GRACE BEING GOD GAINED AND EXPERIENCED BY US
Many people talk much about God’s grace. They think that making a fortune, having good children, and being free from calamities is God’s grace. But the Gospel of John tells us that grace comes from Jesus. What did Jesus give to us? Did He give us money, houses, or palaces? The apostle Paul counted these things as dung. If you give dung to me, I will consider this an insult to me. God has given us Christ. Grace and truth are simply God Himself. If one day your son has died, or you have gone bankrupt in your business, yet you have an unspeakable power within you to allow you to say "hallelujah," that is God’s grace. A man experiences grace in sufferings. It is not while we possess riches and houses that the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us. It is while we suffer losses and are sick that the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us. Health and children are not grace. Grace is when we experience and gain the Lord in adverse circumstances.
SPIRITUAL WORK BEING THE TRANSFORMATION
OF GOD’S LIFE WITHIN MAN
A few years ago, I heard others speaking about the smooth stones David used in his fight with Goliath. They said that God’s intention is for us to be the smooth stones. I have heard this kind of message before, and I have even preached such messages myself. But today, I have to say that this kind of teaching is nonsense. God has no intention for us to be smooth stones. His intention is to transform us. Suppose a few people meet together in a new place. At the beginning they are all hot in their tempers, and they often rub against each other. Gradually, as time goes on, they become "smooth." After a few years, when they meet together, they may still say things that offend one another. But they do not argue any longer. When the time comes for them to express their views, they may even agree fully with their mouths. But this is just to be outwardly refined. God has no intention for us to be "smooth." His intention is to work Himself into us. He is only doing one thing. He does not correct your mistakes, and He is not taking away your temper; He is only adding Himself into you.
Four or five years ago, I suffered great trials. For about two and a half years I had to lie on my bed to rest. At the beginning I thought that I had done something wrong, and I began to confess my sins in a thorough way. I thought that after I had confessed all my sins, God would heal me. I held to God’s word in Psalm 103:3, which says, "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases." I thought it was first the forgiving of the iniquities, and then the healing of my sickness, and for that reason I did my best to confess my sins. But the more I confessed, the more serious my illness became. Up to a point, I became tired of confession; yet I felt bad if I did not confess. After a long period of time, I gradually came to realize that God does not punish our mistakes with chastisements. Although I did not have much wrong, neither did I have much God. During those two years, God showed me that His purpose is to work Himself into me.
Suppose an opium smoker comes to us. How should we exhort him to believe in the Lord? Should we first ask him to stop taking opium before he can believe in the Lord? Surely we do not do this. We would surely exhort him first to believe in the Lord Jesus, and then the opium will automatically leave him. His problem is not the presence of opium, but the absence of God. When a man has God, he has life, and the law of life will chase out the opium. To exhort men to rid themselves of opium is the work of the anti-opium societies. Our work is to put God into people. If someone asks you if he can drink the water from the gutter, you do not have to tell him whether he can drink it. You only need to tell him to taste it a little. True spiritual work is not outward improvements, but an inward change in life. The work of life is a work of metabolism. God is not removing your sharp corners from within you, nor is He trying to make you a smooth stone; He is changing the stones into pearls.
Brother Mak can put on all kinds of clothing. He can put on a beggar’s clothing, or he can put on a very nice suit. But Brother Mak is still Brother Mak; he does not change merely by changing his outward clothing. You may lose your temper at home, or you may be smiling and rejoicing at home. You may improve a little or worsen a little. But you are still you. Basically, your person has not changed, and your nature has not changed.
Once a man had a dream. In his dream he saw a worker of the Lord cutting hair for others. After he woke up from the dream, he interpreted his own dream and told others that his dream is a picture of the preachers’ work today. Their work is to cut others’ hair and shave others’ faces. If someone is getting married, they would exhort the wife to be submissive and the husband to love. This kind of outward work is like cutting people’s hair. After they cut it once, the hair will grow back after a while. This kind of preaching is doomed to fail.
No matter how much you grind a stone, it will still be a stone; its elements will not change. God’s work is to produce an organic process in the stone, so that not only are the corners removed, but its nature is changed, and the stone is changed to pearl.
God has no intention that you merely preach the gospel or manage a church. God’s intention is to work Himself into you through your preaching of the gospel and your managing of the church. His intention is to make Himself your inward elements. God is wise. By doing this, He kills two birds with one stone. On the one hand, He can accomplish the work, spread the gospel, and take care of the church through you. At the same time, through these works, He can have Himself added into you. God has no intention to correct your mistakes. His only intention is to work Himself into you and to fill you up, so that day by day and year by year He would become ripened within you.
I hope that you will not take my words as a mere teaching. I am showing you something here. I am pointing out to you a way. I do not expect these words to give you some excitement or stimulation. I only hope that those who have a heart for the Lord would receive the blessing here.
Prayer: Lord, we look to You from the depths of our being. Be merciful to us, that we would touch You from our depths. Work in man’s heart, and accomplish what man cannot accomplish. We cannot enter into man’s heart. Only You can enter man’s heart and accomplish what You are after.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 22, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)