I recently came across a copy of Watchman Nee’s classic book: The Normal Christian Life. I’ve always heard from brothers and sisters that this book is really good but I never got around to actually getting a copy and reading it. Now that I have it, I see exactly what they mean.
In the likes of John G. Lake, Charles Spurgeon, Smith Wigglesworth, Kathryn Khulman, and more, Watchman knew the simplicity of what it really means to be a Christian. They walked in a selfless divine love that only the Holy Spirit gives, and in faith they exercised a supernatural power over disease, demons and death. They all saw and knew what the Lord Jesus meant when He said this:
Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent…I do not ask on behalf of these [the 12 disciples] alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word. That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me…This is the work of God: that you believe in Him whom He has sent. – John 17:3, 20-21, and John 6:29
Read those verses again, slowly.
To know God, to be one with Him, and to believe in Jesus whom He sent; this is eternal life and the path and destiny of every Christian. It starts now, not after physical death.
All the aforementioned people knew this, and as much as it was a blessing for me to read I want to share with you here below an excerpt from Watchman Nee’s book that provides a testimony and an example/parable of what this simple truth looks like.
Divine Revelation Essential to Knowledge
So our first step is to seek from God a knowledge that comes by revelation–a revelation, that is to say, not of ourselves but of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. When Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission, entered into the normal Christian life it was thus that he did so. You remember how he tells of his long-standing problem of how to live “in Christ,” how to draw the sap out of the Vine into himself. For he knew that he must have the life of Christ flowing out through him and yet felt he had not got it, and he saw clearly enough that his need was to be found in Christ. “I knew” he said, writing to his sister from Chinkiang in 1869, “that if only I could abide in Christ, all would be well, but I could not.”
The more he tried to get in the more he found himself slipping out, so to speak, until one day light dawned, revelation came and he saw. This is how he describes it.
“Here, I feel, is the secret: not asking how I am to get sap out of the Vine into myself, but remembering that Jesus is the Vine–the root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit, all indeed.”
Then, quoting a friend’s words that had helped him, he continues:
“I have not got to make myself a branch. The Lord Jesus tells me I am a branch. I am part of him and I have just to believe it and act upon it. I have seen it long enough in the Bible, but I believe it now as a living reality.”
It was as though something which had indeed been true all the time had now suddenly become true in a new way to him personally, and he writes to his sister again:
“I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful–and yet, all is new! In a word, ‘whereas once I was blind, now I see.’ … I am dead and buried with Christ–aye, and risen too and ascended… God reckons me so, and tells me to reckon myself so. He knows best… Oh, the joy of seeing this truth–I do pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.”
Oh, it is a great thing to see that we are in Christ! Think of the bewilderment of trying to get into a room in which you already are! Think of the absurdity of asking to be put in! If we recognize the fact that we are in, we make no effort to enter. If we had more revelation, we should have fewer prayers and more praises. We spend so much time praying for ourselves just because we are blind to what God has done.
I remember one day in Shanghai I was talking with a brother who was very exercised concerning his spiritual state. He said, “So many are living beautiful, saintly lives. I am ashamed of myself. I call myself a Christian, and yet when I compare myself with others I feel I am not one at all. I want to know this crucified life, this resurrection life, but I do not know it, and I see no way of getting there.” Another brother was with us, and the two of us had been talking for two hours or so, trying to get the man to see that he could not have anything apart from Christ, but without success. Said our friend, “The best thing a man can do is pray.” “But if God has already given you everything, what do you need to pray for?” we asked. “He hasn’t,” the man replied, “for I am still losing my temper, still failing constantly; so I must pray more.” “Well,” we said, “do you get what you pray for?” “I am sorry to say that I do not get anything,” he replied. We tried to point out that, just as he had done nothing for his justification, so he need do nothing for his sanctification.
Just then a third brother, much used of the Lord, came in and joined us. There was a thermos flask on the table, and this brother picked it up and said “What is this?” “A thermos flask.” “Well, you just imagine for a moment that this thermos flask can pray, and that it starts praying something like this: ‘Lord, I want very much to be a thermos flask. Wilt thou make me to be a thermos flask? Lord, give me Grace to become a thermos flask. Do please make me one!’ What will you say?” “I do not think even a thermos flask would be so silly,” our friend replied. “It would be nonsense to pray like that, it is a thermos flask!” Then my brother said, “You are doing the same thing. God in times past has already included you in Christ. When he died, you died; when he lived, you lived. Now today you cannot say, ‘I want to die; I want to be crucified; I want to have resurrection life.’ The Lord simply looks at you and says ‘You are dead! You have new life!’ All your praying is just as absurd as that of the thermos flask. You do not need to pray to the Lord for anything; you merely need your eyes opened to see that He has done it all.”
That is the point. We need not work to die, we need not wait to die, we are dead. We only need to recognize what the Lord has already done, and to praise him for it. Light dawned for that man. With tears in his eyes he said, “Lord, I praise thee that thou hast already included me in Christ. All that is His is mine!” Revelation had come, and faith had something to lay ahold of; and if you could met that brother later on, what a change you would have found!
“God be thanked for the simplicity of the gospel. The longer I live, the more I bless God that we have not received a classical gospel, nor a mathematical gospel, nor a metaphysical gospel; it is not a gospel confined to scholars and men of genius, but a poor man’s gospel, a ploughman’s gospel; for that is the kind of gospel which we can live upon and die upon.” – Charles Spurgeon
“The world is awakening to that marvelous truth, that Christ is not in the heavens only, nor in the atmosphere only, but Christ is IN YOU. The world lived in darkness for thousands of years. There was just as much electricity in the world then as now. It is not that electricity has just come into being. It was always here. But men have discovered how to utilize it and bless themselves with it.” – John G Lake
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 11:3