Facts are God’s promises, His redemption, His works, and His free gifts.
Faith denotes the way man believes in God, trusts in His work and redemption, and claims His promises. It is a kind of working and attitude through which God’s facts are transformed into man’s experience.
Experience is the proper living of the believers, which they secure through believing in God. It is the expression of the life of Christ practiced in the believers’ living. Experience is the realization of all Christ’s accomplishments and victories. It is the practical application, manifestation, and living out of God’s facts. The histories of all the saints recorded in the Bible belong to this category.
Not only those who are teachers but all believers should know the interrelationship of these three: fact, faith, and experience. Otherwise, they will be confused in their living and in their teachings. Furthermore, they will find many contradictions and apparent disagreements in their reading of the Bible.
I am afraid that up to this point I have still not presented the scriptural teachings in a clear way. For this reason, I want to present a few great doctrines in the Bible as proofs.
We Christians have believed in the substitutional death of the Lord Jesus and have experienced the effect of His redemption. Redemption is an experience for the sinners; we Christians have already been redeemed. For us, redemption is a past experience. It seems as if we have no need to speak of it anymore. Yet for the sake of illustrating the relationship between these three things—fact, faith, and experience—and in order to show us their continuity and importance, I will first use as an example an experience that we have already had.
Redemption is a very great doctrine. It is something that we should understand. The redemption of our Lord Jesus is for the whole world. We have the following verses to prove this point:
The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29).
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16).
He Himself is the propitiation...for those of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
Who gave Himself as a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6).
The Savior of all men (1 Tim. 4:10).
After reading these verses, we can see that the redemption of Jesus is for the whole world. Hence, it is possible for everyone in the world to be saved. The Lord’s redemption is an accomplished fact.
However, the Bible tells us that not everyone in the world is saved. If a man does not understand the teaching concerning "faith," he may think that whether or not a man believes in the Lord’s vicarious death, he is saved anyway. It seems to him that since Jesus has died for the whole world, the whole world need not die anymore, and there is no need to be concerned if one believes or not. This may seem very reasonable, but actually it is very unreasonable, for this would absolve sinners of all their responsibilities. If this were the case, there would no longer be the need for believers to preach the gospel.
Although the Bible says that Christ has died for the world, it also says that those who believe will be saved. The following Scriptures testify to this:
That every one who believes... (John 3:15).
He who believes into Him...; he who does not believe... (John 3:18).
Believe on the Lord Jesus (Acts 16:31).
Through the faith of Jesus Christ to all those who believe (Rom. 3:22).
Him who is of the faith of Jesus (Rom. 3:26).
Your sins have been forgiven you because of His name (1 John 2:12).
We can quote many more Scriptures, but the above verses are sufficient to prove that a man has to believe. This means that although Christ has died for the world, the world must still apply His death and reckon it their own death. Otherwise, the death of Christ will have nothing to do with them. Although the Scripture says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son," the Bible does not stop here. Following this it says, "That every one who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life." First Timothy 4:10 says, "The living God, who is the Savior of all men." God sent His Son into the world to die for men. Hence, He is able to be the Savior of all men. He is the "Savior..., especially of those who believe." These are the ones who have believed.
After believing, there must be the experience. If one believes in God’s fact, there surely must be the experience of the fact. Please consider the following Scriptures:
He who believes into Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe has been condemned already (John 3:18).
He who...believes...has eternal life (John 5:24).
Every one who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life (John 3:16).
Justified out of faith (Rom. 5:1).
Hence, when man believes that the salvation God has prepared for him is a fact, and when he applies this salvation, he is saved.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 01: The Christian Life and Warfare, Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)