FULL OF GRACE
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Gal. 6:18).
We must constantly guard our spirit. Therefore, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is precious. The grace of the Lord in our spirit is our help at any time. This is a word of blessing; this is also the height of what a believer can receive in his spirit. We should always keep our spirit in the grace of the Lord.
THE RAPTURED SPIRIT
Apart from the conditions of the spirit discussed above, we should also keep our spirit in a condition of being out of the world and ascending to the heavens at all times. We call this the raptured spirit. The raptured spirit is deeper than the spirit of ascension. The person who has obtained the raptured spirit not only lives as if he is in the heavens; he also, through the Holy Spirit’s leading, believes and expects the second coming of the Lord and his own rapture. When the spirit of the believer and that of Christ are joined as one spirit, he becomes a citizen of the heavens in experience, living in the world as a sojourner. The Holy Spirit will call him to advance step by step so that he can receive the raptured spirit. Formerly his cry was "Forward!" Now it is "Ascend!" This causes his whole being to go heavenward. The raptured spirit enables a believer to have a foretaste of the spirit which has "tasted...the powers of the age to come" (Heb. 6:5).
Everyone who believes in the doctrine of the second coming does not necessarily have this raptured spirit. Believing in the Lord’s second coming, preaching about it, or even praying for it does not mean very much. We can have all of these but still be without the raptured spirit. Not every mature believer has this spirit. It is a gift of grace from God. Sometimes it is given according to His pleasure; sometimes it is given in response to supplication in faith. With this raptured spirit, the believer’s spirit is always in a position of being raptured, believing not only in the Lord’s return but also in his own rapture. This is not believing a doctrine but knowing a fact. Just as Simeon, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, knew that he would see the Christ of God before his death, a believer should also believe with assurance in his spirit that he will be raptured to the Lord before he dies. This faith is the faith of Enoch. Naturally, we are not stubbornly believing a superstition. If we are in the period of the rapture, we cannot help but be filled with the faith of being raptured. This kind of faith will enable us to better understand the work of God in this age. Thus, we will receive the heavenly power to help us in our work.
If a believer receives this raptured spirit, or in other words, if his spirit is in the condition of being raptured, we will see that he is more heavenly. His path to the heavens is not like that in the past when he assumed that he must pass through death.
When a believer is doing a spiritual work, he often has many expectations and plans. He is filled with the Holy Spirit, wisdom, and power. He believes in and expects that God will greatly use him, as if the effect of his work will shortly result in much fruit. But in this prosperous situation, God’s brake presses down as if to ask him to terminate all the work and prepare for another path. This comes as a surprise. "Why? Is my strength not for the work? Is the wonderful knowledge I obtained not for helping others? Why is everything closed and cold?" Yet under this kind of leading, the believer knows that God’s purpose is to call him to take another path. Before it was to go forward; now it is to ascend. This is not to say that there is no more work but that the work can be terminated at any time.
At other times, God also uses the environment—persecution, opposition, plundering, etc.—so that the believers will know that God wants them to have the raptured spirit and not think that the work in the world will gradually progress. The Lord wants to change the path of His children now. Many of God’s children do not know that besides the best possible work that progresses, there is something even better—to ascend.
This raptured spirit is not fruitless. Before the believer receives such a spirit, his experiences were frequently changing. If the believer has the witness of being raptured in his spirit, if he has firm faith regarding his rapture, and if his conduct also matches the raptured spirit in life and work, then this spirit will cause the believer to prepare for the coming of the Lord. This preparation does not merely relate to outward corrections; it also causes the believer to be fully prepared in spirit, soul, and body to welcome the Lord.
Therefore, a believer should pray to the Holy Spirit to show him the way to receive and keep this raptured spirit. Believers should pray, hope, believe, and be willing to remove all obstacles in order to obtain this raptured spirit. Our life and work should always be checked against the raptured spirit so that we will know where we have failed. In case this spirit is lost, we should know when we lost it and how it can be recovered. We should pray in order to know how matters in the world relate to our spirit; in this way we know how to overcome. Once we receive this raptured spirit, it is very easy to lose, because we do not know the special prayer and work we should have at this stage in our life in order to maintain our position in the heavenlies and have the clearest sight. Therefore, we should pray that the Holy Spirit would teach us how to constantly be kept in this kind of a spirit. The result of such prayers is that we will be led to have our mind set on the things that are above (Col. 3:2). This is a prerequisite of being kept.
Since we are standing at the gate of the heavens and there is a possibility of being raptured at any moment, we should choose the heavenly white garment and work because we might be called to ascend the very next minute. This kind of hope totally separates us from earthly things and connects us with those above.
Even though God wants us to expect ascension with a single heart, we should not just care about being raptured. We should not ignore the needs of others and forget about the final work on the earth, as God has distributed to us. This only means that God does not want us to allow the work which He has given to hinder us from being raptured. In our living and work we should always see that the "gravity of the heavens" is much stronger than the "gravity of the earth." We should learn to live not only for the Lord’s work but also for the rapture by the Lord. May our spirit be lifted up daily to hope for the next coming of the Lord. May the worldly things be so powerless that we not only dislike being "of the world," we also dislike being "in the world." May our spirit ascend heavenward daily and long to be with the Lord soon. May we be so single in minding the things which are above that even the best works in the world cannot distract us. From now on, may we earnestly pray in spirit and with understanding the prayer, "Come, Lord Jesus."
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)