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Watchman Nee on Christ as the Light of Life..

First of all, let us point out that the light of life is not a knowledge of the Bible.  Everybody knows Christians should read their Bible diligently.  But if we read it as a book of knowledge or as a textbook of theology, we will get nothing but knowledge.  We may be able to acquaint ourselves with some Bible doctrines which are accurate, yet these are only letters.  At the time that our Lord was born in Bethlehem, many priests and scribes were extremely familiar with the books of the prophets; nonetheless, they did not recognize the Christ.  Today the New Testament is added to the Old Testament.  It is still possible for people to remember the letters of the Bible and yet not know Christ.  Not for a moment do we suggest that we need not read the scriptures; we simply stress that in reading the Word we may obtain knowledge without ever knowing Christ.

Many priests and scribes in the day of Christ had only a kind of dead knowledge; they did not know the living Lord.  Many people mistake knowledge, doctrine, theology and teaching as the light of life.  Some will even say they get light, though theirs is not necessarily the light of life.  What they consider light is only some interpretation regarding a certain passage of scripture or a kind of teaching about the Bible.  The real light is not mere knowledge.  It is none other than the Lord himself.  The Lord emphatically declares that HE is the light of life.  (all caps mine)…

…What then is the difference between seeing the light and not seeing the light?  What kind of transformation will come over us if we see?  the difference here is tremendous. If we have really seen light, we will fall to the ground.  For light not only enlightens but also slays.  Before Paul was enlightened, it would have been fairly difficult to cause him to fall down; as soon as he was stricken by the light, though, he immediately fell to the ground.  Some people force themselves to be humble:  their words are humble, their manners are humble.  Except that their kind of humility is very exhausting – both to themselves and onlookers….  How difficult for us to fall down from the throne of pride!  But when the light of the Lord shines, we instantly fall flat.  We do not undersatnd how we only know light levels us.

Doctrine does not cause anyone to fall.  One may listen to eight or ten messages and even memorize them; still, he remains the same.  He can treat a message which ought to induce weeping or treat a word which ought to shatter man’s natural life as a subject for painstaking research.  Alas, in this case doctrine has become a thing, teaching has become a thing, word also has become a thing.  These are all dead; there is no light…

..Light is rigorous.  It can do what man cannot himself do.  What doctrine cannot do, what the help of brothers and sisters cannot do, and what our own effort cannot do, light can immediately accomplish.  We may consider ourselves rather hard – but when light shines, we are softened.  When John saw the light he became as one dead; so too with Daniel.  No one is able to see the face of the Lord and not fall down.  None can behold the Lord without becoming as one dead.  It is difficult for us to die;  it is hard for us to be humble, but as soon as light shines, these are done.  The light which comes from the Lord has slaying power.  It fells people as it shines…

Dear Friends, never confuse light with many other things.  What we usually call light is not necessarily light.  Many are but doctrines or so-called “truths”. These have no spiritual effectiveness in us. …  Many are attempting to discover doctrine, but they have not found fact.  It therefore remains as words and a dead matter.  It is neither light nor life nor Christ…

May God have mercy upon those who are so self-righteous and self-conceited.  For such people have never known light; all they possess are but doctrines and knowledge.  Had they seen the true light, they would have confessed, “Oh Lord, what do I know! I know absolutely nothing!”  The greater the revelation, the deeper the blindness; the stronger the light, the severer the stroke.  Light will humble and fell us before it enables us to see.  If we have not been smitten, humbled, dazed and reduced to nothing, we are by this fact proven to still be in darkness, possessing no light.  May the Lord be merciful to us that by His light He may take way our self-reliance, so that we no longer dare to trust in our own knowledge and judgment.  …

Light is not something abstract, it is something very substantial.  The Lord Jesus is that light.  With Him in our midst, we have light among us.  How pitiful that many matters in the life of believers are too theoretical.  They have heard countless abstractions which offer little practical help…. We must realize that since light was concrete and practical in the life of our Lord Jesus, it ought to be the same in our lives.  Being a living Person the light of life quickens us when it is revealed.

Friends, why is it that after many days the truth of God seem to lose its power, becoming so weak that it cannot touch us?  For no other reason than that it has become too much doctrine, too much theological knowledge!  We need to recognize that only the living Lord can beget living people.  We look to God to be truly merciful to us, enabling us the more and more to see that things are all dead but that the Lord alone is living.  The most attractive and spritual things in Christianity – if they are outside of Christ – are but dead.  We should let the Lord himself be this thing or that thing to us.  Then it is living.  It is living both in us and in those who receive from us.  May the Lord be gracious to us that we may be cast to the ground before the Lord and know Him far differently.

excerpts from

Christ the Sum of All Spiritual Things, p. 47-54

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