In the Bible there is a very simple and at the same time very powerful principle related to the church: one city, one church – within one city there is only one local church. In the early days, the believers practiced it all the time – the practice of the church life after the Pentecost was that there is only one church in one city (see Acts 8:1; 13:1; Rev. 1:11).
The church as the Body of Christ is expressed in many localities on the earth taking the ground of the locality as the ground of the church consistently.
We need to be clear about the ground of the church, and we need to apply it by the Spirit and in life for the keeping of the oneness of the Body.
there is Only One Church in One City
The principle in the Bible is that there is only one local church in one city – see the church in Jerusalem, which was the first church established in a locality within the jurisdiction of the city of Jerusalem (Acts 8:1, 5:11 and note 1). Also, in Revelation 1:11 we see that the Lord wrote to the seven churches which are in Asia – and then He lists seven cities.
The local church as the local expression of the universal church, the Body of Christ, is only one locally, and it includes all the genuine believers of Christ in that city. No matter what the condition of the believers is – see the church in Corinth! – the local church is, The Church of God which is in that particular locality (1 Cor. 1:2).
The local church has the divine essence and the divine nature, being the lampstand for the Triune God to shine out in the locality the church is in. We need to be clear about the ground of the church.
Yes, all the believers in Christ universally and all over the world are part of the Body of Christ, the church, but locally, for its existence, expression, and practice, the church needs a ground, a boundary, and according to the New Testament this ground is the locality.
The ground of the church is not the street, the area, or any other location, and it is not our preference, our doctrine, our vision, or our spirituality – it is simply the ground of the locality where we meet in oneness with all the other believers in Christ!
Three Crucial Elements of the Ground of the Church
As we see in the New Testament, in the church history, in our experience, and in the ministry of brother Lee, there are three crucial elements to the ground of the church:
- The unique oneness of the universal Body of Christ, which is the oneness of the Spirit (Eph. 4:3). The ground of the church is primarily the unique oneness of the Body. It is not something outward and physical first.
- The unique ground of the locality in which a local church is established and exists (Acts 13:1, 8:1). All the believers within the boundaries of a certain locality are, according to the New Testament, the church in that locality.
- The reality of the Spirit, the living reality of the divine Trinity (1 John 5:6, John 15:13). The ground is made real to us and it is applied to us not legally but in the Spirit, in the living reality of the Triune God.
It is by this Spirit that the Body of Christ becomes real and living. It is by this Spirit that the ground of locality is applied in life and not in legality. It is by this Spirit the genuine ground of the church is linked with the Triune God. We may see the ground of the church, but we do not impose it in a legal way but in the Spirit and in life.
I Belong to the Same Church You Belong To!
Many times Christians and non-Christians alike ask you, Since you are a believer, what church do you meet with? If we see what the Bible says concerning this, we will just humble ourselves and say, I belong to the same church you belong to!
There is one Body of Christ in this entire universe, and since I am in this particular locality, I am part of and I meet with the church in this locality! For instance, I live in London, England, therefore I belong to the church in London, the same as all the thousands of the believers in London.
Then people may ask further, Do you say that YOU are the ONLY church? The answer to this simply is, We say that we are ONLY the church. Nothing else, no other name, no other de-nomination, just THE CHURCH.
We need to come back to the unique ground of oneness, the proper ground of the church, the ground of the unity. There is NO REASON to be divided – why not simply we all the believers in London, England, come together and meet as what we are – the church in London?
We all belong to the same church, the unique church, to which all believers throughout the ages – like the Apostle Paul, Peter, James, Andrew, John, Martin Luther, C. H. Mackintosh, Tozer, C.S. Lewis, Andrew Murray, Hudson Taylor, George Muller, Madam Guyon, M. E. Barber, Watchman Nee, Witness Lee, Billy Graham, and countless others – belong to!
We just need to come together on the unique ground of unity that the Lord may have a proper expression of the Body of Christ in the locality where we live!
Returning to the Local Church for Zion!
In the Old Testament there is a very good example of the situation of today’s Christianity – the people of Israel was taken in captivity far away from the good land and the city of Jerusalem. But what God desires is that His people would worship Him in the temple, which is on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
For this, the people of God need to return to Jerusalem and rebuild both the city of Jerusalem and the temple on Mount Zion. Jerusalem can be considered as the ground of locality, which needs to be recovered before the Lord can gain Zion, the overcomers, the reality of the Body of Christ.
We need to return to Jerusalem, to the oneness on the local ground of the church, so that the Lord may gain His overcomers, Zion, the reality of the Body of Christ!
The returning of the people of Israel to Jerusalem was not for the sake of rebuilding the city of Jerusalem only, but for the rebuilding of the temple on Mount Zion that the people may properly worship God and appreciate God.
The believers today need to see the local ground of the church, the ground of locality, and return to it so that God may gain Zion, the overcomers in the churches, the ones called by God in all the seven epistles to the local churches in Rev. 2-3, the ones who bring the Lord back and end this age!
The local churches are the procedure for God to gain the reality of the Body! We love the local churches because they are the means and the procedure for the reality of the Body of Christ to be produced!
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see the unique ground of the church, the genuine ground of oneness! Lord, remove any veils of religion and concepts from our eyes. We want to put ourselves, our opinions, and our preferences aside, and take Your way – only one church in one city! Lord, thank You for placing us here, in the local church. Make us Your overcomers, those who are in the reality of the Body of Christ!
References and Further Reading
- Sharing inspired from, The Divine and Mystical Realm (ch. 6), The Ground of the Church (booklet), and brother Ed Marks’ sharing in the message, as partially quoted in, the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Taking the Lead as Elders and Responsible Ones, week 7.
- Buy the morning revival book online via LSM.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Christ and the local church, / Christ and the church, / Our reality and life,
# Do you see them in the cities, / Meeting on the local ground? / They’re the local, golden lampstands, / Where the Lord His home has found
# In Revelation two and three, / The seven local churches see.
- Picture source: a view of London, where all the believers are intrinsically a the church in London.
Latest posts by aGodMan (see all)
- The Spiritual Significance of the Guardrooms, Porch, and Chambers in God’s building - September 21, 2017
- Christ is the Separating Line (the wall) and also the Gateway of God’s building - September 20, 2017
- The Qualifications for Seeing a Vision of God’s Building as seen in Ezek. 40:1-4 - September 19, 2017