It seems that it is in times of difficulty and of testing that God breaks into our consciousness with a new concept, or a new emphasis on an old familiar truth. The pressure of problems or of adverse circumstances cause us to lay bare our hearts before God , and in such times the Spirit of God has opportunity to impart to us a deeper understanding of the plan and purpose of God.
For many years I have held to the New Testament revelation of the church as a universal, living organism, organized into local churches, which are self-governing and self-propagating. However, it was not until a time of adversity in the work God has raised up in Adelaide, South Australia, that the Lord showed me the authority of Christ in the local church and how it may be used as a key to a real revival in our day.
My personal desire was to go out into evangelistic ministry in Australia and overseas, but the Lord compelled me to continue in this work and to establish this great principle of the New Testament church – every local church an autonomous center of full gospel revival, and yet not independent, but rather interdependent, using its freedom in a dedicated unity and coordination of activities.
It was at this time that there were impressed upon me the five rules for revival in the local church, and this five-point program has since become an inspiration to many other local churches, both in the Christian Revival Crusade and elsewhere.
Seven Golden Lampstands
In Revelation chapter one, the apostle John records his vision of seven golden lampstands, with the risen Christ standing in the midst. These seven lampstands, we are told, symbolized the seven local churches of Asia Minor. However, students of prophecy agree that they also symbolized seven successive stages of the history of the Christian church throughout this age. Moreover, seven being a perfect number, they also represent the entire church on earth.
Now back in Exodus 25 we read that Moses was told to make a seven branched lampstand, beaten out of one piece of gold. This symbolized the witness of Israel in the Old Testament, and Israel being a united, centrally-governed nation, a seven branched lampstand of one piece of metal was chosen.
In the New Testament however, the Christian church is symbolized by seven individual lampstands, for God never intended the church should be a universally organized and centrally governed institution, but an association of locally-governed congregations.
Christ Deals Directly With Local Churches
In chapters two and three of Revelation we read the messages of the Lord to the seven churches, and we discover that he deals directly with each church, commanding, exhorting, rebuking, warning and rewarding.
So it is today. The Lord does not deal with the church as organized denominations, nor as a universally-organized body, but sees his mystical body comprising all Spirit-born believers expressing itself in the form of local churches.
It is in the local church that he has established government, ministry, fellowship and discipline.