GOD’S DESIRE TO HAVE THE CHURCH
If you would be a proper Christian, you need to see not only the vision of Christ but also the vision of the church. You need to see that God’s desire is to have the church. The Holy Spirit will point out to you that God’s purpose in creating the universe was to produce the church. Redemption also is for the church. All that God does is for the church, and every kind of work and ministry should be for the church. Gospel preaching is for the church. Edifying the saints is for the church. Teaching the Bible is for the church. We have been saved for the church, not for ourselves nor for any other purpose. The desire of God’s heart is to have the church, and we were saved to be built up as the church. We must have this vision.
I believe that if you really mean business with the Lord and take sides with Him, sooner or later He will open your eyes to see that His desire in this universe is to have the church. All other things are secondary. The primary thing is that the church is God’s heart’s desire.
Seeing this will not only rescue you from the wrong concept and understanding; it will revolutionize your Christian service. You will see that God’s intention is to have the church, not just to have the gospel preached that others may be brought to the Lord, nor just to have others helped to seek the Lord, love the Lord, and be spiritual. Everything you do in your work and service for the Lord will be for the building up of the church. Whatever you are and whatever you do will be for the church.
Consider the ministry of the apostle Paul. What did Paul do after he had been changed, revolutionized, to this way of vision? Everything he did was for the church. Strictly speaking, he did not have what we may call “a piece of work.” He simply did everything for the church. Apart from the church, Paul did not have anything. Whatever he was and whatever he did were for the church. If the church had been taken away, Paul would have had nothing left.
I would ask you to check yourself by comparing yourself with Paul. I am concerned that you have many things besides the church. You may have some good works, but these good works are besides the church. This proves that you are wrong. The church is the real test that proves what we are and where we are. The church is God’s desire.
THE PRACTICALITY OF THE CHURCH TODAY
We need to see that the church is not something “in the air” but is very real and practical. In the New Testament we do not have much teaching about the church, but we surely have the practicality of the church. In the New Testament the church was a matter that was put into practice. Therefore, we today must have the practice of the church.
We should not say that the church is invisible or that it is something for the future. The church is certainly visible. In the New Testament we do not read about an invisible church nor about a church in the future. In the future there will be not the dispensation of the church but the dispensation of the kingdom. Do not postpone the church. The church must be today. If you do not have the church on the earth in this life, then where and when will you have the church? After you die, will you go to a place where you will have the church life? If the church life is postponed until the future, where will this future church life be? Can you show me a verse or a passage of Scripture which tells us that after we die we will go to heaven and there have good church meetings with Paul and Peter? Can you show me where the Bible tells us that we will have the proper church life, the so-called invisible yet real church life, in the future in heaven? There is not such a verse. Neither is there a verse which tells us that the church will be in the future.
Why do people take in the thought that the church on earth today is not the real church, that the real church is the so-called invisible church? Why do people accept the teaching that the church is something for the future? The church must be practical today. We all need to see the vision of the practicality of the church.
BEING TROUBLEMAKERS TO ESTABLISH LOCAL CHURCHES
The church is also local. Since the church must be local, wherever you are is the right place for you to have the church. The church should be in the very place where you are. A place may seem to be good, but if that place is without a church, it is a hell. On the contrary, any place with a church is a heaven.
This reminds us of Jacob’s experience in Genesis 28. “He dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (v. 12). When Jacob awoke, he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (v. 17). Then he called the name of that place Bethel, which means “house of God.” Today Bethel, the house of God, is the church (1 Tim. 3:15). Wherever there is the church, the house of God, that place is the gate of heaven. The only place that is good for us today is a place where there is the church.
Wherever we go and wherever we are, there must be a church. Concerning this matter of the church, we should be troublemakers. We should trouble others for the producing of the church. If there is not a church in a particular locality, we should not let the people there be at peace. Rather, we should cause trouble so that there may be a church in that locality. We should declare to the universe, “If there is no church in this place, I do not have a dwelling place. I must have a home, and for this I must cause trouble.”
I expect that the day will come when we all, like Paul, will be troublemakers. We need to trouble the entire country for the sake of producing the church. Wherever Paul and the other apostles went, there was trouble. Before they came to a particular place, the people were at peace. But after these troublemakers arrived, the whole city was troubled, disturbed. Acts 17:6 says, “These men who have upset the world have come here also.” It is by upsetting the world, by causing trouble, that we establish and build up the church.
(The Heavenly Vision, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)