THE GREATEST MEANS OF RECEIVING GRACE
From the day a person is saved, God has been edifying him through the impartation of grace. A man can receive grace from God through many ways. We call these ways the means of receiving grace. For example, prayer is a means of receiving grace because we can go to God and receive grace through prayer. Listening to a message can also be a means of receiving grace because we can go to God and receive grace through listening. The expression means of receiving grace, or simply means of grace, is a good expression. The church has been using this expression for hundreds of years. We receive grace through means of grace. From the day we became a Christian, our daily life has been one in which we receive one means of grace after another. Our meetings, our listening to messages, our prayer, and many other things we do are means by which we obtain grace. Here we would like to point out one thing: The greatest means of receiving grace, one which we should never neglect, is the discipline of the Holy Spirit. The chief means of receiving grace in the Christian life is the discipline of the Holy Spirit. No other means of grace, such as prayer, Bible study, meeting together, listening to messages, waiting, meditation, or praise, can match this means of grace—the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Of all the means of grace that we receive from God, none is more important than this. The discipline of the Holy Spirit is the greatest means of receiving grace.
When we look back and examine our experience of the various means of grace, we will get an idea of how much we have gone on with God. If our spiritual progress has been through prayer, listening to messages, and reading the Bible alone, we have missed the chief means of receiving grace. All the things that come upon us every day in the family, in our school, in our work, or even on the street are arranged by the Holy Spirit for our highest good and profit. If we have not received profit from them and if we remain ignorant and closed to this greatest means of grace, we will suffer the greatest loss. The discipline of the Holy Spirit is too crucial; it is a Christian’s main means of receiving grace throughout his life. Our reading of the Bible cannot replace the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Our prayer cannot replace the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Our meetings cannot replace the discipline of the Holy Spirit. No other means of grace can replace the discipline of the Holy Spirit. We need to pray, to study the Bible, to listen to messages, and to have all kinds of means of grace. They are all precious, but none of them can replace the discipline of the Holy Spirit. If we have not learned the proper lessons in the discipline of the Holy Spirit, we cannot be proper Christians and can never serve God. Listening to messages can nourish our inner being. Prayer can revive us inwardly. Reading God’s Word can refresh us within. Helping others can release our spirit. However, if our outer man remains strong, others will encounter mixture when they encounter us; they will realize that we are not that pure. On the one hand, they will feel our zeal; on the other hand, they will sense our mixture. On the one hand, they will see that we do love the Lord; on the other hand, they also will know that we love ourselves. On the one hand, they can say that here is a precious brother; on the other hand, they have to say that here is a stubborn brother. The outer man is not yet broken. We are edified not only when we pray, listen to messages, and study the Bible. Our greatest edification comes when we are under the discipline of the Holy Spirit.
We need an absolute consecration on our side. But we can never assume that consecration can replace the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Consecration affords the Holy Spirit a chance to work on us freely. We should say, "Lord, I commit myself to Your hand. I allow You to work freely. Lord, give me what You think I need." If we yield to the arrangement of the Holy Spirit, we will reap the benefit. The very act of yielding will bring us benefit. But if we do not yield, instead arguing with God and walking according to our own will, we will end up taking the crooked path no matter what way we take. The basic issue is whether or not we can give ourselves to God unconditionally, unreservedly, and unequivocally for Him to deal with us freely. If we realize that all of God’s arrangements are for our highest good, including those things that bring us embarrassment, and if we are willing to give ourselves to God in this way, we will find the Holy Spirit dealing with us in many things.
(The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit, Chapter 6, by Watchman Nee)