PREFACE TO THE ENGLISHPrint This Page.
After the publication of my book in Chinese, quite a number of missionaries asked for an English edition. 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. But that it was the Lord's mind seemed to be quite clear, and in that confidence I proceeded with the translation. 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 the 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 being 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. So 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 bear responsibility in the Lord's service. But, more than this, it is for such as honestly and truly mean business with God, for those whose hearts are open and have no padlocked mind or prejudices. The book may test one's sincerity and honesty to no small degree; but genuine hunger and desire to know the Lord's full thought will sustain a careful reading to the end. I fully realize the many imperfections of this book (this is not a gesture, but a confession); but despite them all, 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!May I remind my readers that the book is not intended to be studied in a hypothetical way. I have quite a large number of fellow workers who have been sent out and are working along the lines indicated, and there are a larger number of churches which have been formed and developed on the basis mentioned.1 So what is set forth in these pages is no mere theory or teaching, but something we have actually tested out.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.LondonApril 1939W. Nee