I see two kinds of faith in these verses from Hebrews 11. The more important, by far, is the long range, unchanging faith in God’s person and in God’s plan no matter how long His plan takes. I call this long-range faith. It is the quality of being able to trust God far into the future.
The other kind of faith is short-range. It is the faith of the beginner, the eager new believer who wants everything to happen now! These new creations in Christ Jesus have confessed their faith in Him and have sensed the joy of being forgiven for their sins. They are likely to be taken up with today’s blessings, today’s provision, today’s expectations. As yet, they know little of persecution, temptations, the wiles of devil, the loneliness of minority.
So far, their faith in God is short range, immediate. They have not yet heard of all those heroes of faith who believed, persevered, suffered, clung to all of God’s promises and died in faith not having seen the fulfilment of God’s great plan.
Generally in our Christian circles when we talk about the promises of God, we refer to God’s immediate provision and to blessings for our present needs. But in effect, Christ has said to us, “I have a long-range plan for you! I am asking you to forsake all for Me, transfer every allegiance to Me, trust completely in Me. Then in the day of My triumph and vindication, you will triumph with Me. When I come into My ultimate glory, you will share in that glory!”
Excerpt taken from the book “Jesus, Author of our Faith” written by A.W. Tozer, published by GLS Publishing.
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Watchman Nee was born into a Christian home in China in1903, but he hadn’t received Christ as his Savior. As an educated young man, he considered Christian preaching to be the lowest occupation on earth.
In the spring of 1920, when Nee was 17, Dora Yu, an itinerant preacher was invited to hold ten days of revival meetings in the Church of Heavenly Peace in Fuzhou. Nee was determined to attend the evangelistic meetings to see what was taking place there. After returning from the meeting he accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour. When he was baptized, he declared, “Lord, I leave my world behind. Your cross separates me from it forever, and I have entered into another. I stand where you have placed me in Christ!”
Nee began to preach the gospel in villages and cities at an early age. He was greatly influenced by John Bunyan, Andrew Murray, George Muller, T Austin Sparks , JN Darby, John Fox , JG Bellet, Jessie Penn Lewis, Robert Govett and Plymouth Brethren teachings.
Watchman Nee was also frequently afflicted with serious illnesses. For the first eleven years of his ministry, beginning in 1922, he suffered alone. During this time he contracted and suffered from tuberculosis for several years. In 1934 at the age of thirty, however, Watchman Nee married a true “help meet,” Charity Chang. In later years he was also stricken with a chronic stomach disorder as well as angina pectoris, a serious heart ailment. He was never cured of the heart disease; thus, his ministry was sustained by the resurrection life, not by his physical strength.
At age 22, Nee established the first assembly in Sitiawan, Malaysia and in 1926, Nee established up another local assembly in Shanghai, which became the center of his work in China, and was later known as the “Little Flock.” By 1949 the Little Flock had over 70,000 members in 500 assemblies. “Little Flock” made up 15-20 per cent of the whole Protestant church in China, and that they may have been the largest single denomination.
Nee produced more than 40 volumes of devotional, sermonic as well as theological works. His writings were translated into many Eastern languages such as, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Tagalog as well as Western languages, such as English, French and Spanish. His books continue to influence many Christian groups ranging from charismatic renewal groups to mainline churches all over the world.
On October 1, 1949, the People’s Republic of China was established. The communist government started forcefully closing churches and arresting leaders and believers. Watchman Nee was arrested in March 1952 because of his professed faith in Christ as well as his leadership among the local churches. He was falsely condemned, judged, and sentenced in 1956 to fifteen years of imprisonment and an extended term of five years.
During this time, only his wife was allowed to visit him. Although there is no way for us to know what he experienced of the Lord during his long imprisonment, his last eight letters provide a glimpse into his suffering, feeling, and expectation during his confinement. Although prison censors did not allow him to mention the Lord’s name in his letters, in his final letter, written on the day of his death, he alluded to his joy in the Lord: “In my sickness, I still remain joyful at heart.” Watchman Nee was practicing the word of the apostle Paul, who said in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” He died in labour camp on May 30, 1972. Humanly speaking, he died in misery and humiliation. Not one relative or brother or sister in the Lord was with him. There was no proper notification of his death and no funeral. He was cremated on June 1, 1972. Because his wife had died six months earlier, her eldest sister was informed of his death and cremation. She retrieved his ashes. In May 1989 the ashes of Watchman Nee and his wife were transferred to and buried in “The Christian Cemetery” in Shiangshan in the city of Soochow, Kiangsu province.
Books published by GLS Publishing:-
Release of the Spirit(This book is a compilation of messages which emphasizes one basic lesson which every servant of God must learn- without breaking of the outward man there can be no release of the spirit.)
Sit, Walk, Stand(Christian life consists of sitting with Christ, walking beside Him and standing in Him. The author affirms that a Christian begins his spiritual life by resting in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This book is a deep study of Paul.)
The Normal Christian Life (English and Malayalam) (The theme of this vital book is the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ set forth in the letter to the Romans chapters 6 to 8.)
A Table in the Wilderness(Wonder and gratitude have a high place in these meditations, which are drawn from author’s widely varied ministry in China and beyond. They cannot fail to evoke from us a fresh response to God’s superlative grace in giving us the gift of His Son.)
Twelve Baskets Full(As the title suggests, this book is reminiscent of the fragments collected after our Lord had fed the multitude. Previously published in 3 volumes, this single volume brings together some of the devotional writings of Watchman Nee.)
Watchman Nee Biography in Hindi by Bob Laurent.(Here is a Hindi translation of the book on the life of Watchman Nee – a writer, teacher and Church planter by Bob Laurent.)
Engane Athmashakthi Prapikkam (This book tells how to be filled with Holy Spirit)
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To many Christians Christ is little more than an idea, or at best an ideal; He is not a fact. Millions of professed believers talk as if He were real and act as if He were not. And always our actual position is to be discovered by the way we act, not by the way we talk.
We can prove our faith by our committal to it and in no other way. Any belief that does not command the one who holds it is not a real belief; it is a pseudo belief only. And it might shock some of us profoundly if we were brought suddenly face-to-face with our beliefs and forced to test them in the fires of practical living.
Many of us Christians have become extremely skilful in arranging our lives so as to admit the truth of Christianity without being embarrassed by its implications. We arrange things so that we can get on well enough without divine aid, while at the same time ostensibly seeking it. We boast in the Lord but watch carefully that we never get caught depending on Him. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
Pseudo faith always arranges a way out to serve in case God fails it. Real faith knows only one way and gladly allows itself to be stripped of any second way or makeshift substitutes. For true faith, it is either God or total collapse. And not since Adam first stood up on the earth has God failed a single man or woman who trusted Him.
The man of pseudo faith will fight for his verbal creed but refuse flatly to allow himself to get into predicament where his future must depend upon that creed being true. He always provides himself with secondary ways of escape so he will have a way out if the roof caves in.
What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they know they must do at the last day. For each of us the time is surely coming when we shall have nothing but God. Health and wealth and friends and hiding places will all be swept away and we shall have only God. To the man of pseudo faith that is a terrifying thought, but to real faith it is one of the most comforting thoughts the heart can entertain.
It would be tragedy indeed to come to the place where we have no other but God and find that we had not really been trusting God during the days of our earthly sojourn. It would be better to invite God now to remove every false trust, to disengage our hearts from all secret hiding places and to bring us out into the open where we can discover for ourselves whether or not we actually trust Him. That is a harsh cure for our troubles, but is a sure one. Gentler cures may be too weak to do the work. And time is running out on us.
Excerpt taken from the book “The root of the righteous?” written by A.W. Tozer, published by GLS Publishing.
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