Although [the local churches] are unit-churches in outward management, still their inner life is one, and the Lord has made their members the members of one Body. There is no outward organization forming them into one big combined unit, but there is a strong inward bond uniting them in the Lord. They have a oneness of life which knows nothing of the bounds of locality, and which leads the separate churches to uniform action despite the absence of all outward organization. In organization the churches are totally independent of one another, but in life they are one, and consequently interdependent.
(Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 2, Vol. 30, 62)
Witness Lee also saw that the local churches shared a common fellowship in the one life of the Body of Christ. In Crucial Points of the Major Items of the Lords Recovery, he remarks:
According to the revelation and pattern of the New Testament, the church is the gathering of the believers in Christ who have been called out from the world by God. Such a gathering is considered, on the one hand, the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15) for Him to dwell in and to carry out His will according to His desire and for His pleasure, and, on the other hand, the organic Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23) for Him to have a counterpart in the organic union with Him for His expression. This church is the new man as Gods new creation (Col. 3:10; Gal. 6:15). Such a church, as both the house of God and the Body of Christ, is universally one to appear and be expressed on the earth in many localities as many local churches. The fellowship in life of this church is uniquely one, both universally and locally.
(Witness Lee, Crucial Points, 19)
The sixth major item of the divine revelation in the Bible concerns the Body of Christ, which is the church of God (Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Cor. 10:32). According to the revelation and pattern seen in the New Testament, the church is the gathering of the believers in Christ, who are called out from the world. This gathering, on the one hand, is the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15) for God to dwell in to accomplish His will according to His desire for His good pleasure. On the other hand, it is the organic Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23) for Him to have a counterpart that is organically united with Him to be His expression. Such a church as the house of God and also the Body of Christ is unique in the universe, yet it is manifested and expressed in many different localities on the earth to be the many local churches. The fellowship in life of this church, whether universally or locally, is unique.
(Witness Lee, Issue of the Union, 80-81)
We also believe you understand that our work is spiritual and that our emphasis is life. We are clear that God wants us to manifest the life of Christ in the local churches. Hence, the reality of our work is the life of Christ, and the outward expression of our work is the local church.
(Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 2, Vol. 26, 338)
Witness Lee concurs with Watchman Nee that the universal Church shares with each local church the one life of Christ as the factor of their oneness. The fellowship of this life is identical both universally and locally. As a result, the local churches are absolutely interdependent in life while remaining independent with respect to organization.
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