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Spiritual Authority

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God's authority represents God Himself. God alone is authority in all things; all the authorities of the earth are instituted by God. It is therefore important for us who desire to serve God to know the authority of God.

191 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1972

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About the author

Watchman Nee

501 books462 followers
Watchman Nee (Chinese: 倪柝聲; pinyin: Ní Tuòshēng; Foochow Romanized: Ngà̤ Táuk-sĭng; 1903–1972) was a Chinese Christian author and church leader during the early 20th century. He spent the last 20 years of his life in prison and was severely persecuted by the Communists in China. Together with Wangzai, Zhou-An Lee, Shang-Jie Song, and others, Nee founded The Church Assembly Hall, later which would be also known as the "Local churches" (Chinese: 地方教會). or more commonly as (聚會所) meaning "assembly hall"

Born into a Methodist family, Watchman Nee experienced a religious revival, and joined the Church of Heavenly Peace, Fuzhou in 1920 at age 17 and began writing in the same year. In 1921, he met the British missionary M. E. Barber, who was a great influence on him. Through Miss Barber, Nee was introduced to many of the Christian writings which were to have a profound influence on him and his teachings. Nee attended no theological schools or Bible institutes. His knowledge was acquired through studying the Bible and reading various Christian spiritual books. During his 30 years of ministry, beginning in 1922, Nee traveled throughout China planting churches among the rural communities and holding Christian conferences and trainings in Shanghai. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith; he remained in prison until his death in 1972.

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5 stars
1,003 (56%)
4 stars
445 (25%)
3 stars
246 (13%)
2 stars
51 (2%)
1 star
32 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 83 reviews
Profile Image for James Jacob.
72 reviews1 follower
December 2, 2010
I don't know whether to re-read this book and truly receive what was offered or to put it down in favor of the nearest feel-good Christian book. It was not a pleasurable experience reading this book as I was continually convicted. I argued with the author and God throughout, but I can say this book opened my eyes in areas I knew not that they were closed. Don't read this book for a pick-me-up, but only if you're ready for a challenge to go deeper with God. I'm glad I read it, probably will re-read it or at least review it. Even after I've put it down, it continues to speak to me, challenge me, convict me.

My 5 stars are for a deep, clear message that stirred my soul, not for an enjoyable, uplifting read. I do, however, believe that in time I will be able to see this book as uplifting, but right now it's a much-needed nuisance.
Profile Image for Susan.
53 reviews
September 28, 2008
A great explanation of spiritual authority, both directly from God and indirectly through the people He places over us. It's basically impossible not to feel convicted about something while you read Watchman Nee. He's not afraid to call you out.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 40 books391 followers
July 20, 2015
I think that this is a subject to many Christians ignore. We want to hear about why we can do what we want, not about who we should obey. Nee reminds us of what is important and who we are to serve.

While the language of the books was a bit archaic, I easily read it. My big issue was with this book was the author tried so hard to make his point, that sometimes he twisted scripture to do it. While there is plenty of biblical basis for what he was saying, he went a little overboard trying to prove it. There were also a couple of minor points that he made that I felt were not backed-up in scripture.

Overall, I felt the book was good book. It is a subject that I think more christians need to be reminded of, including me.
Profile Image for Wendy.
24 reviews3 followers
June 21, 2012
A classic work with basic principles that all Christian's should learn and apply in their day to day living. This book, like each one of his books, communicates key principles on a basic level so anyone can grasp wisdom and understanding.
Profile Image for Anita Dix-McLaughlin.
Author 1 book2 followers
December 6, 2011
You can not be in authority unless you can be under authority. This book gives much to consider, so spiritually rich. A must read for all Christian leaders.
Profile Image for Eunhye.
21 reviews
Currently reading
March 5, 2007
I thank God for his writing: I picked this up to learn about his life --- [Watchman Nee became a Christian in mainland China in 1920 at the age of seventeen and began writing in the same year. Throughout the nearly thirty years of his ministry, Watchman Nee was clearly manifested as a unique gift from the Lord to His Body for His move in this age. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith; he remained in prison until his death in 1972. His words remain an abundant source of spiritual revelation and supply to Christians throughout the world.]
216 reviews5 followers
December 14, 2008
I actually listened to the CD version. I found it very challenging. I appreciated the consistent referral to scripture. I have a better understanding of the topic as well as more questions. I am not convinced that the author's interpretation and application are always accurate.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
176 reviews1 follower
May 26, 2010
This book has radically helped me to define my worldview. Rebellion is such a problem with me, but this book tenderly exposed the issue and how the cross deals with it so severely. I'm so grateful for it!
Profile Image for David.
Author 1 book6 followers
August 20, 2008
The power of real prayer, the understanding who we are in Christ, and the action of perseverance!
Profile Image for Lavon Herschberger.
114 reviews1 follower
August 26, 2020
I decided to read this book amid the questions that many Christians are facing in 2020. How do we honor civil authority and their COVID-19 restrictions while first honoring God?

Nee asserts that we naturally push against authority. We always have. Satan did. Rebellion is the primary sin. Submission to God’s authority is vital for the Christian, and though none of us question that, we sometimes forget that all authority (civil, church, family) is given by God (Romans 13:1).

Of course, authority can and often does abuse people, whether it be “top-down” church leaders or unjust dictators. In our positions of authority, we should be careful not to use this teaching as a club with which to beat our sheep into submission. That’s not at all insinuated here, but the Biblical teaching could be misconstrued that way.

However, no matter the level of righteousness or goodwill of the authority over us, honor and obedience should always be our response (unless obeying would directly cause us to sin). We should all err on the side of contemplative submission as opposed to reactionary rebellion.

The author is not afraid to make sweeping statements, several of which I question. Reading this book will help you consider your relationship with authority and remember that practicing humility and submission would serve us all well, especially during the confusion of this pandemic.
Profile Image for Brian.
67 reviews8 followers
March 3, 2017
The authority of God is absolute. As a created being, my role is obedience. Instead of living in the freedom of obedience with God, humanity chose to live in rebellion, usurping God's authority and separating us from His presence forever.

The connection Nee makes to Jesus' obedience as a human to our own rebellious condition is stark and has changed the way I think about my own obedience to the will of God. All authority is God's to give and he does so only to the obedient. Nee's use of history from the Bible elaborates and demonstrates how obedience is not only a good quality, but essential if we want to be in service to the Kingdom.
Profile Image for Paula.
299 reviews16 followers
April 22, 2018
The premises of this book are 1) when given spiritual authority in the Church, be obedient to God and 2) being obedient to the spiritual authorities in your church is the same as obedience to Christ.

I read this book at a time when there was upheaval in my local church. I'm glad I'd come as far as I had in my walk with Christ or I may have been seriously wounded over what was happening. Because Watchman Nee understood obedience and humility, he taught me a few things. I learned more about my own attitudes toward my brothers and sisters in Christ. I was instructed to obey (not 'follow') the authorities in my church. In this difficult time, I learned to weep for those things which make God weep; this upheaval was breaking God's heart. I was also able to see how the enemy had gotten a toehold and began tearing at the fabric of our community and unity.

Obedience can be difficult when we only see the authorities in our lives as mere men and women. To see things biblically is quite a different matter. This is why, as Mr. Nee explains, we must "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

A masterfully thought-out work which was, not only full of lessons or me at a time when I needed to be more aware, but a pleasant surprise to my often wandering soul.
Profile Image for Shiloh.
412 reviews7 followers
February 21, 2008
This book wasn't what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised. Admittedly, my mind often wondered while reading and I would have to go back and re-read a lot. It wasn't because the material was too complex, but maybe just not engrossing. That said, i still loved it, and would highly recommend it. It was filled with so much humility and foundational Christian principles. It wasn't about our authority in Christ, but God's authority and how we need to submit to his established authority.
Profile Image for John Esker Jr..
9 reviews1 follower
January 25, 2015
There was some great insight into the subject of spiritual authority as revealed by the Bible. However there were some confusing claims about the ideas of reason and thought being tied to rebellion that I felt were not soundly defended. Overall I felt the book had a good grasp on capturing a right perspective of authority and submission.
Profile Image for Kaitlyn.
44 reviews4 followers
July 18, 2010
took me almost a year to finally get through until I trapped myself on a trip with only this book and no other. good info, though, and good because of the lack of emphasis on authority in the current cultural context.
6 reviews
March 6, 2008
Good book. It's not a novel, but it helps you put things into perspective.
Profile Image for Greg Fischer.
7 reviews
June 11, 2012
Great book, a lot of great truths in it. It was a little hard for me to get through, but I did enjoy it.
14 reviews
September 29, 2012
This book helped me to understand my authority in Christ and to lay claim to what He desired to give me from His kingdom. Excellent read!
Profile Image for Daniel.
996 reviews6 followers
October 23, 2012
it was enlightening. all the complaints leveled against are not valid.
342 reviews
July 8, 2022
This book is changing my understanding of my relationship with God. The last half of the book is directed to those who have spiritual authority over others, specifically pastors and leaders, but some of it is applicable to parents as well.

“The controversy of the universe is centered on who shall have the authority, and our conflict with Satan is the direct result of our attributing authority to God.” p. 12

“Obedience alone is absolutely honoring to God, for it alone takes God’s will as its center.” p. 13

“Man’s action should not be governed by the knowledge of good or evil; it should be motivated by a sense of obedience. The principle of good and evil is to live according to what is right or what is wrong. By taking the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, [Adam and Eve] found a source of right and wrong in other than God Himself. The work of redemption is to bring us back to the place where we will now find our right and wrong in God.” p. 21

“Only in the principle of obedience can we serve God; only in obeying as Christ did can we reaffirm God’s principle of authority, for rebellion is the outworking of the principle of Satan.” p. 50

“The nature of believing the gospel is obeying it. Faith is obedience.” p. 57

“If anyone wishes to learn obedience he must cast aside reason. He must either live by God’s authority or live by human reason - it is absolutely impossible to live by both.” p. 94

“To live under reason is so complicated! Consider the birds of the air and the lilies in the valley. How simply they live. The more we are subject to authority the simpler our lives will be.” p. 94

“Vindication or defense or whatever reaction there may be should come from God, not from man. He who vindicates himself does not know God.” p. 126

“The moment you justify yourself before a person, he becomes your judge. As soon as you try to explain, you are fallen before him.” p.126
Profile Image for Karin.
Author 3 books124 followers
April 7, 2020
I wasn't really sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I'd heard of Watchman Nee, but I'd never read his works and I didn't know what approach he would take towards spiritual authority in this book.

I thought this book might be about authority in prayer. I was a bit surprised to discover this book is really about earthly authority/leaders -- how should Christians respond to those in authority, who does God put in authority, what qualifies someone to be in authority, what can people in authority expect their lives to be like.

Despite my surprise, the book was fascinating and I learned a ton (I only read a few pages a day to give myself time to meditate on what I'd learned). There were some parts that gave me problems (I never really grasped the concepts so I kept going), but overall I feel like I have a deeper, more biblical understanding of authority/leadership.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone curious about the church structure or leadership among/with Christians.
Profile Image for Sheila Conley.
Author 2 books2 followers
November 23, 2019
This book is a must for understanding spiritual authority and how to operate under it and in the place of authority. Watchman Nee uses Jesus' example and the basis of structure put in place from God to teach true, Biblical submission to authority. I have heard of some people having a hard time digesting this book, but spiritual authority is vital to the kingdom. Proper spiritual authority from mature leaders who do not use these principles to abuse others, but rather understand the weight of being in a place of Godly authority over His children, is where those who follow can flourish and mature to be Godly leaders themselves.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 83 reviews

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