Sunday, February 28, 2016

Presenting CWWN v02 - The Word of the Cross

kw: book summaries, watchman nee, christian ministry

Volume 2 of The Collected Works of Watchman Nee is titled The Word of the Cross. It primarily contains miscellaneous writings from the early and mid 1920's that were either self-published or printed in various Christian journals. One short item is a preface to the Chinese translation of the book Modern Science and the Long Day in Joshua by Harry Rimmer.

The first four chapters, which most closely match the title of the volume, deal with the cross of Christ as applied to Christian walk, and to knowing God's will. The preface to Harry Rimmer's book and three other articles are apologetical works, combating fallacies that arose around the early 1900's due to "Higher Criticism" and its emphasis on de-spiritualizing the Bible.

As is common for many young men who are extremely brilliant, Watchman Nee was an absolutist. A certain measure of absolutism is necessary in a Christian, for there are certain matters to which we will brook no controversy, including the existence of God, the primacy of Jesus Christ and His work for our eternal salvation, and the total authority of the Bible. Upon this last point, however, we must in particular maintain a very humble attitude that no one of us will ever encompass the whole of Biblical truth. Excessive absolutism, particularly regarding "what the Bible says" about this or that, is the direct cause of thousands of denominational differences among Christians, which is a great shame to the Name of our beloved Jesus.

But absolutism is required in the face of atheistic attacks upon the veracity and authority of scripture. Watchman Nee made a few brief forays into apologetics, later to forego such matters in favor of the much greater work of exposition and elucidation of deeper and more precious truths regarding the Christian life and the church life.

Roughly sixty pages are taken up with 26 outlines of "Bible Studies for Beginners." The first few lessons are suitable both for helping believers lead others to Christ and for showing to seeking unbelievers to help them come to Christ. Later lessons take us deeper and deeper into what Nee considered "basic" lessons, though I believe many Christians today would find them rather deep swimming!

The last section is called "Once a Year Through the Bible", with daily readings from both Old and New Testaments, in the format you see here. Key Words for each book and extremely brief topics for the sections are intended as a guide to the reader.

The items in this volume illustrate that, from the beginning of Watchman Nee's service to Christ, he felt responsible to teach others. He saw very early that our Christian life is largely taken up with practical sanctification in life, and that between our beginning by repentance as redeemed and regenerated children of God, and the completion of our salvation in conformation to Christ and glorification, we are being transformed, a process in which our cooperation with God is essential. We need to feed upon God's Word; this is a great deal more than just "Bible Study". We need fellowship with believers in spirit. We need to learn of God by spending time in His presence. We need to develop an attitude of service to God, according to His purpose and in His way, not according to our fleshly or soulish imagination. In all these things he sought to prepare himself to help believers grow and attain to spiritual maturity.

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