and in the Spirit not only into Christ, the death of Christ, and the name of the Triune God, but also into the Body of Christ. We were individual and scattered, but when the Lord Jesus baptized us in the Holy Spirit, He baptized us into one body. We are no longer individuals but members of the Body.
According to the revelation in 1 Corinthians 12:12, we are all members of the Body of Christ. Yet, as the members we often like to be alone; we do not like to be in the Body. How pitiful and distorted this is! It would be awful if, when someone prophesies, only his mouth rose to prophesy and the rest of his body remained seated. Nevertheless, this is comparable to the situation among most Christians, even among us. We all acknowledge that we are members of Christ. Sometimes we even say that we should share everything with one another, we are all members, and we have to love one another. However, no matter how much we love, if we do not live in the Body, our love is merely in word and in tongue. Our eyes truly need to be opened to see that we cannot be individualistic. Rather, we must be in the Body to have the reality of loving one another. Only when each member is properly placed in the Body can there truly be a lovely and attractive situation.
Therefore, in speaking of the church, we must pay attention to the oneness of the church. Without oneness, there is no church, for the church is one Body. The Body is one, and without oneness, there is no Body. Today many Christians say that we should not have a narrow view or be sectarian but should simply love one another. However, unless we are joined together in oneness, there is no way for us to love one another. We cannot love one another except in the Body, in oneness. In the Body, we spontaneously love one another.
When I was saved, a pastor told me that Christians should be divided. At that time the population in Chefoo was about 250,000. That pastor said, “If there is only one church in Chefoo, this is like having only one electric lamp in a big house at night. No matter how much the lamp shines, the house will still be poorly illuminated. Therefore, there is the need for more lamps. At present there are eight denominations in Chefoo. This means that there are eight lamps. Wouldn’t it be better to have more lamps? That is why we should be divided into more groups.” This is Christianity’s schismatic philosophy, a philosophy of division. Today many Christians justify division and in doing so consider themselves to be broad-minded. A certain group of people left us because they said they desire to be broad to include all Christians. Eventually, however, they could not even tolerate their own people and have been divided over and over again. It is truly not a glorious matter for Christians to be divided and schismatic. Rather, it is a shameful thing.
Someone once commented that among the Chinese who come to the United States, two lines of business have been the most prosperous. One is to open a restaurant, and the other is to set up a church. Both of these enterprises can be carried out by the whole family laboring together. Because of amendments to the immigration laws, more and more Chinese have immigrated to the United States. Chinese-speaking churches have mushroomed in every place so that there seems to be a “church market.” The Lord’s recovery, on the other hand, has the clear light. The more we go on in this way, the more we are clear within, the more our eyes are opened, and the more we believe we are walking in the Lord’s intention. The church is the Body of Christ. As there is only one Christ, so there should be only one church. One head with many bodies is a monster. The Body of Christ is not a monster but the new man. Therefore, there is only one Body. First Corinthians 12:12-13 clearly reveals that although we are many, we are still one Body. Moreover, we have been baptized in one Spirit into one Body. Since the Body is one, there should be no division. Rather, we should have the same care for one another in the Body (v. 25).
(Four Crucial Elements of the Bible, The—Christ, the Spirit, Life, and the Church, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)