Watchman Nee (1903–1972) is another Asian Christian minister, evangelist and a prolific author who was known for deep teachings and a life wrought with experience- when he was persecuted and imprisoned for his faith and spent the last twenty years of his life in prison in China. His seminal work is the 690 pages big- The Spiritual Man – for a quick look: LINK
Apart from the book –Amazing Grace who core message will be shared in detail through excerpts here, here are few quotes from his other books which reveal how Grace oriented was his outlook:
12 of his best Grace quotes from The Normal Christian Life:
- “Grace means that God does something for me; law means that I do something for God. God has certain holy and righteous demands which he places upon me: that is law. Now if law means that God requires something of me for their fulfillment, then deliverance from law means he no longer requires that from me, but himself provides it.” (pp.155-6)
- “So we can say, reverently, that God never gave us the Law to keep: he gave us the Law to break! He well knew that we could not keep it.” (p.158)
- “The Law requires much, but offers no help in the carrying out of its requirements. The Lord Jesus requires just as much, yea even more (Matt. 5:21-48), but what he requires from us he himself carries out in us. The law makes demands and leaves us helpless to fulfill them; Christ makes demands, but he himself fulfills in us the very demands he makes.” (p.161)
- “What does it mean in everyday life to be delivered from the Law? At risk of a little overstatement I reply: It means that henceforth I am going to do nothing whatever for God; I am never again going to try to please Him. ‘What a doctrine!’ you exclaim. ‘What awful heresy! You cannot possibly mean that!’ But remember, if I try to please God ‘in the flesh,’ then immediately I place myself under the Law.” (p.164)
- “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 Lawkeeper in my heart. He who gave the Law, himself keeps it.” (p.166)
- “Though the Law in itself is all right, it will be all wrong if it is applied to the wrong person. The ‘wretched man’ of Romans 7 tried to meet the claims of God’s law himself, and that was the cause of his trouble. The repeated use of the word ‘I’ in this chapter gives the clue to the failure.” (p.169)
- “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.” (p.180)
- “From start to finish, he is the One who does it all.” (p.172)
- “It does not matter what your personal deficiency, or whether it be a hundred and one different things, God has always one sufficient answer, His Son Jesus Christ, and he is the answer to every need.” (p.182-3)
- “Many Christians endeavor to drive themselves by will-power, and then think the Christian life a most exhausting and bitter one.” (p.189)
- “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… 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.” (p.261)
- “We have spoken of trying and trusting, and the difference between the two. Believe me, it is the difference between heaven and hell.” (p.183)
Few of his Grace quotes from Sit, Stand, Walk:
- Do you think that if you cease trying to please God your good behavior will cease? It is when we seek to do it ourselves that we place ourselves back again under the Law. But the works of the Law, even our best efforts are “dead works”, hateful to God because ineffectual.
- How can I receive the power of the Spirit for service? Must I labour for it? Must I plead with God for it? Must I afflict my soul by fastings and self-denials to merit it? NEVER! That is not the teaching of Scripture. Paul tells us that it was “according to the riches of His Grace” and that this was “freely bestowed on …us in the Beloved”.
- God brings His Son’s Finished Work and presents it to us, and then He says to us, “Please sit” (Mandarin: ch’eng tso).
- And here is the Gospel: that God has completed 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.
- The Christian life from start to finish is based upon this principle of utter dependence upon the Lord Jesus. There is no limit to the Grace God is willing to bestow upon us. He will give us everything, but we can receive none of it except as we rest in Him.
- I received everything not by walking but by sitting down, not by doing but by resting in the Lord.
- Christ Experience has now become my spiritual history, and God can speak of me as already having everything “with Him”.
- But how can I be sure that I am “in Christ”?
I can be sure because the Bible affirms that it is so, and that it was God who put me there.
- Our deliverance from sin is based, not on what we can do, nor even on what God is going to do for us, but on what He has already done for us in Christ. When that fact dawns upon us and we rest back upon it, then we have found the secret of a holy life.
- “But what can I do?” -God is waiting till you cease to do. When you cease doing, then God will begin.
What is God’s purpose towards man? His purpose is to gain many sons (see Hebrews 2:10).
In order to gain many sons, God must cause us human beings to have His life; for only after God has given us His life can we truly be deemed His sons. This is what has been revealed to us in the Bible, and this is the purpose of God in relation to us human beings.
We humans, however, have sinned; and hence, God’s purpose suffered a great setback. Man not only failed to receive God’s life, he also fell into sin. And thus it complicated God’s work and purpose. When at the beginning God created Adam, He wanted him to have a life like His. If this should become factual, God’s purpose would be fulfilled. Yet Adam sinned and had now fallen, so he could not possess God’s life. Accordingly, before God could ever in future give His life to man, He would first have to solve man’s problem of sin. He needed to remove this hindrance of sin first and then give His life to man. God had therefore to work to resolve the fact of Adam’s fall before He could obtain His purpose in man.
For this reason the Bible speaks of forgiveness and justification, which is to be the means by which God is to redeem Adam’s failure. Yet let us not conclude that once man’s sins are cleansed, God’s purpose will have been achieved. Not so, for even should fallen man’s sins be cleansed, he will merely have returned to what Adam’s position had initially been in the Garden of Eden. For at that time Adam had not obtained God’s life and God’s purpose for him had not yet been fulfilled. Therefore, we must understand that forgiveness and justification are only the remedial process; they are actually passive in nature. Only after such a process has been concluded will we come to know what is God’s purpose. God needs to eliminate man’s hindrance of sin before Him first before He could give man His life.
May I repeat, Christ within is not for Him to give us strength to overcome nor for Him to help us to overcome but is for Him to conquer for us just as He had died on the cross for us. When Christ died for us, we ourselves did not do anything. Likewise, when He lives today for us, we have no need to exert any strength or effort of our own. Today God has given us Christ to be our life by putting Him in us to live for us.
Our old man is already dead, so now it is Christ living for us inwardly.
This is complete substitution. If it were not substitution it would not be the gospel of glad tidings: no cross, no victory. Hence today I will not ask God to give me strength to be patient; it will instead be Christ in me who endures for me. True, I am hard, proud, critical, without love, and full of unclean thoughts. But I do not ask God to help me to overcome these issues one by one; no, it is now the Lord Jesus within me who himself becomes my purity, gentleness, and humility. It is a matter of complete substitution. Unless we are clear on the fact of Christ’s substitution, there can be no possibility of our being an overcomer. A person may in fact see his fault before God, yet without his being an overcomer. He may even ask God to help him to overcome, but he will never overcome, simply because God never helps people to overcome, for He knows that we will fail. He therefore crucified our old man and gave Christ to us as our life in order that He might live for us from within and be our victory. Yet many believers ask God to help them to overcome or to give them strength to overcome. But the solution is not there, for we truly are weak beyond any help, our victory being wholly dependent upon Christ living for us from within us. This, then, is the gospel. Such is God’s way of salvation and this is victory.
Only the helpless can the Lord save to the uttermost.
“Mr. Nee, how can you say this? I have never heard such truth. Do you mean to say that I do not need to be patient?” I answered: “Right, for what you need is Christ. God has made it possible for Christ to be in us as our life. He has been made to us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, as well as patience—just as the Scriptures have told us (I Corinthians 1:30). All which God will give us is in Christ. God gives Christ to you for Him to overcome instead of you.”
At that moment she realized that there was no relationship between the way of victory and herself. It was not a matter of herself being victorious but it is Christ who overcomes. This is the secret of overcoming which we find in the Bible. It is no longer I but Christ who now lives in me. It is more than living by the power of Christ; it is basically Christ himself who lives in us. I do not live, wrote Paul, it is wholly Christ who lives. Such is the victory for the Christian. This was God’s original purpose which He had set for man in the Garden of Eden. It is for Christ to live in man and for man. Christ to be our life has always been God’s purpose.
I began to laugh, for when man is helpless, God is able to help. So I said to her: “Is victory to be yours or is it to be Christ’s? If yours, then three or four children will be too many for you to control your temper about. If the victory is to be Christ’s, can these children—no matter how many—cause Him to be helpless? Never! Today you are defeated because you yourself have been trying to take care of this matter of your temper. You acknowledge you have been impatient. Had you been allowing Christ to live for you, you could surely have been patient.”
Let me inquire, Do you see that you yourself are helpless, that you can only be defeated, that only Christ is victorious? We in ourselves cannot, but He can. Our problem today lies in the fact that though knowing we cannot, we nonetheless try by ourselves to take care of the challenging situations we face and do not let Christ take care of them for us. Too many believers are ignorant of the way of victory. They simply ask for power. Yet if you have Christ, you have it all. Victory comes through the substitution of Christ, not by man’s effort. Let us please be clear that victory comes not by our being changed; rather, it is Christ overcoming for us. This is because the victorious life is not a matter of change but is one of exchange.
It is not my defeat turned to my victory. Yes, I am defeated, but God puts an end to my defeat by means of the cross that instead places the conquering Christ in me. Originally I was defeated, but now God places Christ in me. He substitutes “Christ” for “I,” and then I am victorious. The secret of victory lies in the Biblical notion of “exchange.” Many incorrectly expect to be changed but they remain in their old Adamic selves. Only by Christ being our substitute can we be victorious.
victory does not lie in a “changed life” but in an “exchanged life.” Many believers only think in terms of their lives being changed; God, though, views us as so rotten that there is no way for us to be changed. He knows that in us dwells every kind of sin (cf. Romans 7:18a).
Let us therefore not imagine that others can be bandits and harlots but we ourselves never can be; on the contrary, we can commit all kinds of sins. If today we have not committed them, it is only due to the mercy of God in keeping us from having been tempted in such a manner.
Today God makes use of Jesus’ cross having put away our old man and then places Christ in us to overcome for us. Thus, we experience a totally exchanged life, not a changed one.
To repair is to change what has broken down into that which is good, whereas to exchange what is bad or is flawed for what is totally new is an entirely different action. Let us therefore clearly understand that exchange is God’s way of complete salvation. Man continually thinks of asking God for power to improve himself or make himself good. But like that watch of mine, fallen man has been so corrupted that he is beyond repair and, again like the faulty watch, the only way to be perfect is for flawed man to be exchanged for the perfect Man—even Christ. God’s salvation therefore lies not in helping you to overcome but in letting Christ overcome for you.
Have you understood what Galatians 2:20 means for you? Basically it is no longer you who live: it means that you are not repairable for living out your life: it is no longer you that lives but it is Christ who now lives in you. This is nothing short of total substitution—even the substitution of Christ who henceforth lives in you and for you. This Bible passage does not even say that you overcome by depending on Christ or that you live because of Christ or that you live by the power of Christ. It simply declares that it is no longer you who live. Basically you have nothing to do with overcoming because it is now Christ who lives instead of you.
“God is not expecting you to overcome for you are too corrupted. He knows that you could only be defeated. Therefore, God at Calvary set you aside. No one in the world can overcome. There is One alone who can, and He is Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, there is none who is able to overcome.”
I asked this brother: “Are you in lack of patience?” He replied: “Yes, and I always pray, asking God to make me more patient. Perhaps my prayer is not earnest enough, because thus far God has not answered my prayer.” He continued: “Mr. Nee, am I right in praying this way?” I answered with these words: “No, for God only engages in wholesale and not retail transactions.” “What do you mean?” he asked, obviously puzzled. I explained as follows: “When such a person as you lacks patience today, he goes to God and asks for patience. After a few days he has exhausted himself in seeking for it, yet he still goes to God to ask for patience even more. Perhaps a few days later he recognizes himself as also being proud. So he now approaches God to ask for a little humility. A few days more pass and he sees that he additionally is lacking in love and has been critical of others. Once again he petitions God to help him overcome in these additional failings in his Christian life. But God does not conduct himself in such piecemeal manner, and hence his prayers are never answered.” God only engages in wholesale business. To anyone who comes to Him in faith, God will give all of Christ to that person. And this whole Christ in you will be your gentleness, your humility, your patience, love, and so on. God will not give Christ in bits and pieces. All which He gives is in Christ. With the whole Christ in you, you have all you need. Christ in you will live for you in every circumstance of life. No matter how difficult, how great, and how varied are the challenges to overcoming which you may encounter, He is more than their match from one situation to another.
Victory is not change but exchange. If it is only a matter of seeking for nothing more than a personal change in ourselves, then let me observe that after three or five years you will find that you shall have remained the same. If, however, it is a recognition and an acceptance by faith that our Christian life is an exchanged life, you will experience Christ’s victory immediately. It is not an experience which comes gradually since all such experience comes from God.
If you are clear on what is the complete salvation of God—namely, that our life in Christ is nothing less than an exchanged life—then victory for you will be instantaneous in every challenging circumstance of your life. But if any part of God’s salvation has its basis in yourself, then you shall remain in the same defeatist state in your Christian walk even after thirty or fifty years.
During the past two years hundreds of brothers and sisters in Christ throughout China have crossed over this threshold of a victory in this instantaneous way just as their being saved initially was instantaneous. As we believe, so is victory. Believe and overcome. Prior to two years ago many in China were seeking for victory in their lives, but they were not able to experience anything in the way of victory by themselves. Only when God revealed to them what the exchanged life was did they cross over. If the victorious life be based upon ourselves, the result will be that we shall remain the same even after a hundred years. But if the overcoming life comes from God through Christ, such victorious living is realized at once in every specific life situation. Victory is not man’s work; it is a miracle of God’s grace.