Special Grace and Reserve Grace, by Watchman Nee


It is a great grief to me that I frequently meet brothers and sisters who are so dependent on special grace that between the periodic help these experiences bring, their words and state of mind lapse into that of a non-Christian. What a poverty-stricken state this reveals! Once this kind of person lacks an incoming supply, he is empty. I readily acknowledge that we all would be utterly destitute if God’s grace were removed from us; but it is also true that something of God’s grace can be constituted into our very being. God’s reserve deposit in man is also a fact. Some people live from hand to mouth, spending whatever comes in to meet their expenses of the moment. They cannot withstand trials.

What are trials? Trials are times when it seems that God does not care for us, listen to us, or fellowship with us. Madame Guyon understood trials best. Spiritual trials are times when it seems that God has covered His face and shut His mouth, when it seems that He will not answer or make a sound, when it seems He is so quiet that there is no God in heaven at all. These times of trial immediately separate those with reserves from those with none.

A poor person lives by the joy of prayer and sustains his living through the freshness of the Lord’s table. Whenever he does not have these, he fails for the week because he cannot go on, and he stumbles. Many people rely on special grace for their entire life and for all aspects of their living; they do not have reserves.

Some people, such as Madame Guyon, go through trials for months at a time. During the trials the entire world may appear so confusing that it seems as if there is no God. A person with inward reserves of grace will be manifested by such a time. He will pass the test. He has something inside that is sufficient. This something is called wealth. This is the wealth that the Lord spoke of to the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:18a).

In summary, poverty is a lack of reserves; wealth is having reserves. We mean, of course, spiritual reserves.


Time Is an Essential Factor

How can we be inwardly wealthy with reserves? This is a question of fundamental importance. Permit me to say a very straight word to the younger brothers. No matter who you are, none of you are really wealthy. Perhaps you think you have become rich. But accumulating wealth requires time. Those who have spent time before God might have some riches. Those who have not spent time without a doubt are poor. It is impossible for young people to be wealthy. Time is an important factor. Formerly we were of the opinion that some of the young people were ahead of the older ones in basic spiritual matters. When we recently touched some deeper matters in Foochow, we discovered that many of the finest young brothers were unable to grasp the most practical matters. I appeal to you young ones to check how much you have accumulated in spiritual reserves. I am afraid you only have the tiniest of reserves. Do not be proud. Being proud is sheerest folly. You must realize that a long course still lies before you. You must be constituted with and established by the Holy Spirit in this course day by day. Time is a matter of primary importance. No one can skip over this consideration.

(Special Grace and Reserve Grace, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)