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The Normal Christian Church Life


Watchman Nee


Chapterfrom pageto page No. of pages
   Preface56 2
   Contents77 1
   Introduction812 5
1. The Apostles1324 12
2. The Separation and Movements of the Apostles2537 13
3. The Elders Appointed by the Apostles3844 7
4. The Church Founded by the Apostles4557 13
5. The Basis of Union and Division5872 15
6. The Work and the Churches7384 12
7. Among the Workers8596 12
8. The Question of Finance97111 15
9. The Organization of Local Churches112127 16
Total 5 127 123


This book by Watchman Nee "The Normal Christian Church Life" has been dealt with already in the second book of this Website "The Man-Made Church" and I am now quoting here from the third chapter: "Isaiah's Question":

Watchman Nee was a man who must have spent much time with the Lord. Reading his books and the books published from his teachings one gets the conviction that he was a man who was close to the Lord and had great insights into the mind of the Lord. He must have been a man that spent a considerable amount of time studying the word of God and meditating on it. Renewing his mind was a major part of his life. He seemed to very much have given his life as a living sacrifice.

But the outstanding thing in his life was the fact that he saw how the true assembly of believers transpires from the descriptions of the early church and that he was able to lead the believers around him to have such assemblies becoming alive to them. In China the man-made churches were destroyed by the worldly powers and by the clergy that co-operated with them. Actually all the man-made churches were forced to become one great church under the control of the government. But many years before this happened, believers in China had practised a New Testament way of gathering together. They also had learned to stay away from the destructive ways of denominations and from the clergy-laity principle.

As early as 1938 the most important book from the teachings of Watchman Nee was published. The equivalent in English of the title of the original Chinese work was "Rethinking the Work". 1939 this work was published in English under the title "Concerning Our Mission". Later it was published under the more popular known title of "The Normal Christian Church Life".

The understanding of this book will allow observers to also understand the things that happened in China. The great revival that has taken place in China was a result of people applying again the methods of the spirit as they were applied in the book of Acts of Luke. A body of believers completely free from all the trimmings of man-made churches was able to achieve a work that the man-made churches could not do in all the time they had and under circumstances that were very much more favourable than the times of the great tyrannies and the times of the cultural revolution.

These terrible times for the people of China, times of great persecution and suffering, were also times of great victories for the kingdom of God. One of the reasons for these great victories was that all man-made methods had to be abolished and the methods of the Holy Spirit had to be adopted. And another reason that this revival was so powerful was that there was a large number of believers who had been practising an assembly life that was in line with scripture.

And it all started with a man like Watchman Nee who got for himself a new way to think and who kept his life free from any ties to denominations. Only when we understand the spiritual condition of Watchman Nee will we understand the spiritual condition of China. One man became spiritual and many others stopped being carnal and also became spiritual and this again affected the whole nation and many millions became living stones in a spiritual house.

The book "The Normal Christian Church Life" was published 1970-1975 by Hong Kong Church Book Room Ltd., 5 Observatory Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Most of the books one finds in Christian book shops are written by people who belong to denominations, and such people are by definition, by definition of 1 Corinthians 3 verses 1 to 4, carnal people, and this carnality is reflected in the stuff that is contained in their books.

Now Watchman Nee is here the great exception. He was not part of a denomination, and not only that, he also very consciously knew why he stood away from them. He was a spiritual Christian and his spirituality is reflected in that, about what he wrote, and that is the reason why his books are popular, because the reader can feel this spirituality when reading his works.

Now spiritual things are powerful things, are those things, which have more value than everything else. And people are aware of that and most people who become aware of this fact, think that it is a tremendous good idea to make money out of it. And so particularly the works of Watchman Nee are attractive to serve this purpose and are therefore getting published. Just from one book these publishers seem to like to stay away and that is this book "The Normal Christian Church Life" and the reason being, that they are all members of denominations, these publishers, and this book makes them becoming aware of their carnality and therefore they do not like it.

Now I have seen one author who dared to write about this book of Watchman Nee, "The Normal Christian Church Life", and he could do so, because he became enlightened about getting out of carnality and into getting spiritual.

But this man still had a big problem and that was the fact that he still wanted to make money out of his writing books. So he wrote about this book, but he very carefully avoided to touch this chapter 8 of the book "The Normal Christian Church Life", the chapter called "The Question of Finance", because it would have revealed very nicely his hyprocy and so he stayed away from it.

And this fact is the reason why this chapter 8, the chapter called "The Question of Finance", is actually the heart piece of Watchman Nee's work and without it, this man Watchman Nee and his books cannot really be understood.

And this again is the reason, and should be the reason, to again and again publish this most important part of the work of Watchman Nee.

When publishers publish books by Watchman Nee, but do not publish his most important book, then it is actually a covering up of that, what the work of this man is really all about. One can compare Watchman Nee with Søren Kierkegaard, also he exposed the man-made churches, in his last book, his most important book: Attack Upon "Christendom". Also this book is most of the time not mentioned, when the work of Søren Kierkegaard is discussed.

So the reader should read this important part of Watchman Nee's book first, to become aware of what the work of Watchman Nee is all about and what lies behind this spirituality of the man Watchman Nee.

To strive for such spirituality will remain fruitless, when the reader first does not get out of any denominational fetters and when he, secondly, does not want to completley rely of God for finanial support of his work, but wants to put his trust in man.

Read "The question of finance" and you will understand, why this book of Watchman New is hardly published.

So please read 8. The question of finance.

The most important aspect of the work of Watchman Nee is that he described the true church, so as it is portraid in the New Testament, and that he has differentiated this true church from all the existing denominations and as a result has exposed them as man-made churches.

I now bring a further section from "Isaiah's Question":

In order to get an impression of Watchman Nee's book "The Normal Christian Church Life" let us look at some of his statements he makes in that book:

"Denominations are not scriptural and we ought to have no part in them."

"Their denominationalism or sectarianism will mean that severe limitations are imposed upon the Lord as to His purpose and mind for them, and this will mean that they will never go beyond a certain measure of spiritual growth and fullness. Blessing there may be, but fullness of divine purpose never."

"If believers can be led to see what a local church is - the expression of the Body of Christ in a locality - they will certainly not remain in any sect. On the other hand it is possible for them to see all the evils of sectarianism, and leave them, without knowing what a local church is."

"God does not wish the power of organization to take the place of the power of the Holy Spirit. A good organization often serves as a poor substitute for the power of the Holy Spirit, by holding a work together even after all its vitality is gone. When life has departed from the work and the scaffolding of organization still supports it, its collapse is prevented; but that is doubtful gain, for a splendid outward organization may be blinding God's servants to a deep inward need. God would rather His work be discontinued than that it go on with such a counterfeit for spiritual power. When the glory of God had departed from the temple He Himself left it to utter ruin. Central control has many evils. It makes it easy for God's servants to disregard the leading of the Spirit, and readily develops into a Popish system, becoming a great worldly power."

"The unrelated, scattered, disrupted and conflicting organizations in Christendom, which do not recognize the principle of the Body and do not come under the sovereignty and headship of Christ, are never according to the mind of the Lord."

"If we are in a place where there are missions, or churches, standing on sectarian or denominational ground, but no church standing on the ground of the Body and the locality, then our duty is just the same, namely, to found and build a local church."

"We can only co-operate with those who are building up the Body of Christ as expressed in local churches, and not with those who are building up something else."

The most important subject with the assessment of a man is to have a look at "The question of finance" of this man. If he makes a business out of spiritual things, if he wants to have money for his work for God, then he is a victim of Antichrist and he will lead his followers into the abyss. Make it a habit to investigate this with a man, and do not exclude anyone, also not yourself.

Watchman Nee's book "The Normal Christian Church Life" also deals with church government and there it might be helpful to have a look at the webpage Paul and his companions.




This is the end of "10. Watchman Nee".
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