In His wisdom, God has chosen a particular place for His people to meet – in the Old Testament this was Jerusalem, and in the New Testament is the genuine ground of oneness, the ground of the church.
According to the Biblical principle, in God’s eyes there’s only one church in one city. There is only one Body in the universe, which is uniquely one, and this Body has a local and practical representation in each locality as the local church.
However, this principle – which is both healthy and quite limiting and constricting – has been lost, and now there are many “churches” in one city.
As the Lord said in Matt. 19 concerning the matter of the divorce, in the beginning it was not so; what God wants is that we come back to the beginning, come back to the pure revelation in the word of God, and be recovered back to God’s intention.
The recovery the Lord desires to have is not a return to an idealistic concept of what was in the beginning, but the return to God’s revelation, to God’s ordained way, to the principles of the divine life that were there in the beginning, as the New Testament reveals.
According to our history in the Lord’s recovery, since 1922 the Lord has shown us the principle of meeting on the genuine ground of oneness, the ground of the locality, and since then we have been meeting in this way.
There may be many churches in one city, but in God’s eyes all the believers in one locality are the church in that city. There’s no such thing as a mega-church in God’s eyes – there’s only a local church, or local churches. The local church is the practical expression of the universal Body of Christ in a locality.
The genuine ground of oneness – the ground of the church, the ground of locality – is not merely a teaching or a practice; as revealed in Psa. 133, the Lord commands the blessing in the place He has chosen, Zion, His dwelling place, the church on the ground.
If we want to experience the blessing of life, the growth in life, and enjoy Christ as life, then we need to be on the ground of the locality, the genuine ground of oneness.
Four Characteristics of Meeting on the Genuine Ground of Oneness, the Place God Chose
If we look at the picture in the Old Testament in Deut. 12:5 and its spiritual application to our experience in the New Testament, there are four main characteristics of our meeting on the genuine ground of oneness.
We need to realize that the genuine ground of oneness, the ground of locality, is the place that God has chosen; in the Old Testament God didn’t give His people a choice where to meet – for the feasts, they all had to come to the place of God’s choice.
Similarly today, we may meet in districts and in meeting halls, but there is only one local church in each city. God chose the place, and in this matter, we have no choice; we need to deny our preferences and opinions, and obey God’s ordination concerning this.
God’s People should Always be One – there should be No Divisions among them
First of all, the genuine ground is of oneness – it is not merely the locality as the boundary, but oneness itself is the ground.
What God wants is that His people would be one, even as He is one; the Father is one with the Son and with the Spirit by living in one another, and this oneness has been enlarged to include us, the many believers in Christ (John 14:11, 21-23).
Paul also desired that the believers in Corinth would be one, attuned in mind, speaking the same thing, one in soul; this is the practical one accord which needs to be real among us in the local churches (1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:3-4).
The Lord commands the blessing where the saints dwell in oneness and one accord on the genuine ground of oneness, the ground of the church.
The unique Name into which God’s People should Gather is the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
The unique name into which God’s people should gather is not the name of a spiritual teacher, a mission, a denomination, or a creed; we should all gather into the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 18:20). When two or three are gathered together into His name, He is with them; the reality of the name of Jesus is the Spirit.
The Lord Jesus is the One who gathers His believers together, whether in twos-or-threes or in larger groups, and the unique name we are gathered into and we take is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The reality of the Lord’s name is the Spirit; we all need to exercise to get out of ourselves and get into the mingled spirit, no matter how we are feeling. When we meet, we are not there in our own person but in the Lord’s name.
Only by being in the Lord’s name can we pray in one accord and have His answers.
Meeting in any other name – be it the name of Luther (“Lutherans”), Calvin (“Calvinists”), Wesley (“Methodists”), Baptists, Pentecostals, Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, etc – is spiritual fornication, causing us to be divided from our fellow believers in Christ.
In the church life we recognize and receive the ministry of the age and the ministers of the age, and we are not ashamed of our heritage; but we will never be Nee’ists or Lee’ists – this would be a division in the Body!
What we are is just the church, and the only name we meet in is the name of Jesus Christ!
Lord Jesus, we love You, we love Your name, and we gather only in Your name and in no other name! Hallelujah, we as the church are “Mrs. Christ”, bearing only the name of Jesus Christ. Amen, Lord, remind us when we’re in the meetings that we are in Your name. Remind us to exercise our spirit to touch and enjoy the reality of Your name, which is the Spirit! Praise the Lord for the Spirit who flows in us, into us, among us, and out of us as the church, the Body of Christ!
God’s Habitation is in our Mingled Spirit, so we need to Exercise our Spirit and do Everything in the Spirit
In the Old Testament the place that God has ordained for His habitation was the city of Jerusalem, and in particular Mount Zion, where the temple was built.
In the New Testament God’s habitation, His dwelling place, is particularly located in our spirit, that is, our mingled spirit – our human spirit regenerated and indwelt by the divine Spirit.
When we are in the meetings of the church, therefore, we need to exercise our spirit to worship God and enjoy God, and we need to do everything in the spirit (John 3:6b; Rom. 8:16; 2 Tim. 4:22; Eph. 2:22; John 4:24; 1 Cor. 14:15).
If we are in the Lord’s name and in the oneness, we will not be passive in the meetings. Passivity regarding life equals death; God works and can do something only with those who are not passive. The Lord needs our human cooperation – not our initiation.
The Lord is with our spirit, and we can exercise our spirit; we can exercise our will to turn to the mingled spirit and exercise ourselves unto godliness.
We need to realize that the enemy moves the most when we are passive. Passivity regarding the exercise of the spirit in any meeting opens the door to the invasion of death. This is crucial, for every meeting is a fight.
Every time we come to the meeting we need to exercise to get out of ourselves and be in the spirit, realizing that the reality of the designated place for meeting God is the mingled spirit, where the church is built up (Eph. 2:22).
And if, due to a collective passivity in the meeting, death creeps and even invades the meeting, we need to exercise our spirit to pray, speak, and let life swallow any death and reign over it.
In the church life on the ground of oneness we are under the Lord’s commanded blessing; we need to therefore exercise our spirit – the place where God dwells in us – and not allow any death to rule in the meeting.
Lord Jesus, thank You for coming into our spirit to dwell in us and make Your habitation in us. Thank You Lord for our mingled spirit – the divine Spirit mingled with our human spirit to become one spirit. We want to be those who exercise the spirit at every time when we’re in the meetings of the church so that life may flow and the church would be built up. Strengthen us, Lord, into our inner man, so that we may be strong inwardly and exercise our spirit to shut the gates of Hades and release the flow of the divine life for the building up of the church!
In Worshipping God in the Church we must have a Genuine Application of the Cross of Christ
In our worship of God we must have a genuine application of the cross of Christ, signified by the altar (see Deut. 12:5-6, 27) by rejecting the flesh, the self, and the natural life, and by worshipping God with Christ and Christ alone (matt. 16:24; Gal. 2:20).
The first thing in the church life is coming to the altar, to the cross of Christ, where all our problems are solved. God has a unique way of solving all our problems – He doesn’t negotiate or compromise, but He terminates; He is impartial in terminating everything apart from Christ.
On the one hand we realize that God’s habitation is in the spirit, and therefore we need to exercise our spirit in the meetings of the church. On the other hand, we need to have a genuine application of the cross of Christ by rejecting the self, the natural life, and the flesh.
We need to realize that, before God, we don’t have the option of coming to the meeting in the self, the flesh, or the natural life.
The meetings of the church on the ground of oneness are meetings in the mingled spirit, and everything of the flesh, the self, and the natural life needs to be rejected and repudiated.
If we see some saints in the flesh or in the self, however, we should not condemn them, criticize them, or gossip about them; we should simply exercise our spirit and minister Christ to them and wash their feet. We need to be one with the Lord, the One who washes our feet and ministers Himself to us, to minister life to others.
No one can deny your self – you have to do it yourself. For the sake of the church we need to reject the self, the flesh, and the natural life, and exercise our spirit to worship only God with Christ.
Christ is the reality of all the offerings: He’s the only One acceptable to God, and in the meetings of the church we should offer Christ to God for His satisfaction.
Lord Jesus, may we learn to reject the self, the natural life, and the flesh when coming to the meetings of the church. May we have a genuine application of the cross of Christ in our worship of God. Amen, Lord, may there be only Christ among us: Christ expressed, Christ manifested, and Christ offered to God from all the saints. For the sake of the church, we want to reject the self, the flesh, and the natural life, and exercise our spirit to worship God with Christ and Christ alone!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Ron Kangas for this week, and portions from, The Ground of the Church (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Knowing Life and the Church, msg. 5 (week 5), Standing on the Unique Ground of the Church, Being under the Limitation of the Body of Christ, and Being Body-conscious in One Accord.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Gathered in Thy name, Lord Jesus, / Losing sight of all but Thee, / O what joy Thy presence gives us, / Calling up our hearts to Thee! (Hymns #204)
# Exercise the spirit / Here and everywhere, / Few or many present, / Caring not who’s there. / Not a place or person / Will influence me, / In all kinds of meetings / I’ll my spirit free. (Hymns #781)
# Freed from self and Adam’s nature, / Lord, I would be built by Thee / With the saints into Thy temple, / Where Thy glory we shall see. / From peculiar traits deliver, / From my independent ways, / That a dwelling place for Thee, Lord, / We will be thru all our days. (Hymns #840)
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