THE ADITIONAL WORD TO THE NORMAL CHURCH LIFE.WATCHMAN NEE.Print This Page.
WATCHMAN NEETHE GROUND OF THE CHURCHQuestion:The brothers and sisters who have been meeting with us for more than ten years all seem to know our ground and how it is different from that of others. The brothers and sisters saved during the past seven or eight years (especially those saved during the most recent six or seven years), however, do not know what our ground is. Therefore, I would like to ask what the actual ground of the church is.The Importance of This QuestionAnswer: I think this matter is very important, because the Lord has shown us explicitly in the Bible that the church has a definite ground. I presume we all recognize that the blessing of God, the Holy Spirit of God, the light of God, and even the very life of the Lord Jesus Himself are all in the church. Although we ordinarily stress the Lord’s life in individuals, the fact is that His life is in the church. Whether or not a so-called “church” is really the church is very important, because God has committed so many spiritual things to the church. If God had given many spiritual things to us as individuals, the problem would not be so great. But God has shown us in the Bible that He has placed all spiritual things in the church. Therefore, it is a very serious matter whether or not the group of which we are is a church. If we fellowship with many brothers and sisters who are not the church, it will be a great loss.Let us give an illustration. Some of the sisters who work in hospital laboratories use glass slides for bacterial examinations. For such a purpose, a glass slide is sufficient. However, if a brother or a sister comes to visit, the same kind of glass slide that you use every day cannot be used to serve him a beverage. The glass slide has an important use in the laboratory, but it is useless for serving a brother or a sister a cup of water. The brother is not a grasshopper or a sparrow; he cannot be satisfied with water on a slide. He must be served with a glass. Many problems can never be solved with just a slide. At least you need a glass made up of many slides before you can solve the problem of thirst.A flat surface can hold much less than a three-dimensional object. We are not seeking to nullify the spiritual attainment of a person before God. An individual may enjoy many spiritual things and sometimes attain great spiritual heights, but God has committed more spiritual things to the church. Therefore, when a person seeks them as an individual, he cannot obtain them. This does not mean that an individual has no blessing, but it does mean that he cannot obtain it by individual seeking. God’s riches today are in the church. The church is three-dimensional, just like a drinking glass. As an individual, one must become a part of this “glass” before he can touch the living water. Only the church can contain many spiritual things.We must clearly see before God that many spiritual things are in the church, not with individuals. The Lord’s word, “Upon this rock I will build My church,” is very clear and wonderful. The result is that “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). This promise is for the church, not for individuals. Many times it is very difficult for individuals to resist the enemy, but as soon as the church appears, Satan is defeated. In these years we do see individuals experiencing blessings, but their blessings are limited. It is only in the church that the blessings are limitless and rich. Therefore, as soon as a person departs from the way of the church, his blessing is limited and God’s presence with him is limited. (I do not say “nonexistent,” but I do say “limited.”) Furthermore, he is not able to touch many things before God. Please excuse me for speaking very frankly. Especially during the past ten years, I have been watching to see if people know what the church is. Strangely enough, many brothers who have known the Lord for twenty or thirty years do not know God’s church. What they have already obtained has gradually declined, and what they think they have cannot be preserved intact. At the same time, there are other brothers and sisters who know God’s church. The riches of the Head have become their riches, and they are able to go forward continuously.Therefore, I wish that all the young brothers and sisters would note that a Christian must be concerned with not only his own gain but also whether or not the brothers and sisters with whom he fellowships are the church. Remember that each person is but an individual. Two may be the church, or they may only be two individuals and not the church. Do not presume that five hundred people gathered together are the church, or a thousand people gathered together are the church. This may not be true. Thank God, one thousand people can become the church, but one thousand people may just be one thousand individuals; thus they are only individuals and still not the church. There is a great difference here. God’s children today realize that one person cannot be the church, but they may not acknowledge that one thousand people can be one thousand individuals only and thus still not be the church. Even ten thousand people can remain as ten thousand individuals and not be the church. The church before God has other requirements. Therefore, we as children of God must pay special attention to the ground of the church.Two Basic RequirementsToday, let me bring out two matters; both must exist before there can be the church. The New Testament clearly shows us two basic requirements: first, the authority of the Holy Spirit; and second, the boundary of locality.The Authority of the Holy SpiritWe must realize that where there is not the Holy Spirit, there is not the church. The church is absolutely not Witness Lee, Chang Yu-zhi, or Yu Cheng-hwa; the church must only be the Holy Spirit. In other words, the church from beginning to end can only have one authority, one power, and one life, which is the Holy Spirit. There is only one life of the Holy Spirit, only one power of the Holy Spirit, and only one authority of the Holy Spirit. For example, there are many elderly brothers here today. Brother Du may say, “Since I have been in the church for twenty years, I may make a proposal or initiate something.” This is something extra coming out as a frustration. When Brother Du is expressed, the Holy Spirit is not here and the church is not here as well. Please remember that wherever the Holy Spirit is not, the church is not. The church is the place through which the Spirit of the Lord may express His desires without any hindrance. As the Lord used the body given to Him by Mary when He was on this earth, so He in the Holy Spirit uses the church today. The church in its highest state is the Body of Christ. In other words, only that which is able to express the mind of the Holy Spirit can be called the church.Only the Holy Spirit Has AuthorityI will go on a little further by speaking first to the elderly brothers. More or less we know what authority is, and we tell the younger brothers to submit to authority. The basic question today is this: When we are obeying authority, whose authority do we obey? Let me say that just as the younger brothers become a disturbance when they speak according to themselves, the elderly ones also become a disturbance when they speak according to themselves. The young ones who speak according to themselves are a disturbance, and the elderly ones who speak according to themselves are also a disturbance. Only the authority of the Holy Spirit is authority. Why then do the younger brothers need to obey the elderly ones? It is because the elderly ones have learned more before God and know more of God’s authority; consequently, the Holy Spirit can flow out more easily through them. They are like a water pipe through which water has flowed for years without any blockage. The younger ones should obey the elderly ones, not because the elderly ones are the authority, but because it is easier for the Holy Spirit to speak through the elderly ones. Because they have worked for the Lord for many years, it is easier for the Holy Spirit to flow out of them. We learn to submit to the elder brothers because there is the authority of the Holy Spirit in them. Once I do not obey, I easily lose the authority of the Holy Spirit in me. We are not building up the authority of the elderly brothers, but the authority of the Holy Spirit which easily flows out from the elderly brothers. In other words, the only authority in the church is that of the Holy Spirit. There is no authority that comes out from individuals. The elders do not have authority, the elderly brothers do not have authority, and the spiritual ones also do not have authority. Only the Holy Spirit has authority. This is called the Body of ChristAn Outlet for the Authority of the Holy SpiritRecently, I saw what happened to a brother who had carried a very heavy object over a long distance several years ago. His hand felt somewhat sore then, but now it has become so disabled that it can hardly move. The brother said, “My whole body belongs to me except this hand. This member seems to belong to someone else, and it struggles with me.” I have never heard anyone say this in such a way before. I am often sick. Through my sickness I found out that whenever the existence of a certain member is felt, that member must certainly have some kind of sickness. When the human body is in perfect condition, there is no consciousness that the body exists. Whenever we feel the lungs breathing, the lungs must be sick. Whenever we feel the heart beating, the heart must be sick. From my birth to my teens, I was never conscious of my teeth, but the day I became conscious of my teeth, I was unable to sleep the whole night. The body is very natural and spontaneous. Its harmony does not result in consciousness of any of its parts; rather, because of its harmony, it does not seem to feel its existence. Today we may not feel like we have fingers. We would regard it as strange to be asked, “Do you feel that you have fingers?” But if one of our fingers is broken, we will feel uncomfortable the whole day. Whenever we feel something, then something is wrong. Whenever the body cannot use one of its members, the body is sick. In order for the Holy Spirit to have complete authority in the church, the whole Body must move freely without any hindrance. As soon as there is hindrance in a certain part, it means the Body is sick. When everyone is under the authority of the Holy Spirit, He can use everyone. Then there is no hindrance in the Body, and everything moves smoothly. When authority operates smoothly, the Body is healthy. When everyone can be used by the Holy Spirit, then the Holy Spirit has authority and everything is very natural and spontaneous. The complete authority of the Holy Spirit is the ground of the church. Where this authority exists, there is the Body of Christ.A group today may have some brothers and sisters who are under the authority of the Holy Spirit and others who are not under the authority of the Holy Spirit. Immediately, we can see that there is no ground of the church there. The ground of the church is the Holy Spirit. Whenever the Holy Spirit is offended, the ground of the church is lost. The unanimous decision of all the brothers and sisters does not make up the Body of Christ. It is not a matter of sixteen hundred people raising their hands to pass a resolution, and then there is the church. It is not a matter of these sixteen hundred people, but a matter of whether or not the authority of the Holy Spirit has been executed. If the authority of the Holy Spirit is absent, there is no church ground. Only when everyone submits to the authority of the Holy Spirit does the church have its ground.The body is that which we can freely use and move around in. It has no conflicts or difficulties at all. Whatever we want to do, it does. That which struggles with us is not the body. Whether or not a local church can be manifested depends upon whether or not it can submit to the Holy Spirit. When this kind of submission is manifested, the church is manifested. Therefore, if a brother likes to speak and make decisions by himself, the authority of the Holy Spirit is damaged, the Body of Christ is damaged, and the church is damaged. Consequently, there is no church in that place. A place with a signboard does not constitute a church. Instead, it is only as the brothers and sisters lay down their own thoughts and subject themselves to the authority of the Holy Spirit, allowing the authority of the Holy Spirit to flow through them without any hindrance, that there is the church.As those who serve God and bear responsibility in the work, we need to remember this one thing: After twenty, thirty, fifty, or even sixty years, when all our hair has become white, we will still be only a transmitter of authority, a channel or mouthpiece of authority. We still will not be the authority. Whenever we become the authority, everything is finished. The brothers and sisters who are workers must thoroughly know what the authority of the Holy Spirit is. Do not think that today we can give some proposals. Our proposals will not do. The Lord has never granted us the authority to make our own proposals. We can only be a channel of authority, not authority itself. If we live to be a hundred years old and have followed the Lord for those hundred years, we should not think that we can give some proposals. Only as our spirit becomes more trained, as we learn something, as the sense of our spirit becomes keener, as we receive more light, and as we touch God’s basic principles, thus becoming more familiar with the Word of God, is it easier for the authority of the Holy Spirit to come out through us.We use authority to serve the brothers and sisters, not to govern them. Authority is just one part of our service. I hope all the leading ones of the home meetings would take note of this. Authority is related to your ministry; it is in fact one of your many ministries. It is not for governing others but for supplying others. In a certain matter other brothers may not see, but we see; they may not understand, but we can understand. Since we understand God’s heart’s desire, we can tell them of God’s desire, saying, “Brothers, you should not do this in such a way; I know this will not do. If you do it, you will violate God’s authority. You must give up this matter.” This is not exercising authority to govern the brothers, but exercising it with a view to supply and serve them. Before the Lord, we are learning to be an outlet for the Holy Spirit’s authority to supply the brothers. We are not governing them. We are learning to let God’s authority come out as a supply; we are not here to establish our own authority.Regardless of what kind of position a brother may have, whether he is an overseer, an apostle, or a deacon, he loses and ruins the ground of the church in its entirety whenever he establishes or manifests his own authority. The ground of the church is entirely established upon the authority of the Holy Spirit. Whenever His authority is offended, the ground of the church is gone, and problems arise.When the whole church is under the authority of the Holy Spirit, it is like the Lord’s own body given to Him by Mary when He was on this earth. He can speak, listen, and walk as He wishes. The body which Mary prepared for the Lord could not have been more appropriate. His body cooperated with Him to such an extent that it was as if such a body did not exist at all and that the Lord Himself was acting alone. It was so harmonious, so united, so free of problems and conflicts. His hands were never unavailable when they were needed, His eyes never malfunctioned when they were called upon to see, His tongue was never tied when it needed to speak, and His mind was never absent when it needed to think. The church likewise can reach such a level that it is as if it does not exist at all and that Christ is acting alone. The Lord can exercise Himself spontaneously and pass through such an outlet freely. It can be in such harmony, such oneness, and such spontaneity that it is as if the Lord is not passing through it at all. The authority of the Holy Spirit passes through the church so freely and harmoniously that it is as if He has not passed through the church at all. When the authority of the Holy Spirit is able to operate so completely, there is the church. Whenever there is resistance or hindrance, that is not the church. Whenever the Holy Spirit cannot move, whenever individuals stand out, there is some problem and the church is damaged. In such a case, it can no longer be considered the church.Now I want to go back to today‘s question. There are many so-called denominational churches. The Lord has not given us the freedom to criticize them. However, we do confess that there are many elderly brothers among us who have come out of the denominations. They know the histories. Many other brothers came out of the world and sin. They do not know how much man’s opinions, decisions, methods, organizations, names, and traditions are in the groups that use the name of the Lord. I do not wish to say more about this. From the beginning when we were called out by the Lord, we insisted on a fundamental ground—that is, we must obey and establish the authority of the Holy Spirit in the church and destroy our own authority. I ask the Lord to forgive me for saying this, because the authority of the Holy Spirit does not need to be established by man. Excuse me for using the following illustration for the sake of the younger brothers. If I release a tiger in the streets, is it necessary to send guards to protect it? No, the tiger does not need any guards; it can protect itself. Likewise, the Holy Spirit does not need our support. The authority of the Holy Spirit is in the church. It does not need our zeal to establish it. The only thing needed in God’s children is their willingness to consecrate and yield themselves to Him so that the authority of the Holy Spirit can come out of them unceasingly. It is now a matter of whether or not we are willing to consecrate ourselves. Whenever God’s children disobey, the authority of the Holy Spirit cannot come out. The basic matter today is whether or not we have consecrated ourselves adequately.I hope that we will consecrate ourselves afresh to the Lord for the authority of the Holy Spirit. We must pray, “Lord, You are the Head in the church. Grant me the grace that I may not be one who hinders or resists. May I have nothing of my own.” We must realize that whenever we bring anything of our own into the church, regardless of how good it is, something extra has been added to the church, and there is a hindrance. My body can only consist of its own members. I cannot allow the things of others to be added to my body. Even the best things of others cannot be put into my body. What is of my body must be my own. The things of others may be precious, but once they are added to my body they may be poisonous. We must learn before God not to bring our own things into the church. Some of them may be very good, but if they are not of the Holy Spirit, they cannot be brought into the church. Once they are in the church, the church loses its ground. In the church there is only one Holy Spirit, one authority, one power, one fellowship, one name. Anything that is brought into the church which is not of the Holy Spirit will ruin the church ground, and then there is no more church.Anything Not Initiated by the Holy Spirit Is Not the ChurchIn Shanghai many people can establish an evangelistic mission, seminary, Bible institute, or Bible study class. Such a mistake is minor. But no one can establish a church! If we are not able to obey the Holy Spirit, and man’s authority and man’s things come in, there is no church. If it is not started by the Holy Spirit, it is not the church. I do not know whether we have seen the seriousness of this. It is possible for a few of us to establish a factory; this is comparatively easy to do. Allow me to say that we are men who have the leading of the Holy Spirit. Many people in the world who do not have the leading of the Holy Spirit can open a factory. However, the church cannot be started like this. Regardless of whether we are a believer or an unbeliever, whether we have the life of God or not, we cannot establish a church. If it is not started by the Holy Spirit, it is not a church. This is quite a serious matter. No one can start a church, because in the first place, no one has the authority of the Holy Spirit. If there is no authority of the Holy Spirit, there is no church. Regardless of the situation, we cannot establish a church if the Holy Spirit does not start it. First, we must ask, “What about the start?” If the Holy Spirit is not the initiator, we cannot start anything. We must submit ourselves to the mighty power of the Holy Spirit and put ourselves under the authority which operates according to God. We must be wholly restrained and not seek our own freedom. We must let the authority of the Holy Spirit pass through all of us freely.The Boundary of LocalityIn addition to the above, a church has to have a second ground. Without the second element, there also is no ground of the church. We will probably ask: Is it not enough to express and live under the authority of the Holy Spirit? Is this not enough to establish the church? No, it is not. The Bible clearly shows us two things which must exist in order to establish the church: first, the authority of the Holy Spirit, and second, the boundary of locality. If we do not see this, we do not understand the church ground. Does this seem strange? Does this seem like falling ten thousand feet from heaven to earth? Yes, but remember that the church is also on earth. It is part heavenly and part earthly. The heavenly part concerns the authority of the Holy Spirit; the earthly part concerns the boundary of locality. This is a very wonderful matter in the Bible. The Bible clearly shows us this one thing: The church absolutely belongs to a locality, such as the church in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), which is a place; the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2), which is a place; the church in Antioch (Acts 13:1), which is a city; and the church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1), which is a seaport. In the Bible the ground of the church is the locality where the church is. The churches all take locality as the boundary.Here is a special point; please pay attention to it. If the brothers and sisters in Shanghai desire to stand on the church ground, they can only stand on the ground of the Holy Spirit and the ground of Shanghai. They must stand on the ground of the Holy Spirit and also on the ground of Shanghai because Shanghai is the locality in which they live. Once we disregard locality, we immediately lose the ground of the church. Let me give a few illustrations.The Church and the ChurchesActs 9:31 speaks of the churches in Judea. The church spoken of here is plural in Greek, English, and Chinese. It is the churches in Judea. It is plural in number because at that time Judea was a province of Rome. Since a province included many localities, there were many churches. Thus, the Bible does not speak of the church in Judea, but the churches in Judea. In the Scriptures there is only a local church, not a provincial church. The same is true of Galatia, which was a province consisting of many localities; therefore, Galatians 1:2 says, “The churches of Galatia.” Ephesus is a seaport, a locality; therefore, the church in Ephesus is referred to in the singular. This point is very clear in the Bible. Philadelphia was a city, and only one church existed there. Asia, which is Asia Minor today, was a large province; therefore, the Bible says, “The seven churches which are in Asia,” not the church which is in Asia (Rev. 1:4).Only One Church in One LocalityThere is one thing we must all notice: The world does not have a church; therefore, the Roman Catholic Church is wrong. A country does not have a church; therefore, the Anglican Church (i.e., the Church of England or the Episcopal Church) is wrong. A province does not have a church, nor does a race. In the Bible only the smallest administrative unit is related to the church—only a locality or a city has a church. The church in one locality cannot combine with the church in another locality to become one church. Each city can only be matched with one church, just as a husband can only be matched with one wife. Therefore, in Antioch, there is the church in Antioch, not the churches in Antioch. It would be wrong to say the churches in Antioch. According to God’s arrangement, a locality can only be matched with one church, not many churches. In the Bible we can never find the churches in Corinth or the churches in Antioch. But the Bible does say the church in Antioch, the church in Philippi, and the church in Philadelphia. All of these churches are referred to in the singular. There were not multiple churches in Antioch, Philippi, or Philadelphia.God’s arrangement for the church on the spiritual side is the authority of the Holy Spirit, and in its outward appearance, it is the limitation of locality. When the church in Corinth was about to divide itself into four parts, Paul immediately rebuked them for being divisive and fleshy (1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:3-4). When the Corinthians were about to divide into a few smaller churches, one of Paul, another of Cephas, another of Apollos, and another of Christ, the Holy Spirit said that was fleshy. Each city, each locality, can only be matched with one church. Whenever more than one appears, it is a division, a sect, which God rejects. From God’s point of view, the church in Corinth became fleshy because there can only be one church in one locality; a second church can never be established. If one church is already established, the second is a division and is fleshy. There can never be more than one church in one locality. Someone may say that he desires to supply others with spiritual food, but supplying spiritual food is not sufficient ground to establish a church. Someone may say that he wants to help others to understand the Bible, but helping others understand the Bible is also not sufficient ground to establish a church. Neither is teaching others to know the Holy Spirit adequate grounds for establishing a church. Someone may say that we need a revival and that a revival church should be established. Recently in a certain place, someone established a Revival Church for the sole purpose of revival, but revival is not sufficient grounds to establish a church. Men cannot establish a church, because men do not have the ground to establish a church. Paul did not have the ground to establish a church; neither did Cephas or Apollos. Ephesus had the ground to establish a church, but Paul was not equal to Ephesus. Corinth had the ground to establish a church, but Paul was not equal to Corinth. Neither was Cephas or Apollos; they were all not equal to Corinth. They did not have the ground, and they were not qualified to establish a church, because a church must be matched with a locality. Anything that comes short of a locality cannot establish a church. If there is no locality, there is no church. It is more than evident that God takes the boundary of locality as the ground.There Can Only Be One Church in ShanghaiIn Shanghai the church does not stand on denominationalism, sectarianism, or any other ground, but on the ground of Shanghai. This is the church in Shanghai. Suppose I have a quarrel with Brother Chang. I let him meet on Nanyang Road, while I find a place on North Szechuan Road. One goes south and the other goes north in the opposite direction. At North Szechuan Road I can preach the gospel, and a group of people can be saved. While the meeting hall on Nanyang Road can seat 2,400 people, I can build a bigger hall to seat 2,600. Even though I preach the gospel and start a meeting, bringing many to salvation, giving messages, and edifying the saints, I can never become the church because the qualification to take Shanghai as the ground of the church has already been taken. I am not qualified to set up another church because there can only be one church in Shanghai.A Church Can Only Be Established in a Locality Where No Church ExistsToday in Bijie in Kweichow province, no one has taken the standing of establishing a church on the ground of locality. If anyone desires to establish a church, it is all right for him to go to Bijie because in one locality there can only be one local church. If an additional church appears there, God will say that is a division. It is just like a woman matching a man. If a man does not have a wife yet, she can marry him and be his wife. If he already has a wife, how can she become his mate? She can only be the mate of a man who has no wife. The whole New Testament tells us this one thing: The church is local. We must see that the church is local. The Epistles speak of the church in Corinth and the church in Ephesus. Revelation speaks of the seven churches in Asia. In each locality there is only one church. The church cannot become independent of locality.Please remember that a church can only be established in a locality where there is no church. If there is a church in a certain locality, we can only join it; we cannot set up another one. Once we set up another one, that is a division, a sect, which is condemned by God. I want to ask, “What is the difference between a woman who is a man’s wife and a concubine?” Everything is the same, except the position. Only the ground is different; everything else is the same. Though outwardly they may appear alike, something is lacking in one—the ground.What Is Division?What is division? Division is to be without the ground, and to be without the ground is to be divisive, and is something condemned by God. Please forgive me for using Bijie as an example again. What is the difference between going to Bijie to preach the gospel, to save people, and to edify saints and going to North Szechuan Road in Shanghai to do the same thing? Outwardly, there is no difference. It is not that people cannot be saved and receive eternal life when the gospel is preached at North Szechuan Road; neither is it that the people at North Szechuan Road will lose their experience of salvation. The gospel truth is the same, and the messages may be the same. Everything seems to be the same. But we cannot establish another church at North Szechuan Road. If we go to North Szechuan Road to establish a church, that is a division. The messages given in Bijie may be exactly the same as the messages given at North Szechuan Road, but in the two different localities there are two different grounds. In Bijie it may be the church, while at North Szechuan Road it is a division. The same message is given at these two localities, but what a difference there is! Suppose we set up the Lord’s table in Bijie, that is, the Lord’s supper, the breaking of bread. If we move the table with all the attendants from Bijie to North Szechuan Road, we may pray in the same manner as before, study the Bible as before, and praise the Lord as before. In these things there is no difference at all, but in Bijie there is a church, while there is a division at North Szechuan Road. When a woman marries a single man, she is his wife; if she marries a man who is already married, she is not his wife. When we go to a place where there is no church, we can establish one. But in a place where there is already a church, we can only join it, we cannot set up another one. This is a basic principle in the Bible. If we do not care for the boundary of locality, everything is finished. If we discard this basic ground, we have no ground.I hope that before God we understand these two points: First, God’s church is established upon the authority of the Holy Spirit; second, God’s church is established with the boundary of locality. The ground of the church is something according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We cannot say, “The Holy Spirit has guided us to meet at North Szechuan Road.” In regard to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the first thing He would argue is that the place where we are meeting is wrong. Consequently, we violate and offend the first limitation of the Holy Spirit, and we have no ground on which to stand. Saying that we have the Holy Spirit is not enough; we must also pay attention to the boundary of locality, which is set up by the Holy Spirit. We can never violate the boundary of locality; we can only submit. Men have no freedom in the jurisdiction of locality set up by the Holy Spirit.Locality Restricting the Formation of DivisionsI hope the brothers and sisters will hold fast to this basic principle. If they do, they will be clear about the standing of the so-called denominations, churches, groups, and organizations. If any group is not built upon the ground of locality, we can see that it is not the church. Are we clear? Is this not amazing? I am amazed when I read this in the Word. Going from the authority of the Holy Spirit to the boundary of locality seems like dropping ten thousand feet from the heavens all the way down to the earth. The Bible reveals that the ground of the church is based on the authority of the Holy Spirit. However, the Bible also shows us that just having the Holy Spirit is not enough; we also need the match of the ground of locality. These two together produce the church. As we look back, things become clearer and clearer, and more and more we have to praise the Lord. In the past two thousand years, if the people in the church had been willing to be limited by locality, there would not have been the difficulties and confusion. If man had submitted to God’s authority, neither Catholicism nor Protestantism could ever have been established. Neither could the more than one hundred denominations in China and more than six hundred major organizations and five thousand minor organizations in the world today have been established. All would have been restricted by the boundary of locality.Locality Never Being Subject to ChangeExcuse me for using political terms. A dynasty may change, but a locality never changes; a political party may change, but not a locality; a country may even change, but a locality does not. Shanghai has always remained Shanghai, and Ch’ang-ch’un has always remained Ch’ang-ch’un. During the Ching Dynasty, Shanghai was Shanghai; during the Republic, Shanghai was still Shanghai; even now Shanghai remains Shanghai. During the Sino-Japanese War when the country almost became part of another country, the locality remained the same. Many things will change, but the locality will never change. God wills the locality as the ground for the church. We have the church in Rome as a locality, but never the church of the Roman Empire. The name is similar, but in fact they are different. The church in the city of Rome is recognized by the Holy Spirit, but not the church of the Roman Empire. For this reason, we must learn before God to keep the ground of locality.Please remember this one thing: The church must stand on the ground of locality. For many years we have been standing on this ground, rejecting all that is not in keeping with this ground, rejecting all other labels. Any group which does not take the locality as its ground is not the church. The service we have entered into here is with the hope of building up the church in Shanghai. If an inquiry is made about this matter by an outsider, we must make it clear to him that the church has the authority of the Holy Spirit inwardly as the content and the boundary of locality outwardly. The authority of the Holy Spirit plus the boundary of locality make the church. If there is no authority of the Holy Spirit within and no boundary of locality without, there is not the church.The Church Ground and Spiritual BlessingThe clearer the ground of the church is, the richer are the spiritual blessings. In these recent years and in particular during the past one or two years, we have seen God blessing the church ground. Many brothers and sisters have begun to see the difference between the way of individualism and the ground of the church. As the authority of the Holy Spirit is manifested in all the members, causing them to serve God in coordination rather than in individual activities, we see the Lord’s blessing. In some local churches the members increase twofold, fivefold, and tenfold—all in multiples.Originally there were only thirty or more members in Taipei, but now they have increased to over a thousand. We have sent some brothers there, and they have worked very diligently. God has continued to bless, and the members have continued to increase. When I was in Hong Kong, I received a letter from a brother. I feel this brother knows what the church is because of the following incident. The church in Taipei expected Brother Witness to be responsible for their gospel campaign during the Chinese New Year. After this decision was reached, Brother Witness had to come to see me in Hong Kong concerning some matters. They were really disappointed because they thought that they could not carry out the campaign themselves. Brother Witness said to them, “To have Witness is just to have one more brother; to lose Witness is just to lose one brother.” If there is a church in Taipei, having or losing Brother Witness is just a matter of having or losing one brother. However, if there were no church in Taipei, it would be terrible. In the end, the brothers in Taipei preached the gospel. Some of the brothers who you would think could not preach the gospel preached the gospel contrary to expectation. As a result, over fourteen hundred people received the Lord. At the follow-up meetings, two hundred twenty-eight people were baptized on the first day alone. It does not matter whether a brother is taken away or added, because there is still the church. Now I will come back to that brother’s letter. I am very pleased with his statement: “I believe that if the brothers learn to serve the Lord in a coordinated way, whether there are three thousand or ten thousand newly saved ones, we will be able to absorb them. When the church comes into being and begins to function, it can absorb five hundred new believers if five hundred come, and one thousand if one thousand come.” What is this? This is God’s church.A Vessel Needed to Contain God’s BlessingSome of us pray that the Lord would bless us as He blessed the church during Pentecost. But if the Lord really answered our prayers, what would we do? If the Lord really granted us the blessing of Pentecost, what would we do? If the Lord gave us three thousand or five thousand people, what would we do? If several thousand people suddenly filled our meeting place, we would immediately see that we would not be able to absorb them all. If three thousand people were added in Shanghai at one time, we could not absorb them. We would not know how to baptize them, how to divide them into different home meetings for the Lord’s table, how to edify them, and how to visit them. However, when God blesses and the church is strong, we can easily absorb them. Regardless of how many come, we will not drag along through our inability to handle them adequately. We now have about fifteen to sixteen hundred brothers and sisters among us; our fellowship is not adequately covered already. What would we do if another thousand were added? It would be hard for us to bear them if God should bless us with that many. We are not talking about an organization but a container that can bear God’s blessing. If God blessed us by giving us three thousand and then two thousand disappeared after two days, this would not be the church. If we do not know when people come and when people go, or how many have been added or how many have been lost, this is not the church. The church is a container of such capacity that it is able to contain God’s blessing. A church is supposed to attain to such a degree that when God blesses—abundantly blesses—there is a vessel which is able to contain this blessing.When all the brothers and sisters obey the Holy Spirit, they will all rise up to serve and receive the blessing. No one will bring in his own opinions, but everyone will be occupied with service. When this happens, God’s church will come forth. If we are not getting ready for the Holy Spirit’s work, He will not work. We must be prepared for the Holy Spirit’s work. We must always prepare more room. We would rather let the Lord bring people in than let Him take people out. When the Holy Spirit begins to work, we will really see that there is not enough room. We must prepare for the Holy Spirit’s work. We must prepare a larger meeting place and enlarge our capacity; then the Lord will bless. We must prepare men for service; then the Lord will bless. If we do not prepare everyone for service, the Holy Spirit will have no way to work.All Must Learn to ServeI hope the brothers and sisters will see that the ground of the church is based on locality and on the authority of the Holy Spirit. For the authority of the Holy Spirit to come in means that every person learns to reject his own ideas and submit to God’s authority. As everyone learns to serve, the church of God appears. As the church, it is not sufficient that our own personal opinions are denied. On the positive side, everyone must submit to the authority of the Holy Spirit. Once we submit to the authority of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit immediately will direct and instruct everyone to serve.I would ask the leading brothers, especially the leading ones in the home meetings, to excuse me for saying the following words: The minimum responsibility you have before God is to serve, but this is not enough. If you can only serve but cannot bring others into service, you have failed. The Holy Spirit is directing every person to serve. On the negative side, do not bring in your own ideas; on the positive side, let the Holy Spirit direct everyone to serve. The authority of the Holy Spirit means that the Holy Spirit can pass through everyone, the Holy Spirit can direct everyone.Therefore, whoever can only serve by himself, but cannot commit things to others, is a failure. Whoever does not hold responsibility in his own hands, but distributes it to the brothers and sisters that they may share in the same work, is useful in God’s hand. We should not think that we must do everything when situations arise. Those who hurriedly finish things themselves, who hold things in their hands, and who will not assign them to others are hindering the work of the Holy Spirit. Responsibilities must be distributed; they should not be retained in our own hands. Retaining things in our own hands is a hindrance. Things should not get stuck to us. When the authority of the Holy Spirit is given full freedom in the church, it no longer is a matter of doing it or not, but it is a matter of letting the Holy Spirit have the freedom to release Himself. When the authority of the Holy Spirit works, moves, and is released in the whole Body, that is the church. The work must always be distributed. Distribution is a principle. Whenever a responsibility comes upon us, we should distribute it immediately. A thing may be done by one person, or it may be done by five persons. It is better, however, to distribute it among five persons. Always be involved and always involve others. If we practice this, we are training the brothers and providing them the proper guidance. In this way, everyone will learn to serve.Brother Witness Lee and I have had a long time of looking to the Lord and conversing. We believe all the more in what we have seen before. In the days ahead God will certainly take the way of migration. Therefore, every brother must be trained. We should not hope that people will migrate to Nanchang in the future, yet expect the church in Nanchang to train them for us. We have to train them now. I am afraid that the brothers and sisters have no training before God, and when the time of migration arrives, such ones will not be able to go out. Therefore, everyone must learn something concerning the church. We must learn much more before God regarding how the whole Body serves. If we do this, there will be a way for God to go out from us.