After the publication of my book in Chinese, quite a number of missionaries asked for an edition in English. I felt reluctant to comply, for personally I should prefer to have those books translated which better represent my ministry, rather than this one which is liable to be misunderstood and controverted. The book as it now stands is a greatly abridged and slightly revised edition of the Chinese. Neither in expression nor in style is it as English as I should wish, but I trust that in this respect I may count on the leniency of its readers. If all we want is the truth of God, then the difficulty of understanding the book should prove no serious barrier to the reading of it.
Because of the vastness of the subject and the importance of its issues, I have not found it easy either to write or translate this book. Since some of the same points have had to be dealt with in different parts of the book, it will be found necessary to read it right through if full understanding is to result. If, because of seemingly insurmountable difficulty, the book is laid aside before completed, a false position will result; whereas by reading it right through many if not all of the difficulties will be cleared up. Frequently the questions which arise at certain points are answered further on - sometimes much further on. To do the book justice, the reader is asked to finish reading it before passing judgment.
The book is not intended for anyone and everyone. It is for those who feel their responsibility in the Lord's service. But more than this, it is for such as honestly and truly mean business for God, for those whose hearts are open, who have no padlocked mind or prejudices. The book may test one's sincerity and honesty to no small degree, but I believe the Lord has shown something which is of importance to the whole body of Christ.
The whole matter will grow upon the reader and become clearer with relaxed contemplation after the first reading The door must not be closed with a snap of "Impossible!" or "Ideal, but not practical!" By prayerful openness of heart, without argument or discussion, the Spirit of truth should be given a chance, and then what is of Him will cause all our natural reactions to die away and we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free. What is set forth in these pages is no mere theory or teaching but something we have actually tested in actual practice.
One of the prayers I have offered in connection with this book is that the Lord should keep it from those who oppose and would use it as a chart for attack and also from those who agree and would use it as a manual for service. I dread the latter far more than the former.
- Watchman Nee
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