THE GROUND OF LOCALITY
The ground of oneness about which we have been speaking is the ground of locality. More than twenty years ago in Taipei, a certain Christian from America, an intimate friend of ours, was our family physician. Although he heard me deliver thirty messages concerning the ground of the church, he told me one day that he simply was not able to understand this matter of the ground of locality. I explained this to him very carefully, but still he did not understand it. Eventually, he admitted that he had some understanding of the ground of oneness, but not of the ground of locality.
Brother T. Austin-Sparks had the same difficulty. Many years ago he and I had about twenty long conversations, lasting two or three hours each, regarding the ground of the church. At one point he told me that he was not able to understand this term, the ground of locality. I pointed out to him that, as he no doubt realized, the children of Israel were allowed to build the temple only on one particular site, on Mount Moriah, where Abraham had offered his son Isaac. That unique site was the ground on which the temple was built. That ground preserved the oneness of God’s people. I went on to say that God’s people were not allowed to build a temple in Babylon, even if the temple would have been the same in size and design as the original temple in Jerusalem. A temple constructed in Babylon could not have been the center of oneness. On the contrary, such a temple would have been a center of division. All those who returned from captivity were required to go back to the ground of oneness, to Mount Zion, where the temple was rebuilt. Hence, the temple on Mount Zion was built on the ground of oneness. This portrays the genuine oneness of believers today, a oneness on the proper ground, on the ground of locality. I believe that Mr. Austin-Sparks understood this, but was not willing to admit it. Actually it is not difficult to understand what is meant by the ground of locality. The reason many have difficulty with this is that they are not willing to give up their concept.
THE NEED TO BE IN THE LOCAL ONENESS
According to the book of Revelation, the oneness of the believers in Christ is a local oneness. Anyone who is not in the local oneness is not actually in the oneness at all. Those who are not in a local church are not truly in the church. In order to be in the church we must be in a local church. In the same principle, if we would be in the oneness, we must be in the local oneness, in the practical oneness in our locality. The local oneness is very practical and personal. If you are not personally in this oneness, you are not really in the oneness, and you are not actually in the church. For this reason, in the title of this chapter we spoke of the ultimate revelation of the local oneness. How we praise the Lord for the revelation and recovery of this oneness!
(The Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)