Local Church et al vs. Harvest House et al – Local Church
Holding the Bible as the complete and only divine revelation, we strongly believe that God is eternally one and also eternally the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, the three being distinct but not separate. We hold that Christ is both the complete God and the perfect man. Without abandoning His divinity, He was conceived in the womb of a human virgin, lived a genuine human life on earth, and died a vicarious and all-inclusive death on the cross. After three days He resurrected bodily and has ascended to the heavens. He is now in glory, fully God but still fully man. We look to His imminent return with the kingdom of God, by which He will reign over the earth in the millennium and in eternity. We confess that the third of the Trinity, the Spirit, is equally God. All that the Father has and is, is expressed by the Son; and all that the Son has and is, is realized as the Spirit. We further believe that mankind is in need of God’s salvation. Though we were absolutely unable to fulfill the heavy demands of God’s righteousness, holiness, and glory, Christ fulfilled all the requirements through His death on the cross. Because of Christ’s death, God has forgiven us of our sins, reconciled us to Himself, and justified us by making Christ our righteousness. Based on Christ’s redemption, God regenerates the redeemed with His Spirit to consummate His salvation, that they may become His children. Now possessing God’s life and nature, the believers enjoy a daily salvation in His Body in this age and the eternal salvation in the coming age and in eternity. In eternity we will dwell with God in the New Jerusalem, the consummation of God’s salvation of His elect.
A Brief Sketch of Our History
Beginnings Meeting in China
The practice of meeting according to the principle of the oneness of the Body of Christ, which is the hallmark of believers who have come to be identified as the local churches, began in China in 1922. A group of believers first began to meet with Watchman Nee in his hometown of Foochow in southern China. He began to publish a magazine called The Christian in 1925. At the end of 1926, he went to Shanghai and Nanking to further the work entrusted to him by the Lord. The church was raised up in Shanghai at the end of 1926 and in the early part of 1927. From Shanghai the practice of receiving all genuine believers without regard to minor doctrinal differences began to spread throughout China.
From Mainland China to Taiwan
After World War II, a great revival occurred, spreading the church life into most of the major cities in China. By the end of 1949 there were hundreds of churches meeting in cities throughout China’s thirty-three provinces. In this same year, China changed hands, and the Peoples’ Republic of China was formed. To further the truths of the Christian faith that the Lord had given to Watchman Nee and the many believers in China, approximately five hundred believers meeting in these churches went to the island of Taiwan. In addition, Watchman Nee sent his co-worker Witness Lee, from mainland China to continue their work.
From Taiwain to the United States and Other Parts of the Globe
Over the next six years, the number of believers grew from five hundred to about twenty thousand. In 1958 the church life spread to the United States through the immigration of believers. In 1959 the church life spread to Brazil, in 1963 to Canada, in 1970 to New Zealand and Australia, and in 1971 to Europe and Africa. With the collapse of communism in the former Soviet Union and the subsequent burgeoning of religious freedoms, new churches have spread throughout many of the newly formed republics. There are believers now meeting in local churches on every continent throughout the earth.
Seeking to Please the Lord in All Things
By Living a Balanced Life
As Christians we desire to live a normal human life that is balanced in every way. We seek to express the humanity of Jesus in all areas of our human living, including our homes, our neighborhoods, and our places of employment. We endeavor to live soberly and righteously. Our separation from the evil in the world is not imposed or maintained by outward regulations but by the operation of the indwelling Spirit.
By Loving the Lord Jesus and the Bible
As Christians, we love the Lord Jesus and we love the Bible. It is important to read, study, and even to pray over the words of the Bible in a regular way. Any teaching, inspiration, or guidance that claims the Holy Spirit as its source must match the revelation contained in the Bible.
Through Consecration and Prayer
As Christians, our lives are enriched through consecration and prayer. We seek to know and follow His will, recognizing that the eternal security of our salvation has been purchased at the cost of His death on the cross and has been received freely through faith in Jesus Christ. The Christian life is sustained by intimate, personal fellowship with the Lord through prayer. Prayer is a declaration of our dependence on God, our submission to Him, and our willingness to cooperate with Him for the fulfillment of His purpose.
In Our Relationship with Fellow Believers
As Christians, we also have been brought into a relationship with our fellow believers. Although we are individual members of the Body of Christ, we do not desire to live individualistically, caring only for our own interests, activities, and goals. The Spirit leads us to live in a way that is mindful of others and that is concerned for the building up of all believers. This brings us into the enjoyment of the fellowship of the Body of Christ, which often is conveyed and expressed in bearing one another’s burdens, in extending hospitality to visitors, in opening our homes for meetings, and in taking care of the practical needs of our brothers and sisters through loving service in the name of Christ. As Christians, we recognize Christ as the unique Head of the Body. There is no official leadership among us.
In Practicing the Universal Priesthood of Believers
As Christians, every member is encouraged to have direct fellowship with Christ and to be directed by Him. Every member can function and the function of every member is appreciated. In the local churches we have no clergy and we have no laity; rather, we are all members of the Body, each of whom have the right to function according to our God-apportioned measure.
In Keeping the Oneness
As Christians, we endeavor to keep the oneness of the faith. We meet as believers on the ground of oneness, receiving all believers according to the common faith. In our meetings, we are spiritually strengthened, enlightened, equipped, and commissioned by the Lord. In the church meetings the resurrected Christ truly is with us as we are gathered into His name.
By Exalting Christ as the Focus of the Christian Life
As Christians, we ultimately believe that Christ is the focus of the Christian life. He is both the complete God and the perfect man, who died and resurrected bodily, who ascended to the heavens, who is living today, and who will come again a second time.