Watchman Nee

It’s not often that I read books by non-Western authors, but recently I read the little pearl The Normal Christian Life by the Chinese preacher Watchman Nee (you should check out this story of a truly remarkable man!).  It’s a book with incredible insights and depth, and a book that I know I will be reading many more times and continue to discover new things each time I read it. I have gotten many thoughts sparked by Nee’s book where he basically takes Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 5-8 and explains how the normal Christian life ought to look like. It’s clear, it’s biblical, it’s powerful, it’s freeing. And sadly it’s not what so many hear in churches all over the world neither when Watchman Nee preached it 70 years ago nor today. We may think that we’re teaching grace and Spirit-filled life, but too often it’s just self help with a little Christian twist and some Bible verses thrown in for religious effect….! 

But Nee’s revelations from God as well as all other people’s revelations mean nothing to me, unless God in his great mercy makes it real for me. I read Watchman Nee’s book and God did give me some revelation of what’s going on in my life right now. How wonderful is it when the Spirit of God makes little black letters on a white paper background come alive and we see more of who God is, what his plans for all mankind and me are and who I am in him! Here are a few of the quotes that stood out to me, and then I hope that the Holy Spirit will make them become life to you, dear reader!

God will not give me humility or patience or holiness as separate gifts of his grace. He is not a retailer dispensing grace to us in packets, measuring out some patience to the impatient, some love to the unloving, some meekness to the proud, in quantities that we take and work on as a kind of capital. He has given only one gift to meet all our need: his Son Christ Jesus. As I look to him to live out his life in me, he will be humble and patient and loving and everything else I need – in my stead” (page 181-182)

The common conception of sanctification is that every item of the life should be holy; but that is not holiness, it is the fruit of holiness. Holiness is Christ. It is the Lord Jesus being made over to us to be that. So you can put in anything there: love, humility, power, self-control. Today there is a call for patience: he is our patience! Tomorrow the call may be for purity: he is our purity! He is the answer to every need. That is why Paul speaks of “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) as one and not of “fruits” as separate items. God has given us his Holy Spirit, and when love is needed the fruit of the Spirit is love; when joy is needed, the fruit of the Spirit is joy. It is always true. It does not matter what your personal deficiency, or whether it be a hundred and one different things, God has always one sufficient answer: his Son Jesus Christ, and he is the answer to every human need” (page 182-183)

Anything we can do without prayer and without an utter dependence upon God must come from the spring of natural life that is tainted with the flesh. Of course it is not true that those only are suited for a particular work who lack the natural gift for it! The point is that, whether naturally gifted or not – and we should praise God for all his gifts – they must know the touch of the Cross in death upon all that is of nature, and their complete dependence upon the God of resurrection” (page 232-233)

 “inward knowledge will never be reached along the barren path of self-analysis” (page 236)

my true knowledge of self comes not from my searching myself, but from God searching me” (page 238 )

Blessings, Torben 

2 Responses to “Watchman Nee”

  1. 1 Rebecca
    May 24, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Amen!! One of my favorite authors. If you like his stuff, Steve McVey is along the same vein and very life-changing. Grace Amazing (formerly Grace Land), Grace Rules, and Grace Walk by Steve McVey, Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee, and Experiencing the Holy Spirit by Andrew Murray are my top reads for all Christians.

  2. May 24, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Hey Rebecca! Thanks for your comment. I’m glad to hear that you are living the exchanged life and experiencing grace and life! I have read Grace Walk which is also very good. I can also recommend Dan Stone’s The Rest of The Gospel! It’s incredible! http://www.amazon.com/Rest-Gospel-When-Partial-Worn/dp/096751410X

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