Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 189-204)by Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the two foregoing messages we covered the formation of the church. In this message we shall begin to consider the establishment of the churches.
There is an important difference between the formation of the universal church and the establishment of the churches. The universal church is not established; rather, it is formed with two categories of elements: all the believers as the extrinsic element and the all-inclusive Christ, the embodiment of the processed Triune God consummated as the all-inclusive, compound Spirit as the intrinsic element. Instead of being established, the universal church is formed by these two categories of elements.
The local churches are established, not formed. Establishment is different from formation. We should not say that we are going to a certain place to form a local church there. On the contrary, we go to a certain city not to form a local church but to establish a local church. The church as a whole was altogether formed more than nineteen hundred years ago on the day of Pentecost and in the house of Cornelius. This means that, in the eyes of God, the universal church, the Body of Christ, has been formed. This is an accomplished fact. Now, after the formation of this universal church as a complete entity, there is the need for the spreading of the church. The way to spread the church is to bring it to a certain locality and plant it. This planting is the establishment of a local church.
Just as we can plant a tree but not form a tree, so we can establish a church but not form the church, A carpenter can form a stand, but he cannot form a tree. Not even the best scientist with a doctoral degree in botany can form a tree. Only God can form a tree. In like manner, only Christ could form the church. The Apostle Paul could plant a local church and Apollos could water it, but it was God alone who formed it and gave it life, and it is God who gives it growth (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
The entire church as the Body of Christ, including all the Jewish and Gentile believers, has been formed once for all universally. This is an accomplished fact. What we are doing today is simply establishing churches in different localities by planting “church trees.” This planting of church trees is the establishing of the churches.
No one is able to go to a place to form a local church. Assuming to do such a thing would be abominable in the sight of God, for it is presuming to do something that only God Himself can do. But although we cannot form the church, we have the position, the right, the opportunity, and even the commission to go to the uttermost parts of the earth to establish local churches.
The Lord has formed the church. Our burden is to bring the church as a tree to every city, town, and village and plant a church there. We all need to be faithful to carry out the burden to establish local churches by planting church trees. We should be burdened not just for the saving of sinners but for the establishing of churches. The married couples should be like Prisca and Aquilla who planted a church tree wherever they went. If we all have the desire to establish churches by planting church trees, the establishing of the churches will be very fast and prevailing.
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