Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), by Watchman Nee


Scripture Reading: Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21

The Failure of the Church

The reason that the church is on the earth is to maintain the victory of Christ on the cross and bind Satan in each locality as the Lord bound him on Calvary. On the cross the Lord has condemned Satan according to the law. Now God desires that the church execute this judgment on the earth.

Satan knows that the church will be involved in his defeat. This is why he persecutes and tries to deceive the church with his falsehood. He is a murderer and a liar. The church is not afraid of his angry countenance but of his smiling face. The Acts of the Apostles is the record of how the church passed through death into life. God used Satan’s attack to display Christ’s victory. However, the church gradually became degraded. For example, there were the falsehood of Ananias and Sapphira, the greediness of Simon, the admission of false brothers, the care of many for their own affairs, and the forsaking by many of Paul when he was in prison.

God’s Search for Overcomers

After the failure of the church, God searched for a small number of people in the church to become His overcomers, those who would bear the responsibility which the church should have picked up but did not. God wanted a small number of faithful ones to represent the church and maintain the victory of Christ. In all of the seven ages of the church, there are God’s overcomers. This line of overcomers has never been broken. The overcomers are not special people. The overcomers of God are a group of people who are one with God’s original purpose.

The Principle of the Overcomers

According to the Bible, when God wants to do something, He first chooses a small number of people as a base and then works the same thing into the majority of the people. The record of the age of the patriarchs proves this principle is true. At that time, God chose men here and there in a scattered way. There were men like Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham. From Abraham, the record went on to the Israelites; from the dispensation of the patriarchs, to the dispensation of the law; from the dispensation of the law, to the dispensation of grace; from the dispensation of grace, to the dispensation of the kingdom; and from the dispensation of the kingdom, to the new heaven and new earth. The kingdom is a precursor to the new heaven and new earth. The altar and the tabernacle of the dispensation of the law typify items of the dispensation of grace. This is the principle of God’s work; it always goes from few to many.

Colossians 2:19 says, "And...holding the Head, out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied and knit together by means of the joints and sinews, grows with the growth of God." "Joints" are for supply, while "sinews" are for the knitting together. The Head supplies and knits together the whole body through the joints and sinews. Only the overcomers can be the supplying joints and the connecting sinews.

Jerusalem typifies the church. Within Jerusalem, there was Mount Zion. One typifies the whole body of the church, while the other typifies the overcomers of the church. Jerusalem is large, while Zion is small. The stronghold of Jerusalem is Zion. Whenever there is something that has to do with God’s heart desire, Zion is mentioned. Whenever there is something that has to do with the failures and sins of the Jews, Jerusalem is mentioned. God always allowed Jerusalem to be trodden down, but He always protected Zion. There is a New Jerusalem, but there never will be a new Zion, because Zion can never become old. Every time the Old Testament speaks of the relationship between Zion and Jerusalem, it shows us that the characteristics, the life, the blessing, and the establishment of Jerusalem come from Zion. In 1 Kings 8:1, the elders were in Jerusalem, and the ark of the covenant was in Zion. Psalm 51:18 says that God did good to Zion and built the walls of Jerusalem. Psalm 102:21 says that the name of the Lord was in Zion and that His praise was in Jerusalem. Psalm 128:5 says that the Lord blessed out of Zion and that the good was seen in Jerusalem. Psalm 135:21 says that the Lord dwelt at Jerusalem but that the Lord was to be blessed out of Zion. In Isaiah 41:27 the word was first announced to Zion and then preached to Jerusalem. Joel 3:17 says that when God dwelt in Zion, Jerusalem would be holy.

Today God is looking for the one hundred and forty-four thousand amidst the defeated church, who will stand on Mount Zion (Rev. 14). God always uses a small number of believers to pass on the flow of life to the church and to revive the church. As the Lord has done once before, so these overcomers have to pour out their blood before life can flow out to others. On behalf of the church, the overcomers take the stand of victory and also suffer tribulation and despising.

Thus, the overcomers of God need to give up what they consider as right. They have to pay the price and allow the cross to cut off all the old creation and deal with the gates of Hades (Matt. 16:18).

Are you willing to endure heartache to gain the heart of God? Are you willing to let yourself be defeated so that the Lord can be the Victor? When your obedience is fulfilled, God will deal with all disobedience (2 Cor. 10:6).

(Afternoon, January 26)

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)