II. THE SPREAD OF THE CHURCH
The church increases locally and spreads universally. As a local church increases in life and number, we call it the increase. When a local church spreads to other cities to have more local churches, we call it the spreading of the churches. It is wrong for a church to exist in an area for 10 years without spreading to other cities. We need to spread the church life from city to city, from country to country, and from continent to continent until there are local churches everywhere on earth.
[If we read the Book of Acts carefully, we will see that the spreading of the gospel had two lines. The first line was the migration of the saints—not the going out of the apostles. Acts 8:1 says very plainly that all the saints were scattered abroad, except the apostles. We have always thought that the apostles had to go out and the saints had to stay. But the Lord scattered all the saints and kept the apostles in Jerusalem. The sent ones stayed, and all the others were sent out. This was the first spreading of the gospel. It was not by the apostles going, but by the scattering of the believers. This is what we call migration. The spreading of God’s kingdom really does not only depend on the apostles, but also on the believers migrating from city to city.
According to Luke 21:24, Jerusalem has been returned to the people of Israel. This is the strongest fact that the time of the Lord’s return is very near. Therefore, locally we must have the increase, and universally we must have the spreading. As a local expression, we must have many saints going out. We are not here for our interest; we are here for the Lord’s recovery. And the time is near; the Lord is coming back. We must take care of His interest. We must look to the Lord that some will be burdened to go, and all of us should be willing to be burdened to go. We are the descendants of Abraham. Abraham was a stranger who continually sojourned on the earth. It is not right for us to be so settled in one place. We have to move from one place to another. We must be here for the Lord’s interest. If we are here as a local expression of the Lord’s Body without an increase locally and a spreading universally, we are wrong. Do not think that we are more spiritual than others. If we do, we are too proud. We must be so living and burning all the time for a certain amount of increase locally and for a measure of spreading universally.
We are living today in the richest country on the earth. Everything is so available, and we are in the very center of the populated world. It is exceedingly easy and convenient for us to go north, south, east, or west. We must spread the Lord’s testimony to many cities in this country and Canada, as well as to Mexico, Central and South America and Europe. We must look to the Lord that we will have such an increase locally and such a spreading universally.]
The increase and spread builds up the church in each locality as well as the Body of Christ throughout the earth. The Lord will come for His bride when there are built-up local churches spread throughout the inhabited earth. We must give ourselves to pray, to read the word, and to be trained to preach the gospel that we may be part of the great work for the increase and spread of the church life throughout the earth to bring the Lord back. If we are diligent in this matter, we will have a great reward.
(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)