Monday, 9 March 2015

My Gleanings from Watchman Nee's Normal Christian Church Life (2)

My gleanings from
The New Testament Pattern of the Churches, the Ministry, and the Work

(Please read INTRO first.)


Because of the vastness of the subject and the importance of its issues, I have not found it easy to write this book. It is not intended for anyone and everyone. It is for those who bear responsibility in the Lord’s service. But more than this, it is for such as honestly and truly mean business with God and whose hearts are open and have no padlocked mind or prejudices. The book may test one’s sincerity and honesty to no small degree; but genuine hunger and desire to know the Lord’s full thought will sustain a careful reading to the end.

In reading this book, the door must not be closed with a snap of “Impossible!” or “Ideal but not practical!” what is set forth in these pages is no mere theory or teaching, but something we have actually tested out.


During the past eighteen years, the Lord has led us through different experiences in order that we might learn a little of the principle as well as the fact of the cross and resurrection, and learn something of the Christ-life, the Lordship of Jesus, the corporate life of the Body, the ground of the Kingdom of God, and His eternal purpose. It is natural that these have been the burden of our ministry. But God’s wine must have a wineskin to contain it. In the divine pattern, nothing is left for man to decide. God Himself has provided the best wineskin for His wine, which will contain and preserve it without loss, hindrance or misrepresentation.

We have sought to stress, throughout these past years, truths which have more direct bearing on the spiritual life of the believer and the eternal purpose of God. But the practical outworking of these truths in the Lord’s service is by no means unimportant. Without that, everything is in the realm of theory, and spiritual development is impossible.

While the book itself may seem to deal with the technical side of Christianity, let us emphasise here that we are not aiming at mere technical correctness. It is spiritual reality we are after. But spirituality is not a matter of theory; it always issues in practice.

It is wearisome to me, if not actually repulsive, to talk with those who aim at perfect outward correctness, while they care little for that which is vital and spiritual. In fact, it is a deep grief to meet children of God who know practically nothing of the hatefulness of a life lived in the energy of man, and know little of the vital experience of the headship of Jesus Christ, yet all the while are scrupulously careful to arrive at absolute correctness of method in God’s service. We hope this book will not fall into the hands of those who wish to improve their work by improving their methods, without adjusting their relationship to the Lord.

It is death to have a wineskin without wine, but it is loss to have wine without a wineskin. The God who inspired the writing of the letter to the Ephesian church equally inspired the writing of the letter to the Corinthians. While letters like Romans, Ephesians and Colossians deal with the spiritual contents of our faith, letters like Corinthians, Titus and Timothy deal with the practice of it. But why is it that the children of God have never had any serious contentions over Ephesian truths but always over Corinthian truths? Because the sphere of Ephesians is the heavenlies, and its truths are purely spiritual. But Corinthian teachings are practical and touch the earthly sphere. Yes, Corinthians is very practical and it tests our obedience more than does Ephesians!

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.

======================================================================== TO BE CONTINUED...

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