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hope for churches in stress


Watchman Nee, a dynamic indigenous leader and teacher of the house church movement in China in the early 20th century, summarized the Christian life in three words—sit, walk, stand. In a small classic by this title, Nee employs these three words, drawn from the biblical text, to encapsulate the profound theological, practical, and cosmic truths in Ephesians.

The first chapter of Ephesians is a tightly woven explanation of God’s cosmic plan, which culminates in the risen and exalted Christ seated in the heavenly places at the right hand of the Father, "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named" (1:20-21; also see Philippians 2:9-11).

In the entire cosmos there is no greater place of privilege and authority than the seat at the right hand of the Father God—and there, Paul declares, is where we “sit” as believers in Christ.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6).

To explain salvation by grace—unique to the Christian faith and, admittedly, perplexing—Watchman Nee links this foundational biblical truth to the everyday experience of sitting.

“There is no limit to the grace God is willing to bestow upon us," Nee writes. "He will give us everything, but we can receive none of it except as we rest in him. ‘Sitting’ is an attitude of rest. Something has been finished, work stops, and we sit. It is paradoxical, but true, that we only advance in the Christian life as we learn first of all to sit down.”

The simple analogy of Watchman Nee illuminates the sublime theology of Paul in the first three chapters of Ephesians. By his mighty power, God raised Jesus and seated him at his right hand. As we ask in faith, God confers on us the prerogatives of this high place, all earned by his Son: the forgiveness of sin (1:7), the riches of grace (2:1-10), the power of the Holy Spirit (1:13; 3:16,20), inclusion in the community of faith (2:11-22; 3:6), participation in his good work (2:10; 3:2,7), and every other spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms (1:3).

God takes the finished work of Christ and confers every benefit on anyone seated in this heavenly place. We are not worthy of this. We can do nothing to achieve this. But because of what Jesus has already done, the Father says to everyone who trusts in Jesus: “Sit here, next to me, with my Son.”

This post highlights Nee's insights on the word "sit."

Subsequent posts will focus on the words "walk" and "stand."

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