THE WAY TO KEEP THE ONENESS
What is the way for such an enjoyment? It is simply by keeping the oneness. So many today excuse themselves by saying that it was easy in the time of the apostles, but now it is not so easy. They say that it is impossible to keep the oneness, so we must not talk about it; it is enough to talk about the Lord Jesus and help others to know Him. They even say that the more we speak about oneness, the more divisions we will have. But if we are not in the oneness, we will be short of the oil and the dew. Then it will be difficult for the Lord to command the blessing of life.
How can we keep the oneness? We must see that the oneness of the Body is the oneness of the Spirit. The very Spirit Himself is the oneness. To keep the oneness simply means to keep the Spirit. We can only keep what we already have, so the oneness of the Spirit is already here. We only need to keep it.
But how can we keep the oneness? According to the record of the New Testament, to keep the oneness in Jerusalem was easy, for there were no other divisions, and to keep the oneness in Antioch was also easy. But to keep the oneness in Corinth was not so easy. The church in Corinth was divided into four groups: one of Paul, another of Cephas, another of Apollos, and another “of Christ.” All these four groups were composed of real believers. In such a situation, how could they keep the oneness? If we were to keep the oneness with those who were of Paul, would that be the proper oneness? They might love us, and we might love them, but it would not be the proper oneness. It would be oneness on the ground of Paul, not on the ground of oneness.
In Old Testament times, Jerusalem was the place chosen by God for His people to worship. But they were all carried away to Babylon. Suppose we were one of those in Babylon. Would we be in the proper oneness? It might be real, but it would not be proper, because the ground would be wrong; it would be the wrong place. Only the place which the Lord chooses is the proper ground of oneness.
If we went to the group of Cephas or Apollos, or even to the one that was “of Christ,” the result would be the same. Regardless of how much we might love them and be one with them, the ground would be wrong. It might be real, but it would be wrong. Paul says that these are divisions.
So first of all, we must know the oneness, and we must know the proper oneness. It is impossible to keep the proper oneness in Babylon or in any divisive group in Corinth. We must come back to Jerusalem, the ground of locality. If we are in Babylon, we must come back to Jerusalem. If we are in one of the divisive groups in Corinth, we must come back to the ground of oneness in Corinth. It is impossible to have the proper oneness in any divisive group. We must come back to the one unique ground of oneness.
THE COMMANDED BLESSING
Perhaps you are by yourself. What should you do? First of all, you must get out of Babylon. Do not say that since you are alone, it is better to wait until the Lord brings others to join you. If you take this attitude, you will surely have to wait. This means that you are not absolute. If you are absolute, you will realize that it is impossible to keep the proper oneness in any kind of divisive group, regardless of how spiritual you are. You must keep yourself from anything divisive and come back to the ground of oneness. If you are really absolute and mean business with the Lord, you will experience the Lord commanding the blessing of life upon you.
When we have the oneness, there the Lord commands the blessing. Then we have the enjoyment of the oil and the dew of life. What has happened in Los Angeles is really a testimony of this. Since the brothers began to take the standing of oneness here on the ground of locality, there has been such an enjoyment of the oil and the dew! I can never forget the first conference in Los Angeles in December of 1962. The first time we sang “Oh, What a Life! Oh, What a Peace!” the roof nearly rose to the sky! There were only about seventy of us, but such a blessing of life! In all these past years, I believe the brothers and sisters have tasted the commanding of the Lord’s blessing.
Do not be afraid that you will be alone. You must be faithful to Him and be absolute for the oneness. Just pray, “Lord, be merciful to me. I must take this standing of the local ground. I am not for the ground of any division but for the ground of the local church.” If you take care of the standing of oneness, the Lord will take care of the commanded blessing. The Lord will raise up others to meet with you. Then you can testify to the whole universe of the blessing of oneness. The number may be small, but the oneness will be real and proper.
The brothers and sisters here can testify that by His mercy and grace we have the real brotherly love. It is not that we encourage the brothers to love. We simply have the love. This is the real oneness of Philadelphia. The Lord opens the door, and no one can shut it.
In 1932, when the Lord raised us up in north China, we were nearly all young in years. Most of us were under thirty. We began to meet on a very small scale, and the denominational leaders said, “Let them play. It will not last long.” But in less than ten years, that little testimony spread throughout north China. We have heard the same thing in this country. Just recently someone said that the local church will not work here in America. But let us wait and see. It all depends upon our absoluteness and our faithfulness to the Lord.
THE KING’S BUSINESS
If this matter is our business, it means nothing. But if it is His business, it is not a small thing. The local church is indeed the King’s business; so we must take a stand. Of course, some will oppose us. Nevertheless, we must take the Lord’s way of oneness. If we take this way, we must be absolute. If you do not feel burdened to take this way, I do not encourage you to take it. If you feel that you have peace in going along with the denominations, just do it. But if you are going to take the way of the ground of oneness, do it in an absolute way. Do not do it lightly. We must mean business with the Lord.
We are in the Lord’s recovery, and the time is short. Luke 21:24 says that Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. But Jerusalem has already been returned. I really believe that the Lord will do a quick work. We must be wise. Therefore, I believe that all the scattered brothers and sisters should come together to one or more centers. Even the students had better not study in a place without a church. The place to study is where there is a prevailing church. We must not put our studies first but put the church life first. Even our jobs do not matter. As long as we can make a living, let us be concentrated. Then we can declare to the whole world and to Satan the fact of our oneness. The oil will flow and the dew will come down, and we will see the Lord commanding His blessing. Even the gates of Hades will not be able to stand against us.
I do believe that this is the strategic way. First of all we must be concentrated, and then we must be equipped to bear the testimony and give the enemy the shame. Then we will go out to spread the oneness of the church life to other cities.
This is the way to keep the oneness. We must leave all the divisive groups and take the ground of oneness, and we must seek the Lord’s leading for us to be concentrated together. Of course, no one controls this matter. We all must seek the Lord’s guidance. Perhaps the Lord will lead some to meet here in Los Angeles, or with those in Akron, or with those in Houston. We all must seek the Lord’s leading concerning this matter. It is only on the ground of oneness that we have the oil and the dew with the commanded blessing of life.
(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)