THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOD’S WILL
AND GOD’S HEART
We have to know God’s will item by item. But knowing God’s heart is different. One English brother with deep experience in the Lord and who knows God well once said that we not only can know God’s will, but also His heart. We do not despise God’s will. In order to know His will, we have to seek after Him wholeheartedly. But God’s heart has been given to us already; it is something that we know without consciously seeking. One Western missionary said that when he drinks milk, he prays to see if he should put one or two cubes of sugar in the milk. This is unnecessary. We should have God’s heart, and we should know His heart. God has not only given us the Bible for us to keep, but He has given us the law within us so that we can know His heart. When we encounter a crisis, we should surely seek God’s will. In our daily life, we can act according to God’s heart; there is no need to purposely ask God. We are those who have God’s heart within us already, so we know what we should do to conform to His will. Can you see the glory here?
Men in the Old Testament had to consult the law or a prophet before they could be clear about God’s will. But we have a Prophet within us today. He will tell us everything. We also have a law which is not outward. An outward prophet or outward regulations have not been put upon us. Rather, we are instructed by God within us, who gives us an unspeakable sensation, a feeling which, at the same time, is not quite a feeling. This is what believers experience every day. Do we have such an experience? We may not have it every day, but at least we should have experienced it a few times.
THE LORD JESUS BEING THE ARK
The first stone tablets which Moses received were smashed to pieces. The second tablets which he received were placed in the ark. The ark is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. God ordered that blood be sprinkled on the ark, His glory was manifested from above the ark, and He spoke to man from above the ark. All these are pictures of the Lord Jesus.
Do we see the ark-life in the Lord Jesus? "The words that I say to you I do not speak from Myself, but the Father who abides in Me does His works" (John 14:10). "For I have come down..not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38). We can see how the Lord Jesus obeyed God’s word and did His will. He was not only acting according to the teaching of the Scripture but according to the inner law within Him. It is better to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit than the leading of the Bible in a dead way. Consider John 12. John 11 speaks of the Lord’s raising up Lazarus. Chapter twelve speaks of the most glorious day the Lord had on earth. Not only was Lazarus resurrected, but the Greeks came to the Lord Jesus also. But whether or not they came to Him, whether or not Lazarus was resurrected, and whether or not He received glory when he entered Jerusalem, He said: "Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). Later He said: "Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me out of this hour. But for this reason I have come to this hour" (John 12:27). This word of the Lord Jesus was from His heart! Others might have considered that this was His best time. But He considered that a grain of wheat would abide alone if it did not die. In His heart He said, "Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say?" He did not immediately say what He wanted to say, but instead cried out: "Father, save Me out of this hour." But was that possible? No. Because it was for this hour that He had come. What then did He do? Verse 28 says, "Father, glorify Your name." The Lord did not say, "Father, deliver Me from this hour." Brothers and sisters, here we see the life that is within the Lord Jesus. He is led by the Spirit of God. He is truly the ark.
The ark was covered with gold on the outside which signifies the divinity of the Lord. Within the gold was the acacia wood which signifies the Lord’s humanity. Therefore, the Lord has both the body of a man and the holiness of God. But within Him, there is the law which is more significant than the outward attributes that are seen and understood by men. The failure of the Pharisees was in the fact that they only saw the law placed in a high place in the synagogue. They did not see the law within the Lord Jesus. Among us today, there are some who do not know God’s will and do not know how to act in this and that matter. Let me say that forgiveness is not the only item within the new covenant. His leading and law, which are within the new heart and new spirit, as well as the Holy Spirit of God are also within us and are part of the new covenant. It is a pity that many people only cling to the part about salvation. In many places, people are satisfied as long as they hear the gospel and are saved. But God has not only given us a gospel of salvation. Why would we not build a full mansion on the land that is allotted to us according to God’s deed? Why do we have to build only a small hut on one little corner of the lot and leave the other parts deserted?
We should pray about many things. But with many things, we are clear even before we pray about them. I am not saying that the teaching of the Bible is not important. I am saying that the inner leading is more precious than outward leadings. Many people have said that they do not know what to do with this and that, and what should they do if they find out that they have made a mistake. My answer is that you have God’s new heart, new spirit, the Holy Spirit, and the law within you. Some have often asked, "How in our experience and actual daily life can we still live like the Israelites in the Old Testament? Why do we still need the outward leading?" Let me ask, "Why was the book of Hebrews written?" The book of Hebrews was written for the Christians among the Hebrews. They were New Testament Christians living Old Testament lives. They were clearly men of the New Testament, yet they lived Old Testament lives. So there was a need for the book of Hebrews. Its purpose is to tell us that we do not have to live the Old Testament life anymore. The goal of Hebrews is to lead men out of the experience of the Old Testament into the experience of the New Testament. Do not be surprised that many Christians still live a life according to the Old Testament. Their experiences of salvation, receiving of the eternal life, and forgiveness are all real, yet they still live the Old Testament life. Praise God, He is no longer leading us out of Egypt by holding our hands, but by holding our hearts.
Some have asked why it is that in the Old Testament, men could see God and hear His voice directly, while we cannot today. We have to thank God that men in the Old Testament saw God with their physical eyes and heard Him with their physical ears. But today, in the New Testament, we do not have to do this. God has hidden Himself. He is within us now and is no longer outside of us. I know what I am saying. The deeper we go, the more we will realize that all the outward excitement and activities are gone. We will realize that everything has become inward. More and more, we will become normal, and men will not be surprised when they see us. The more we go on, the deeper our experience will be, the more blessing we will receive from God, and the more we will have the experience of knowing God. The more we go on, the more subjective experience we will have and the more we will gain God. Please remember that this knowledge is part of God’s covenant. Whoever has not received this leading can cling to the covenant and say to God, "This is what You have said in Your covenant, and I want it." Do not say that we will not have it. Because of this covenant, we can receive what we should receive every day. God has to give it to us. The blood of the Lord Jesus has purchased this covenant, and God’s faithfulness and righteousness guarantee that everything in this covenant will be ours. Therefore, we can cling to this covenant, speak to God, and pray to Him by standing on this covenant in faith.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 09: The Present Testimony (2), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)