Brief Notes

God Gives
the Growth (8):
The Way of
the Lord

13 April 2024

Throughout the history
of the church, the true
followers of Christ have always
taken the way of death
and resurrection

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
— 1 Corinthians 3:6

Just before His death, the Lord told His disciples,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
— John 12:24

His meaning here is, to truly bear fruit for God’s desire, we must take the way of death and resurrection, just as a seed must die before it can bear fruit. That is the way He took by going to the cross, and today, it is the way we must take as well if we desire to be His true followers. Thus, after making the statement above, the Lord added,

He who loves his life will lose it, but he who hates his life in this world will keep it unto eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
— John 12:24

It is only when we wait for the Lord in this way, allowing Him to bring us through the very same process of death and resurrection He went through (the payment for our sins excepted, of course), that He will fully have His way in our lives. (See “God Gives the Growth • 5: The Example of Christ Himself.”)

In the 20th century, M.E. Barber (1866-1930) was one who took this way. She was a missionary who went from England to China, going there the first time from 1896 to to 1906, sponsored by a mission society in England. She returned in 1909 and spent the rest of her life in China. She did not seem to do much work, but prayed a great deal for China, and in particular, for the Lord to raise up some young people to serve Him. Eventually, one of those raised up through her ministry was Watchman Nee.

After he was saved in 1920, he would often go to visit Miss Barber to receive her help:

At that time over 60 young brothers and sisters received help from Miss Barber. Being deep in the Lord and exceedingly strict, she frequently rebuked the young people concerning many things. After a short time most of those young people stopped going to her. The only one who continued to see her was Watchman Nee. When he visited her, she rebuked and reproved him. Frequently she pointed out that as a young man, he could not serve the Lord in this way or that way. However, the more she rebuked him, the more he returned to be rebuked. By deliberately putting himself before her to be rebuked, he received untold help.
— Witness Lee, as quoted in M.E.Barber: A Seed Sown in China, by James Reetzke, page 111.

In fact, when she went to be with the Lord, the raising up of Watchman Nee was just about the only visible result of her work; but, how much came forth from his ministry! Truly Miss Barber was “a seed sown into the earth” to die, that bore much fruit unto the Lord.

As was Brother Nee himself. After serving the Lord in such a prevailing way in China, from 1922 to 1952, he was arrested by the Chinese Communists and sent to a prison camp, where it seemed he could do no work at all. He spent the remaining 20 years of his life there, passing away in 1972.

And yet, while he was in prison, his ministry began to help believers all over the world. Somehow, the Lord had a way to spread his writings outside of China, and they were enormously helpful in showing believers the way to enter into a deeper experience of Christ, and what God’s way is for the fellowship of the churches.

M.E. Barber wrote, in one of her many poems,

Buried? Yes, but it is seed,
   From which continents may feed;
Millions yet may bless the day
   When that seed was laid away.

(Some other examples of her hymns are “Wrecked Outright on Jesus’ Breast” and “Hallelujah, Christ is Victor!”)

May the Lord gain many such disciples today, those who are willing to follow Him in the way of death and resurrection, in the way of being nothing more than a “seed sown into the earth” for His glory, and for the fulfillment of His purpose!


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— 13 April 2024 —