I’ve been reading The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee lately. It is a very readable commentary of the book of Romans, though it is not intended to be comprehensive nor verse-by-verse. Nee has practical illustrations which make biblical principles of living the Christian life come alive. After each illustration (of which some people complain are too numerous in Nee’s writings) I sit back and think, “why haven’t I seen the simplicity of that before?”
To give you a taste of the book, here are a few passages that stood out to me as I read chapter 8 today. The chapter is about the indwelling and empowering on the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
Because the Lord Jesus died on the cross, I have received forgiveness of sins; because the Lord Jesus rose from the dead, I have received new life; because the Lord Jesus has been exalted to the right hand of the Father, I have received the outpoured Spirit. All is because of Him; nothing is because of me. Remission of sins is not based on human merit, but on the Lord’s crucifixion; regeneration is not based on human merit, but on the Lord’s resurrection; and the enduement of the Spirit is not based on human merit, but on the Lord’s exaltation. The Holy Spirit has not been poured out on you and me to prove how great we are, but to prove the greatness of the Son of God.
Some time ago a young man, who had only been a Christian for five weeks and who had formerly been violently opposed to the Gospel, attended a series of meetings which I was addressing in Shanghai. At the close of one in which I was speaking on the above lines [Acts 2:32-36], he went home and began to pray earnestly, “Lord, I do want the power of the Holy Spirit. Seeing Thou hast now been glorified, wilt Thou not now pour out Thy Spirit upon me?” Then he corrected himself: “Oh no, Lord, that’s all wrong!” and began to pray again, “Lord Jesus, we are in a life-partnership, Thou and I, and the Father has promised us two things—glory for Thee and the Spirit for me. Thou, Lord hast received they glory; therefore it is unthinkable that I have not received the Spirit. Lord, I praise Thee! Thou hast already received the glory, and I have already received the Spirit.” From that day the power of the Spirit was consciously upon him.
As soon as we see the Lord Jesus on the cross, we know our sins are forgiven; and as soon as we see the Lord Jesus on the throne, we know the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon us. The basis upon which we receive the enduement of the Holy Spirit is not our praying and fasting and waiting, but the exaltation of Christ. Those who emphasize tarrying and hold “tarrying meetings” only mislead us, for the gift is not for the “favored few” but for all, because it is not given on the ground of what we are at all, but of what Christ is.
In the same way, you can pray and wait for years and never experience the Spirit’s power; but when you cease to plead with the Lord to pour out His Spirit upon you, and when instead you trustfully praise Him that the Spirit has been poured out because the Lord Jesus has been glorified, you will find that your problem is solved. Praise God!
It is wonderful to know that my relationship with God does not depend on my ability. Rather, the benefits He has promised are mine because of His faithfulness.
This is the first Watchman Nee book that I’ve read (as far as I remember). I have been pleased with his ability to explain things in a simple manner. You can find many more Watchman Nee titles at the Amazon author page for him.
[Some of the word capitalizations have been changed in the quotes above to reflect my preference capitalizing pronouns for deity and not capitalizing certain nouns.]