Authority and Submission, by Watchman Nee


Now my question is: What is resurrection? Resurrection is everything that is not out of our natural life, not out of ourselves, and not based on our ability. Resurrection speaks of the things that are beyond us, which we cannot do in ourselves. Any rod can be engraved with flowers or painted with colors, but no one can make it bud. We have never heard of a rod which can still bud and blossom after being used for decades. This is God’s work. No woman in the world has ever given birth after her womb has been closed, but Sarah bore Isaac (Rom. 4:19). This was God’s doing. Hence, Sarah typifies resurrection. What is resurrection? Resurrection means that one cannot do anything by himself, that he can only do it through God. It means that it is not by oneself, but by God. Resurrection means that one ignores what he is and trusts only in what God is. It matters little whether or not you are smarter than others or more eloquent than others. If you have any spirituality, this spirituality is not based on yourself, but on God’s work in you. Suppose Aaron had been foolish enough to say to others, “My rod is different from your rod. My rod is smoother, brighter, and straighter. This is why it budded.” How foolish and silly that would have been! If we think for a moment that we are different from others, that is the most foolish thought. Even if there is something different in us, it is the result of God’s work. Resurrection means that everything is out of God.

The name Isaac means “laughter.’’ Why did Abraham call his son “laughter”? He called him Isaac for two reasons. First, God promised Abraham that Sarah would give birth to a son. When Sarah heard, she laughed. It was natural for her to laugh. When she looked at herself, she could not help but laugh. Her time of childbearing was past, and her womb was closed. How could she ever bear a child? She thought that this was impossible. Therefore, when God told Abraham that she would have a child, she laughed. Second, when Sarah brought forth a son a year later, she was indeed laughing for joy. Hence, God called the child’s name Isaac (Gen. 18:10-15; 21:1-3, 6-7), which means “laughter.” The first time she laughed because of the impossibility of the promise. The second time she laughed because she discovered to her surprise that it was possible. If a man has never experienced the first laughing, he can never experience the second laughing. If a man has never realized his own inability, he can never experience God’s ability. Sarah knew herself; she had full knowledge of herself. She knew that she could not make it. But as soon as she looked to God’s work, she was able to laugh. What is resurrection? Resurrection means that God has given us something that we did not have in ourselves. The Bible testifies again and again that man cannot make it by himself. But many people think that they can make it. In the matter of service, if some would truly laugh at themselves, saying, “I cannot make it,” they would find themselves laughing again, saying, “I did not make it. I have seen through myself. The Lord has made it for me.” If there is any manifestation of authority in us, we should say to the Lord, “You are the One who has done it. It is none of my business.” Resurrection means that you cannot make it and that God is the One who has done everything.


The principle to every service lies in the budding rod. God returned all the eleven rods to the leaders, but kept Aaron’s rod inside the ark as an eternal memorial. This means that resurrection is an eternal principle in our service to God. A servant of the Lord is one who has died and resurrected. God testifies again and again to His people that authority to serve God lies in resurrection, not in a person himself. All services to the Lord must pass through death and resurrection before they will be acceptable to God. Resurrection means that everything is of God and not of us. It means that God alone is able and that we are not able. Resurrection means that everything is done by God, not by ourselves. All those who think highly of themselves and who hold a misguided judgment of themselves have never realized what resurrection is. No one should be mistaken to think that he can do anything by himself. If a man continues to think that he is able, that he can do something, and that he is useful, he does not know resurrection. He may know the doctrine of resurrection, the reason for resurrection, or the result of resurrection, but he does not know resurrection. All those who know resurrection have given up hope in themselves; they know that they cannot make it. As long as the natural strength remains, the power of resurrection has no ground for manifestation. As long as Sarah could beget a child, Isaac would not come. What we can do belongs to the natural realm, and what is impossible for us to do belongs to the realm of resurrection.

God’s ability is not manifested in His creation but in resurrection. God’s greatest power is manifested not through creation but through resurrection. When God’s power is manifested in creation, it does not need to be preceded by death. But when His power is manifested in resurrection, there is the need for it to be preceded by death. Every created thing needs no precedence for its creation, but everything in resurrection has its precedence. If a man can survive by what he possessed in the first place, he has not experienced any resurrection. If a man’s ability is according to what he had in the first place, he does not have resurrection. If he is what he was in the first place, he does not have resurrection. If what he has is what he possessed in the first place, he does not have resurrection. We must acknowledge that we can do nothing, are nothing, and have nothing. We are like a dead dog. If we acknowledge this, and we find that something is still alive in us, that is resurrection. Creation does not require the knowledge of death, but resurrection requires that we fall down, prostrate before God, and confess to Him, “I can do nothing. I am nothing, and I have nothing. This is what I am. If I can give anything to others, it is because You have given it to me. If I can do anything, it is because You have done it through me.” Once we prostrate before the Lord in this way, everything we have will become God’s work in us. Henceforth, we will never be mistaken. We will realize that everything that is dead belongs to us and everything that is living belongs to God. We have to separate ourselves from the Lord clearly; everything that has to do with death belongs to us, and everything that has to do with life belongs to the Lord. The Lord is never confused, but we are often confused. A man must come to the end of himself before he will be convinced of his utter uselessness. After Sarah gave birth to Isaac, she would never be foolish enough to think that her own strength was responsible for it. The colt would not be mistaken to think that the hosannas were directed at it. God has to bring us to the point where we will no longer be confused about what is of God and what is of us.

Everyone who is an authority should know this; he should not be mistaken in any way. There must be no misunderstanding with authority. Authority is of God and not of us; we are only those who keep custody of authority. Only those who have seen this are qualified to be a deputy authority. Brothers and sisters, when you set out for your work, I hope that none of you would be foolish enough to think that you have any authority in yourself. As soon as you offend the principle of resurrection, you lose authority, and as soon as you try to exhibit your authority, you instantly lose authority. A dry rod can exhibit nothing but death. But when you have resurrection, you have authority, because authority rests with resurrection, not with the natural life. Everything that we have is natural. Hence authority does not rest in us but in the Lord.

(Authority and Submission, Chapter 15, by Watchman Nee)