Thursday, May 05, 2016

Presenting CWWN v04 - The Christian (2)

kw: book summaries, watchman nee, christian ministry

Volume 4 of the Collected Works of Watchman Nee continues his "Meditations on the Book of Revelation" from Volume 3. I am not entirely sure which volume(s) of The Christian these articles appeared in.

The first 80 pages of this volume comprise the meditations of Chapter 1 of Revelation. The rest of the volume, more than 150 pages, cover Chapter 2, the letters to Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamos. In later works Watchman Nee wrote about the whole book of Revelation. In The Christian he wrote only about Chapters 1 through 3. He also wrote, quite a bit later, a study of just Chapters 2 and 3 that was published under the title The Orthodoxy of the Church, which presents a much more mature view of the seven letters to the seven churches.

Thus I will do no more than to mention an item or two that indicate his room to grow, from this point in his life as someone not yet 25 years of age. He rightly presents Christ in the heavens as a judge of the churches in Asia and by typological extension, as judge of the churches throughout this age of grace. However, he misses the implication of the girding about the Lord's breast. He calls it the girding of a priest at rest. At rest, there is no girding at all. Girding about the loins in the usual manner is for labor or for fighting. The breast indicates love, and for the Lord to be girded about the breast is to show his loving concern in the midst of judgment.

Nee also, extending a certain word to the messenger of Ephesus (the threat to remove the lampstand) and another to Laodicea (spewing out from his mouth), concluded that God had entirely rejected the church, and that all these messages are meant for individuals, and most particularly, "he who overcomes". Beginning just four or five years later, he more rightly determined that not only the church remains on the earth, but that God's workers for the establishing and edification of churches, the apostles, continue to be raised up. Our word "missionary" is the Latin translation of the Greek word for "apostle". True missionaries are apostles.

It is true that God has rejected those human establishments called "churches", that have so thoroughly deviated from the Biblical pattern that few indeed are those who understand the word "εκκλησία", from which we get such words as "ecclesiastical". It means "those called out". The simple pattern in the New Testament has been encrusted with twenty centuries of tradition and it is all the traditions that God rejects. Gatherings of believers that are more political than spiritual (the majority) have indeed lost the lampstand, and are testimonies not to God and His works but to human glory in religiosity.

Had brother Nee been so unfortunate as to die before 1928 or 1930, his writings would be taken as evidence of someone who threw out the baby with the bathwater. Thankfully, he ministered another two decades and more, and his ministry matured into a balance scarcely achieved by any of the most ardent servants of Christ. Thus I view this volume as a touchstone, a springboard into later ministry as God showed him, more and more clearly, how He works with His people today.

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