On June 17th, 2012, the church in Rome began the church life and the Lord's Table meeting on the ground of oneness with all the believers in Rome. The table meeting and the Italian conference were a testimony of the one new man and a local expression of the one universal Body of Christ, with approximately 600 saints from all over the earth attending as witnesses.
The Ground and the Foundation of the church in Rome
For the church life, there are two main and basic aspects. The first is that Christ Himself is the life, the content, and everything in the church…The second main aspect of the church life is that of the standing or the ground of the church.
The ground of the church is not the foundation of the church. The foundation of the church is Christ. “Another foundation no one is able to lay besides that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). The ground is completely different from the foundation. The foundation is a basic and integral part of the construction of a building, whereas the ground is not. The ground is a piece of land, called the site, upon which the foundation is laid. Any ground that supports a division among God's people is not right such as a person, nationality, practice or a teaching that is not an item of the faith. Any sectarian ground is not justified by the Word of God and is against the basic principle of the Body of Christ. We must give up every other ground and meet together only on the ground of locality, which is the ground of unity, the unique ground of the church.
As a Christian living in any locality, you must be built up with the other Christians in that locality as the unique local church there, which should be called the church in that place. The one that was built up in Jerusalem was called the church in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), and the one in Antioch was called the church in Antioch (Acts 13:1). In the same principle, the one in Rome should be called the church in Rome.
When Paul went to Corinth to preach the gospel and do the work of the Lord, did he establish a Pauline church with Christ as its foundation? Did Apollos, who also ministered in Corinth, establish a church upon the ground of Apollos with Christ as its foundation? Or did Peter, who may also have gone to Corinth, form a Petrine church with Christ as the foundation? Of course, they did not. In Corinth there was no Pauline church, no Apollonian church, and no Petrine church. When Paul went to Corinth and brought people to the Lord, he established the church in Corinth. Upon what ground? Upon the ground of Corinth. He set up a local church in Corinth with Christ as its foundation upon the unique ground of locality.
We read in 1 Corinthians 1:2 of “the church of God which is in Corinth.” Corinth was the ground of locality of the church in Corinth. When discord crept in and its members were on the point of splitting the church into four different factions, Paul wrote, rebuking them: “Each of you says, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ…Are you not men of flesh?” (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4). Had these people formed four different groups, they would have been sects, not churches, for Corinth was a city, and that is the smallest unit which warrants the forming of a church. The church of God in Corinth could not cover a lesser area than the whole city, nor could it comprise a lesser number of Christians than all the Christians who lived in the city.
Those believers in Corinth who claimed they were of Christ (v. 12) were applying Christ not as their foundation (which is according to the truth) but as their ground. This divided them from the other believers living in the city of Corinth and they were also rebuked by Paul as being divisive (v. 13). From this section of the Bible, we can clearly see that taking only the boundary and limit of the city is the unique ground of oneness for the believers. This principle is also clearly seen throughout the New Testament such as in Revelation chapter 1 where the Lord names seven churches together with seven cities that were located in Asia.
We who are meeting as the church in Rome declare that we are one with all the believers in Rome and that we believe that all the believers in Rome are in the church in Rome. Oh, let us all come together on the unique ground of unity to enjoy Christ as our life and to have a proper expression of this one church in the place where we live.