The History of the Church and the Local Churches, by Witness Lee


As we have seen, due to the defending of the truth, different opinions were brought in among the so-called Christians. Then these opinions created great divisions. Eventually, western Christianity became the Roman Catholic Church, and eastern Christianity became the Greek Orthodox Church. Besides these two great branches of Christianity, there were the Nestorians in Persia. These were the three great divisions of so-called Christianity by the sixth century. Besides these three great divisions, there were many free groups. Because many free groups were breaking off from the general church, some designated the general church as the Catholic Church. Catholic means universal as one. Small free groups were formed because some Christians saw that the so-called general church had become worldly. They attempted to stay in the general church, but eventually they saw that there was no way to help it, so they began to meet by themselves. This happened again and again throughout the church’s history. Again and again free groups were formed. The problem with all these groups, however, was that they did not see the corporate goal of God.


Some of us may feel that the Lord’s recovery started with Martin Luther, but we need to realize that the Lord’s recovery with His overcomers began in the second century. Within a short time after the completion of the divine revelation, the church fell into degradation, so there was the need of a recovery. The Lord’s recovery began immediately after the degradation of the church came in. The line of the Lord’s recovery started in the second century and has continued throughout the centuries.

Throughout the centuries those who loved the Lord would not go along with worldly Christianity. They desired to keep the Lord’s word as much as they could. They desired to live with a pure conscience and worship God according to what they saw from the Scriptures. But I have to stress again and again that they were not clear about God’s corporate goal. This is why the Lord’s coming has been delayed even to this day. Regardless of how many groups of Christians there are on this earth, as long as there is no proper church life, the Lord does not yet have His goal.

We need to have the realization that we are the "church people." Day by day we are "churching." Churching is our work. We are the church. We are not denominational, interdenominational, or non-denominational. We are the church people. We are in the recovery of the Lord’s goal. This recovery is not the recovery of justification by faith, salvation, or sanctification. We are in the recovery of the church, which includes the recovery of all the foregoing items.

(The History of the Church and the Local Churches, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)