| THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE
By: Jerry S. Maneker
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of
Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion
appeareth before God.” (Psalm 84:5-7)
I just re-read a terrific book that I strongly recommend you read. It is by Watchman Nee and bears the title from which I
named this article. He was a first-rate biblical scholar and martyr for the faith in China. This particular book is a
commentary on the book of Romans, and goes to the heart of the Gospel message, centering on the finished work of
Christ and our spiritual crucifixion with Him.
The above verses of Scripture look at the only quality that can be pleasing to God and give us some semblance of rest
on this earth, and that is implacable faith in God and His promises to us. Every Christian, whether he or she recognizes
it or not, is “blessed” because the Christian rests in God and only trusts in God’s strength.
When we pass “through the valley of Baca,” or the valley of weeping, we are able to make it a well by filling the dry spots
in life with the life-giving water that only Christ can and does provide. It is the person of faith, who trusts in the
sovereignty and grace of God, who goes “from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.”
Watchman Nee epitomized such faith by his words and by his life! He understood, as do few other relatively
contemporary biblical scholars, our crucifixion with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and our being reckoned dead to sins by God
through His grace. “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness
without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man
to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:6-8)
That is why the Christian is blessed! It is because no sin is imputed to all of us who commit sins by thought, word, deed,
or deeds not done that should have been done. God has totally and unconditionally forgiven us. Now, you may not feel
forgiven, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have been forgiven. of all of your past, present, and future sins. The
fact that you have faith in Christ, a faith that is foolishness to the world, shows that you have been chosen from the
foundation of the world to be His possession.
Watchman Nee said it beautifully: “I am Mr. Nee. I know that I am Mr. Nee. It is a fact upon which I can confidently count.
It is of course possible that I might lose my memory and forget that I am Mr. Nee, or I might dream that I am some other
person. But whether I feel like it or not, when I am sleeping I am Mr. Nee and when I am awake I am Mr. Nee; when I
remember it I am Mr. Nee and when I forget it I am still Mr. Nee.” (The Normal Christian Life, Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale
House Publishers, Inc., 1982, p. 77)
It is only by God’s grace that you trust Him and His Word and, therefore, you have been irrevocably saved from the
wrath of God. You are blessed because of His unmerited favor in covering over your unrighteousness by having His
most precious possession, His Son, be the only and final sacrifice as atonement for every single one of your sins.
You may act in ways that cause you guilt and shame and cause you to feel that you are not a Christian after all.
However, you can choose to believe your feelings and actions, or you can choose to believe God when He says that you
are blessed regardless of how you feel. It is precisely at this point where faith must be most assiduously exercised. We
are all unworthy! We are all sinners! None of us has any right to be smug, arrogant, self-congratulatory,
sanctimonious, or self-righteous!
We are blessed not by our good deeds, all of which are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), but only by God’s mercy. Once we
exercise enough faith to really believe God when He says that no iniquity will be imputed to us, since Christ took all
those iniquities upon Himself when He hung on that Cross, we will truly see ourselves for what we are. We are very
fragile, fallen, hurting, and spiritually sick people who need to prop each other up!
Once we come to recognize our blessed condition in God’s eyes, we will be able to completely give ourselves over to the
Holy Spirit Who indwells every believer, and then rest in our knowledge of God’s unmitigated love for us. This biblical
faith then manifests itself in a compassion for others that is the hallmark of the Christian life. The equation is then
completed: God’s grace, appropriated by our faith in Him, His promises, and the recognition of our fallen state, yields
compassion toward others.
This is the normal Christian life!