THE PROGRESS OF THE DIVINE REVELATION
God’s revelation began with God Himself and continued with Christ and the Spirit until it reached its goal in the local churches. Without the local churches, we do not have the goal of the divine revelation. Here the shortage among the Jews, many Christians, and even many so-called spiritual people becomes evident. The Jews have God, most Christians have God and Christ, and the improved Christians also have the Spirit, but very few Christians have the proper church life in the local churches. Today, in the local churches, we have God, Christ, the Spirit, and the church.
The issue of the progress of the manifestation of God is the church. God is embodied in Christ, Christ is realized and experienced as the Spirit who imparts life to us, and the Spirit issues in the churches. When we experience and realize Christ as the life-giving Spirit, the issue is the church life. The church is the Body, the fullness, of Christ. The progress of this revelation is God, Christ, the Spirit, the church, and the local churches. This is the revelation of God in His holy Word.
In Revelation 22:17 we read a marvelous expression: "The Spirit and the Bride say..." Here we have a compound subject—the Spirit and the Bride. The Spirit is the processed, all-inclusive, life-giving Triune God, and the Bride is the church composed of all the churches with all the saints. The fact that the Spirit and the Bride speak the same thing indicates that the Triune God has become utterly one with His redeemed people. How wonderful!
We need to be deeply impressed with the progress of the divine revelation in the Bible. We have pointed out that in the Old Testament we have God as the Creator and as the One who loves Israel. Then in Matthew and John we read of the genealogy of Jesus Christ and of the Word becoming flesh and tabernacling among us. Furthermore, in these books we read of the church built by Christ and of the many brothers of the Son of God who are the church. In the Acts the church is established in various cities. Most of the Epistles were written to particular local churches. Finally, in the book of Revelation we see that grace and peace are imparted to the local churches from the processed Triune God. Ultimately, according to Revelation 22:17, the Spirit and the Bride speak as one, indicating that the Triune God is truly one with His redeemed people.
OUR LOCAL CHURCH
If we are clear about the revelation in the Bible, we shall realize that the proper place to enjoy God today is in the local churches. In particular, we need to be in a definite local church that we can say is our local church. Although I love all the churches, I must be honest and testify that no church is as dear and lovable to me as the church in Anaheim because the church in Anaheim is my local church. We should all feel this way about the church in our locality.
How pitiful is the situation of most Christians today! Because they are not in the church life, they are orphans without a home. This was our condition before we came into the church life in the Lord’s recovery. Not only were we orphans—we were wanderers. Before we came into the local churches, we never had the sense that we had come home or that we had reached our destination. But the day we came into the church life, we knew that we had come home. After wandering for years, we had finally reached our destination. Something deep within said, "This is the place." Many seeking Christians today, on the contrary, are still travelers; they are traveling from one denomination or group to another. But the day we came into the church life, our wandering ceased. The local churches are what God desires today. This is the last station of His revelation.
All genuine Christians believe that Christ is the very God who created the universe, who became a man, who died on the cross for our redemption, and who was resurrected bodily from among the dead. All real Christians have received this Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. However, it is possible to be such a genuine Christian and still be experientially either in the Gospels or in the Acts. We must be Christians in the book of Revelation; that is, we must be those in God’s ultimate and consummate revelation. We must be Christians who enjoy the processed, all-inclusive, life-giving Triune God mingled with the churches. If we are in this reality, then we are Christians in Revelation.
It is easy for believers to see the universal church, but it is difficult for them to see the local churches. The revelation of the local churches is the Lord’s ultimate unveiling concerning the church. It has been given here in the last book of the divine Word. To fully know the church, believers must follow the Lord from the Gospels, through the Epistles, to the book of Revelation until they are enabled to see the local churches as unveiled here. In Revelation the first vision is concerning the churches. The churches with Christ as their center are the focus in the divine administration for the accomplishment of God’s eternal purpose.
We have seen the four main figures revealed in the Bible: God, Christ, the church, and the churches. Our God is not merely the Creator in Genesis 1. He is the processed God in Revelation 1:4 and 5. He is the One Who is, Who was, and Who is coming; He is the seven Spirits; and He is Jesus Christ, the faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth. How blessed we are to know God in this way and to have such a bird’s-eye view of the Bible! What a privilege to hear such a word concerning the ultimate revelation of God in the Scriptures! Today in our local church we can enjoy the processed, all-inclusive, life-giving Triune God.
(The Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)