The Local Aspect of the Church
Introduction: The New Testament is very clear in its teaching concerning the universal church and the local church. The universal church is comprised of all believers throughout all the earth and throughout all of time. Despite the fact that they may live in different cities, in different countries, or in different centuries, they are nonetheless all one in Christ, and all are part of the church. Having said that, we must also realize that in addition to being universal, the church is also local. Many believers are quite clear concerning the universal aspect of the church, but relatively few have seen from the Bible its local aspect. In Acts 13:1 we find this phrase, Now there were in Antioch, in the local church, prophets and teachers . What does the Bible mean by the phrase the local church? Does this refer to a church building on a city street corner, possibly among many others in the same city? Many believers interpret the phrase this way, but is this what the Bible teaches? Witness Lee, a Bible scholar and teacher from mainland China and a co-worker of Watchman Nee, realized very early in his ministry that such confusion about the local aspect of the church had become a source of much damage to the universal oneness of the believers as well as a frustration to the accomplishing of the Lords purpose among mankind. He therefore made it a priority of his ministry to carry out an exhaustive, lifelong study of this matter in order to present to all believers the truth from the Bible concerning the local church. In this Website we will examine a portion from one of Witness Lees many books, The Conclusion of the New Testament, in which he devotes an entire chapter to the local aspect of the church. Witness Lee introduces the notion of the local church in the following passage:
Every truth in the Bible has two sides. This is also true with respect to the church. The church has two aspects: the universal aspect and the local aspect. Universally, the church is uniquely one. Locally, however, the church is expressed in many localities. Therefore, the one universal church becomes the many local churches. God is expressed in Christ, Christ is expressed in the church, and the church is expressed in the local churches. In the foregoing message we covered the universal aspect of the church. In this message we shall go on to consider the local aspect. (2149)
In this chapter, Witness Lee provides the reader with a balanced view of the church as universal as well as local. However, his presentation here emphasizes, in response to the urgent need among Christians today, the more practical aspect of the local church.
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