Teachings

Major Teachings

Watchman Nee was a seer of the divine revelation in the present age. In particular, he saw twelve crucial items which elaborated on the common faith. He not only taught these revelations, but also pioneered the experience and enjoyment of their contents. These twelve major items include:

  1. God
  2. The Eternal Plan (Economy) of God
  3. The Incarnation of God
  4. Christ
  5. The Death of Christ
  6. The Resurrection of Christ
  7. The Eternal Life
  8. The Spirit
  9. Christ's Redemption and God's Salvation
  10. The Believers
  11. The Church
  12. The New Jerusalem

God

Watchman Nee pointed out that God is eternal, self-existing, ever-existing, having no beginning or ending, and complete and perfect in every sense. God is triune; in His Godhead, He is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. The Father is the source, the Son is the expression, and the Spirit is the application. God the Son is the embodiment of God the Father, while God the Spirit is the reality of God the Son, applying the Triune God to those who believe into God the Son. God is also holy and righteous. Holiness refers to God's inward nature, while righteousness refers to God's outward acts. God is love and light. Love is the element of His inward nature, while light is the element of His outward expression. This God possesses extraordinary wisdom and accomplishes superlative works.

The Eternal Plan (Economy) of God

He pointed out that this God who possesses extraordinary wisdom and accomplishes superlative works has a good pleasure according to His heart's desire, which is to gain a group of men who would become one with Him, sharing the same life, the same living, the same move, and the same work as His, that He may express Himself in glory through them. Therefore, in eternity past He purposed in Himself an eternal plan (economy). In this plan God the Son was to be the centrality and universality that He would have the preeminence in all things. For this reason He also created the universe, with all the myriads of items therein, in order that He might create in it a tripartite man—composed of a spirit, a soul, and a body—as a vessel to receive Him and express Him. God would enter into man's spirit as the Spirit and regenerate man, thus producing His many sons, who share His life and nature, and the many members of Christ the Son, who constitute His organic Body as His corporate expression, so that the Triune God through this expression would have an ultimate expression in fullness for eternity.

The Incarnation of God

He pointed out that at the time of creation God did not put Himself into man to let man share His life and nature. It was four thousand years later that He in God the Son, through the Spirit entering the flesh of a virgin, was conceived as a man with both the divine nature and the human nature—a God-man who is the complete God as well as the perfect man. Thus, He brought God into man, and within human flesh, He lived a human life on earth, expressing God by living out all of God's attributes through His human virtues.

Christ

He pointed out that the Second of the Divine Trinity was made Christ by God in eternity past. This One is God's Anointed. In time, He came to accomplish the eternal plan (economy) which God had purposed for the expression of Himself. God desires that this Christ, His embodiment, be the centrality and universality in His eternal plan and that He would have the preeminence over all things in both creation and redemption, transcending all things. This Christ whom He established emptied Himself, laying aside the form of God and taking the form of a slave, and was found in fashion as a man, living a humble human life on earth. At the end of His human life, this Christ of God went to the cross, accomplished God's eternal redemption for us, the sinners, and released God's eternal life. He also resurrected from the dead and was transformed from God's only begotten Son to God's firstborn Son. Furthermore, in resurrection He became the life-giving Spirit to enter into the believers, making them God's new creation and His members, constituting His Body. He became the life, the element, and the Head of the Body. In this way the Triune God has obtained a corporate expression in this universe. In the coming kingdom He will be King and will reign with the overcoming saints over the coming world. Later, in the new heaven and new earth, He will be the centrality and universality of the New Jerusalem and will be the mutual dwelling place of God and man to be the full expression of the Triune God in eternity.

The Death of Christ

He pointed out that the death of Christ was not a death of martyrdom, but a vicarious death on behalf of us, the sinners, which bears many significances: (1) to remove our sins, (2) to crucify the flesh for us, thus terminating the old man, (3) to destroy Satan who has the power of death, (4) to judge the world under Satan, (5) to annul the ordinances which separated us, (6) to satisfy all the requirements of righteousness, holiness, and glory which God had placed on us, the sinners, and (7) to release God's eternal life from within Himself for us.

The Resurrection of Christ

He pointed out that Christ's resurrection was a resurrection of His whole being from the dead, including His body, by God through the divine Spirit within Christ. Such a resurrection made Him, the only begotten Son of God, the firstborn Son of God with both the divine nature and the human nature. His resurrection also transformed Him into a life-giving Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the reality of life, who enters into His believers to regenerate them, to bring their humanity into divinity, to make them God's many sons, His many brothers, and His members who constitute His mysterious Body as His organism for the expression of Christ, the embodiment of the Triune God. The reality of this resurrection, which is the Holy Spirit, the reality of life, has become the overcoming power in the life of His believers and will become the infinite power which will resurrect them from the dead and will transform and redeem their bodies.

The Eternal Life

He pointed out that the eternal life described in the Bible is God's uncreated life, which is eternal both in time and in nature, perfect, and without any blemish. This eternal life of God swallows up and overcomes death and is also the indestructible life. This life of God is also the Triune God Himself as life to those who believe into His Son. By this life we become God-men, those who are joined to God and who possess both humanity and divinity.

The Spirit

He pointed out that the Spirit is the application of the Triune God. The Spirit reaches those who have believed into and received God the Son. The Spirit applies to them God the Father who is in God the Son. He is the Spirit of life and the reality of life; He is also the life-giving Spirit, dispensing life to those who believe into the Son. As such, He is the regenerating Spirit who regenerates the believers with the life of God the Father in God the Son, making them the children of God. He then becomes the indwelling Spirit within them as the reality of all things. He is the renewing Spirit who renews the man of the old creation into God's new creation with God's eternally new and never-aging life. He is also the sanctifying Spirit who separates and sanctifies the believers with God's sanctifying nature. He is the transforming Spirit who transforms them with the life element of Christ into His image. He is the firstfruits, the foretaste, of God as the eternal portion of those who have believed into the Son. He is the Spirit of power poured out on the believers of the Son as the authority for their work. He is the reality of the Triune God, the reality of Christ, the reality of all the truths, and the reality of the resurrection of Christ. Only by receiving Him will a man possess the Triune God, the truths, Christ, and the resurrection of Christ.

Christ's Redemption and God's Salvation

He pointed out that the redemption of Christ was accomplished through His vicarious and redemptive death for the sinners. When we the sinners receive this redemption, we are forgiven, cleansed, justified, and reconciled to God. Based on Christ's redemption, God in His salvation forgives, cleanses, justifies, reconciles, and regenerates us through Christ's resurrection and renews, separates, and sanctifies us through His Spirit. Furthermore, the Spirit transforms us through the life-element of the pneumatic Christ, conforming us to the image of God's firstborn Son, Christ, and finally glorifying us with the divine glory into which Christ has entered.

This salvation which God accomplished through Christ's death and resurrection and through the Holy Spirit's work of regeneration, renewing, separation, sanctification, transformation, conformation, and glorification is different from the reward which God will give to the believers at the time of Christ's coming. God's salvation is based on grace, which is different from the law, and is not based on man's works according to the law. God's reward is based on the overcoming life which believers in Christ live out after they are redeemed and saved, and this reward is through faith, by Christ's resurrection life, and by the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. This reward is also based on the work, in Christ and by the Holy Spirit, of the building up of the church, the Body of Christ, which accomplishes God's eternal plan (economy). God's salvation is eternal; it includes saving us from our past sins, our present bondage of sin, and our temptations and failures into the ultimate enjoyment and full taste of the Triune God with all His riches in the New Jerusalem in the new heaven and the new earth. God's reward is dispensational and is limited to our reigning and obtaining glory together with Christ in the millennial kingdom during the manifestation of the kingdom.

The Believers

He pointed out that the believers in Christ were created by the Triune God according to His image as tripartite men with a spirit, a soul, and a body to be God's vessel for containing Him, expressing Him, representing Him, and reigning for Him over all creation. At the time of creation, God did not put His life and nature into man; He only created a spirit in man so that man could receive with his spirit the pneumatic God into him as life. But man fell under Satan's temptation. He did not obey God's commandment; rather, he was corrupted by Satan, bearing Satan's evil nature and being constituted a sinner. Because of this, God Himself became a man and put on the flesh of fallen man. This man's name was Jesus Christ, who in His flesh died for man and redeemed man from his sins, thus terminating the sinner himself together with Satan, the world, and the old creation. After His death, His whole being was resurrected, and in resurrection He was transformed into a life-giving Spirit. As such, He enters into the sinners who believe in and receive Him and becomes one with them, thus regenerating them to become God's children and His members, making them one with Himself, and constituting them His organic Body, which is the church, His fullness as His corporate expression.

These sinners who believe into Jesus Christ are called the Christians, the followers of Christ, those related to Christ. They were of God's old creation but have become God's new creation through regeneration by believing into Christ, possessing God's life and nature, walking by God's life and His Spirit, and living and working for God. They are being built up together in spirit to become the church of God, which is God's house, the Body of Christ and the fullness of Christ, and are waiting for Christ's return, at which time He will rapture them, transform them, and receive them into His glory to be with Him forever. Those among them who after their salvation are willing to live an overcoming life by the overcoming life of Christ and by the resurrection power in the Holy Spirit, who will participate in the work of accomplishing God's plan (economy), and who will ripen first before His coming again, will receive His reward to enter into the millennium, to be co-kings with Him, and to rule over the world. Those among them who are not ripened in this way will receive His discipline in the millennial kingdom so that they will ripen. Hence, they will be constituted elements of the New Jerusalem, and after the millennium in the new heaven and new earth, they will participate together with those believers who ripened first in the ultimate blessing and enjoyment of God's salvation in the New Jerusalem for eternity.

The Church

He pointed out that the church is constituted of all those who believe into Christ and who belong to Christ. On the one hand, this church is universal, and on the other hand, it is local. On the universal side, the church is both God's house and the Body of Christ in the universe. On the local side, the church is the local manifestation of the house of God and the Body of Christ. These local manifestations are the many local churches which together form the one unique church in the universe.

This church as God's house is also God's household and God's habitation, which affords God the satisfaction and joy of a Father with His children; it is also God's dwelling place, which affords Him full and satisfying rest. In this way, He can freely express all that He is, has, and can do in this house.

This church as the Body of Christ is an organism by which Christ moves and walks among mankind and through which He lives out His all-inclusive self. This Body is also the bride of Christ, the counterpart of Christ; it is out of Christ, unto Christ, and for the satisfaction of Christ's love. This Body is also a new man created by Christ in Himself, being constituted with His life and element for the fulfillment of the eternal plan (economy) of God.

In order to exist among mankind, this church is scattered over all the earth to become the many separate local churches. Each one has its elders for administration and its deacons for service. In business affairs the churches are independent and separate, but in life and nature they are still one universal Body, receiving the same apostles' teaching, maintaining the one apostles' fellowship, and bearing the one testimony for Christ for the accomplishment of God's one plan (economy).

Such a church is composed outwardly of the many saints called out by God from the world, but inwardly it is the result of the Triune God working Himself into and growing out of the believers in Christ. Hence, it is a living organism; it is absolutely not a religious organization in the society, much less a lifeless material building.

This church is also the kingdom of God today, in which God reigns and rules over everything.

The New Jerusalem

Finally, he also pointed out that the ultimate revelation of the Bible, the New Jerusalem, is constituted of all the redeemed ones in the Old and the New Testament. It is the tabernacle of the Triune God, the habitation of God with man in eternity. It is also the bride of Christ who is the embodiment of the Triune God, His beloved spouse in eternity. This holy city is also God's Holy of Holies, with the same one dimension in height, length, and breadth. It is constituted of God and the Lamb to be the serving place and dwelling of all God's redeemed. It is constituted of: (1) God the Father, the source of the Triune God, as its essence, like the transparent pure gold; (2) God the Son, the expression of the Triune God, as its entrance in His redeeming death and His life-dispensing resurrection, like the beautiful pearl; and (3) God the Spirit, the application of the Triune God, as her walls and foundations, through the Spirit's transformation in the believers, like the glorious precious stones. She is thus constituted by the Triune God to be the ultimate consummation of God with the redeemed, regenerated, and transformed tripartite man, in which He and man become one as His corporate expression and manifestation in eternity. In this city the Lamb is the lamp, shining forth God's glory, and in the midst of this city there is the throne of administration of God and the Lamb, from which flows a river of water of life, clear as crystal. This river flows in the middle of a spiral street, which encircles the whole city and reaches the twelve gates at the circumference of the city, nourishing the entire city. On either side of this river grows the tree of life, with new fruits every month, supplying the entire city. In this way, the holy city, the New Jerusalem, is the culmination of the union between the Triune God and His redeemed tripartite man; it is filled with the glory of the Triune God and expresses His fullness in eternity. It is also full of the supply of the Triune God to His redeemed in His redemption, so that they can have a full enjoyment and a full taste of all that the redeeming Triune God is, has done, and has attained.

Source: The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, Volume 1, "A Short Introduction in Memory of Brother Watchman Nee", by Witness Lee, pp. xxviii-xxxvi.

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