THE PRINCIPLES OF THE CROSS
Brothers, have you died? Have you given up your natural power and wisdom? If you have not, you cannot do the work of God. Many people are working. Actually, they are not working because God is not working. With them, it is not the new creation that is working, it is only the old creation that is working. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not working in their work. The work which we perform by the power of the Holy Spirit is a work that begins with the spirit and ends with the spirit; this work begins from our spirit and ends in others’ spirits.
Paul was not willing to preach the word of the cross with excellence of speech and wisdom. Why? He was afraid that the word of the cross might be lost. Since the cross is a fact, preaching it according to our knowledge will only propagate the reasoning of the cross; it will not propagate the power and life of the cross. In this case, we have not preached the cross with the essence and living of the cross. Since we are not preaching according to the principle of the cross, we can only expect to see the propagation of the reasoning of the cross; we cannot expect to see the propagation of the power of the cross. Therefore, the cross must become a principle; it must deal with us first. Brothers, what is our qualification for preaching the cross? Are we doing this work because we know the doctrines of the Bible well and are capable of expounding the Bible? Is it because we have eloquence or because preaching is our profession? If this is your case, I feel sorry for you. Many leaders of the church become leaders not because they have spiritual experience or the power and life of the Holy Spirit, but because they are more clever than others. They become leaders of the church because they understand the doctrines more clearly or are more eloquent than others. Actually, there are many people listening to their preaching whose spiritual condition before God is better than theirs and whose experience is much deeper. They know the things of the spirit much more and in a deeper way than these ones do. In some places, I have often seen younger workers teaching older ones who do not have much education. Actually, the older ones’ spiritual condition, experience, faith, and prayers are much better than the younger ones’. But because the younger ones have some knowledge and eloquence, they instead teach the older ones concerning spiritual matters.
We have to know whether or not God has dealt with our self. Have our natural power and wisdom been dealt with yet? Is God powerful in us? If we have not walked through this deeper journey, we are only telling others how to walk on this path according to our own ability; we ourselves do not really know how to walk on it yet. There are now too many cases of the blind leading the blind. These preachers can only preach knowledge; they cannot preach life and the Holy Spirit.
All these things are against the principle. A grain of wheat which has not died is still one grain. If our intelligence and wisdom have not died, God cannot use them. The things of the spirit are not a question of wisdom and intelligence nor a question of mental activity and comprehension; they are a question of experience and power in the spirit. If, after a believer is saved, he deeply experiences the reality of the spirit and gains it in a solid way, he does not need anybody to revive him anymore. Many people travel everywhere to conduct meetings according to their natural wisdom. Little do they realize that they themselves need God to conduct them to a revival. If God has not revived them, their work is in vain and others cannot gain anything from them; they are also in vanity. God must lead us to the end of the road. We must walk to the point where the road is destroyed and the bridge is broken. If all I have is this kind of preaching by the self, I would rather not preach. After we have worked this way for twenty or thirty years, what will the result be? What will happen at the judgment seat? God wants to lead us to the judgment seat first to see the light there. He wants us to realize ourselves that this is not right and that we should not continue this way any longer. May God cause us to see how wrong it is to work with knowledge and talents, so that we will reckon everything from old Adam as dead and will never use them again. This is like the time when we were saved, when we rejected everything from the old creation and fully received the new life from the Adam of the new creation. Brothers, what are we going to do with our way and our future? Do we want God’s power and His will to control us, or do we want to control ourselves?
Some people are temporarily revived whenever they attend a revival meeting. When the revival meeting is over, their excitement is also over. What is the difference between this kind of revival and the injection of a stimulant? After the first shot, the second shot will need a higher dosage, or else it will not work. The first time there is the need for outward excitement and emotion before one can be revived. Then the second time there is the need for better eloquence, greater excitement, and more sensational persons. Otherwise, one cannot be revived anymore. This is useless.
May God gain something real for His name in these few days. If God does not gain anything and if God does not gain the glory, everything is vanity. May we be dealt with by God. May we give ourselves to God and not disappoint Him. May we all give to God what He deserves. May we put ourselves in God’s hand in a specific way, and ask God to take us on. If God is already leading us, we should then exercise our wisdom and power no longer. We must do our best to cast these aside and come before Him anew to receive new power. We should check to see if we are walking on the way that God has arranged for us.
We only want God to gain the glory and His will to be done. We want God to gain something, rather than our gaining anything. We can ignore what others say about us. We should no longer exercise our own wisdom to direct our life and our work. Instead, we should only ask if we are doing God’s will and if we have done His will. May we be free from all self will, and may we take only God’s will as our will!
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)