V. The Present Age Being the Age of the Local Churches
The universal Church is heavenly and spiritual, yet it also is very practical in its manifestation through the local churches. Witness Lee points out that the practicality of the Church is not something for the future, but something that can be experienced today in the local churches.
There are some who talk so much about the universal Church. It is wonderful and so spiritual! But where is it? Where is the universal Church? It is so heavenly, so spiritual, so eternal, so wonderful, and so marvelous, but where is it today? It is really invisible! Those who are so much for the universal Church say that the invisible Church is the real one, and all the visible churches are the false ones. Of course, it is easy to say this. They tell you that something is wonderful, but if you ask them where it is, they can only say that it is invisible. It is so heavenly, so spiritual, so eternal, so wonderful, and so marvelous. But it is invisible today! That is all! It is just invisibly wonderful, invisibly heavenly, invisibly spiritual, and invisibly eternal! But where is its practicality?
Do not think that someday we will be in the Church in the heavens. When we get to heaven the Church age will be over. Even when we get into the New Jerusalem, that will not be the church age. Today is the age of the Church!
Do not talk about the Church in the future. The Church is not something in the future, the Church is something of today. The Church is not something in the heavens, but in the places where we are on the earth. Praise the Lord, there is a church in Los Angeles today. Even in this evil district of Hollywood there is a church today!
In the Gospels, in Matthew 16, the Lord began to talk about the Church. Then in Acts, in all the Epistles and in Revelation the main matter concerns the Church. If the Bible is mainly about the Church, we must have something practical today! This is necessary for the Lords return, and this is a real shame to the enemy. I say again loudly and clearly that in the city that is famous for Hollywood, nearly the most evil city on the earth, there is a church today! There is a golden lampstand in Los Angeles. This is a real glory to Christ and a shame to the enemy!
Some Christian teachers say that in this evil age it is an impossibility to have a real church; we must wait until that Day. We all must reject this kind of teaching. It is one hundred percent wrong! The future age is not the Church age. When the future age begins, the Church age will be over. (26-27)
Here, Witness Lee illustrates the futility of waiting for the practicality of the Church to begin in the next age, when the Church age will already have ended.
It is like someone telling us to see a football game tomorrow morning, but when we get there, the game is over. The game was not in the morning, but the night before. We must go to see the game tonight and not wait until tomorrow morning; then it will be too late. Praise the Lord, we are in the "game" now! Hallelujah! Regardless of how dark or how evil the age is, we are in the "game"! And we are playing the "game" here in the local church today! (27-28)
Witness Lee strongly urges us not to forfeit the practicality of the Church available in the local churches today. Visible and practical local churches are what the Lord needs in this present evil age, both to shame His enemy and to prepare His believers for His return.
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