Witness Lee on the local church: The Ground of the church sequentially typified in the Old Testament
Witness Lee on the local church: Captivity


Oneness in the local churches 

Blessing in the local churches 

Division and Captivity 

Recovery of the local church 

Principle of a remnant 


The Loss of the Ground of Oneness—Division and Captivity

The loss of Jerusalem and eventually of the entire nation of Israel to its enemies was a devastating event in the history of Israel. As I Corinthians 10:11 makes clear, “These things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our admonition….” Israel's tragic history thus provides a crucial key to understanding the situation among the local churches today. Just as the Israelites were “carried away” to a number of foreign countries and thereby divided from one another, the believers in Christ have likewise become divided from one another forfeiting the oneness which was originally seen in the local churches. Witness Lee speaks of this loss of oneness:

Consider the illustration of the children of Israel in the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 12, 14, 15, and 16 the Lord charged them again and again to worship Him at the unique center, which preserved the oneness of God's people. Eventually, many were captured, and some were taken to Syria, others to Egypt, and the rest to Babylon. Thus, they were captured and divided. To be divided means to be captured. Today nearly all Christians have been captured, some to the Presbyterian denomination, some to the Baptist denomination, and a great many to the Catholic Church. When the children of Israel were dispersed and scattered, their oneness was lost. After seventy years, God commanded them to return to Jerusalem. But according to history, only a small remnant returned under the leadership of Ezra, Zerubbabel, and Nehemiah. They were a group of recovered Israelites. After the return from Babylon, there were four groups: one in Syria, one in Egypt, one in Babylon, and one in the holy land. Apparently, each group was a division. But although the groups in Egypt, Syria, and Babylon were divisions, the group of the recovered ones in Jerusalem was not a division. Yes, they were a group, but they were not a division. Rather, they were the recovered Israel. Likewise, we in the Lord's recovery are the recovered Body.

(Witness Lee, Spirit and the Body, 182-184)

The book of Acts records the genuine oneness and harmony enjoyed by the believers in the local churches. Even in the local church in Jerusalem where there were thousands of believers (Acts 21:20), there was only one local church, one church in the city. Initially, all the believers were one in Jerusalem. But unfortunately, this oneness was gradually lost, and the believers began to segregate into different groups. Witness Lee saw this recurring pattern throughout church history as well as the need for the believers to return to the original New Testament oneness, the proper oneness in the local church.

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