Additional Quotes about the Local Church by Witness Lee and Watchman Nee
The Lord reminded Peter that he was a stone for the building up of the church. He was not built up in the universal church in a general way, but practically in the church at Jerusalem. Do not say that you are just in the church. In which local church are you being built up? Do not say that you are just a member of the Body of Christ. You must have a location. Once you are located, you are no longer a wandering star (Jude 13). We must have a location, and we must be built. Once we are located, we have a good opportunity to be built in. First we are located, then we are built in. Migration is wonderful, but do not move from city to city. We must be able to declare to the whole universe that we have been located and that we are now being built into a particular local church. We must not only be in Matthew 16 in the universal church, but also in Matthew 18 in the local church.
(Witness Lee, Kingdom, 138)
We all must see what the kingdom is. It is not only a dispensation or a sphere. The kingdom is the building up of regenerated, transformed persons. This building is accomplished in the local church. The builded church of Matthew 16 becomes the local church of Matthew 18. We cannot separate these two chapters. What is built in Matthew 16 is the local church found in Matthew 18. Some say that the church is only universal. If so, where is the universal church? The universal church is the totality of all the local churches, even as a body is the totality of all its members. If there are no members, there is no body. The universal church does not exist by itself; it is a composition of all the local churches. Those who talk only about the universal church are afraid of being built up together with others in the local church. As stones, we must be built into the local church.
(Witness Lee, Salvation in Life, 137-138)
The Lord has revealed through Watchman Nee that believers must be practically built up with others in the local churches under the authority of the church. This kind of building is a test to genuine spirituality. If one cannot be built up with others in a local church, his spirituality is questionable.
(Watchman Nee, Seer of the Divine Revelation, 165)
Many Christians do not have a local church life. We must have the experience of the church life in a locality.
The practice of the God-ordained way in its four steps should be our experience. We should endeavor to build up the local church. Eventually, this building up will consummate in the building up of the Body of Christ.
(Witness Lee, Church Life, 82)
Whether we are preaching the gospel, bringing in a revival, or pursuing the knowledge of life, all three should be for the building up of the church, and all of them should be done in the church. We should be deeply impressed and should recognize clearly that the service God wants is the church service, that is, a corporate service. He does not want personal service, that is, an individual service. Furthermore, the result of all service should cause the churchthe Body of Christto be built up.
We should also know that the church is expressed practically in a locality. The universal church is what most people call the invisible church. This is not practical enough. The church must be practical and local to us. Therefore, our service and work must be conducted in the local church and must build up the local church. We should encourage and lead the brothers and sisters in each locality to rise up to serve and work together in their respective locality.
(Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 3, Vol. 55, 48)
By being kept, preserved, in the local churches, we are being built up. In the local churches we can be built up. We all know what it is to be built up. Look at any building. Many pieces of material are all fitly framed together. That is a building. Ephesians 2:21-22 says, In whom [Christ Jesus] all the building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit. In whom you also means we local saints are also being built together. Wherever we go, wherever we are, we have to be the one local church in that locality.
(Witness Lee, High Gospel, 50)
The universal church as the Body of Christ is expressed through the local churches. The local churches, as the expressions of the one Body of Christ, are locally one. Without the local churches there would be no practicality and actuality of the universal church. The universal church is realized in the local churches.
The Body of Christ needs to be built up by the perfected saints in all the local churches (Eph. 4:11-12). Ephesians 4:11 speaks of the gifted personsapostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers. These gifted persons have only one ministry, that is, to minister Christ for the building up of the Body of Christ, the church. Whatever the gifted persons do must be for the building up of the Body of Christ. However, this building up is not accomplished directly by the gifted ones but by the saints who have been perfected by them.
(Witness Lee, Incarnation, 32, 34)
The constituting of the believers into precious materials through transformation issues in the practical building of God. The practical building of God is locally in every local church in the harmony of the one accord stimulated by the one Spirit in the one Body of Christ. This practical building is also universally in the oneness of the Divine Trinity, prayed for by the Lord (John 17) and accomplished by His lovers (John 17:26b) for the carrying out of Gods eternal economy according to His good pleasure (Eph. 3:9-10; 1:9).
(, , 98-99)
The Body of Christ is built up by all the members of the Body, perfected in the local churches (Eph. 4:12). Now that we are regenerated, we need to be perfected in order to be renewed, sanctified, and transformed.
(Witness Lee, Satanic Chaos, 117)
We are not even here for the building up of our church. We are here for the building up of the Body of Christ. The building up of the local churches should be for the building up of the Body of Christ.
(Witness Lee, Training and Practice, 10)
Acts 13 says that in the church in Antioch there were prophets and teachers (v. 1). At that time there was a real building up in the church in Antioch. It was not that Paul and Barnabas were praying in their home, and in their morning watch they received guidance and inspiration from the Lord. Acts 13 tells us, first of all, that Paul and Barnabas were in the church. People may talk about the church, but their talk is something in the air. Paul and Barnabas were in a church in a definite locality, in Antioch. If you are going to do a prevailing work for the preaching of the gospel, you have to be built up in a local church, in a church which is practical and definite.
(Witness Lee, High Gospel, 63)
In this book Paul said that he planted, Apollos watered, and God made to grow (3:6). The planting, watering, and making to grow are not for individual believers. In 3:9 Paul said, You are Gods cultivated land [Gods farm], Gods building. The you in this verse is plural, not singular. The planting and the watering are for the farm. They are not for individuals but for the church, for the Body.
Gods intention is to build up the local churches for the building up of the Body of Christ, Gods farm, Gods building. The planting and the watering are for the growth, and the growth is for the building. We are not only Gods farm but also Gods building.
(Witness Lee, Growth of Christ, 53-54)
Today the worldly people say that union is power. But we say that the building up is power. If you are built up with others, whatever you do will be for the producing of the church life. If not, whatever you do will be for the separating, the dividing, of the Body. What the Lord needs today is a built- up church. He needs a group of members who are built up together so that they can go not only to preach the gospel but also to produce the built-up church life.
The real communal life is a built-up life, a life in which you are built up as one. This is where we have the power. This power is not just to convince others or just to bring others to Christ, but to produce the local churches. In our work there should be nothing personal or individualistic. All the time our work is from the church, for the church, and back to the church.
Do not try to do a quick work. The more you try to be quick, the more you will be slowed down. By His grace and mercy, just be built up together with others. We need to pray, O Lord, I do not need anything but the building. Grant me to be built up with others, Lord. O Lord, I need the building. I need the oneness."
(Witness Lee, High Gospel, 65)
Wherever and whenever a group of believers are built up in oneness as Ezekiel described, the river will flow out of their building up. The river flows out of the building. The flow depends upon the building. If there is a building of the church in your place, the river will flow out. If there is a strong building up in the local churches, there will be a flowing river going out to other places. There will be the impact and the flooding. How much we need the building! Everything depends upon the building. The preaching of the gospel depends upon the building. The impact of the gospel upon the world depends upon the building. When the Christians are built up as one, the world will be convinced (John 17:23).
(Witness Lee, Visions of Ezekiel, 224)
Our growing is for the unique purpose of God, that is, the building up of the Body of Christ through transformation (Eph. 4:12b; 1 Pet. 2:2, 5; 1 Cor. 3:12). We need to grow to be complete and perfect. Then we can be proper pieces of material for the building up of the Body of Christ in our locality.
(Witness Lee, Organic Union, 60)
The Lord showed us that the local church is the procedure and not the goal. The goal of the local church is the building up of the Body of Christ. Therefore, through Brother Nee the Lord showed us further that what God wants in the end is not the local church. Although at the end of the Bible there are seven lampstands, they all become one city, the New Jerusalem.
(Witness Lee, High Peak, 9-10)
A local church is built up by the functioning of all its members with the perfecting of the gifted persons, such as the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers (Eph. 4:12), through:
1) the preaching of the gospel to get sinners saved and baptized (Matt. 28:19);
2) the feeding of the new believers in their homes for the growth in life and in truth (John 21:15; 1 Pet. 2:2);
3) the perfecting of the saints in the group meetings for the building up of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:12); and
4) the prophesying in the church meetings for the building up of the church (1 Cor. 14:1-5, 23-26, 31).
The gifted persons carry out their ministry in perfecting all the members of a local church in a locality, that all the members of that local church will be able to do what the gifted persons can do (Eph. 4:12) in the above-mentioned four items, for the building up of that local church, issuing in the building up of the universal Body of Christ. The gifted persons do not build up the church directly; rather, all the members who have been perfected by the gifted persons build up the church directly.
(Witness Lee, Brief Presentation, 32-33)
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