I. The Local Church Revealed in Revelation Chapter 1
Verse eleven in chapter one of Revelation is marvelous.Apparently, it is merely a record of the Lord Jesus commanding John to make a book of the visions he was receiving and send it to the believers.But as Witness Lee explains in the following passage, this verse has hidden in it a treasure of the New Testament, for here the Lord Himself is subtly revealing to us the way He has ordained for believers to meet together: the local churchone church in one city.
What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches. These seven churches are not the seven churches on the streets, on the campuses, in the homes, or in the factories. They are seven churches in seven cities. The seven churches are equal to seven cities.
We may think that the Lord did not compose Revelation 1:11 very well. I do not think that anyone of us would compose this verse in such a way. What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. The Lord composed it in this way. There are seven untos. The Lord told John to send this book unto the seven churches as follows: unto, unto, unto, unto, unto, unto, unto. Unto what? Unto the local churches! He had to repeat all the names of the cities with so many untos and so many conjunctions that we might see the local churches!
Can you have a church on your campus? If you think you can, you had better come back and see the untos of Revelation 1:11. The Lord Jesus will repeat them for you. Unto the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, etc. It is unto the city, not unto the campuses, or streets, or homes, or factories, or any denominations! It is unto this city and unto that city. Praise the Lord for His sevenfold repetition! This is entirely to show us that in one city there is, and should be, one church, and one church is, and should be, for one city. This is not my teaching, but my quotation. And this quotation is from the spoken word of the Lord Jesus. (44-45)
Below, Witness Lee emphasizes our need to be turned and properly positioned in order to be able to see the local churches, which, as he explains, is to be willing to see them:
Where should the church be? Praise the Lord, it should be in the city! How many churches should there be in one city? It is abundantly clear that there should be only one. And how many churches should many cities have? There should be one church for each city. Many cities should have many churches, but one city should have only one church. We must be clear about this matter. This is the last book in the Bible, and it is closed to so many Christians because they would not see the local churches. If we are willing to see the local churches, the whole book of Revelation will open to us because our position is properly changed. Praise the Lord! When our position is properly changed, we can see!
And being turned, I saw seven golden lampstands (Rev. 1:12). It is so marvelous. When we are turned, we see; we cannot say that we have not seen. I have been condemned by many people because of this matter of the local churches, but I cannot help it. I have seen! I cannot say that I have not seen. I am so burdened with the local churches, because I have seen the local churches! I cannot help but be burdened, because I have seen.
We all need a turn. I am afraid that there are still some friends who are doubting. But these are not our words; these are the words spoken by the Lord. What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. There is no word in the entire Bible as clear as this word. One local church equals one city. The size, the jurisdiction and the boundary of the local church must equal that of the city. Revelation 1:11 is exceedingly clear. (45-46)
To reiterate, Witness Lee resolutely adheres to the biblical position of one local church for one city. He simply delivers the Lords own words to us: Send it unto the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, etc. The Lord equates the names of the seven cities with the seven local churches.
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