The Holy Spirit and Reality, by Watchman Nee


If we do not see any spiritual reality, we will have many questions. Suppose you have heard a great deal about a person but have never seen him. When you meet someone who knows this person, surely you will ask all kinds of questions about him. But there is one person in this world whom you know very well and about whom you have no need to ask anyone. This person is yourself. You yourself are a reality that you know very well. Suppose you enter a house that you have never been to before. You will have to ask how many rooms there are or how big are the windows. But if you have moved into the house, you no longer need to ask these kinds of questions. You do not have to ask about anything that you are clear about. If you are living in reality, you will not need to ask many questions. If a man does not know the Body of Christ, he will ask what the Body of Christ is. But if he knows what the Body of Christ is, he no longer will have to ask any questions.

In spiritual matters, we can only clarify things to the extent that a person no longer has problems spiritually; we cannot clarify things to the extent that a person no longer has questions mentally. Take the case of the preaching of the gospel. Our gospel can only make others believe in a clear way; it cannot make others understand in a clear way. When Philip told Nathanael that he had met the One of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote, Nathanael said, “Can anything good be from Nazareth?” But after the Lord said, “Before Philip called you, while you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” Nathanael touched reality, and he spontaneously confessed, “You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (John 1:45-49). He touched reality, and his questions were gone. This is the way spiritual things work. Once a person touches reality, he will be enlightened within, and whether or not he can explain it, he will know it clearly within.

There are many words in the Bible which can easily cause misunderstandings. But if the Holy Spirit goes with these words, a man will touch spiritual reality. Once a man touches spiritual reality, there will no longer be any misunderstandings. Someone said once that misunderstanding is a mark of darkness. This is true. If a man sees reality, he will not have any misunderstanding.


However, spiritual reality is often just a term to us; we have not entered into the reality itself. We must enter the reality itself before what we have is real to us. How can we enter into spiritual reality? John 16:13 says, “But when He, the Spirit of reality, comes, He will guide you into all the reality.” Verse 14 says, “He will glorify Me, for He will receive of Mine and will declare it to you.” These two verses tell us that the Holy Spirit will guide us and the Holy Spirit will lead us into all reality.

The two greatest works of the Holy Spirit are His revelation and His discipline. The revelation of the Holy Spirit shows us the spiritual reality, while the discipline of the Holy Spirit leads us, through the ordering in the environment, into all spiritual reality.

Revelation is the basis of all spiritual progress. If a Christian has not received any revelation, he is shallow and superficial in God’s eyes no matter how much spiritual knowledge he has or how good he behaves outwardly. It is possible that he has not even taken one step forward. At the same time, if the revelation of the Spirit is not matched with the discipline of the Spirit, the revelation is not complete. We can say that the revelation of the Spirit is the foundation, while the discipline of the Spirit is the building. But this does not mean that there is one period of time when we have the revelation of the Spirit and another period of time when we have the discipline of the Spirit. The discipline of the Spirit is mixed in with the revelation of the Spirit; while He is revealing, He is disciplining, and while He is disciplining, He is also revealing. Therefore, we cannot say that revelation includes the whole of the Christian life, unless we consider discipline as part of the revelation.

We believe that the Son accomplished everything that the Father committed to Him (17:4). We also believe that the Spirit accomplished everything that the Son committed to Him. We believe that no matter how great a spiritual reality is, the Spirit will bring us into that same reality. Nothing that is of Christ is held back from the church. This is not just a question of our experience, but a question of whether the work of the Holy Spirit is a success or a failure. We must remember that just as Christ accomplished everything, the Spirit will accomplish everything. We have to believe in the trustworthiness of the Spirit, and we have to believe in the perfectness of the work of the Spirit.

(The Holy Spirit and Reality, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)