Life-Study of Revelationby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The book of Revelation firstly reveals Christ, and secondly the testimony of Jesus. In other words, this book is concerned with Christ and the church. In Revelation, Christ and the church are revealed in a unique and particular way. In the last message we pointed out that many aspects of Christ which are not found in other books in the Bible are unveiled in Revelation. The same is true with the church. The book of Revelation unfolds the church in a very particular way. In this message we shall present a summary of the aspects of the church found in Revelation, while in later messages we shall cover the details.
Firstly, in Revelation the churches are unveiled as being the lampstands (1:11-20). In no other New Testament book is this term used with respect to the church. In other books we are told that the church is the gathering of God’s chosen ones, that it is the Body of Christ, and that it is the house of God. But apart from Revelation, we are not told that the church is the lampstand. As the lampstands, the churches shine in the darkness. The word lampstand enables us to understand much about the church and its function. The church is not the lamp; it is the lampstand, the stand which holds the lamp. Without the lamp, the lampstand is vain and means nothing. But the lampstand holds the shining lamp. As we saw in the preceding message, God is the light and the Lamb is the lamp (21:23). Thus, Christ is the lamp, and the church is the lampstand holding the lamp. God is in Christ and Christ as the lamp is held by the stand to shine out God’s glory. This is the testimony of the church.
As the local churches, the lampstands are golden in nature. In typology, gold signifies divinity, the divine nature of God. All the local churches are divine in nature; they are constituted with the divine nature of God. To say this is absolutely scriptural, for the book of Revelation says that the local churches are golden lampstands (1:20). These stands are not built of clay, wood, or any inferior substance; they are constructed out of pure gold. This means that all the local churches must be divine. Without divinity, there can be no church. Although the church is composed of humanity with divinity, humanity should not be the basic nature of the local churches. The basic nature of the local churches must be divinity, God’s divine nature. By these two simple words—golden lampstands—we realize a great deal about the church: that the church is something shining with Christ and that it is constituted with the divine nature.
The lampstands shine in the darkness. If there were no darkness, there would be no need for the shining of the light of the lamp. The shining of the lamp is quite particular. In order for the lamp to shine, it must have oil burning within it. If the oil burns within the lamp, the light will shine out through all the darkness. This is the function of the church. The function of the church is not simply to preach or to teach doctrine. In the dark night of this age, the church must shine out the very glory of God. This is the testimony of the church.
All the lampstands are identical with one another. Many Christians, having taken in a mistaken concept, desire to be different from other Christians. When I came to this country fourteen years ago, I met some dear Christians who were troubled because the local churches were all the same. They told me that they would try their best to be different. This is not right. Everyone has a head, two shoulders, two arms, two hands, and ten fingers, and every human head has seven holes: two ears, two eyes, two nostrils, and a mouth. It is ridiculous to say, “I don’t want to have the same appearance as others. In order to be different, I would like to have five holes in my head.” How ridiculous this is! Those who claim that every local church should be unique base their concept upon the differences among the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Some have said, “Look! All the seven churches are different.” In the early years, when I was very young, I was influenced by this concept and I taught the same thing. But one day the light dawned upon me and I saw that all the differences in the local churches in Revelation 2 and 3 are negative, not positive. Ephesus lost her first love—negative; Pergamos is worldly—negative; Thyatira is demonic—negative; and Laodicea became lukewarm—negative. On the positive side, however, all the local churches are identical, because they all are seven golden lampstands. If you could place all the seven lampstands on a table before you, unless you numbered or labeled them, you would be unable to tell them apart. All the seven lampstands are the same.
Nevertheless, since 1962, some voices in this country have declared loudly that they will never be like the church in Los Angeles. Where are those voices today? They have faded away, and all the peculiar concepts they advocated have failed. I am not saying that all must follow the church in Los Angeles. But if Los Angeles has seven “holes,” then it would be ridiculous for others to insist upon having five “holes.” On the positive side, all the local churches must be identical. On the negative side, however, they are different. If the church in Los Angeles would worship idols, then we must refuse to follow them. In matters such as this, we must be different. But it is wrong to say that, on the positive side, the local churches should not be the same. We should not try to make ourselves peculiar or different—this is pride. One day the Lord showed me that the four sides of the New Jerusalem are exactly the same. Each side of the wall is built with the same material—jasper. It is not that one side is built with jasper and the other sides with brass. No, all four sides are the same. Likewise, universally, all the churches must be the same. They need not be the same in organization, but they must be identical in appearance. For example, the churches in New Zealand should be the same as the churches in Japan. Because we all are one church, all the churches on earth should be universally the same. Locally, we are the churches; universally, we are the church. This is the testimony of Jesus.
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