Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | February 14, 2020

Thinking Again on “The Normal Christian Life”

The essays this week and next week will present the single most important principle for successfully living the Christian life, The Exchanged Life; I urge and encourage you to prayerfully study their message and, by faith, embrace the exchanged life for yourself!

What is the Normal Christian Life?

During my first year at Dallas Theological Seminary I had the privilege of taking a class on spiritual life from Dr. John Walvoord. Our text for that class was a book by Watchman Nee called, “The Normal Christian Life.” The first sentence in Chapter 1 poses the question, “What is the normal Christian life?”

Watchman NeeWatchman Nee

Before I continue, please let me tell you how much that book has meant to me; it was a life-changing book that I have read and reread many times and have recommended to countless others. My original volume was loaned out so many times I can’t even remember and somehow managed to get itself lost; I hope it is still out there somewhere doing good for someone!

Right now I have my replacement copy in front of me; a copy of “The Normal Christian Life” which is available by clicking on the link.

The first paragraph concludes with these words, “We do well at the outset to ponder this question. The object of these studies is to show that it is something very different from the life of the aver­age Christian. Indeed a consideration of the written Word of God —of the Sermon on the Mount for example—should lead us to ask whether such a life has ever in fact been lived upon the earth, save only by the Son of God Himself But in that last saving clause lies immediately the answer to our question.”

A Fascinating Heritage

Over the years I have been blessed with the opportunity to read many wonderful books on Christianity written by contemporary authors. One of those books was given to me by a fellow student at DTS and is named, “Hudson Taylors’ Spiritual Secret.” This fellow student wrote an inscription on an inside page which reads:

Dear David

May this book be as rich a blessing to your own spiritual life as it has been to mine, and may we both experience even greater joys in our Lord as we walk with Him in faith as did the one about whom this volume was written.

In Christian Love,

That was followed by his signature which I’ll omit but will add that he is, I believe, a retired pastor who lives in Colorado. I don’t know why he gave me that book but I’m grateful he did; perhaps he saw my spiritual life was in need of some refining, I’m sure it must have been as that book has also made an important contribution to my growth as a Christian man.

I mention this particular book because I believe it had a direct bearing on the early 20th Century ministry of Watchman Nee who was 2 years old at the time of Hudson Taylor’s death in 1905. Hudson Taylor was an early missionary to China in the late 19th Century and the first to go into the interior parts of China. That was a revolutionary concept at the time as missionaries ministered in port cities along the coast and maintained something of a detachment from the Chinese themselves. There was another way in which Hudson Taylor was a revolutionary missionary, he dressed in native garb and tried to blend with the population there.

Hudson TaylorHudson Taylor in Chinese Clothing

There was a remarkably significant difference to Hudson Taylor’s missionary effort as he was not supported by any of the major missionary organizations of the time. His was a missionary effort based on faith in the Lord alone and he had no guaranteed support from anyone. As his efforts began to bear fruit others joined him and started looking to him for leadership and direction. He selected an appropriate name for the effort, China Inland Mission, as the major thrust of their efforts was all in inland China.

The Lord blessed his efforts and China Inland Mission grew and along with that, his responsibilities as founder and leader of the effort. At a critical point in his life Hudson Taylor began to feel the load he was bearing was too much; he just couldn’t continue with things the way they had become.

The Lord had created a growth point for Hudson Taylor that was to change him forever and impact his 51 year ministry to the Chinese as well as Christians all over the world.

A Most Important Discovery

Chapter 13 in “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret,” is named “Days of Darkness” and describes the depths of misery and depression Hudson Taylor felt as the load he was carrying seemed to be crushing him in spite of his very best efforts. The Lord had driven him to a point where he had to give up on himself and start depending on the strength of the Lord to even survive. The chapter closes with this sentence, “You cannot be your own Savior, either in whole or in part.”

How sad it is that all too often we, who believe in salvation by faith alone, attempt to live out the Christian life in our own strength. Sooner or later all must discover the futility of such an effort or face frustration or defeat. Praise God Hudson Taylor made that discovery before it was too late; he finally came to realize that the Bible had been right all the time.

A copy of “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret” is available by clicking on the link.

Next time, Thinking Again on “The Impossibility of Trying to be a Good Christian, (The Exchanged Life);” in it we discover God’s solution to the Christian’s challenge!

(The principle of “The Exchanged Life” is as important to the Christian man or woman as the principle of salvation by faith alone! That which was begun by faith must be continued by faith! This, and the following essay is on this vitally important subject and was first published in 2013.)

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