Watchman Nee

Watchman Nee

I have not read as much of Watchman Nee as the following list might imply. He preached in China from 1920 (at age 17) until he was imprisoned in 1952. He remained there until his death on May 30, 1972. All of the following books were published posthumously. A bio of him can be found at Although his entire life seemed filled with controversy, I don’t think any of these quotes are divisive. Over 60 books have been published in his name, and maybe a dozen about his life. Some of these quotes may seem too blunt. I think that considering when and where they came from,  some intense, perhaps “absolutist” and unattainable standards are implied. I am presenting these quotes for several reasons.

1. To show that believers in other parts of the world have made the “daily-cross bearing” a priority.
2. To show that much has been written about this aspect of the Christian life.
3. To learn from the efforts of others, in order to prevent the repitition of serious mistakes.
4. To de-fuse the sense of exclusivity that many Believers can feel when they first begin to discover some of the things emphasized in the Bible that appear to have been neglected or even forgotten.
5. To learn from those who have really suffered for Christ, in this case from Communists and hostile Christian leaders, what Christianity might be like in times of severe persecution. Anything we can learn about that aspect of our faith may help prepare us to deal with the gradual loss of our religious liberties that believers seem to be expecting around the world.

Before you read on, please pray that God would be your Teacher, and help you to see which of these statements can help, and which might represent a line that you should not cross. It is not likely that any one Believer is ready for all of this. I know that I am not.
I will offer some of my opinions at the end.



From “Back To The Cross”

“Apart from the Lord we can do nothing! (John 15:5) Only He has shown us and accomplished for us the way to the death of self. And it is none other than the Cross. However, it is not a single or sole, crucifixion; it is actually a co-crucifixion (Gal.2:20).”

“To deny self is a daily matter that should never cease. Paul said, “I die daily.” (I Cor. 15:31)”

“For the Christian, death to self is the door to life. It is the only way to fruitfulness. Hence, death is absolutely necessary. But how many of us are really dead? Death to self is the cessation of all self’s activity!”

“If you have not experienced the death of self, your spiritual life will have little real progress.”


From “The Messenger of the Cross”


“To preach the Cross is relatively easy, but to be a crucified person preaching the Cross is not so easy.”

“A person who desires to preach the Cross should adopt the way of the Cross.”

“So often what we preach is indeed the Cross; but our attitudes, our words, and our feelings do not seem to bear witness to what we preach. This is because much of the preaching of the Cross is not done in the Spirit of the Cross. Only a crucified person preaches the message of the Cross in the spirit of the Cross.”

“How can we give to other people what we ourselves do not have? Unless the Cross becomes our life, we cannot impart that life to others. The failure of our work is due to the fact that we are not eager to preach the Cross without that Cross being within us.”

“The Cross we preach to others should first crucify us.”

“The Lord Jesus was lifted up on the cross for the sake of giving spiritual life to men; likewise, if we desire to cause people to have spiritual life, we too, must be lifted up on the cross so that the Holy Spirit may flow out of us as well. “

“It is only as the Cross is allowed to burn into our own hearts through the fire of sufferings and adversities that we will we able to see it reproduced in the hearts of other people.”

“Whatever work is done by depending on our natural life is mostly in vain, but work performed in the power of supernatural life bears much fruit. Death is the indispensable process of fruit-bearing. In fact, death is the only way to bear fruit (John 12:24-24)”


From “A Living Sacrifice”


“A person is buried only after he is dead. You would vigorously object to being buried before you were dead. Death is the prequisite of burial. Having been crucified with Christ, I am dead. Hence, my baptism is a testimony to that fact.”

“If longtime believers are not willing to sacrifice all they have in order to follow the Lord, what good is it to instruct young believers to do so? it is very confusing for young ones to be taught to walk one way while they are being shown another. If the church is not a consecrated church–if the church is not sepearate from the world–she is not entitled to mention baptism or separation. The only way to help young believers grow up and mature in the Lord is for the church herself to be living and walking in such a state. If most of the believers in a fellowship are wholly abandoned to God, it willl be very easy for those around them who are young in the Lord to learn to be likewise.”

“Every believer ought to know there are four things to be done attentively before God each morning: communion, praise, Bible reading and prayer. If one neglects any of these four, the day will declare it.”

“A well-know pianist once remarked, “If I do not practice for one day, I notice something wrong. If I do not practice for two days, my wife notices something wrong. And if I do not practice for three days, the whole world notices something wrong.” How many Christians there are who wonder why the performance of their spiritual life is not worthy to be manifested before others, yet they are not willing to spend time with the Lord daily!”

“Cultivate the habit of rising early for daily devotions. Try it many times; do it again and again. Until that habit is formed, though, ask God to give you grace that this good habit of early rising may be developed.”


From “Not I But Christ”

“It is exceedingly ugly in the sight of God for the forgiven person to be unforgiving, for the one who has received mercy to be merciless, and for the one to whom He has given grace to not be gracious to others.”

“A sad but common, occurrence among believers is that soon after a brother has sinned against another brother, the matter becomes know to everyone, except the one who has sinned. The offended brother has broadcast it everywhere, yet he has not the strength to tell the offender. (See Matthew 18:15.) This indicates how weak he is, for it is only the weak who tell tales.”

“Man’s reactions to ordinary, everyday matters can be divided into three levels: first the level of reason, which reacts temperamentally and angrily; second, the level of good conduct, which reacts patiently; and third, the level of God’s life, which reacts transcendently.”


From “The Word of the Cross”


“The Cross is composed of two sides, yet they are inseparable. On the one side is death; on the other side is resurrection. A natural man is not able to know death since he does not even know life. Yet how can the spiritual man know life if he does not know death?”

“‘Death is the believers’ passive way with sin; whereas ‘life’ is his active way with righteousness. Many believers are stuck in the ‘death’ position; thus they are very weak and without any power. In their death they fail to experience life, for without passing through death, life will not come.”

“If one dies daily, he lives daily; if one dies to sin, he is alive unto the Lord (Rom. 6:11). It is upon reaching this stage of spiritual experience that a Christians’ life becomes victorious. One is then prepared to do battle in spiritual warfare with Satan. Sadly, most Christians never move past the conflict in Romans 7.  And since this is no more than a battling with the Old man, it cannot be called spiritual warfare.”

“Regeneration is only the first stage of spiritual life. When one is regenerated, he receives life, though this life is just in its infancy. After this, co-death and co-resurrection with the Lord are to be the experience of every believer. They are the marks borne by one who is mature in the Lord. How unfortunate that so few bear them!”


Mr Nee wrote about so many aspects of the Christian life, I doubt anyone could offer an adequate summary. Years ago, I took my time working through his books “The Normal Christian LIfe,” “The Release of the Spirit,” “What shall this man do?” “Spiritual Reality or Obession.” and some I have forgotten. I am amazed at how some of his ideas have left their marks on my life. And I am a little surprised at how differently I now feel about some of those same ideas.

I am now much more interested in the role of the “Sensitive Shepherd”, than I am of the “Powerful Prophet.”

Please let me know how God has given you insight into these ideas, and how you are applying them to your own life. You may never know how many others may benefit from your experience and faith.