kw: book summaries, watchman nee, christian ministry
The present volume of the Collected Works of Watchman Nee contains Issues No. 19 – 36 of The Present Testimony, from the years 1931 and 1932. Issues 19 – 22 and a portion of Issue 23 concern a number of spiritual matters, and I find two of special note: "The Principle of the Second" (Issue 21) and "The Pattern on the Mountain" (Issue 22). The first shows how frequently God confers a better blessing on the second-born (Jacob over Esau) or the second-anointed (David over Saul). The second drives home the point that God does not permit human innovation regarding our carrying out of His service. Indeed, He must frequently hinder, stop, or even curse innovators. The great example of one whose service is pleasing to God is Moses, who "was faithful in all [God's] house" (Num 12:7; Heb 3:5). He oversaw production and construction of the tabernacle exactly according to the pattern he was shown on Mount Sinai. Those who have all kinds of "good ideas" for working for God are most likely to hear His rebuke at the Judgment Seat of Christ, "I didn't know [i.e. authorize] you; depart, you workers of iniquity".
From the tenth page of Issue 23 through the end of this volume we find the content of seven messages given at the Second Conference, which had been held in October, 1931, on the subject "The New Covenant". These 101 pages (as here printed) constitute the most thorough treatment to be found anywhere, of the meaning, purposes, contents, and consequences of God's new covenant.
Prior to becoming joined to a church that follows this ministry, I heard some preaching on the new covenant, and on the principles of God's covenants. I have heard preachers who claim to preach nothing but Covenant Theology. Some of what I heard was pretty good and quite encouraging. This volume could be a text for a doctoral-level course on the subject. The Covenant Theology preachers of my past are at best at grade school level by comparison.
From these messages I gleaned one item worth recalling (and I'll need to re-read to gain others equally precious): A covenant is not for God, it is for His people. He keeps the promises He makes, but we are weak and find it hard to consistently believe that He will do so. As He promised in foretelling the new covenant to Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34), God writes His laws on the hearts and minds of His people, He becomes their God, and they become His people. Based on those three things are three more, that they will all know God and need no instruction to do so, that He will make propitiation for their unrighteousnesses, and that He will erase the record of their sins. By themselves these are promises. By making them a covenant, and even more, a testament (secured by the death of the testator, our savior Jesus), God has done all He can to ensure us that we need only claim the provisions of this covenant. We don't beg for forgiveness according to God's mercy; we claim forgiveness because, by believing Him, we fulfill the only requirement this covenant makes on us; all other provisions have been made by God and God guarantees them to us. We are saved by grace not according to mercy, but according to God's righteousness. When we see this, we will pray in a different way.
One may ask, why if I am presently partaking of ministry according to Watchman Nee and his co-workers, did I not already gain the point I make just above? These things are difficult to minister. Do not think the paragraph above is in any way a substitute for the several pages of Issues 35 and 36 where they are explained. Little by little over the years, much has been imparted to me. Reading this volume of CWWN is like taking a large and meaty meal. This is partly why it was so long since I wrote of the prior volume.
Those who wish to truly know the New Covenant must obtain this volume!