God loves us so much that he gave me his Son.
(Jn. 3:16) God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
This is the first time in the gospel of John that the term “love” (agapao) is used.
The first time that “love” is used in the OT is in Genesis 22:1, where it refers to the love of Abraham for his son Isaac.
What is the most precious thing in your life? Most likely, it isn’t physical or financial—it’s relational. I’d rather have my house burn down, than have my son get a burn on his skin.
God loved his Son “before the foundation of the world” (Jn. 17:24). Even though God loved his Son above all else, he was willing to give him away for us. If God was willing to give us that—give us his Son—then why would we doubt his love or provision in any other way? Paul writes, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32)
(Titus 3:4-6) When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.
There are some people that are so annoying or obnoxious that it’s difficult for me to talk to them for even a few minutes. God not only desires to talk to them for a few minutes, but he gave his life for them, so he could spend eternity with them. From the moment that “annoying” person was born, God has been waiting for them to turn to him for a relationship.
When we reflect on our own self-centeredness, we realize that we are those annoying and obnoxious people. Yet God still loves us.
(Gal. 2:20) [Christ] loved me and gave Himself up for me.
(Eph. 2:4-5) God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.
(Eph. 5:2) Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
(1 Jn. 4:10) In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
When we have children of our own, we realize what a sacrifice this was. As a parent, we would do anything for our kids, and God has demonstrated through the death of Jesus that he would do anything for us.
God did this while we were sinners and enemies (Rom. 5:8-10). He chose to rescue us at the height of our selfishness and egotism.
Regarding the grace and love of God, Hallesby writes, “We would never have thought or expected that such was the case if it were not for the fact that the Lord Himself has told us so.” (Hallesby, UHW, 22)
Because God gave up his Child, he can make us his children.
(Jn. 1:12-13) As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
(Rom. 8:15-16) For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.
We are objectively children of God, but the Holy Spirit wants to communicate this to us subjectively.
The use of the term abba (“dada”) shows complete dependency upon God. This makes sense for why Jesus would call on us to have a child-like faith (Mt. 18:3). Many never had this sort of affection and relationship with their fathers, so it might be difficult to connect with him in this way.
(Eph. 5:1) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
We should imitate our father because we are his children—not to become his children.
(Lk. 11:11-13) Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
God wants to give us good gifts. If he doesn’t, there must be a reason why he would withhold them—for our benefit.
Watchman Nee: “In reading the story of the prodigal son most people are impressed with all the troubles the prodigal meets; they are occupied in thinking what a bad time he is having. But that is not the point of the parable. ‘My son… was lost, and is found’—there is the heart of the story. It is not a question of what the son suffers, but of what the Father loses. He is the sufferer; he is the loser. A sheep is lost; whose is the loss? The shepherd’s. A coin is lost: whose is the loss? The woman’s. A son is lost: whose is the loss? The Father’s. That is the lesson of Luke chapter 15.” (Nee, NCL, 111)
Watchman Nee: “Sonship—the full expression of his Son—is God’s goal in the many sons. How could he bring that about? By justifying them, and then by glorifying them. In his dealings with them God will never stop short of that goal. He set himself to have sons, and to have those sons, mature and responsible, with him in glory. He made provision for the whole of heaven to be peopled with glorified sons. That was his purpose in the redemption of mankind.” (Nee, NCL, 112)
All throughout the gospel of John, Jesus always says “my Father” or “the Father.” However, very subtly, in John 20:17, Jesus switches to “your Father.” The reason Jesus could say “your Father” was because he had just taken up the Cross. Without the Cross, we couldn’t be children of God. Hebrews states, “Both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11).
Insights from parenting
Parents are willing to put up with a lot of pain, immaturity, and suffering for the sake of our kids.
Most of the time, kids don’t agree with the discipline of their parents. Hebrews states, “Those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6).
We don’t need to control the future with excessive planning. God is planning our future (Eph. 2:10).
Our earthly fathers take care of so many details behind the scenes. When we get older, we come to realize just how much they were doing (e.g. fixing the house, putting food on the table, paying bills, stressing out, etc.). God wants to play this role for us. It isn’t our job to worry about these things (1 Pet. 5:7).
As we grow older, we want to assert ourselves and our independence with our earthly fathers. God never wants us to grow out of this child-like state.
God will never abandon us.
(Rom. 8:31) If God is for us, who is against us?
(Heb. 13:5-6) He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
(Ps. 56:4) In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?”
(Ps. 56:11) In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
(Ps. 118:6) The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?
This is a good question to meditate upon. What can people really do to me? What is the worst that can really happen? Embarrassment? Anger? Disappointment? Slander?
(Josh. 1:9) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
(Mt. 28:20 NIV) Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
The cure for the fear of man and man-pleasing is to realize the presence of God. Likewise, the key to confidence is to dwell on the presence and power of God.
Loneliness can never be ultimately cured by another person or a spouse. Many newlyweds want their spouses to fill this ultimate need. We shouldn’t confuse these provisions with the Provider.
God turns the bad things that happen to us into good things.
(Rom. 8:28) We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
God turned the worst case of injustice (the Cross) into the greatest victory in the universe (the redemption of mankind). Even if something bad happens to us, it still must be within God’s sovereignty, and he promises to bring something good out of it. Even if we die, he will replace earthly life with eternal life.
God turned Stephen’s death into Paul’s conversion. Even if I die, God has the power to replace me with someone better. He promises that he will build his church no matter what (Mt. 16:18).
(Rom. 8:38) In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
According to this passage, the key to conquering suffering is a deeper understanding of God’s love.
We don’t always see how these things work themselves out… but we will. Am I willing to wait to see what he was doing the whole time? Andrew Murray teaches that we need to choose to see our suffering through “the eyes of faith.”
(2 Cor. 1:3-4) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
God will comfort us and heal us when we are wounded (“in all our affliction”). Billy Graham writes, “God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.”
Miles Stanford: “Faith is dependence upon God. And this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends.” (Stanford, TGL, 10)
Miles Stanford: “Calvary is as much the foundation of sanctification as of justification. Both gifts spring from the same work and are two aspects of the same salvation.” (Stanford, TGL, 65)
(Commenting on the belief and unbelief of Mark 9:24) Andrew Murray: “That was a faith that triumphed over the Devil, and the evil spirit was cast out. And if you come and say: ‘Lord, I yield myself in absolute surrender to my God,’ even though it be with a trembling heart and with the consciousness: ‘I do not feel the power, I do not feel the determination, I do not feel the assurance,’ it will succeed. Be not afraid, but come just as you are, and even in the midst of your trembling the power of the Holy Spirit will work.” (Murray, AS, 84-87)
Miles Stanford: “The effortless life is not the will-less life. We use our will to believe, to receive, but not to exert effort in trying to accomplish what only God can do. Our hope for victory over sin is not ‘Christ plus my efforts,’ but ‘Christ plus my receiving.’ To receive victory from Him is to believe His Word that solely by His grace He is, this moment, freeing us from the dominion of sin. And to believe on Him in this way is to recognize that He is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves” (Stanford, TGL, 30)
Ole Hallesby: “We think of God as being- so great and exalted that He has no heart, no feelings, and that it means nothing to Him whether we thank Him or not. But in this we are thoroughly mistaken. God’s is the warmest heart in the great All. And no one has a finer or more tender emotional life than He.” (Hallesby, UHW, 72)
Watchman Nee: “If those blessings which are ours in Christ are to become ours in experience, we must know on what ground we can appropriate them.” (Nee, NCL, 123)
Miles Stanford: “Let us cease laying down to the saints long lists of ‘conditions’ of entering into the blessed life in Christ; and instead, as the primal preparation for leading them into the experience of this life, show them what their position, possessions, and privileges in Christ already are.” (Stanford, TGL, 38)
Miles Stanford: “They take us from the ‘help me’ attitude to that of giving thanks; from begging to appropriation.” (Stanford, TGL, 38)
Miles Stanford: “In most instances of appropriation, there is a waiting period between the acceptance and the receiving—often of years.” (Stanford, TGL, 39)
Miles Stanford: “It seems that most believers have difficulty in realizing and facing up to the inexorable fact that God does not hurry in His development of our Christian life. He is working from and for eternity! So many feel they are not making progress unless they are swiftly and constantly forging ahead. Now it is true that the new convert often begins and continues for some time at a fast rate. But this will not continue if there is to be healthy growth and ultimate maturity. God Himself will modify the pace. This is important to see, since in most instances when seeming declining begins to set in, it is not, as so many think, a matter of backsliding.” (Stanford, TGL, 12)
Miles Stanford: “When God wants to, make an oak, He takes an hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months… Growth is not a uniform thing in the tree or in the Christian. In some single months there is more growth than in all the year besides. During the rest of the year, however, there is solidification, without which the green timber would be useless. The period of rapid growth, when woody fiber is actually deposited between the bark and the trunk, occupies but four to six weeks in May, June and July.” (Stanford, TGL, 13)
Miles Stanford: “There are no shortcuts to reality.” (Stanford, TGL, 13)
Miles Stanford: “Some have been betrayed into professing perfection or full deliverance, because at the time they speak they are happy and confident in the Lord. They forget that it is not a present experience that ensures fruit to maturity, but a patient continuance in well doing. To taste of the grace of God is one thing; to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit, and regular life, is another. Experiences and blessings, though real gracious visitations from the Lord, are not sufficient to rest upon, nor should they lead us to glory in ourselves, as if we had a store of grace for time to come, or were yet at the end of the conflict. No. Fruit ripens slowly; days of sunshine and days of storm each add their share. Blessing will succeed blessing, and storm follow storm before the fruit is full grown or comes to maturity.” (Stanford, TGL, 13-14)
Miles Stanford: “The temptation to shortcut is especially strong unless we see the value of and submit to the necessity of the time element” (Stanford, TGL, 14)
Miles Stanford: “But there are also idle days, days apparently useless, when even prayer and holy service seem a burden. Are we, in any sense, renewed in these days? Yes, for any experience which makes us more aware of our need of God must contribute to spiritual progress, unless we deny the Lord who bought us.” (Stanford, TGL, 14)
Miles Stanford: “Little by little we receive what is already ours.” (Stanford, TGL, 33)
Miles Stanford: “Moses had all the wisdom of the Egyptians, yet his idea of delivering Israel was to slay an Egyptian! He had to be trained in God’s ways, having forty years in Midian, and when he was sent back to Egypt God said for him not to trouble about Israel—go direct to Pharaoh—the cause of their chains! God didn’t train Israel at the first, but a leader to lead Israel. God seeks to get leaders trained in the knowledge of His ways.” (Stanford, TGL, 85-86)
Miles Stanford: “As the Lord himself becomes more and more to us, other things (yes, and this must include even His gifts) matter less and less.” (Stanford, TGL, 89-90)
Maturity occurs when our experience lines up more with our identity (Gal. 4:19).
The movie Memento is similar to this. We wake up every day forgetting who we are.
Watchman Nee: “Our natural reason says, If we do not walk, how can we ever reach the goal? What can we attain without effort? How can we; ever get anywhere if we do not move? But Christianity is a [strange] business! If at the outset we try to do anything, we get nothing; if we seek to attain something, we miss everything. For Christianity begins not with a big DO, but with a big DONE. Thus Ephesians opens with the statement that God has ‘blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ (1:3) and we are invited at the very outset to sit down and enjoy what God has done for us; not to set out to try and attain it for ourselves.” (Nee, SWS, 14)
Watchman Nee: “It is paradoxical, but true, that we only advance in the Christian life as we learn first of all to sit down… We grow weary when we walk or stand, but we feel rested when we have sat down for a while.” (Nee, SWS, 15)
Watchman Nee: “God’s seventh day was, in fact, Adam’s first. Whereas God worked six days and then enjoyed his sabbath rest, Adam began his life with the sabbath; for God works before he rests, while man must first enter into God’s rest, and then alone can he work. Moreover it was because God’s work of creation was truly complete that Adam’s life could begin with rest. And here is the Gospel: that God has gone one stage further and has completed also the work of redemption, and that we need do nothing whatever to merit it, but can enter by faith directly into the values of his finished work.” (Nee, SWS, 16)
Watchman Nee: “Have you ever tried to save a drowning man? The trouble is that his fear prevents him trusting himself to you. When that is so, there are just two ways of going about it. Either you must knock him unconscious and then drag him to the shore, or else you must leave him to struggle and shout until his strength gives way before you go to his rescue. If you try to save him while he has any strength left, he will clutch at you in his terror and drag you under, and both he and you will be lost. God is waiting for your store of strength to be utterly exhausted before he can deliver you. Once you have ceased to struggle, he will do everything. God is waiting for you to despair.” (Nee, SWS, 23)
Watchman Nee: “It gives him true joy when we just let him give and give and give again to us. It is a grief to him, too, when we try to do things for him, for he is so very, very able. He longs that we will just let him do and do and do. He wants to be the Giver eternally, and he wants to be the Doer eternally. If only we saw how rich and how great he is, we would leave all the giving and all the doing to him.” (Nee, SWS, 24)
Watchman Nee: “Nothing is so hurtful to the life of a Christian as acting; nothing so blessed as when our outward efforts cease and our attitudes become natural—when our words, our prayers, our very life, all become a spontaneous and unforced expression of the life within. Have we discovered how good the Lord is? Then in us he is as good as that! Is his power great?” (Nee, SWS, 39)
Watchman Nee: “May the Lord teach us that the whole principle of the Christian life is that we go beyond what is right to do that which is well-pleasing to him.” (Nee, SWS, 41)
Watchman Nee: “Often when souls come into an understanding of spiritual things and begin to go on with the Lord, the feeling in my heart is: ‘Oh, if only they had come to see this five years earlier!’ The time is so short, even if we are going on. There is such need for urgency. For remember, it is not a question of what we get out of it. It is a question of what the Lord must have now. The Lord’s need today is for ready instruments. Why? ‘Because the days are evil.’ The situation is desperate among the Christian public. Oh that we might see it!” (Nee, SWS, 49)
Watchman Nee: “Thus today we do not fight for victory; we fight from victory. We do not fight in order to win but because in Christ we have already won.” (Nee, SWS, 55)
Watchman Nee: “When a born orator comes to the place of saying ‘I can’t speak,’ then he has learned a fundamental lesson and is on the road to real usefulness for God.” (Nee, SWS, 68)
Watchman Nee: “That is to say, it is when we have reached the point where in all honesty we cry: ‘I cannot speak,’ that we discover God is speaking. When we come to an end of our works, his work begins.” (Nee, SWS, 69)
Watchman Nee: “Years later I met ‘brother Wu.’ I had lost touch with him, and in the interval he had become a pilot in the Airways. When I asked him whether he still followed the Lord, ‘Mr. Nee!’ he said, ‘do you mean to say that after all we went through I could ever forsake him?’ Do you see what it means to ‘stand’? We do not try to gain ground; we merely stand on the ground which the Lord Jesus has gained for us, and resolutely refuse to be moved from it.” (Nee, SWS, 77-78)
Watchman Nee: “In his atoning work before God he acted alone; no other could have a part. But the Lord did not die only to shed his Blood: he died that we might die. He died as our Representative. In his death he included you and me.” (Nee, NCL, 45)
Watchman Nee: “If we are ‘in Adam’ all that is in Adam necessarily devolves upon us; it becomes ours involuntarily, for we have to do nothing to get it. There is no need to make up our minds to lose our temper or to commit some other sin; sin comes to us freely and despite ourselves. In a similar way, if we are ‘in Christ’ all that is in Christ comes to us by free grace, without effort on our part but on the ground of simple faith.” (Nee, NCL, 47-48)
Watchman Nee: “In his death we all died. None of us can progress spiritually without seeing this. Just as we cannot have justification if we have not seen him bearing our sins on the Cross, so we cannot have sanctification if we have not seen him bearing us on the Cross. Not only have our sins been laid on him but we ourselves have been put into him.” (Nee, NCL, 49)
Miles Stanford: “God’s basis must be our basis for acceptance. There is none other. We are ‘accepted in the Beloved.’ Our Father is fully satisfied with His Beloved Son on our behalf, and there is no reason for us not to be. Our satisfaction can only spring from and rest in His satisfaction.” (Stanford, TGL, 18-19)
Miles Stanford: “To some men constant peril is the only spur to action, and many religions and psychologies are dependent on fear to keep their disciples in line. Fear, too, has a place in Christianity, but God has higher and more effective motivations than fear, and one of these is love. Often fear after a while produces only numbness, but love thrives on love. To promise a man the certainty of his destiny may seem, on the human level, like playing with fire; but this leaves God out of the picture. Those who have the deepest appreciation of grace do not continue in sin. Moreover, fear produces the obedience of slaves; love engenders the obedience of sons” (Stanford, TGL, 21)
Miles Stanford: “True activity is that which springs out of, and is ever accompanied by, rest. It is only as we know what it is to be ‘still,’ that we are ready to ‘go forward.’” (Stanford, TGL, 79)
Watchman Nee: “How can you know? You can know for the one sufficient reason that God has said so. It does not depend on your feelings. If you feel that Christ has died, he has died; and if you do not feel that he has died, he has died. If you feel that you have died, you have died; and if you do not feel that you have died, you have nevertheless just as surely died. These are divine facts.” (Nee, NCL, 52)
Watchman Nee: “If we are preoccupied with the power of sin and with our inability to meet it, then we naturally conclude that to gain the victory over sin we must have more power. ‘If only I were stronger,’ we say, ‘I could overcome my violent outbursts of temper,’ and so we plead with the Lord to strengthen us that we may exercise more self-control. But this is altogether a fallacy; it is not Christianity. God’s means of delivering us from sin is not by making us stronger and stronger, but by making us weaker and weaker. That is surely rather a peculiar way of victory, you say; but it is the divine way. God sets us free from the dominion of sin, not by strengthening our old man but by crucifying him; not by helping him to do anything but by removing him from the scene of action.” (Nee, NCL, 53-54)
Watchman Nee: “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.” (Nee, NCL, 58)
Watchman Nee: “Unless we know for a fact that we are dead with Christ, the more we [consider], the more intense will the struggle become, and the issue will be sure defeat.” (Nee, NCL, 64)
Watchman Nee: “What, then, is the secret of [considering]? To put it in one word, it is revelation. We need revelation from God himself (Matt. 16:17; Eph. 1:17, 18). We need to have our eyes opened to the fact of our union with Christ, and that is something more than knowing it as a doctrine. Such revelation is no vague indefinite thing. Most of us can remember the day when we saw clearly that Christ died for us, and we ought to be equally clear as to the time when we saw that we died with Christ. It should be nothing hazy, but very definite, for it is with this as basis that we shall go on. It is not that I reckon myself to be dead, and therefore I will be dead.” (Nee, NCL, 65)
Watchman Nee: “Of course we cannot substantiate divine things with any of our natural senses; but there is one faculty which can substantiate the ‘things hoped for,’ the things of Christ, and that is faith. Faith makes the real things to become real in my experience. Faith ‘substantiates’ to me the things of Christ.” (Nee, NCL, 74)
Watchman Nee: “A skillful liar lies not only in word but in gesture and deed; he can as easily pass a bad coin as tell an untruth. The Devil is a skillful liar, and we cannot expect him to stop at words in his lying. He will resort to lying signs and feelings and experiences in his attempts to shake us from our faith in God’s Word. Let me make it clear that I do not deny the reality of the ‘flesh.’ Indeed we shall have a good deal more to say about this further on in our study. But I am speaking here of our being moved from a revealed position in Christ. As soon as we have accepted our death with Christ as a fact, Satan will do his best to demonstrate convincingly by the evidence of our day-to-day experience that we are not dead at all but very much alive. So we must choose. Will we believe Satan’s lie or God’s truth? Are we going to be governed by appearances or by what God says?” (Nee, NCL, 76-77)
Watchman Nee: “If we resort to our senses to discover the truth, we shall find Satan’s lies are often enough true to our experience; but if we refuse to accept as binding anything that contradicts God’s Word and maintain an attitude of faith in him alone, we shall find instead that Satan’s lies begin to dissolve and that our experience is coming progressively to tally with that Word.” (Nee, NCL, 78-79)
Watchman Nee: “I gave myself over wholly to Christ: that is holiness.” (Nee, NCL, 103)
Watchman Nee: “If we give ourselves unreservedly to God, many adjustments may have to be made: in family, or business, or church relationships, or in the matter of our personal views. God will not let anything of ourselves remain. His finger will touch, point by point, everything that is not of him, and will say: ‘This must go.’ Are you willing? It is foolish to resist God, and always wise to submit to him. We admit that many of us still have controversies with the Lord. He wants something, while we want something else. Many things we dare not look into, dare not pray about, dare not even think about, lest we lose our peace. We can evade the issue in that way, but to do so will bring us out of the will of God. It is always an easy matter to get out of his will, but it is a blessed thing just to hand ourselves over to him and let him have his way with us.” (Nee, NCL, 105)
Watchman Nee: “The trouble with many Christians today is that they have an insufficient idea of what God is asking of them. How glibly they say: ‘Lord, I am willing for anything.’ Do you know that God is asking of you your very life? There are cherished ideals, strong wills, precious relationships, much-loved work, that will have to go; so do not give yourself to God unless you mean it. God will take you seriously, even if you did not mean it seriously.” (Nee, NCL, 106)
Watchman Nee: “After you give yourself to the Lord, he begins to break what was offered to him. Everything seems to go wrong, and you protest and find fault with the ways of God. But to stay there is to be no more than just a broken vessel—no good for the world because you have gone too far for the world to use you, and no good for God either because you have not gone far enough for him to use you. You are out of gear with the world, and you have a controversy with God. This is the tragedy of many a Christian.” (Nee, NCL, 107)
Watchman Nee: “I do not consecrate myself to be a missionary or a preacher; I consecrate myself to God to do his will where I am, be it in school, office or kitchen or wherever he may, in his wisdom, send me. Whatever he ordains for me is sure to be the very best, for nothing but good can come to those who are wholly his.” (Nee, NCL, 107)
Watchman Nee: “The trouble with the Corinthian Christians was not that they lacked the indwelling Spirit but that they lacked the knowledge of his presence. They failed to realize the greatness of the One who had come to make his abode in their hearts; so Paul wrote to them: ‘Don’t you know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?’ Yes, that was the remedy for their unspirituality—just to know who he really was who dwelt within.” (Nee, NCL, 141)
Watchman Nee: “All the worry and fret of God’s children would end if their eyes were opened to see the greatness of the treasure hid in their hearts. Do you know, there are resources enough in your own heart to meet the demand of every circumstance in which you will ever find yourself? Do you know there is power enough there to move the city in which you live? Do you know there is power enough to shake the universe? Let me tell you once more—I say it with the utmost reverence: You who have been born again of the Spirit of God—you carry God in your heart!” (Nee, NCL, 142)
Nee compares it to walking through the city with a million dollars in your bank account (Nee, NCL, 142). The tabernacle in the OT wasn’t very special to look at, but it contained God’s Holy Spirit. Similarly, as believers, we are nothing special to look at, but we too contain the Holy Spirit.
Watchman Nee: “Why is it that some of God’s children live victorious lives while others are in a state of constant defeat? The difference is not accounted for by the presence or absence of the Spirit (for he dwells in the heart of every child of God) but by this, that some recognize his indwelling and others do not. True revelation of the fact of the Spirit’s indwelling will revolutionize the life of any Christian.” (Nee, NCL, 144).
Watchman Nee: “A forgiven sinner is quite different from an ordinary sinner, and a consecrated Christian is quite different from an ordinary Christian. May the Lord bring each of us to a definite issue regarding the question of his Lordship. If we yield wholly to him and claim the power of his indwelling Spirit, we need wait for no special feelings or supernatural manifestations, but can simply look up and praise him that something has already happened. We can confidently thank him that the glory of God has already filled his temple.” (Nee, NCL, 150)
Watchman Nee: “Revelation is always the work of the Holy Spirit, who is given in order that, by coming alongside and opening to us the Scriptures he may guide us into all the truth (John 16:13). Count upon him, for he is here for that very thing; and when such difficulties as lack of understanding or lack of faith confront you, address those difficulties directly to the Lord: ‘Lord, open my eyes. Lord, make this new thing clear to me. Lord, help my unbelief!’ He will not let such prayers go unheeded.” (Nee, NCL, 205-206)
Miles Stanford: “A superficial acquaintance with God’s plan leads to the view that while justification is God’s work, by faith in Christ, sanctification (growth) is our work, to be performed under the influence of the gratitude we feel for the deliverance we have experienced, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit. But the earnest Christian soon finds how little gratitude can supply the power. When he thinks that more prayer will supply it, he finds that, indispensable as prayer is, it is not enough. Often the believer struggles hopelessly for years, until he listens to the teaching of the Spirit, as He glorifies Christ again, and reveals Christ, our Sanctification, to be appropriated by faith alone.” (Stanford, TGL, 48-49)
Miles Stanford: “This disintegration is something the believer cannot enter into nor engineer on his own—self will never cast out self. He has to be led into it by the mercy of the Holy Spirit—into failure; abject and total.” (Stanford, TGL, 55)
Miles Stanford: “Calvary precedes Pentecost. Death with Christ precedes the fullness of the Spirit.” (Stanford, TGL, 59)
Death to Adam
God didn’t merely remove sin; he also removed the sinner.
Miles Stanford: “No, believer will truly come to know the Lord Jesus as his Life until he knows by experience the deadly self-life deep within for what it is.” (Stanford, TGL, 53)
Miles Stanford: “Death is his decreed portion. There cannot be two masters in our lives. If the old ‘I’ is in active possession of us then Christ -cannot be. But if we gladly take hold of the great fact of , redemption-’I have been crucified with Christ’-then Christ by His Spirit takes up the exercise of the function of life within us, and leads us as His bond-slaves (disciples), in the train of His triumph.” (Stanford, TGL, 71)
Miles Stanford: “‘If only I were stronger,’ we say, ‘I could overcome my violent outbursts of temper,’ and so we plead with the Lord to strengthen us that we may exercise more self-control. But this is altogether wrong; this is not Christianity. God’s means of delivering us from sin is not by making us stronger and stronger, but by making us weaker and weaker. This is surely a peculiar way of victory, you say; but it is the divine way. God sets us free from the dominion of sin, not by strengthening our old man but by crucifying him; not by helping him to do anything but by removing him from the scene of action.” (Stanford, TGL, 82)
Miles Stanford: “‘I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.’ (Rom. 7:15), and, in consequence, he feels that the bottom has fallen out of his Christian life; and then perhaps the Devil whispers to him that it is just no good his going on, because he will never be able to make the grade. Little does he know how healthy his condition is, and that this shattering discovery is but the prelude to a magnificent series of further discoveries of things which God has expressly designed for his eternal enrichment. All through life God has to show us our utter sinfulness and need, before He is able to lead us on into realms of grace, in which we shall glimpse His glory.” (Stanford, TGL, 54)
Watchman Nee: “If you have a very clumsy servant and he just sits still and does nothing, then his clumsiness does not appear. If he does nothing all day he will be of little use to you, it is true, but at least he will do no damage that way. But if you say to him: ‘Now come along, don’t idle away your time: get up and do something,’ then immediately the trouble begins. He knocks the chair over as he gets up, stumbles over a footstool a few paces further on, then smashes some precious dish as soon as he handles it. If you make no demands upon him his clumsiness is never noticed, but as soon as you ask him to do anything his awkwardness is apparent at once. The demands were all right, but the man was all wrong. He was as clumsy a man when he was sitting still as when he was working, but it was your demands that made manifest the clumsiness which, whether he was active or inactive, was all the time in his make-up. We are all sinners by nature. If God asks nothing of us, all seems to go well, but as soon as he demands something of us, the occasion is provided for a grand display of our sinfulness. The Law makes our weakness manifest. While you let me sit still I appear to be all right, but when you ask me to do anything I am sure to spoil it, and if you trust me with a second thing I will as surely spoil that also. When a holy law is applied to a sinful man, then it is that his sinfulness comes out in full display.” (Nee, NCL, 157)
Watchman Nee: “God knows who I am; he knows that from head to foot I am full of sin; he knows that I am weakness incarnate; that I can do nothing. The trouble is that I do not know it. I admit that all men are sinners, and that therefore I am a sinner; but I imagine that I am not such a hopeless sinner as some. God must bring us all to the place where we see that we are utterly weak and helpless. While we say so, we do not wholly believe it, and God has to do something to convince us of the fact. Had it not been for the Law, we should never have known how weak we are.” (Nee, NCL, 157-158)
Watchman Nee: “The more we try to keep the Law the more our weakness is manifest and the deeper we get into Romans 7, until it is clearly demonstrated to us that we are hopelessly weak. God knew it all along, but we did not, and so God had to bring us through painful experiences to a recognition of the fact. We need to have our weakness proved to ourselves beyond dispute. That is why God gave us the Law.” (Nee, NCL, 158)
When we were married to Christ, all that he has becomes ours—like in marriage (Rom. 7:4).
Nee gives the illustration of working men who try to carry 200 pound salt bags, which they are strong enough to carry. Then someone says that they need to try to carry the 500 pound bag! They keep trying until they finally realize that it’s impossible, and they wait for a stronger man to do it. This is the same with trying to carry out the law. We sweat and struggle, until we admit, “I can’t do it!” And we look to Christ to carry it.
Watchman Nee: “God’s requirements have not altered, but we are not the ones to meet them. Praise God, he is the Lawgiver on the Throne, and he is the Law-keeper in my heart. He who gave the Law, himself keeps it. He makes the demands, but he also meets them.” (Nee, NCL, 166-167)
Nee gives the story of watching a man drowning. The expert swimmer waits until he exhausts his effort, then jumps in to quickly save him. Nee explains that the problem isn’t that we’re weak. It’s that we haven’t become weak enough! The swimmer told Nee, “A drowning man cannot be saved until he is utterly exhausted and ceases to make the slightest effort to save himself.” (Nee, NCL, 168)
Watchman Nee: “‘Oh wretched man that I am!’ cried Paul, ‘who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?’ and it is good when anyone cries out as he did. There is nothing more musical in the ears of the Lord. This cry is the most spiritual and the most scriptural cry a man can utter. He only utters it when he knows he can do nothing, and gives up making any further resolutions. Up to this point, every time he failed, he made a new resolution and doubled and redoubled his will-power. At last he discovers there is no use in his making up his mind any more, and he cries out in desperation: ‘Oh wretched man that I am!’ Like someone who awakes suddenly to find himself in a burning building, his cry is now for help, for he has come to the point where he despairs of himself.” (Nee, NCL, 170)
Watchman Nee: “Have you despaired of yourself, or do you hope that if you read and pray more you will be a better Christian? Bible-reading and prayer are not wrong, and God forbid that we should suggest that they are, but it is wrong to trust even in them for victory. Our help is in him who is the object of that reading and prayer. Our trust must be in Christ alone. Happily, the ‘wretched man’ does not merely deplore his wretchedness; he asks a fine question, namely: ‘Who shall deliver me?’ ‘Who?’ Hitherto he has looked for something; now his hope is in a Person. Hitherto he has looked within for a solution to his problem; now he looks beyond himself for a Savior. He no longer puts forth self-effort; all his expectation is now in another.” (Nee, NCL, 170)
Watchman Nee: “We know that justification is ours through the Lord Jesus and requires no work on our part, but we think sanctification is dependent on our own efforts. We know we can receive forgiveness only by entire reliance on the Lord; yet we believe we can obtain deliverance by doing something ourselves. We fear that if we do nothing, nothing will happen. After salvation the old habit of ‘doing’ reasserts itself and we begin our old self-efforts again. Then God’s word comes afresh to us: ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). He has done everything on the Cross for our forgiveness and he will do everything in us for our deliverance. In both cases he is the doer. ‘It is God that works in you.’” (Nee, NCL, 172-173)
Watchman Nee: “Living in the Spirit means that I trust the Holy Spirit to do in me what I cannot do myself. This life is completely different from the life I would naturally live of myself. Each time I am faced with a new demand from the Lord, I look to him to do in me what he requires of me. It is not a case of trying but of trusting; not of struggling but of resting in him. If I have a hasty temper, impure thoughts, a quick tongue or a critical spirit, I shall not set out with a determined effort to change myself, but instead, reckoning myself dead in Christ to these things, I shall look to the Spirit of God to produce in me the needed purity of humility or meekness, confident that he will do so. This is what it means to ‘stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you’ (Exod. 14:13).” (Nee, NCL, 176-177)
Watchman Nee: “Where, then, are we to look for help? Turn now to Galatians 5:17: ‘The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.’ This tells us where the real tussle takes place. The fight with the flesh is not ours but the Holy Spirit’s, ‘for these are contrary the one to the other,’ and it is he, not we, who meets and deals with it. What is the result? ‘That you may not do the things that you would.’” (Nee, NCL, 179)
Watchman Nee: “We think of the Christian life as a ‘changed life’ but it is not that. What God offers us is an ‘exchanged life,’ a ‘substituted life,’ and Christ is our Substitute within. ‘I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me.’ This life is not something which we ourselves have to produce. It is Christ’s own life reproduced in us.” (Nee, NCL, 180)
Watchman Nee: “How can we know more of Christ in this way? Only by way of an increasing awareness of need. Some are afraid to discover deficiency in themselves, and so they never grow. Growth in grace is the only sense in which we can grow, and grace, we have said, is God doing something for us. We all have the same Christ dwelling within, but revelation of some new need will lead us spontaneously to trust him to live out his life in us in that particular. Greater capacity means greater enjoyment of God’s supply. Another letting go, a fresh trusting in Christ, and another stretch of land is conquered. ‘Christ my life’ is the secret of enlargement.” (Nee, NCL, 183)
Watchman Nee: “We have spoken of trying and trusting, and the difference between the two. Believe me, it is the difference between heaven and hell. It is not something just to be talked over as a satisfying thought; it is stark reality. ‘Lord, I cannot do it, therefore I will no longer try to do it.’ This is the point most of us fall short of. ‘Lord, I cannot; therefore I will take my hands off; from now on I trust you for that.’ We refuse to act; we depend on him to do so, and then we enter fully and joyfully into the action he initiates. It is not passivity; it is a most active life, trusting the Lord like that; drawing life from him, taking him to be our very life, letting him live his life in us as we go forth in his Name.” (Nee, NCL, 183)
Nee describes Romans 8:2-3 as the law of gravity. The law always produces death until another power acts against it. Resurrection power overcomes death.
Means of growth
Ole Hallesby: “The idea is not that I am to present something meritorious to God by means of my Bible reading, my attendance at the communion table, my prayers, or my participation in the communion of saints; rather it is the power of God’s grace which is to accomplish something within me, through these means. Using the means of grace in this way will afford us quietude of soul during our devotional exercises, which in turn will afford us seasons of rest and refreshing such as we hitherto have never known.” (Hallesby, UHW, 110)
Our role is to be led (Rom. 8:14), constrained (2 Cor. 5:14), and follow his plan (Eph. 2:10).
Ole Hallesby: “How unwilling, contrary, and perverse you had been throughout this whole unhappy period! You wanted to have a part in Christian life and in Christian work, in fact it was a matter of much concern to you to be considered as good a Christian as you have ever been. But how often were you not tired of all that they expected of you. They looked to you to sacrifice both time and energy and interest and money. And there were new demands all the time! Oftentimes you became real angry with the leaders, who, it appeared to you, did nothing else but devise new ways of raising money. Every time you heard someone complain about too many drives for raising money and too many Christian organizations in the field, you felt inwardly relieved, and said to yourself that there were at least some sensible people left in the world! But note the difference now, since a willing spirit has been created in your heart again. Now you desire to do these things. No one needs to drive you to do them. You want to work and sacrifice. If there is anything that bothers you now it is the thought that you and all the rest do too little for the Lord and for the salvation of souls. You have begun to see. You see souls and their needs. You suffer with them and pray for them. You are in the work with all your heart, and you are glad to take part in it as much as you possibly can. You thank the Lord for every heart which is willing to sacrifice and for everyone who lends a hand in the work of the vineyard. Happily, you have been cured of the spirit of bitter criticism which formerly cast its shadows into your soul and upon your work.” (Ole Hallesby, UHW, 167-168)
Chuck Smith tells the story about having bills pile up when he was a young pastor. He had three kids, and he was working part-time at a grocery store to pay the bills. He had racked up $416 in debt (and he only made $20 a week from the church). He was thinking that God was calling him away from the ministry to work full-time as a grocer and taking over one of the stores. A man called him that afternoon and said, “The Lord put it on my heart to send you a check for $425. It’ll get there later today or tomorrow.” Smith began rejoicing, dancing his wife around the kitchen. When he calmed down, he felt God asking him, “How do you know you’re going to get that money?” Smith thought to himself, “Those are good and honest people, Lord! They gave me their word. I know I’ll get it.” Again, he felt God telling him, “You had my word this morning… Wasn’t that good enough?” (Smith, “Characteristics of a Servant”—sermon)
Luke 10 (Mary and Martha): Mary wasn’t lazy. In John 12, she acted by anointing Jesus’ feet. She did more than Martha ever did by all of her fussing. Everything in life is taken from us—gifts, money, and even our lives. But this will not be taken from Mary (Lk. 10:42).
Asaph prayed, “But as for me, it is good to be near God” (Ps. 73:28 NIV).
Ole Hallesby: “Old Adam seldom says outright that we should neglect to have quiet seasons with the Lord. Instead, he presents an array of most convincing arguments, either that it is impossible for us to have such seasons or that it is not absolutely necessary for us to have such moments in His presence. The number of arguments which he can present is almost endless. And they vary in a most clever way, according to the outward circumstances of our lives, as well as our inward spiritual states. In the mornings there is too little time, work is too pressing. By noon our souls are already filled to the brim with the cares which attend the many activities of the day. And in the evening we are tired out after the physical and mental strain of the day. In other words, there are more than enough reasons why our devotional periods at any or all of these times should be as brief as possible, according to Old Adam. Many accept these reasons, too, as sufficient for discontinuing the quiet hour altogether.” (Hallesby, UHW, 139-140)
Ole Hallesby: “The devil also concentrates all his efforts upon preventing us from keeping the quiet hour. He knows what these hours mean to us. He knows that he who daily observes the quiet hour at the feet of Jesus is invincible. The soul receives something in that hour against which the attacks of Satan are futile. Such a soul may momentarily be led astray and transgress the will of God; but he flees at once back into the open arms of Jesus, and comes out again stronger than ever. Satan knows that no Christian can be overcome more easily than the one who neglects to hold rendezvous With his Lord. A human heart cannot be a void. If it’s not filled with God every day, it will, nilly-willy, be filled with the world. It will follow the spiritual law of gravity and sink down, either into open or into secret worldliness. The latter is without question the most general, at least the most dangerous.” (Hallesby, UHW, )
Ole Hallesby: “Many people spoil their days, and thereby their whole lives—life consists of days,—by beginning them entirely wrong. In the first place, they stay in bed too long in the morning. As a result they are in a hurry, in a rush, all the time. After a grouchy morning toilet, they gulp down their breakfast and rush nervously and breathlessly off to work. Those who begin the day in that way should not be surprised if they have a bad day and are nervous from morning till night. Nor should they be surprised if they are compelled to consult a nerve specialist after a few years.” (Hallesby, UHW, 142)
Ole Hallesby: “Nor is the battle over when we have entered into our secret chamber. No sooner have we entered in than we are confronted with another struggle. No sooner have we bent the knee in prayer than it seems that everything has entered into a sworn compact to prevent us from concentrating our thoughts. From all sides come fluttering all sorts of useless and irrelevant ideas. We do not even know where they come from. It seems as though they are attracted to us by a magnet of some kind. And after we have chased these thoughts away, the useful ones present themselves for our consideration. We begin to think of all we have to do during the day. The one thing after the other. There are so many things! We begin to lay out a program for the day’s work. And the more we think of all the work we have to do, the more we feel that our time is limited. In fact, we begin to feel that we are wasting valuable time by praying. And then, well—then we pray as briefly as possible! Do you see how easy it is for the enemy of our souls to overtake us by his cunning even .after we have entered into our prayer room and closed the door? He not only succeeds in shortening our prayer hour, but also in spoiling it completely, by scattering our thoughts and making us restless.” (Hallesby, UHW, 142-143)
Ole Hallesby: “Nothing, gives us more courage and confidence when we pray than to see the answers to prayer that we have already received, and to thank God for them. We not only gain courage, but also a new desire to pray for more.” (Hallesby, UHW, 73)
Ole Hallesby: “they are accustomed to guard the quiet hour. Therefore they never allow themselves to become hypnotized by the bustle of the day, but do as Luther did: If they are real busy, they pray longer than usual.” (Hallesby, UHW, 145)
Ole Hallesby: “And remember when you pray for this that Jesus is glad to do wonders, to make use of His powers on behalf of His friends. But, having said this much, I also feel the desire to say a little more. You and I may freely ask the Lord to perform miracles, any kind of miracle. But we must never demand miracles, or command Him to perform wonders. He will not suffer that. He will not on the whole allow us to command Him. He is God, and there is none besides Him. Therefore we ought to pray for miracles in a childlike and humble way, telling God how much we need to have Him work wonders and how much we would like to have Him perform such. We can put it simply and directly, like this: ‘If it will glorify Your name, then perform this miracle of healing in our home. But if it will not glorify Your name, then do not do it. Let us rather be sick. But in that event You must in Your grace and mercy perform another miracle, namely, that of giving us strength to glorify Your name through sickness and tribulation.’ And let us also try to remember that a miracle of this kind is no less a miracle than sudden physical healing.” (Hallesby, UHW, 154)
Chuck Smith: “One of the great mysteries of heaven will be, ‘Why didn’t we pray more?’” (Smith, “Characteristics of a Servant”—sermon)
Chuck Smith: “You can do more for God after you pray, but you can’t do anything for God until you pray.” (Smith, “Characteristics of a Servant”—sermon)
Watchman Nee: “We cannot get along without one another. That is why fellowship in prayer is so important. Prayer together brings in the help of the Body, as must be clear from Matthew 18:19, 20. Trusting the Lord by myself may not be enough. I must trust him with others. I must learn to pray ‘Our Father…’ on the basis of oneness with the Body, for without the help of the Body I cannot get through. In the sphere of service this is even more apparent. Alone I cannot serve the Lord effectively, and he will spare no pains to teach me this. He will bring things to an end, allowing doors to close and leaving me ineffectively knocking my head against a blank wall until I realize that I need the help of the Body as well as of the Lord. For the life of Christ is the life of the Body, and his gifts are given to us for work that builds up the Body.” (Nee, NCL, 217)
Watchman Nee: “His greatest problem is not the outward divisions and denominations that divide his Church but our own individualistic hearts.” (Nee, NCL, 219)
Watchman Nee: “When I see this, I shall at once have done with independence and shall seek fellowship. The life of Christ in me will gravitate to the life of Christ in others. I can no longer take an individual line. Jealousy will go. Competition will go. Private work will go. My interests, my ambitions, my preferences, all will go. It will no longer matter which of us does the work. All that will matter will be that the Body grows.” (Nee, NCL, 219)
Watchman Nee: “Alone we could never be their match, but what we alone cannot do the Church can. Sin, self-reliance and individualism were Satan’s master-strokes at the heart of God’s purpose in man, and in the Cross God has undone them.” (Nee, NCL, 220-221)
Even if we feel helpless, we need to trust that God’s word is nonetheless still true (Jn. 17:17). This takes praying for the opening of the eyes (Eph. 1:17).
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (Jn. 14:27). The world can’t give this peace. Blessings come and go. Even when we’re blessed by the world, it doesn’t fulfill and it doesn’t last.
(Ps. 37:7-8 NLT) Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. 8 Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm.
Ole Hallesby: “To be still before the Lord is faith’s greatest and most difficult accomplishment. There are so many things which would disturb that holy stillness. The world is ever restless. But more so now than ever. Certainly there has never been in the history of the world such a noisy and restless generation as ours… We Christians, too, are deeply affected by the noisiness of our age. One is tempted to ask if there has been at any time in these past nineteen centuries a generation of Christians as noisy and turbulent as ours.” (Hallesby, UHW, 11)
Ole Hallesby: “He who dwells in the eternal stillness beholds our noisy distress and longs to be permitted to impart to us the eternal joy and power which come through stillness. He whispers therefore in a friendly way to all restless, exhausted, shallow, and spirit-forsaken Christians: ‘Be still. What you need is stillness.’ The Lord was not in the wind, and not in the earthquake, and not in the fire; but in the still, small voice. And this voice cannot be heard unless one permits one’s self to be drawn into quietude.” (Hallesby, UHW, 12)
Ole Hallesby: “And remain in the secret place of prayer until you become still before the Lord. If the bustle of the world and restlessness of soul follow you [there], then let the Lord examine you and point out to you what is wrong in your relationship toward Him.” (Hallesby, UHW, 12)
Ole Hallesby: “Seek stillness while at work! It awaits you. Even amidst the noisiest surroundings and during your most strenuous labors it is possible for you to live and move in the stillness of the eternal realm, before the face of the Lord.” (Hallesby, UHW, 12)
Ole Hallesby: “Be still before the Lord when the joy of success attends you on every hand. Seek stillness and acquire poise of soul by which to bear the praise, honor, respect, confidence, influence, and power which success brings you.” (Hallesby, UHW, 14)
Ole Hallesby: “May our young people see that the problem which confronts them today is not so much to expand our program of Christian work, or to increase the volume of our labors, or to speed up our work. Our problem is rather to develop and strengthen the inner side of the Christian life, to pray forth and to wrest forth a less strained, a more real and substantial, type of Christianity, one which will better stand the test of daily living.” (Hallesby, UHW, 14)
What does it look like to be still?
What might be some practical, theological, or personal barriers to being still?
Ole Hallesby: “The meekness which we reveal in our dealings with our fellow men is therefore a gauge which shows accurately how much we in our hearts have humbled ourselves before God.” (Hallesby, UHW, 43)
Ole Hallesby: “We all think that it is of paramount importance to be noticed, admired, talked about, praised. Even though we do not lay claim to genius, nevertheless we expect people to take notice of our talents, our ability, and all the other points in which we excel, both physically and mentally. That is why we feel more or less disappointed and ignored if people do not appreciate our outstanding qualities and otherwise take cognizance of us. In fact, such disappointment is oftentimes so deep-seated that it destroys Christian fellowship and co-operation on a large scale. In practically every Christian flock there is a greater or lesser number of both men and women who feel that they have been misunderstood and set aside by the leaders. They become peeved, begin to pout, and inject a great deal of bad blood into the group by slander and intrigue. Finally they surrender completely to the spirit of factionalism and divide the flock into two groups, thus doing irreparable damage for a long time to come. Verily, it requires great and calm courage to remain unnoticed and to be set aside.” (Hallesby, UHW, 45)
Ole Hallesby: “As a rule, however, we are not honest enough with ourselves to admit that our love of ease is the real reason for not doing these things. Instead we devise ‘valid’ reasons why we time and again leave people to serve themselves.” (Hallesby, UHW, 48)
Ole Hallesby: “[The humble man] acquires a remarkable ability to associate with people. It seems that he can always approach them from the right angle. By his humility and lowliness of mind he succeeds in bringing out the best in all whom he meets. By his humility and willingness to serve he wins friends even among those who are opposed to him.” (Hallesby, UHW, 55)
Ole Hallesby: “Most of us do not learn to know what the world is really. like until it turns its wrong side toward us and we cut ourselves upon its sharply protruding edges. Not until then do we learn to desist from proud words and haughty bearing. Not until we have been plucked to the skin of all our feathers do we seek refuge in our helplessness in the secret place of the Most High. What we then experience often becomes determining for the rest of our lives. The reality, the depth, and the riches of grace which we then experience give us a personal acquaintanceship with our Lord which come to mean something to us also when our troubles are over. We have learned the art, the secret, of taking refuge under His wings. We have begun to see that this is the Simple solution of all of life’s problems.” (Hallesby, UHW, 70)
Ole Hallesby: “I know a number of people who have weathered storms of great physical pain and adversity very well, but who became bitter and hateful when they began to suffer injustice. It requires a great deal of courage to bear unfair treatment and injustice.” (Hallesby, UHW, 38)
Regarding humility, Jesus knew his identity, but remained quiet and unseen, working as a carpenter until he was 30. How difficult that must have been to be the King of the world but swing a hammer, work a simple job, and remain unnoticed.
Humility is something we need to “learn” (Mt. 11:29).
Why did Jesus say, “Blessed are the meek”? In what way does this make us happy?
Miles Stanford: “The Lord Jesus does not give the charge, ‘Be a shepherd to My lambs… to My sheep,’ on hearing Peter’s self-confident affirmation of undying loyalty, but He gives it after he has utterly failed to keep his vows and has wept bitterly in the streets of Jerusalem.” (Stanford, TGL, 29)
Miles Stanford: “We are sometimes asked by would-be preachers how many days should be spent in preparation of a sermon. The answer is: At least ten years, and probably nearer twenty! For the preacher matters to God at least as much as the thing preached.” (Stanford, TGL, 41)
Watchman Nee: “The whole subtle object of Satan was to get the Lord to act for himself—that is, from the soul—and, by the stand he took, Jesus absolutely repudiated such action. In Adam, man had acted from himself apart from God; that was the whole tragedy of the garden. Now in a similar situation the Son of man takes another ground. Later he defines it as his basic life-principle—and I like the word in the Greek: ‘The Son can do nothing out from himself’ (John 5:19). That total denial of the supremacy of the soul-life was to govern all his ministry.” (Nee, NCL, 246-247)
Watchman Nee: “We have to come to that valuation. I do not mean to say we cannot do a lot of things, for we can. We can take meetings and build churches, we can go to the ends of the earth and found missions, and we can seem to bear fruit; but remember that the Lord’s word is: ‘Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up’ (Matt. 15:13). God is the only legitimate Originator in the universe (Gen. 1:1), and his Holy Spirit is the only legitimate initiator in our hearts. Anything that you or I plan and set on foot without him has the taint of the flesh upon it, and it will never reach the realm of the Spirit however earnestly we seek God’s blessing on it. It may last for years, and then we may think we will adjust here and improve there and maybe bring it on a better plane, but it cannot be done.” (Nee, NCL, 234)
Watchman Nee: “God had to cripple that strength of nature in Jacob, and he did so when he touched the [joint] of Jacob’s thigh. Jacob continued to walk thereafter, but he continued to be lame. He was a different Jacob, as his change of name implies. He had his feet and he could use them, but the strength had been touched, and he limped from an injury from which he would never quite recover.” (Nee, NCL, 261)
Watchman Nee: “God must bring us to a point—I cannot tell you how it will be, but he will do it—where, through a deep and dark experience, our natural power is touched and fundamentally weakened, so that we no longer dare trust ourselves. He has had to deal with some of us very strangely, and take us through difficult and painful ways, in order to get us there. At length there comes a time when we no longer ‘like’ to do Christian work—indeed we almost dread to do things in the Lord’s Name. But then at last it is that he can begin to use us.” (Nee, NCL, 261)
Watchman Nee: “Every true servant of God must know at some time that disabling from which he can never recover; he can never be quite the same again. There must be that established in you which means that from henceforth you will really fear yourself. You will fear to move out on the impulse of your soul, for you know what a bad time you will have in your own heart before the Lord if you do. You have known something of the chastening hand of a loving God upon you, a God who ‘deals with you as with sons’ (Heb. 12:7). The Spirit himself bears witness in your spirit to that relationship, and to the inheritance and glory that are ours ‘if so be that we suffer with him’ (Rom. 8:16, 17); and your response to the Father of our spirits is: ‘Abba, Father.’” (Nee, NCL, 263)
Watchman Nee: “But the difficulty with many of us is that dark night. The Lord graciously laid me aside once in my life for a number of months and put me, spiritually, into utter darkness. It was almost as though he had forsaken me, almost as though nothing was going on and I had really come to the end of everything. And then by degrees he brought things back again. The temptation is always to try to help God by taking things back ourselves; but remember, there must be a full night in the sanctuary—a full night in darkness. It cannot be hurried; he knows what he is doing. We would like to have death and resurrection put together within one hour of each other. We cannot face the thought that God will keep us aside for so long a time; we cannot bear to wait. And of course I cannot tell you how long he will take, but in principle I think it is quite safe to say this, that there will be a definite period when he will keep you there. It will seem as though nothing is happening; as though everything you valued is slipping from your grasp. There confronts you a blank wall with no door in it. Seemingly everyone else is being blessed and used, while you yourself have been passed by and are losing out. Lie quiet. All is in darkness, but it is only for a night. It must indeed be a full night, but that is all. Afterwards you will find that everything is given back to you in glorious resurrection; and nothing can measure the difference between what was before and what now is! I was sitting one day at supper with a young brother to whom the Lord had been speaking on this very question of our natural energy. He said to me, ‘It is a blessed thing when you know the Lord has met you and touched you in that fundamental way, and that disabling touch has been received.’ There was a plate of biscuits between us on the table, and I picked one up and broke it in half as though to eat it. Then, fitting the two pieces together again carefully, I said, ‘It looks all right, but it is never quite the same again, is it? When once your back is broken, you will yield ever after to the slightest touch from God.’” (Nee, NCL, 264-265)
(Rom. 15:17-18) Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. 18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed.
God promises to fill us up when we give (Lk. 6:38).
God gives to people who don’t appreciate it (Mt. 5:45).
If we’re giving to get back, we won’t get anything (Mt. 6:1-2).
Chuck Smith: “If you strive to gain your ministry, then you’ll need to strive to maintain it. And that will kill you.” (Chuck Smith, “Requirements of a Servant”—sermon)
Ole Hallesby: “Has your sight been impaired to such an extent that you do not see immortal souls any more when you see men?” (Hallesby, UHW, 158)
Why This Waste?
Watchman Nee: “What is waste? Waste means, among other things, giving more than is necessary. If a shilling will do and you give a pound, it is a waste. If two grams will do and you give a kilogram, it is a waste. If three days will suffice to finish a task well enough and you lavish five days or a week on it, it is a waste. Waste means that you give something too much for something too little. If someone is receiving more than he is considered to be worth, then that is waste. But remember, we are dealing here with something which the Lord said was to go out with the Gospel, wherever that Gospel should be carried. Why? Because he intends that the preaching of the Gospel should issue something along the very lines of the action of Mary here, namely, that people should come to him and waste themselves on him. This is the result that he is seeking.” (Nee, NCL, 269)
Watchman Nee: “To Judas of course, who had never called Jesus ‘Lord,’ everything that was poured out upon him was waste. Not only was ointment waste: even water would have been waste. Here Judas stands for the world. In the world’s estimation the service of the Lord, and our giving ourselves to him for such service, is sheer waste. He has never been loved, never had a place in the hearts of the world, so any giving to him is a waste.” (Nee, NCL, 270)
Nee tells the story of an old professor thinking he hadn’t made anything of himself (Nee, NCL, 271).
Watchman Nee: “The idea of waste only comes into our Christianity when we underestimate the worth of our Lord. The whole question is: How precious is he to us now? If we do not think much of him, then of course to give him anything at all, however small, will seem to us a wicked waste. But when he is really precious to our souls, nothing will be too good, nothing too costly for him; everything we have, our dearest, our most priceless treasure, we shall pour out upon him, and we shall not count it a shame to have done so.” (Nee, NCL, 279-280).
Ole Hallesby: “Many are they whom the Lord has delivered from the pitfalls of mammon by never having permitted their financial plans to materialize. Many are they whom He has saved from the snares of vanity by having withheld from them both beauty and charm. And many are they whom the Lord has kept from the lust of power and from the toils of partisanship by never having allowed them to acquire the influence they sought. They were kept down all the time. Thus they were prevented from growing away from the Lord.” (Hallesby, UHW, 30)
Hallesby notes that when we are compromised in materialism, we feel like all of our Bible reading and time in fellowship seems to strike on the issue. He writes, “The same story repeated itself when you read the Bible. You came across something about money and the love of money continually. It seemed to you as though the Bible spoke of nothing else but money. And when you went to church or to meetings it seemed as though the preachers had all entered into an agreement to speak about nothing else but money. Just like when you have hurt your finger. You seem to strike the injured member all the time and never the uninjured ones. Of course; you strike them too; but you do not feel it. Whenever you strike your aching finger you feel it, simply because it is sensitive. You did not notice before how often you read and heard about the love of money. Now you notice it, because now you have a deep, open sore in your conscience on this very point” (Hallesby, UHW, 161).
Knowing God’s Will
Watchman Nee: “Inward knowledge will never be reached along the barren path of self-analysis.” (Nee, NCL, 236)
Watchman Nee: “We are never told in the Word of God to examine our inward condition. That way leads only to uncertainty, vacillation and despair. Of course we have to have self-knowledge. We have to know what is going on within. We do not want to live in a fool’s paradise; to have gone altogether wrong and yet not know we have gone wrong; to have a spartan will and yet think we are pursuing the will of God. But such self-knowledge does not come by our turning within; by our analyzing our feelings and motives and everything that is going on inside, and then trying to pronounce whether we are walking in the flesh or in the Spirit.” (Nee, NCL, 236-237)
Many prayers for guidance can be found in the Psalms (Ps. 5:8; 19:12-14; 25:4-5, 21; 27:11; 31:3-4; 86:11; 119:5, 10, 35-36, 80, 133, 176; 141:3-4). God is so good that by letting us go (“giving us over”) is considered wrathful of him to do (Rom. 1:18).
(Prov. 2:8) He guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
Miles Stanford: “It will comfort you much to be assured that the Lord is teaching you dependence upon Himself, and it is very remarkable that faith is necessary in everything… I believe the Lord allows many things to happen on purpose to make us feel our need of Him.” (Stanford, TGL, 10)
Ole Hallesby: “He Himself learned obedience by the things which He suffered. Can we then very well expect to learn obedience in some easier way?” (Hallesby, UHW, 33)
Ole Hallesby: “There are perhaps few things that are so hard, so difficult, for us to learn as to endure to be misunderstood and opposed by Christian men and women… Sorrow and adversity and tribulation can be hard enough to bear. But as long as men understand us and sympathize with us we feel that we have remarkable strength to bear it all. But when men neither sympathize with us nor understand us, then we experience a choky feeling, as when we cannot get air.” (Hallesby, UHW, 79)
Ole Hallesby: “When tempests of this kind break loose, it is unspeakably blessed to take quiet refuge in the secret place of the Most High. And feel that He understands us even though everybody else misunderstands. Then it is blessed to lay before the Lord the deepest and innermost motives of our hearts, and to let Him examine them one by one. And to accept His disapproval of everything we did which was unclean and selfish, but also to experience His approval of everything that we , did in love toward Him and in the service of our fellow men. Then our position becomes so strong and so secure that we can bear the misunderstanding and opposition of our fellow beings.” (Hallesby, UHW, 80)
Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender (Waxkeep Publishing, 2013), Kindle Locations.
Watchman Nee, Sit, Walk, Stand (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1962).
Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Ft. Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1961).
Miles J. Stanford, The Green Letters (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1975).
Ole Hallesby, Under His Wings (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1932).
 Billy Graham, Death and the Life After (Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 2001), 68