The Normal Christian Faith, by Watchman Nee

More excerpts from this title...


We all know that Jesus of Nazareth is God incarnated. In other words He is God clothed with humanity. If God had not clothed Himself with flesh, He could never have accomplished redemption. This is the reason He was incarnated. But the minute He put on the flesh, He was limited in two ways. He was limited in time and space. If He remained merely God, He would not be within the bounds of time and space. But the minute He put on humanity, He was trapped by these two factors. He became the same as we are.

How is the flesh bound by time and space? If you are in Tientsin, you cannot be in Peking at the same time. If you appear in China, you cannot appear simultaneously in England. As long as you have a body, you are confined by distance. You can only be in one place at one time. Human beings are bound by the body.

Moreover, you are also limited by time. You cannot exist at two different times simultaneously. I can only know you as you are. I cannot see what you will become tomorrow or next year. Often I would be talking to someone one minute. The next instant he was no longer available to me. That person to whom I talked was limited; he could only appear to me at one time but not at another. This is the bondage that time puts on our flesh. We can be together, but not forever. Time puts an ultimate end to all human relationships.

Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ who clothed Himself with human flesh, was also confined by the two conditions of time and space. All that God could do then was to reckon us as attached to Christ and accomplish redemption this way. There was as yet no way for us to be actually in Him, because we could not get into another body of flesh. In order for us to be in Christ or Christ in us, there was the need for Him to be something other than merely in the flesh. He had to come in another form before He could be one with us. Fire can become one with iron because it is something that has "proceeded forth." It is impossible to blend a piece of wood into iron. He had to appear in another fashion before He could come into us.


Second Corinthians 5:16 says, "So then we, from now on, know no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him so no longer." Here the apostle revealed one of the most elementary doctrines in Christianity. The Christ that we preach is no longer the Christ in the flesh. He is very different from the One whom the twelve disciples knew in Galilee. Then Christ walked with them, ate with them, lived with them, and traveled together with them. They saw His face and touched His hands; they heard His voice and watched His miracles. Everything they knew about Him was after the flesh. But this amazing passage tells us that we know Him no longer after the flesh. The fleshly relationship is no longer valid.

Why is there the need for such a verse? There is a very strong reason for it. If Christ were still in His flesh, He would still be encumbered by time and space. We could only contact Him some of the time. He would be available at one place only. Everyone who was not at the same place and the same time as He could not touch Him.

Please give your full attention to this peak of our faith. If the Christ that we preach today were still in the flesh, imagine what would happen! If at this moment He was in Jerusalem, He would not be available here in Tientsin. If He came to Tientsin, the ones in Jerusalem would miss Him. Then He would become a prisoner of space like us.

What if He wanted to stay permanently in Jerusalem? How could we see Him? Perhaps once in a while we would have to pay the expense to travel to Jerusalem to visit Him. At least we would have to make this pilgrimage once a year to behold the incarnated God. In Jerusalem we might be able to stay very close to Him. But the minute we left Jerusalem, we would be separated again from Him. Hence, if Christ were still in the flesh, our faith would be a materialistic religion. Christianity would have a universal center on earth from which it would control and direct all the Christians.

When the twelve disciples were with Christ, He still had His flesh with Him. When He talked to three disciples, the other nine missed it. When He walked with eleven, one was left out. Even when they all dined together, some were closer to Him than others. Not everyone could recline on His bosom as John did. He was limited by time and space.

(The Normal Christian Faith, Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)