Monday, 9 March 2015

My Gleanings from Watchman Nee's Normal Christian Church Life (3)


The New Testament Pattern of The Churches, the Ministry and the Work


(Continued from Part 2)

The danger, with those who know little about life and reality, is to emphasize mere outward correctness; but with those to whom life and reality are a matter of supreme importance, the temptation is to throw away the divine pattern of things, thinking it is legal and technical. He considers that he himself has authority to decide on outward matters and rather fancies that to ignore God’s commands regarding them is an indication that he has been delivered from legality an is walking in the liberty of the Spirit. But God has not revealed the truths that concern our inner life; He has also revealed truths relating to the outward expression of that life. God prizes the inner reality, but He does not ignore the outward expression.

But God demands both inward and outward purity. To have outer without inner is spiritual death, but to have inner without outer is spiritualised life. And spiritualisation is not spirituality.

We seek to follow the leading of God’s Spirit but at the same time we seek to pay attention to the examples shown us in His word. The leading of His Spirit is precious, but if there is no example in His word, then it is easy to substitute fallible thoughts and unfounded feelings for the Spirit’s leading, drifting into error without realising it. The Spirit’s guidance will always harmonise with the Scriptures. God cannot lead a man one way in Acts and another way today. In externalities, the leading may vary, but in principle, it is always the same; for God’s will is eternal, therefore changeless. God is the eternal God and His will and ways all bear the stamp of eternity.

Here is a very important principle: If we want to know the mind of God, we must look at His commands in Genesis and not look at His permissions later on, because every later permission has this explanation: “…Because of your hardness of heart but from the beginning it was not so!” It is God’s directive and eternal will that we want to discover, not His permissive will. We want to see things as they were when they proceeded in all their purity from the mind of God, not what they have become, with time, as a result of the hardness of men’s hearts. In the light of this, the question we must then ask ourselves is: What kind of generation of believers/followers of Christ do we desire to be? Those who will follow Him with half measures, in our own terms? Are we content to follow Him based on what is clearly His permissive will or are we willing to press on to recover His absolute and eternal will? Selah.

If we could understand the will of God concerning His church, then we must not look to see how He led his people last year or ten years ago, or hundred years ago, but we must return to the beginning, to the “genesis” of the church, to see what he said and did then. It is then that we find the highest expression of His will. Acts is the “genesis” of the Church’s history and the church in the time of Paul is the “genesis” of the Spirit’s work. Conditions in the church today are vastly different from what they were then, but these present conditions could never be our example or authoritative guide. We must return to the beginning. Only what God has set forth as our example in the beginning is the eternal will of God. It is the divine standard and our pattern for all time.

Christianity is not only built upon precepts but upon examples. God has revealed his will not only by giving orders, but by having certain things done in his church so that in the ages to come, others might simply look at the pattern and know His will. God has not only directed His people by means of abstract principles and objective regulations, but concrete examples and subjective experience. One of God’s chief methods of instruction is through history.

Shall we then say that because God has not commanded a certain thing, we need not do it? If we have seen His dealings with men in days past, if we have seen how He led His people and built up His Church, can we still plead ignorance of His will? Must a child be told explicitly how to do everything? Are there not many things he can learn simply by watching his parents or his older siblings? We learn more readily by what we see than what we hear, and the impression is deeper. That is why God has given us so much of history.

As I read, I am asking myself, but why are we so hardened in heart, so impetuous, so presumptuous, so resistant to simple truth that we just dismiss these obvious truths with a wave of the hand and rationalise everything Nee is saying to his own perspectives. We convince ourselves that he is not the Holy Ghost and is only speaking from his own subjective opinion – Lord have mercy!

This book is intended for those who, having learned something of the cross, know the corruption of the human nature, and seek to walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Its object is to help those who acknowledge the lordship of Christ in all things, and are seeking to serve Him in the way of His own appointing, not of their own choosing.

******************************** TO BE CONTINUED ********************************

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