By Watchman Nee Preface

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Nature Has Its Way of Breaking

The Lord Jesus tells us in John 12, “Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone; but if it die, it bears much fruit.” Life is in the grain of wheat, but there is a shell, a very hard shell on the outside. As long as that shell is not split open, the wheat cannot sprout and grow. “Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die . . . “ What is this death? It is the cracking open of the shell through the working together of temperature, humidity, in the soil. Once the shell is split open, the wheat begins to grow. So the question here is not whether there is life within, but whether the outside shell is cracked open.

The Scripture continues by saying, “He that loves his life (Greek, soul) shall lose it, and he that hates his life (Greek, soul) in this world shall keep it to life eternal” (v. 25). The Lord shows us here that the outer shell is our own life (our soul life), while the life within is the eternal life which He has given to us. To allow the inner life to come forth, it is imperative that the outward life be replaced. Should the outward remain unbroken, the inward would never be able to come forth.

It is necessary (in this writing) that we direct these words to that group of people who have the Lord’s life. Among those who possess the life of the Lord can be found two distinct conditions: one includes those in whom life is confined, restricted, imprisoned and unable to come forth; the other includes those in whom the Lord has forged a way, and life is thus released from them.

The question thus is not how to obtain life, but rather how to allow this life to come forth. When we say we need the Lord to break us, this is not merely a way of speaking, nor is it only a doctrine. It is vital that we be broken by the Lord. It is not that the life of the Lord cannot cover the earth, but rather that His life is imprisoned by us. It is not that the Lord cannot bless the church, but that the Lord’s life is so confined within us that there is no flowing forth. If the outward man remains unbroken, we can never be a blessing to His church, and we cannot expect the word of God to be blessed by Him through us!

Hoe de natuur tewerk gaat

De Heer Jezus zegt ons in Jh 12: “Indien de graankorrel niet in de aarde valt en sterft, blijft zij op zichzelf. Maar indien zij sterft, brengt zij veel vrucht voort”. Er is leven in de graankorrel, maar daaromheen ligt een vlies en dat is erg hard. Zolang dit vlies niet open splijt, kan de tarwe niet groeien. “Indien de graankorrel niet in de aarde valt en sterft...”. Wat is dan dit sterven? Dat vindt plaats als dit vlies openbarst door het samenwerken van temperatuur, vochtigheid, enz. in de aarde. Als het vlies eenmaal opengebarsten is, begint de tarwe te groeien. De vraag is hier dus niet of er binnenin wel leven is, maar of het vlies eromheen is opengebarsten.

Vervolgens zegt de Schrift: “Wie zijn leven (ziel) liefheeft, maakt dat het verloren gaat, maar wie zijn leven (ziel) haat in deze wereld, zal het bewaren ten eeuwigen leven”. De Heer laat ons hier zien dat dit buitenste vlies ons zieleleven is, terwijl het leven binnenin het eeuwige leven is, dat Hij ons heeft gegeven. Om dat innerlijke leven in staat te stellen naar buiten te treden moet het uitwendige leven worden verbroken. Als dat niet gebeurt kan het inwendige leven nooit aan het licht komen.

Het is noodzakelijk dat wij ons in verband met dit onderwerp richten tot die groep mensen, die het leven van de Heer hebben. Onder hen kunnen wij twee groepen onderscheiden: in de ene groep is het leven begrensd, beperkt, gevangen en kan zich niet openbaren; de andere groep omvat degenen, in wie de Heer Zich baan gebroken heeft.

De vraag, die wij hier onder ogen zien, is dus niet hoe wij het leven verkrijgen, maar veel meer hoe dit leven aan het licht kan worden gebracht. Als wij zeggen dat de Heer ons moet breken, is dat niet maar een bepaalde manier van zeggen of een bepaalde leer. Het is essentieel dat wij door de Heer verbroken worden. Het gaat er in feite niet om, dat het leven van de Heer de aarde niet zou kunnen omvatten, maar veel meer dat Zijn leven door ons gevangen wordt gehouden. Niet dat de Heer de Gemeente niet kan zegenen, maar dat het leven van de Heer in ons zo begrensd is dat het niet naar buiten stroomt.

Als de uiterlijke mens niet verbroken wordt kunnen wij nooit een zegen zijn voor Zijn Gemeente. En dan kunnen wij ook niet verwachten, dat het Woord, dat wij doorgeven, door God gezegend wordt!

The Alabaster Box Must Be Broken

The Bible tells of the pure spikenard. God purposely used this term “pure” in His word to show that it is truly spiritual. But if the alabaster box is not broken, the pure spikenard will not flow forth. Strange to say, many are still treasuring the alabaster box, thinking that its value exceeds that of the ointment. Many think that their outward man is more precious than their inward man. This becomes the problem in the church. One will treasure his cleverness, thinking he is quite important; another will treasure his own emotions, esteeming himself as an important person; others highly regard themselves, feeling they are better than others, their eloquence surpasses that of others, their quickness of action and exactness of judgment are superior, and so forth. However, we are not antique collectors; we are not vase admirers; we are those who desire to smell only the fragrance of the ointment. Without the breaking of the outward, the inward will not come forth. Thus individually we have no flowing out, but also the church does not have a living way. Why then should we hold ourselves as so precious, if our outward contains instead of releases the fragrance?

The Holy Spirit has not ceased working. One event after another, one thing after another, comes to us. Each disciplinary working of the Holy Spirit has but one purpose: to break our outward man so that our inward man may come through. Yet here is our difficulty: we fret over trifles, we murmur at small losses. The Lord is preparing a way to use us, yet scarcely has His hand touched us when we feel unhappy, even to the extent of quarreling with God and becoming negative in our attitude. Since being saved, we have been touched many times in various ways by the Lord, all with the purpose of breaking our outward man. Whether we are conscious of it or not, the aim of the Lord is to break this outward man.

So the Treasure is in the earthen vessel, but if the earthen vessel is not broken, who can see the Treasure within? What is the final objective of the Lord’s working in our lives? It is to break this earthen vessel, to break our alabaster box, to crack open our shell. The Lord longs to find a way to bless the world through those who belong to Him. Brokenness is the way of blessing, the way of fragrance, the way of fruitfulness, but it is also a path sprinkled with blood. Yes, there is blood from many wounds. When we offer ourselves to the Lord to be at His service, we cannot afford to be lenient, to spare ourselves. We must allow the Lord utterly to crack our outward man, so that He may find a way for His out working.

Each of us must find out for himself what is the mind of the Lord in his life. It is a most lamentable fact that many do not know what is the mind or intention of the Lord for their lives. How much they need for Him to open their eyes, to see that everything which comes into their lives can be meaningful. The Lord has not wasted even one thing. To understand the Lord’s purpose, is to see very clearly that He is aiming at a single objective: the breaking of the outward man.

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