The Glorious Church

by Watchman Nee

I’ve heard about Watchman Nee off and on over the years but have never taken the time to read something of his. He was a Chinese pastor, for almost 30 years. Imprisoned in 1952 for his faith, he died there in 1972.

I have immense respect for anyone who has laid it all on the line for the Lord in such a way; however, this book – which was the product of some of his early sermons – just couldn’t hold my attention, unfortunately.

In particular, I was also bothered by some of his conclusions:

…even if we have saved all the souls in the whole world, we have not yet accomplished God’s work or satisfied God’s requirement.

For starters, we don’t save anyone; God does. Second, this line of thinking is elaborated on later in the first chapter, and I just don’t think Nee reaches the right conclusions.

He tries to argue that since at creation, God gave man authority of the earth to rule and subdue it, that man’s chief goal is to do just that. However, now man must contend for the authority of the earth against Satan. That much, I can see where he is going.

However, when he says…

If all our work is just preaching the gospel and saving souls, we are not causing Satan to suffer fatal loss. If man has not restored the earth from the hand of Satan, he has not achieved God’s purpose in creating him. Saving souls is only for the welfare of man, but dealing with Satan is for the benefit of God.

…I think he obscures the broader point that God has already defeated Satan at the cross. He is not in heaven, wringing His holy hands, hoping that man gets his act together so that Satan will be cast out.

Furthermore, God is not “benefitted” by any action of ours. He is completely sufficient and joyful – without need – in and of Himself. With Him, there is no lack.

Nee says, “God needs an authority in His creation, and He has chosen man to be that authority.”

Again, God doesn’t “need” us. He did create Adam with the intention of mankind ruling, but when he chose to sin, he abdicated that rule. God finally restored the dominion of man in Jesus Christ. In Matthew 28.18, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (italics mine)

Christ has chosen to give His Spirit to the church so that it can announce His kingdom on earth through His provided power. But at no time does man have any authority except what he has been given by grace through Christ.

Granted, I stopped reading after the first chapter, so I would welcome some interaction with those who might better explain what Nee is saying. However, I for one, will simply continue to respect His witness while shying away from His teachings.

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