God's Own Uncreated Life

How do we read this writing of Watchman Nee's? Simple Version.

 

We must recognize... [our] spirit is not God’s Own life, for “the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33.4). It is not the entrance of the uncreated life of God into man, neither is it that life of God which we receive at regeneration. What we receive at new birth is God’s Own life as typified by the tree of life. But our human spirit, though permanently existing, is void of “eternal life.” (The Spiritual Man, white cover, volume 1, part 1, chapter 1, page 24).

 

Prior to regeneration the spirit is separated from God's life; only afterwards does the life of God and the Holy Spirit dwell in our spirits (ibid., Chapter 2, page 34).

The Interpretation by CFP

 

Have you read Journeying Towards the Spiritual yet? It is the condensed version of The Spiritual Man. You may find it helpful as well, especially as something to give out to others who may not feel they are able to read such a large book as The Spiritual Man.


The "uncreated life of God" is the same as the "eternal life." It is called "eternal life" because it has existed from eternity past and through eternity future. It is the only life in the universe that has been eternal. It is the very life of God. This is also the Holy Spirit. When we are born again from above we receive the Holy Spirit (eternal life or the uncreated life) into our human spirit.


When brother Nee says on page 24 (volume 1 chapter 1) "We must recognize, though, that this spirit is not God's Own life, for 'the breath of the Almighty gives me life' (Job 33.4). It is not the entrance of the uncreated life of God into man, neither is it that life of God which we receive at regeneration. What we receive at new birth is God's Own life as typified by the tree of life. But our human spirit, though permanently existing, is void of 'eternal life.'" - the "neither is it" does not mean that they are separate things, only that they are different ways of saying the same thing. Hence the "uncreated life of God" and the "life of God which we receive at regeneration" are the same thing.


The meaning behind the words "Holy Spirit" and "eternal life" and "Christ in you" and "Christ lives in me" are different. There is a different aspect being shown each time. Basically though as far as our experience goes we can simplify them all in knowing that the very life of the eternal God is dwelling inside of the believer.

Geoffrey Pittman - CFP

 

Here is The Problem - Mixing Terms to Mean the "Same Thing"

 

I find no fault with what Nee wrote, preserved at Christian Fellowship Publishers, but the interpretation of men seems to be problematic, even at CFP.

 

Having the eternal life of God in us is not the same thing as the Holy Spirit indwelling in us. The Holy Spirit is the 3rd Person of the Godhead, whereas eternal life is life eternal which God has. If the phrase, "neither is it" does not mean they are separate things, then they are either the Holy Spirit or eternal life, but not both since they are "the same thing" according to Geoffrey.

 

God's life is eternal. The Holy Spirit is the life of the Father and the Son and is eternal, but eternal life is not the Holy Spirit. The 3rd Person is not some impersonal concept such as eternal life, but He holds council in the Trinity of the Godhead, just as the Father and the Son do.

 

When we are born again, we receive the Holy Spirit because we have been given a new life, the eternal uncreated life, which the Holy Spirit can indwell in our spirit. It is misleading to say, "When we are born again from above we receive the Holy Spirit (eternal life or the uncreated life) into our human spirit," for the Spirit has eternal life, but He is not eternal life. Do you see the difference?

 

God's life is eternal life because the Holy Spirit, which is God's life, has eternal life! We can not say "God's life is eternal life because the Holy Spirit is eternal life." God is not a thing such as eternal life. So to explain this verse with the distinction between the Holy Spirit and eternal life, I have added in brackets the proper interpretation:

 

We must recognize... our spirit is not God’s Own life [Holy Spirit], for “the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33.4). It is not the entrance of the uncreated life of God into man [eternal life], neither is it that life of God which we receive at regeneration [Holy Spirit]. What we receive at new birth is God’s Own life [the eternal life that the Holy Spirit has] as typified by the tree of life. But our human spirit, though permanently existing, is void of “eternal life.” (The Spiritual Man, white cover, volume 1, part 1, chapter 1, page 24).

 

Sometimes "life of God" or "God's own life" or even "uncreated life can mean eternal life and other times they can mean the Holy Spirit. Never does it mean the both at the same time. Otherwise you make God an impersonal thing-eternal life. Understand which usage is applied by the context of the passage and how the words flow together.

 

People say God is love, eternally existing, spirit, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, truth, in Christ, and many other things. All these things describe God. Each make up a component of God's characteristics. But to say God the Spirit is eternal life is wrong. Can you sense that in your spirit? We can say God is eternal and we can say God is life as the source of life. But we can not say God is eternal life. We can only say God has eternal life. Do you see?

 

The reason why these terms "Holy Spirit" and "eternal life" and "Christ in you" and "Christ lives in me" are different are not because they are a "different aspect" of the same thing, but they are literally different things altogether. Christ is in me and lives in me by the Holy Spirit, but Jesus is not the Holy Spirit. Nor is the Holy Spirit eternal life.

 

Different Ways to Read This Paragraph - Only One is Right!

 

"Into Man" as Creation of Man (Option 1) or Holy Spirit as Eternal Life (Option 2), or Neither?

 

I found this portion very important to understand so that a distinction can be clearly identified between the 3rd Person of the Godhead and eternal life. Though brothers and sisters we have eternal life, obviously we are not the 3rd Person of the Trinity. In this context, is "the uncreated life of God into man" specifically referring here to eternal life (new life and "new spirit" Ez. 36.26) or the Holy Spirit? It can't be the latter because the passage says "it is not..." (p.24) the "breath of life, which became man's spirit" (p. 23 part of the same paragraph)? The "uncreated life of God into man" on page 24 makes no mention of regeneration, but the "life of God" we do receive at regeneration. Though we should not assume what was meant the "uncreated life of God into man" was not also referring to regeneration.

 

Since the second part of the second sentence takes a new turn with "neither is it...," we may conclude "...that life of God which we receive at regeneration" is different from the "entrance of the uncreated life of God into man" and not merely a different aspect of the same thing. Elsewhere in TSM, Nee does say "God’s uncreated life typified by the tree of life,"  (volume 1, page 66); "...the Holy Spirit imparts is God’s uncreated life" (volume 1, page 142); and "Any work that which cannot {1} quicken man's dead spirit or {2} impart to man God’s uncreated life or {3} give him the Holy Spirit to indwell his regenerated spirit..." (volume 3, page 197).

 

Why did CFP .pdf TSM (CFP) change "uncreated life" to "untreated life" on page 24? Perhaps it is because there was some confusion that was attempted to be addressed, but there is no confusion. The same alteration is made on page 3 of Journeying Towards the Spiritual, the shorter 229 page version of TSM. All instances of changing "uncreated life" to "untreated life" should be changed back. "Uncreated" is the original, so don't change it! Uncreated is precise. Once a person receives this life they will never cease to be God's Own people. Only God is uncreated, but we may have God's uncreated life. "Untreated" makes it absolutely certain what is not meant is that it was the creation of man, for our spirits need to be quickened from old to new, but the eternal life does not need to be treated, for it is God's Own life. However, "untreated is definitely not the word choice Watchman Nee used; so don't change it, because several problems arise: 1) sometimes the word is changed and sometimes not throughout TSM and is not in harmony with the rest of Nee's writings when he uses the word "uncreated"; 2) when to change it to "untreated" is arbitrary; 3) lacks the original preserved nuance; 4) gives the false impression our old man needs treatment rather than co-death. Nothing of the flesh can be preserved. It's only verdict is death.

 

If the Holy Spirit imparts God's uncreated life, would it not stand to reason that the 3rd Person of the Trinity is different though not separate from eternal life, God's uncreated life? If the tree of life typifies eternal life of God's uncreated life, then why not say that in the third sentence, instead of saying "God's Own life as typified by the tree of life"? Because God's Own life imparted is the eternal life of the Holy Spirit that the Holy Spirit can indwell. We may have eternality of life.

 

Option 1 reading takes the "uncreated life of God into [all] men [and women]" to mean the creation of men and women by directly making the spirit which was merged with the body from dust to create the soul life.

 

On page 10, volume 2, Nee says "God's life (which can equally be called His Spirit)" and "In the Bible God's life is often labeled 'eternal life'." Two different usages of the same term! The old spirit is quickened and we are given a new spirit (volume 2, pages 9-10) of eternal life.

 

The new spirit refers to eternal life which has "God's life in view" (volume 2, page 10). Eternal life is not "mere future blessing to be enjoyed by believers; it is equally a kind of spiritual ability. Without it no one can know God nor the Lord Jesus. Such an intuitive knowledge of the Lord comes solely upon receiving God's life [eternal life]" (page 10). The Holy Spirit indwells the believer's spirit by coming through the window of his conscience to reside in the seat of his intuition to achieve communion for "worshipping God" (volume 1, page 32). Eternal life is not the Holy Spirit. Think of a 6 layered cake. The top layer is your body. Second from the top is your soul. Next is the spirit, the old spirit quickened at new birth. The forth layer down is the new spirit of eternal life given if you are born-again. And once given, the bottom layer is received which is the Holy Spirit that communicates to that new life conveyed to your spirit which "though permanently existing, is void of "eternal life." (p. 24, volume 1).

 

When referring to God's life be careful to distinguish when referring to the Holy Spirit or eternal life specifically; please do so by the discerning organ of your conscience through intuition in communion and prayer with God. The Holy Spirit in man's regenerated spirit is the 3rd Person of the Holy Trinity. The new life in the spirit which is eternal life is also God's life (eternal life). The life of God indwelling in that new life is the Holy Spirit.

 

The first instance of "God's Own life" in the first sentence in the paragraph (volume 1, page 24) is the Holy Spirit (not specifically eternal life), since it is the Holy Spirit that breathes the breath of life into man, not "eternal life" that does the breathing. "God's Own life" in the 3rd sentence is definitely addressing eternal life (not the Holy Spirit) because it is placed in direct contrast with the tree of life which is clearly typifying eternal. In the Old Testament period there were those who had eternal life (new life), but they did not have the Holy Spirit indwelling because the veil was not yet rent. The "tree of life" in the 3rd sentence typifies God's Own life is speaking of eternal life that God's Own life the Holy Spirit has. Christians have both eternal life and the Holy Spirit indwelling.

 

Five times the same point is made in the same paragraph... "As soon as the breath of life, which became man’s spirit, came into contact with man’s body, the soul was produced.... The breath of life became man’s spirit" (p.23). The breath of the Holy Spirit, when God breathed into man, created man's spirit. On page 24, "When the inbreathing of God entered man’s body it became the spirit of man.... We must recognize... [our] spirit is not God’s Own life, for 'the breath of the Almighty gives me life' (Job 33.4)." The fifth instance, "the entrance of the uncreated life of God into man,..." is the breath of God's Spirit produced man's spirit directly. Five times the creation of man is spoken of, so to introduce a new direction in this sentence, we read in the second sentence, "...neither is it...." At this point you probably have come to realize that "uncreated life" can mean "eternal life" as well as God's Holy Spirit depending on the context, but in this context according to Option 1, it is referring the breath of God's Spirit making contact with or into the body in describing the creation of man which would not pertain to regeneration (salvation). Therefore, it is not the giving of eternal life or the Holy Spirit. Incidentally, this approach is taking by the Living Stream Ministry version of TSM. But is it right? Is there more to glean to be absolutely sure?

 

Naysayer's might bring up a contention. In the second sentence, the "entrance of the uncreated life of God into man" and the "life of God which we receive at regeneration" are just different aspects of the same life of God. This is Geoffrey's (CFP's) position, but it is wrong because the Holy Spirit (a Person) is not eternal life (a thing). At the same time Geoffrey doesn't understand the LSM translation. But could the LSM translation be wrong also? If so, what other option is there?

 

The Leeist version reads, "It is not the entrance of the uncreated life of God into man. The spirit that was received in the beginning." The second sentence is explaining the creation of man, receiving our own spirit, is not the life of God (His Holy Spirit). However, I am not satisfied with this translation because uncreated life never in TSM refers to the creation of man. My spirit through my conscience is producing a "spontaneous direct judgment" whereas "reasoning will justify things which our conscience judges." My conscience continues not to "bend to outside opinions" as "conscience judges according to intuition," that intuition which "involves a direct sensing that is independent of any outside influence" (volume 1, page 32).

 

The main reason I reject the LSM view is because "uncreated life" is never used anywhere by Nee referring to the creation of man. Depending on the context it refers to either "eternal life" or His "Holy Spirit."

The Leeists have falsely translated TSM in other places. Leeists say the 3 aspects of emotion are love, hate and being affected. They probably took this idea from reading "Through it [emotion] we are able to express love or hate and to feel joyful, angry, sad or happy. Any shortage of it will render a man insensitive as wood or stone." (TSM, CFP, volume 1, page 36). There is no mention of the emotion "desire" on page 36 (TSM, CFP, volume 1), but the various aspects of desire are given in some verses under Emotion on the following page (page 37). I am just trying to look and see how they might have mistranslated and made their version (LSM) so different from the CFP version.

It would seem to me the leeists erred, by thinking just because "desire" was not included in that sentence then it should not be included as one of the 3 aspects of emotion, so for them love, hate and being affected is how they categorize human emotions-a very tight band to say the least! The consequence is they are insensitive as wood or stone. Affection has degrees and types all along the spectrum, not just hate and love. Interestingly, the preceding sentence to the one above on page 36 reads, "The instrument for our likes and dislikes is the faculty of emotion." Likes and dislikes are closely tied to our desires, emotions of "aspiring" (page 38), and are not evil.

 

The emotion of desire is closely linked to desire of the will, but they too are different in all their subtleties. Nee said in volume 1, "Such desire revealed the wavering of her emotion and will" (page 46).

Geoffrey, why do you use on page 37-38 (CFP) completely different verses than the LSM version?. I find it hard to believe Watchman Nee divided emotion into love and hate, rather than (1) affection, (2) desire, and (3) "sensing and feeling." There are 3 chapters in CFP titled after these groups of emotions, but there is no Love, Hate, and Being Affected chapters in either the CFP or LSM version.

The LSM alters the CFP version with "emotion is the organ of love, hatred, and sentiments. We can love and hate..." (p.36). Twice it focuses on love and hate, without mention of likes and dislikes pertaining to the emotion of desire. Perhaps likes and dislikes are the same thing to them as sentiments, but if so, why do they fail in the LSM to provide Desire as one of the 3 main aspects of emotion on the following page? Cults will likely try to curtail your individuality to desire and aspire to control their adherents. Since this is not Nee's nature and the LSM interpretation doesn't agree with itself or the CFP version, we must conclude CFP got it right (white covers only!).

Thee words in the LSM version, "The soul can hate...These few verses teach us that hatred is a function of the soul"  (p.37), are nowhere to be found in the CFP version.

Why are different verses being used by both the CFP and the LSM versions for chapter 2 to support each of their views?

"Into Man" as Eternal Life (not the Holy Spirit), and "life of God" is the Holy Spirit (Option 3)

Since Option 1 and Option 2 are lacking what then?

We must recognize... [our] spirit is not God’s Own life, for “the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33.4). It is not the entrance of the uncreated life of God into man, neither is it that life of God which we receive at regeneration. What we receive at new birth is God’s Own life as typified by the tree of life. But our human spirit, though permanently existing, is void of “eternal life.” (Volume 1, Part, Chapter 1, page 24).

The "uncreated life of God into man" refers to eternal life as though it were uncreated. CFP should not have changed "uncreated" to "untreated" in the .pdf version which seems arbitrary (sometimes done, sometimes now). This inconsistency unjustified. The "life of God which we receive at regeneration" refers to the Holy Spirit indwelling. When I first read TSM this was my initial impression also.

Read it as Watchman Nee intended, "A man's spirit before regeneration is far away from God and is considered dead, for death is dissociation from life [eternal life] and from God [Holy Spirit] Who is the fountain of life" (page 61, volume 1). He is making a distinction between eternal life and the Holy Spirit. Dissociation from life is without God's Own eternal life, and dissociation from God's Spirit is also due to the dead spirit unable to communicate with His Holy Spirit.

"Even in man's spirit, where he receives God's life through the Holy Spirit" (volume 1, page 63). That would be strange to read this passage as saying we receive the Holy Spirit through the Holy Spirit. No! We receive eternal life the Holy Spirit has through the Holy Spirit imparting it to us at regeneration.

This agrees with "the dead old spirit is quickened into life when the Holy Spirit infuses it with God's uncreated life [eternal life]" (page 63) and "at regeneration man receives God's Own life [Holy Spirit] into his spirit and is born of God. As a consequence, the Holy Spirit now rules man's spirit" (page 63). Note the context. "God's Own life in this particular instance is not referring to eternal life but the Holy Spirit because the latter sentence explains it is "the Holy Spirit."

On page 12 and 13, volume 2, there is this new spirit with eternal life (God's life in view) and God's Spirit that indwells that new life given to our quickened spirit. We also know the importance shown here of why this eternal life is so important, otherwise the Holy Spirit can not indwell in our spirit if it doesn't have God's Own uncreated eternal life:

Besides bestowing life [eternal life] to believers at new birth, the Holy Spirit executes a further work of abiding in them [Holy Spirit indwelling]. How regrettable for us if we forget this! “A new heart I will give you and a new spirit [eternal life] I will put within you ... and I will put my Spirit within you” (Ezek. 36.26-27). Note that immediately after the clause “a new spirit I will put within you” there follows this one of “I will put my Spirit within you.” The first statement signifies that believers shall receive a new spirit through the renewal of their deadened spirit by the incoming of life [God's life in view]. The second has reference to the indwelling or the abiding of the Holy Spirit in that renewed spirit of theirs. Believers at new birth obtain not only a new spirit but also the Holy Spirit dwelling within. Is it not sad that many fail to understand the newness of their spirit and the abiding of the Holy Spirit in their new spirit? Christians need not delay many years following regeneration and then suddenly wake up and seek the Holy Spirit; they have His entire personality abiding in them—not just visiting them—at the moment they are saved. The Apostle exhorts us on this wise: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4.30). The use of the word “grieve” here and not “anger” reveals the Holy Spirit’s love. “Grieve” it says and not “cause to depart,” for “he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14.17). While every born-again believer does have the Holy Spirit permanently residing in him, nevertheless the plight of the indwelling Spirit may not be the same in all saints—He may be either grieved or gladdened.

We should understand the relationship between regeneration and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Unless a new spirit is available to Him the Holy Spirit cannot find a place to abide. The holy dove found no place whereon to set her foot in the judged world; she could take up her abode only in the new creation (see Gen. 8). How positively essential regeneration is! Without it the Holy Spirit cannot at all dwell in man. God’s children receive within them the permanent abiding of God’s Spirit. Just as this new spirit emerges through a life-producing relationship with God and is therefore inseparable from Him, so the abiding of the Holy Spirit is eternally unchangeable. Few are those who know they have been born anew and thus possess new life; but fewer still are those who know that from the moment they believed in the Lord Jesus they have the Holy Spirit indwelling them to be their energy, their guide, their Lord. It is for this very reason that many young Christians are slow in spiritual progress and never seem to grow. This sad state reflects either the foolishness of their leaders or their personal faithlessness. Until God’s servants dissolve their prejudice which holds that “the indwelling Holy Spirit is but for the spiritual,” they can hardly lead people on to any degree of spirituality.

Let's remember what Nee said in the Preface to The Spiritual Man (CFP),

I realize there are many apparent inconsistencies in the work, but the reader should remember that they are indeed apparent, not actual. Because this book treats of matters in the spiritual realm, there are bound to be many apparent theoretical contradictions. Spiritual things do often seem to be contradictory (2 Cor. 4.8,9). However, these all find their perfect harmony in experience. Hence, though there are places which seem to defy understanding, my request is that you try your best to understand. If anyone desires to misunderstand, he can surely read into these pages that which I have not intended.

Don't underestimate Nee:

Just because Nee has all this talent and gifting, don't forget what he said about himself in the preface to TSM:

I recognize that a work which seeks to uncover the wiles of the enemy shall certainly incur the hostility of the power of darkness and the opposition of many. I have not written with the thought of courting the approval of men. This opposition I consider therefore as of no account. I also realize that if God’s children derive help from reading this book they may think more of me than is proper. Let me speak honestly that I am but a man, the weakest of all men. The teachings of these pages reveal the experiences of my weaknesses.

"Our spirit is not God’s Own life [Holy Spirit], for 'the breath of the Almighty [Holy Spirit] gives me life [life of my spirit]' (Job 33.4). It is not the entrance of the uncreated life of God into man [eternal life], neither is it that life of God [Holy Spirit] which we receive at regeneration. What we receive at new birth is God’s Own life [same eternal life of the Holy Spirit] as typified by the tree of life. But our human spirit, though permanently existing, is void of 'eternal life.'"

 

Saying life of God sounds like the Holy Spirit because the life of the Father and the Son is the Spirit.

Breath of the Almighty is obviously, His Holy Spirit.

"The life of God [eternal life] and the Holy Spirit [God's Own life] dwell in our spirits (ibid., Chapter 2, page 34). Context is what matters. Sometimes when you say "life of God" you could be referring to eternal life; other times you might mean His Holy Spirit.

"God's Own life" could refer to the Holy Spirit or eternal life, depending on the context of how the words flows.

 

The Holy Spirit has uncreated, eternal life and gives it (new spirit of eternal life on top of our quickened spirit) to those who are saved to be indwelt.

 

Apostle,

Troy