Watchman Nee—A Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age, by Witness Lee


Watchman Nee saw through 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 that the important thing regarding our work is not its quantity but its quality. Gold, silver, and precious stones are always small in quantity but high in quality, whereas wood, hay, and stubble are always high in quantity and low in quality. Wood, hay, and stubble cannot stand the test of fire, but gold, silver, and precious stones can. We will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ not according to the quantity but according to the quality of our work.


When he would hear that a certain preacher had successfully gained a large following or that a certain Christian worker was doing a big work, he would frequently tell us, his trainees, that the real work is the outflow of life.

With the gifts, knowledge, and ability he had, he could easily have acquired a large following in Christianity. Watchman Nee, however, did not misuse his gifts and knowledge in this way. He always took pains to restrict himself in the function of his gifts and the use of his knowledge in order to insure that his work was fully in life, of life, with life, and was life itself. As long as he had the assurance that his ministry was the outflow of life, he was satisfied.

His ministry began from the year 1922, and the church in Shanghai, which was fully under his ministry, was raised up in 1927. By the end of 1933, when I first visited him in Shanghai, the number of saints meeting there in the Lord’s recovery was slightly over one hundred. In February 1928 he held an overcomer conference in Shanghai. The attendants at this conference included all the co-workers and seeking ones throughout the country. The attendance was a little over three hundred. After he had been in his ministry for over six years, the number of saints in the Lord’s recovery at that time was still so small. However, he was not disappointed; rather, he was strongly encouraged because he realized that that small number was the issue of his ministry. Praise the Lord! Because Watchman Nee was not interested in the outward work, the life-issue of his ministry has flowed throughout the whole earth. That part of his ministry which has flooded today’s Christianity through his books was not his work but rather the very life that issued from his work. To him work did not mean much; life meant everything. In my whole life, he is the only person I have known who paid more attention to life than to work.

The following is an excerpt from his open letter in the fourth issue of The Present Testimony, published in July 1928:


We firmly believe that God is not seeking a great work which would shock heaven and shake earth. Men only care for what is seen, but God is not so near-sighted. We do not trust in the kind of work which publishes photos and issues reports. It is a sad thing that while the children of God realize that God is not in excitement, they still are bent on having excitement. Hence, we have to be careful that we do not consider everything that sounds good as from God. I feel that the unprecedented need today is to discern between the work of the spirit and that of the soul.

(Watchman Nee—A Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)