Thursday, August 29, 2002

"For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, “ Romans 6:5 NKJ

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What does this verse really mean. Watchman Nee had a great word picture to explain it in the“Normal Christian Life”

Now with resurrection the figure is different because something new is introduced. I am "baptized into his death", but I do not enter in quite the same way into His resurrection, for, Praise the Lord! His resurrection enters into me, imparting to me a new life. In the death of the Lord the emphasis is solely upon `I in Christ'. With the resurrection, while the same thing is true, there is now a new emphasis upon `Christ in me'. How is it possible for Christ to communicate His resurrection life to me? How do I receive this new life? Paul suggests, I think, a very good illustration with these very same words: "united with him". For the word `united' (A.V. `planted together') may carry in the Greek the sense of ‘grafted’ and it gives us a very beautiful picture of the life of Christ which is imparted to us through resurrection.

In Fukien I once visited a man who owned an orchard of long-ien trees. He had three or four acres of land and about three hundred fruit trees. I inquired if his trees had been grafted or if they were of the original native stock. `Do you think', he replied, `that I would waste my land growing ungrafted trees? What value could I ever expect from the old stock?

So I asked him to explain the process of grafting, which he gladly did. `When a tree has grown to a certain height', he said, `I lop off the top and graft on to it.' Pointing to a special tree he asked, `Do you see that tree? I call it the father tree, because all the grafts for the other trees are taken from that one. If the other trees were just left to follow the course of nature, their fruit would be only about the size of a raspberry, and would consist mainly of thick skin and seeds. This tree, from which the grafts for all the others are taken, bears a luscious fruit the size of a plum, with very thin skin and a tiny seed; and of course all the grafted trees bear fruit like it.' `How does it happen?' I asked. `I simply take a little of the nature of the one tree and transfer it to the other', he explained. `I make a cleavage in the poor tree and insert a slip from the good one. Then I bind it up and leave it to grow.' `But how can it grow?' I asked. `I don't know', he said, `but it does grow.'

Then he showed me a tree bearing miserably poor fruit from the old stock below the graft, and rich juicy fruit from the new stock above the graft. `I have left the old shoots with their useless fruit on them to show the difference', he said. `From it you can understand the value of grafting. You can appreciate, can you not, why I grow only grafted trees?'

How can one tree bear the fruit of another? How can a poor tree bear good fruit? Only by grafting. Only by our implanting into it the life of a good tree. But if a man can graft a branch of one tree into another, cannot God take of the life of His Son and, so to speak, graft it into us?

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

"knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin“ - - -Romans 6:6 NKJ

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We need to do more “knowing” and less trying when it comes to our own spiritual well being. It is good to pray that we have the power to understand and to know, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. The scripture tells us to pray "deliver us from evil", to "know Him" to "acknowledge our weakness" rather than to pray for more strength to overcome sin. It is all Jesus Christ and only through His Holy Spirit that we have life and life abundantantly. Watchman Nee stated in the“Normal Christian Life”

"How do you know your sins are forgiven?..It comes from the Lord Himself. Of course the fact of forgiveness of sins is in the Bible, but for the written Word of God to become a living Word from God to you He had to give you "a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Eph. 1:17).

So our first step is to seek from God a knowledge that comes by revelation -- a revelation, that is to say, not of ourselves but of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. When Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission, entered into the normal Christian life it was thus that he did so. You remember how he tells of his long-standing problem of how to live `in Christ', how to draw the sap out of the Vine into himself. For he knew that he must have the life of Christ flowing out through him and yet felt that he had not got it, and he saw clearly enough that his need was to be found in Christ. `I knew', he said, writing to his sister from Chinkiang in 1869, `that if only I could abide in Christ, all would be well, but I could not.'

The more he tried to get in the more he found himself slipping out, so to speak, until one day light dawned, revelation came and he saw.
`Here, I feel, is the secret: not asking how I am to get sap out of the Vine into myself, but remembering that Jesus is the Vine -- the root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit, all indeed.'

Then, in words of a friend that had helped him:`I have not got to make myself a branch. The Lord Jesus tells me I am a branch. I am part of Him and I have just to believe it and act upon it. I have seen it long enough in the Bible, but I believe it now as a living reality.' It was as though something which had indeed been true all the time had now suddenly become true in a new way to him personally, and he writes to his sister again:

`I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful -- and yet, all is new! In a word, "whereas once I was blind, now I see"....I am dead and buried with Christ -- aye, and risen too and ascended....God reckons me so, and tells me to reckon myself so. He knows best....Oh, the joy of seeing this truth -- I do pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.'

I remember one day in Shanghai I was talking with a brother who was very exercised concerning his spiritual state. He said, `So many are living beautiful, saintly lives. I am ashamed of myself. I call myself a Christian and yet when I compare myself with others I feel I am not one at all. I want to know this crucified life, this resurrection life, but I do not know it and see no way of getting there.' Another brother was with us, and the two of us had been talking for two hours or so, trying to get the man to see that he could not have anything apart from Christ, but without success.

The brother who was worried about his spiritual state said, `the best thing a man can do is to pray.' `But if God has already given you everything, what do you need to pray for?' we asked. `He hasn't', the man replied, `for I am still losing my temper, still failing constantly; so I must pray more.' `Well', we said, `do you get what you pray for?' `I am sorry to say that I do not get anything', he replied. We tried to point out that, just as he had done nothing for his justification, so he need do nothing for his sanctification.

Just then a third brother, much used of the Lord, came in and joined us. There was a thermos flask on the table, and this brother picked it up and said, `What is this?' `A thermos flask.' `Well, you just imagine for a moment that this thermos flask can pray, and that it starts praying something like this: "Lord, I want very much to be a thermos flask. Wilt Thou make me to be a thermos flask? Lord, give me grace to become a thermos flask. Do please make me one!" What will you say?' `I do not think even a thermos flask would be so silly,' our friend replied. `It would be nonsense to pray like that; it is a thermos flask!' Then my brother said, `You are doing the same thing. God in times past has already included you in Christ. When He died, you died; when He lived, you lived. Now today you cannot say, "I want to die; I want to be crucified; I want to have resurrection life." The Lord simply looks at you and says, "You are dead! You have new life!" All your praying is just as absurd as that of the thermos flask. You do not need to pray to the Lord for anything; you merely need your eyes opened to see that He has done it all.'

That is the point. We need not work to die, we need not wait to die, we are dead. We only need to recognize what the Lord has already done and to praise Him for it. Light dawned for that man. With tears in his eyes he said, `Lord, I praise Thee that Thou hast already included me in Christ. All that is His is mine!' Revelation had come and faith had something to lay hold of; and if you could have met that brother later on, what a change you would have found!

Monday, August 26, 2002

For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: Romans 8:6 KJV

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The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. The flesh brings death, the Spirit is life and peace. Watchman Nee stated in the “The Spiritual Man” .”

“A worker must observe carefully which part of his labor the Holy Spirit anoints. Then he will be able to cooperate with Him and operate within the current of His power. The worker’s duty is to discern the current of the Spirit and to follow it. A task should be discontinued if it is no longer enjoys God’s anointing, is out of His current, and creates a sluggish languid feeling.”…