I was born and raised in the local churches. I grew up in Texas, lived in Russia for 4 years while my parents were serving the Lord there, attended the Full-time Training in Anaheim (FTTA), served with Christians on Campus, went to medical school, and am now a practicing physician and instructor in medicine in Boston.
Those who meet in the local churches are Christians who love the Lord Jesus Christ, stand firmly on the teachings of the Bible, meet together on the scriptural basis that there should be one church in one city, and avidly read the publications of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee which are of great help in opening up the Bible. We share the fundamental Christian faith common to all believers.
One thing I love about the local churches is that it is a group of people who treasure and esteem the Bible; we endeavor to follow it as closely as possible in teaching and practice (cf. Acts 17:11).
When I was a college student participating in campus outreach activities, we would brand ourselves as a club that focused on the Bible. Now as someone who regularly speaks publicly in church meetings, I am always being encouraged to base all my speaking on the Word and quote verses whenever possible. Throughout my time meeting in the local churches, I have never once heard or been implicitly taught that the Bible is anything less than the authoritative and final word of God.
Because we endeavor to be Bible-based in practice, we meet as one church in one city (cf. Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5, Rev. 1:11). In the same manner, the administration of each local church is seated with the elders in that locality (Titus 1:5).
If anyone has a problem with someone or something, he or she should go to the elders. The elders, in turn, are accountable to the apostles (1 Tim. 5:19). This is based on God’s ordained arrangement as revealed in the New Testament and demonstrated in the early churches.
In such an arrangement of authority, it seems that there would be plenty of opportunities for elders or responsible ones to wrongly exercise power and influence over others. As a young person growing up in the local churches, I thought that this would be the case. I thought that these leading brothers would be rigid, legal, religious, and insensitive.
However, the more I interacted with these people, the more I learned that they had a depth of human experience intertwined with a godly living and were instilled with a divinely-inspired heart to shepherd others. The leading brothers are down to earth in more ways than one. All of my erroneous concepts concerning the leadership stemmed from my own religious concepts and fallen flesh.
Of course this is not to say that the local churches are perfect in every sense and have no faults. In fact it’s quite the opposite. The local churches are a group of people who, like myself, still have the flesh. This should not be a shock because it was also the case with the Corinthian believers in the New Testament (see many negative examples in the book of 1 Corinthians).
We are full of sinful thoughts and are capable of doing terrible things. We need mercy from God to take captive every thought unto Christ, and each of us is held accountable to both secular and heavenly authorities. If the flesh is all we have, then certainly we would be at a loss.
However, that is not where we are. We all have something inside of us that is divine, that is growing, and that is the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 12:12). This is what God sees as the church (Eph. 1:4).
Should we focus on anything less than what God focuses on? Rather than dwelling on the flesh which is passing away, we should look at what God sees, the marvelous church, the Body of Christ (Num. 23:21 and Recovery Version footnote). Then we should speak blessings on it, and we will in turn be blessed (Gen. 12:3).
Although the reality of the church is a spiritual matter, that is not to say we should neglect our body and our soul and only care for our spirit. No, rather we need to care for our bodies and souls so that they can be proper vessels to contain Christ (1 Tim 4:8, 5:23, 1 Pet. 2:25).
When we have a physical or mental ailment, we need to seek help from the appropriate licensed medical or mental health professionals. I have never been told to do otherwise in the local churches.
In conclusion, in the local churches we should not expect to find a group of people free from the flesh. Rather, we need to know that the flesh is in all of us. But even though this is the situation, we need to focus on the wonderful Christ in all the church members.
In the local churches, I have found a group of people who love God and His word and who are endeavoring to satisfy His will according to His heart’s desire so that He can return. I believe that the Lord has blessed, and will continue to bless the local churches.
Testimony by Micah Eades from his observation, enjoyment, and positive experiences meeting in the local churches.