Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), by Watchman Nee

More excerpts from this title...


Based on what we have said about overcoming death, we do not necessarily mean that our body will never die. Although we believe that "we will not all sleep" (1 Cor. 15:51), saying that we will not die is too superstitious. Since the Bible takes seventy as a general standard for human life, we can hope to live until that time if we have faith. But we should never think that we are immortal because we have the Lord Jesus as life. Moreover, we know that God often allows exceptions; some die before seventy. Our faith can only ask God that we would not pass away before our work is done. Whether we live briefly or for a long time, we should not perish like sinners before half of our days are over. Our days should be long enough to finish our work in this life. Then when the end does come, we can depart from the earth in peace by the grace of God, in a way that is as natural as the falling of a ripe melon. Job described this kind of death as "a shock of corn cometh in in his season" (5:26).

Overcoming death does not necessarily mean escaping death, because God may want some people to overcome it in resurrection just as the Lord Jesus did. But even though a believer passes through death, like the Lord Jesus, he does not have to fear death. A believer who strives to overcome death simply because he fears and abhors death is already defeated. How can he expect to overcome? The Lord may decide to completely save us from death by rapturing us alive to the heavens; but we should not ask the Lord to come back soon out of our fear of death. Such a fear is a symptom that we are already defeated by death. Even if we die, death is just like walking from one room to another. There is no need for any traumatic pain, anxiety, or fear.

Originally, we were men who "because of the fear of death through all their life were held in slavery" (Heb. 2:15). But the Lord Jesus has "released" us so that we do not have to fear it anymore. Its pain, darkness, and loneliness cannot scare us. An apostle who experienced overcoming death told us, "For to me...to die is gain...having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for this is far better" (Phil. 1:21, 23). Here is an attitude that sees no trace of fear. This is true victory over death.


To be raptured alive is the last way to overcome death. When the Lord Jesus comes back, many believers will be raptured alive. Both 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16 teach this. There is no definite day for the Lord’s second coming. He could have come back at any moment during the past two thousand years. Believers have the hope of being raptured alive at any time without passing through death. The time of the Lord Jesus’ second coming is now closer than before. Therefore, believers today have more hope of being raptured than those in past generations. We do not want to say much here, but we can safely say a few words with assurance: if the Lord Jesus comes back while our generation is still here, would we not be raptured alive? If so, we should overcome death, not allowing ourselves to die ahead of time so that we may be raptured alive. According to the prophecy in the Bible, there will eventually be a group of believers who will be raptured without passing through death. Their being raptured alive is a kind of overcoming of death. As long as we live on the earth, we should not say that we may not be those people. Therefore, should we not prepare ourselves to overcome death completely?

Believing that we will never die physically is not a superstition, because the Bible gives us this hope. We may die, but it is not a must that we die. The Lord clearly teaches us: "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day" (John 6:54). But He also says, "This is the bread which came down out of heaven, not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread shall live forever" (v. 58). He means that among His believers some will die and be resurrected, while others will not pass through death at all.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 42, by Watchman Nee)