The same is true with Paul. This is why he could say, "Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1).
As far as knowledge is concerned, even God feared that Paul’s knowledge would become too great. Therefore, He allowed the messenger of Satan to buffet him and press him down so that he might not be exceedingly lifted up. Paul was caught away into Paradise and heard unspeakable words—words which were not allowed for a man to speak. It seemed as if God had shown him too much. Within him, there were still many things that he did not speak. There are still many questions which we would like to ask him today. He knew the mysteries, all kinds of mysteries. He mentioned "the transcendence of the revelations" (2 Cor. 12:7) that he received and that he was not inferior to the super-apostles in anything (v. 11).
Concerning faith, he said, "For we walk by faith, not by appearance" (2 Cor. 5:7). He said that he once fought with wild beasts at Ephesus (1 Cor. 15:32) and despaired even of living (2 Cor. 1:8). Yet through God who raises the dead (v. 9), he was able to find the good end. He could perform works of wonders and heal sickness. He was a prophet and not afraid of snake bites. When he was on a ship and everyone abandoned hope of being saved, even when no one had food for a long time and there seemed to be nothing that anyone could do, he was still able to calm everyone down. He could do this because of what he said: "I believe God that it shall be so, even in the way in which it has been spoken to me" (Acts 27:25). This was his life of faith.
Not only did he have knowledge and faith, but he was also excellent in life. He could say, "I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20). He could truly say, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21) and "Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body" (2 Cor. 4:10).
At the same time, he was very zealous in preaching the gospel. He was truly zealous. He went from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum, preaching the gospel of Christ everywhere he went. He said, "But now I no longer have place in these regions" (Rom. 15:23). Brothers, have you ever preached in a region until there was no longer any place to preach in that region? Paul said this as if he knew every face there. While he was on the road, he preached the gospel. While he was at sea, he preached the gospel. While he was in prison, he preached the gospel. Even while he was under bondage in Rome, his testimony became manifest among the whole Praetorian guard and to all the rest. This means that even his guards received the gospel. These guards were originally posted there to keep a watch on Paul. But they became locked up by the Christ whom Paul preached; they had become the prisoners of Christ.
My intention is not just to speak on the Lord’s commands, nor on Paul’s experience, but to draw your attention to one thing: a Christian ought to be a four-sided person. Every Christian must pay attention to these four things. Not only should we have zeal, but faith as well. Not only should we grow in knowledge, but in life as well. If any one of the four things are missing, there will be an imbalance. Please analyze the experiences of Paul when you read the New Testament again, and see if zeal, faith, knowledge, and life are the four characteristics of Paul. We are only speaking in a general way. This is why we say that there are only these four points. According to the Lord’s commands, we should not only be encouraged to have zeal and faith, but we should also grow in knowledge and life.
Today I will speak a little more about faith. Sadly, the church has become desolate and lost its eyes for the Lord. We have a perfect Lord, but there are so many different kinds of Christians. I am not talking about differences in terms of sins. Some have tempers, while others have pride. The devil can create a hundred different kinds of sins. The differences I am talking about are the differences in the good things. Brothers, when you contact others, do you not feel that there are many different kinds of virtues?
EXAMPLES OF ONE-SIDEDNESS
Once I met a Western missionary preaching in Kweichow. He was very zealous for the Lord in China. Although he was a university graduate and a capable man, he was willing to give up everything in order to preach the gospel in inland China. During the Boxer Rebellion, he was preaching the gospel in China. He had many virtues and was very powerful in preaching. Yet his virtues were all one-sided in the matter of zeal; he was lacking in the other aspects.
I also met a missionary in Shanghai who was very good at memorizing the Scriptures. He could memorize the Scriptures verse by verse and expound them with much light. His knowledge was very good, but in the matter of faith in God, he was lacking. When he was sick, he was hopeless. When he caught a cold, he would have to find a doctor. As far as his knowledge was concerned, he could speak about faith. But he had no assurance of what faith actually was. At the same time, his life did not match his knowledge.
I knew another Western missionary who was as gentle as a lamb. Whenever you prayed with her, she would carry you away with her gentleness. She never lost her temper. Wherever she was, God’s presence was there. She indeed had considerable growth in life, but she did not have much knowledge. She was also strong in faith, though faith was not her special characteristic. She also had zeal, but her zeal was not as strong as her growth in life.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 18: Notes on Scriptural Messages (2), Chapter 14, by Watchman Nee)