THE CHRISTIAN LIFE AND WARFARE – by Watchman Nee (Chapter 4)
FACT, FAITH, AND EXPERIENCE
In the present age of grace, everything is “by grace” (Eph. 2:8). Everything being by grace means that everything is done by God. Man does not have to do anything to be saved because “to the one who works, his wages are not accounted according to grace, but according to what is due” (Rom. 4:4). Because God deals with man according to grace, there are certain facts.
God has accomplished everything for man. Since everything has been accomplished, certain “facts” exist. And since they are existing “facts,” man does not have to accomplish what has already been accomplished. All of God’s works are complete.
However, God’s grace is a righteous grace. This is why, with the “facts,” there is still the need for human cooperation. What kind of cooperation is this? It is not to add anything to what He has finished, but to have man acknowledge that what God has done is real. This is faith.
Faith is to acknowledge that what God has said and done is true. Faith is to accept the facts, that is, to acknowledge them as facts.
Faith is a “cashing in.” I use the words “cashing in” in the sense of one cashing a check at the bank. Suppose someone gives you a check. That the bank has the money is a fact. For you to cash the check for money is to acknowledge the fact that the bank possesses whatever amount is written on the check. It takes faith to “cash in.” With faith, one can cash in and thereby have the money to use. Now, to spend the money is the “experience.” To have the money in the bank is the “fact,” to cash the check is “faith,” and to spend the money is “experience.” In God’s grace, what He has done for man are facts. But man must still experience these facts.
To experience God’s grace is to claim by faith the facts that God has accomplished for man. These facts are accomplished by God. What man needs is faith. The facts belong to God, and the experience belongs to man. Thus, faith is God’s facts becoming man’s experience. What the Bible shows us is simply “fact, faith, and experience.”
We know that the Lord Jesus is the Word become flesh. He is the consummation of all divine virtues and the grand total of all perfections. His living is God’s living, for He is God Himself. Christ has accomplished salvation on the cross. All those who sincerely accept the Lord Jesus as Lord and Savior, at the moment they believe, God accepts them as He accepted the Lord Jesus. At that time, all the divine virtues and accomplishments of the Lord Jesus come upon the believers. In God’s view and before God, they are the same as the Lord Jesus. God sees every Christian as He sees Christ. Christians possess all of Christ’s work and accomplishments through their union with Him. This is the “fact” that the Christians have been given by God. This fact was accomplished by Christ for the Christians. This fact is that through the believers’ union with the Lord Jesus, everything that belongs to Christ now belongs to His believers also. This is a fact that has been accomplished by God alone; the believers themselves have no share whatever in its accomplishment.
The Bible points out this fact very clearly. The writer of the book of Hebrews uses a particularly simple illustration to point out God’s accomplished fact for us. In 9:15-17 what the Lord Jesus has accomplished for us is illustrated by a person’s making of a will. A will is a promise of “inheritance” to those who receive the will. But before the one who makes the will dies, the will is not effective. Once the person dies, the recipients of the will can receive the inheritance left by the one who made the will. The Lord Jesus is the One who made the will. He has died. Hence, all that He has promised goes immediately under our name. This is the fact that we have received from Him. Although we may not take possession of the inheritance all at once or enjoy the benefit and sustenance from the inheritance, yet the inheritance is indeed ours; it belongs to us and is under our name already. This is an immovable fact. To have the inheritance is one thing; to enjoy the inheritance is another. The ownership of the inheritance is the “fact,” and the enjoyment of the inheritance is the “experience.” We have the fact of owning the inheritance, not because of ourselves, but because of the One who has left the will. The possession of the fact comes first. The enjoyment comes afterward.