IV. THE GENUINE GROUND
[Now we need to consider what the genuine ground of the church is. The ground denotes the site on which a building is built. Every building is built upon a certain piece of land, and this land is the ground on which the building is constructed. The church has spread to many nations in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. In all the different nations, the church is built upon the proper ground.]
A. The Ground of Locality—One City, One Church
[The proper ground for the building of the church is the ground of locality. When the church spread to Korea, it first came to Seoul. The church is now being built in Seoul. Thus, the city of Seoul has become its ground.
In the Bible the church does not bear any particular name. In this respect, the church is like the moon. The moon does not have a particular name; its name is simply the moon. We do not name the moon the American moon, the Chinese moon, the Korean moon, or the German moon. There is only one moon, not many moons. However, we may speak of the moon in Seoul, the moon in Osaka, or the moon in Shanghai. This does not denote many moons, but one moon appearing in different cities.
The city is the ground on which the church is built. Therefore, taking the city as the ground, we may denote the church according to the city (Rev. 1:11). For example, you may say that you are a member of the church in Seoul. Since my wife and I live in Anaheim, California, we are members of the church in Anaheim. Many of the saints attending this conference came from different cities. We use the names of these cities to denote the different local churches. Because of this, we may say that there are many churches. But actually, the many local churches are simply the one universal church appearing in many cities.
When the one moon is seen in Seoul, it is the moon in Seoul. When it appears in New York, it is the moon in New York. There is only one moon. The moon in America is the moon in Korea, and the moon in Korea is the moon in China. There is only one moon, but this one moon appears in different cities. Therefore, it is correct to speak of the moon in a certain city. It is the same with the church.
We may say that there are many churches, yet the many churches are still just one church. Are we all in different churches, or are we in just one church? The proper answer is that, locally speaking, we are in many churches, but, universally speaking, we are all in one church. Are you in the local churches, or are you in the universal church? It is wise to answer, “I am in the universal church by being in a local church.’’ We are not in the Roman Church, the British Church, the American Church, or the Korean Church; we are in the universal church by being in the local churches. Since we are now in the city of Seoul, we should say that we are in the universal church by being in the church in Seoul. Although my wife and I reside in Anaheim, we should remember that during our stay with the saints in Seoul, we are not in the church in Anaheim, but in the church in Seoul.
Now let me ask, of what church are you a member? The best answer is that you are a member of the universal church which Jesus Christ is building, by being a member of a proper local church. While we are in Seoul, we are members of the universal church by being members of the church in Seoul. This is the proper practice of the church. We are members of the universal church by being members of one of the local churches. As long as we are members of a proper local church, we are members of the churches universally.
The ground of the church in Seoul is the city of Seoul. Therefore, in one city there can be only one church (Titus 1:5; cf. Acts 14:23). Furthermore, the city can never be divided; a city always remains one city. Thus, the ground of locality is permanently one. Just as the city cannot be divided, the church ground can never be divided. Since we do not have two cities in Seoul, we do not have two churches in Seoul. In Seoul there is only one city; hence, in Seoul there is only one church. This unique ground keeps the church in oneness.
Today, in a given city there may be many so-called churches. This may be likened to one city having many city halls. If a particular city has more than one city hall, this would mean that city is divided. In any city there is only one city hall. This preserves the oneness of the city. A local church is built on the ground of its locality. This unique ground may be termed the ground of locality. The ground of locality is a protection which ensures that a church in a particular locality will always be preserved in oneness.]
(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)