John 3:7 says, "You must be born anew." This new life is a basic necessity. It is the essence of our Christian faith. This is the difference between a false Christian and a genuine one. First John 5:12 says, "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life." Verse 13 continues, "I have written these things to you that you may know that you have eternal life, to you who believe into the name of the Son of God." This is not a matter of doctrines, works, or moral behavior; rather, it is a matter of having or not having the Son of God.
God’s solution to the human life is not correction, but crucifixion. God has nailed our old man with Christ onto the cross; he is terminated. Now we are alive together with Christ; Christ has become our new life. We are a new man; we have a new beginning, and we can conduct a new way of living. All these are accomplished works of God in Christ.
Man can do nothing here. All he can do is believe and accept. Only common religion asks man to improve, work, and mortify himself. But Christ is here to be our life.
The first time I preached in the southern part of Fukien province, I held meetings with approximately fifteen hundred people. After three meetings the pastors of the whole city became worried. They invited me to them and said, "Mr. Nee, when we asked you to come to preach, we expected you to exhort our congregation to be zealous, to work hard, and to serve the Lord more earnestly. But you are saying that we do not need to do anything; all we need is to receive Christ. They are already lazy. After your preaching they will probably be even more reluctant to work! You are here only for a visit; after this you are free to go. But we are here permanently! What are we going to do after you have left?"
I said, "This is only the second day of the conference. There are sixteen more days. Would you all be a little more patient and wait to see what will come out at the end? The inward work of Christ can far exceed man’s own outward labor! I believe that if a man takes the gospel that I preach, there will be a definite change in him."
They did not quite believe my words then. But since they had invited me, they could not stop me. Although I said that I took full responsibility for the outcome, they still shook their heads, saying, "This is too dangerous!" But after about a week, many pastors came and apologized to me, saying, "To accept the inward work of the Son of God is indeed much better than our own efforts."
(The Normal Christian Faith, Chapter 12, by Watchman Nee)