III. TO MEET AS A PROPER LOCAL CHURCH
In order to practice the church life in God’s economy, we need to meet as a proper local church (Acts 8:1; 13:1; Rev. 1:11). Christians are not like butterflies. Every butterfly is very individualistic and beautiful. We Christians are like bees and like sheep. Bees like to be grouped together. When they move, they move together. Sheep also like to be flocked together. When they follow their shepherd, they are together in a becoming and orderly way. The Lord Jesus called us the little flock (Luke 12:32). Peter exhorted the elders to shepherd the flock of God (1 Pet. 5:2). Paul also exhorted the elders in Ephesus to shepherd the church of God (Acts 20:28). As the flock of God, we must learn to meet regularly. Christians are meeting people.
A. On the Genuine Ground
of the Unique Oneness of the Body
We need to meet as a proper local church on the genuine ground of the unique oneness of the Body (Eph. 4:3-4; John 17:21-23).
B. As a Local Expression
of the Universal Body of Christ
We meet on the ground of the church as the local expression of the universal Body of Christ. Christ does not have many bodies. He has only one Body, but this one Body is expressed in many localities. The local churches standing on the ground of oneness are the local expressions of the unique, universal Body of Christ.
C. As a Local Golden Lampstand
A proper local church is a local golden lampstand (Rev. 1:12, 20b). Gold signifies the divine nature. This shows that the churches as the golden lampstands are constituted with the divine nature.
D. As the Pillar and Base of the Truth
for the Manifestation of God in the Flesh --
the Great Mystery of Godliness
The truth is the Triune God, taking Christ as His center and His circumference so that the church as the Body of Christ, as the organism of the Triune God, can be produced. The church is the pillar to support such a truth and the base to hold such a truth. In our daily life, we should live Christ. In our meetings, we should exhibit Christ. Christ should be everything to us for the Body to express Him as the organism of the Triune God. This is our truth.
Outside the Lord’s recovery, this truth cannot be heard. Some may talk about marriage and family life. Others may speak the gospel in a fundamental way, telling people that they are sinners but that God loves them, Christ died for them, and if they believe in Him, they will be forgiven and go to heaven. Then they may go further to tell people that after they are saved, they should conduct themselves in an upright way to glorify the Father. But who speaks concerning the church as the pillar and base of the truth? According to the divine revelation, the truth is the Triune God, taking Christ the Son as the embodiment and as the centrality and universality of His divine economy to have a church to express Him as His organism.
First Timothy 3:15-16a says, "But if I delay, I write that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth. And confessedly, great is the mystery of godliness." The truth is the great mystery of godliness, which is the manifestation of God in the flesh.
(The Satanic Chaos in the Old Creation and the Divine Economy for the New Creation, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)