Watchman Nee: An Orthodox Evangelical

Exchanged Life Counseling is an application of the message of identification with Christ (Rom. 6:1-4, John 15:1-8) to clinical discipleship. Sometimes our brothers and sisters in other branches “the family tree” are suspicious of our doctrinal perspective. Since the writings of Watchman Nee (such as The Normal Christian Life) are classic, valuable resources, we may be called upon to reassure inquirers that his teaching is well within the boundaries or orthodoxy..

The Christian Research Institute (a.k.a “The Bible Answer Man” broadcast) devoted an issue of their Journal to retract their previous condemnation of Nee/Lee/”Local Church.”
The journal states,

“The purpose of this five-part article, then, is to offer a fresh critique of the LC [‘Local Church / Watchman Nee & Witness Lee]movement. After briefly looking at their background as a movement and as a source of controversy, we will take a long, hard look at what can fairly be called the four major concerns evangelicals have expressed about the LC. These were all succinctly presented in a 2007 “open letter” to the LC signed by a long list of evangelical theologians, apologists, and leaders. We will then draw our conclusions together and reassess where the LC stands in relation to historic orthodoxy and to the wider Christian community. Finally, we will look at the larger picture: what is at stake in the decades-long controversy surrounding the LC and what might be gained from its resolution”…

The issue is available for free download:
http://www.equip.org/PDF/EnglishOpt.pdf

Not that we have will individually have complete agreement with Nee/ Lee literature, but it is helpful to have this research and vindication handy.

Hank Hanegraaff summarized this vindication in this online video:
“A Brief Affirmation of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee”

Union with Christ

Ian Thomas’ books such as The Saving Life of Christ and The Mystery of Godliness continue to be accurate and dependable resources to share the message of the Exchanged Life. We believe this New Covenant perspective should be central to Discipleship Counseling. Thomas was used of the Lord to launch the Capernwray Bible Institutes in various countries. Derek Burnside teaches at the mother school in England. In this online video message, Derek speaks on the topic “I’m in Christ and He’s in Me” (John 14:20). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOoczLDCUOw

Coaching Calls

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord
And who meditate on His name.” (Malachi 3:16)

This month Grace Fellowship is beginning a teleconference ministry to encourage Discipleship Counselors. We envision regularly scheduled calls for fellowship, equipping and networking. The calls will have designated groups that are invited to participate: 1) those who have been certified, 2) those who are in the certification process, 3) all workshop alumni.

Purpose:
To encourage fellowship among those who have been certified with Grace Fellowship International
To defend and promote Exchanged Life personal ministry
To give personal updates on GFI
To provide a forum to learn from each other
To provide additional coaching wisdom and resources

Format:
Bimonthly teleconference or videoconference
Scheduling letter and invitation sent the week before
An enrichment topic mentioned
Participants are welcome to email John with additional suggestions, questions, and testimonies
A follow up email will be sent out with some major points of the call and a link to the recording

We pray that the Lord will use these coaching calls to further encourage and equip us to be Christ Centered Discipleship Counselors.

The Secret of Christ our Life

[Discipleship Counselors need to emphasize the believer’s union with Christ. This is an excerpt from The Secret of Christ our Life  by Andrew Murray. The Secret series, is ideal for client “homework.” – ed.]

A poor spiritual life results when a Christian thinks, “Christ for me” is enough… and does not know or even desire “Christ in me.”

The Twofold Life
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
John 10:10

EVERYONE can understand the difference between life that is weak and sickly and life that has abundant vitality.
Thus St. Paul speaks of the Christian life of the Corinthians as not spiritual but carnal, as of young children in Christ incapable of assimilating strong meat or of understanding the deeper truths of the gospel (see 1 Corinthians 3 and Hebrews 5).

There are some, the majority of Christians, who never advance beyond first principles. They are dull of hearing and remain carnal Christians.
There are others again, a minority, who indeed show forth the abundant riches of grace.

All through the history of the church we find this difference. In our day, too, the number is small of those who seek to live wholly for God and, being spiritually minded, have large thoughts of the abundant life there is in Christ. These few witness to the glory of Christ as “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14); “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” (1:16).

The preacher’s aim should be so to declare the fullness of God’s grace in Jesus Christ as to make Christians ashamed of the poverty of their spiritual life, and to encourage them to believe that “life abundant” in the fullness of the Spirit is for them.

Dear reader, ask yourself if you are living such an abundant life as Jesus came to bestow. Is it manifest in your love to the Savior and in the abundant fruit you bear to the glory of God in soul-winning?—for remember, “he who wins souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30).

If not, pray God to strengthen your faith so that He will be able to make all grace abound toward you that you, always having all sufficiency, may abound in every good work. Let Jesus be precious to you and daily communion with Him indispensable. He will teach you by His Holy Spirit to honor Him by an abundant life.
re-posted from CLC Publications. Find out more…

Excerpt taken from The Secret of Christ our Life  by Andrew Murray

Practicum Testimony

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

These words were penned by the Apostle Paul from prison, a place that often leaves one in a state of hopelessness and despair without a positive outlook for the future or concern for another’s well-being. This was not so for the Apostle Paul. His assurance and confidence was rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul explains God’s plans for Him and how his imprisonment was being used as an opportunity to share the good news of the Gospel. He made it clear: God had positioned him at this specific place, under these specific circumstances, for a specific reason. That reason was to preach the unfathomable riches that come from knowing Christ as one’s Lord and Savior!

My name is Curtis Fahrlender. I am currently a youth pastor in Central Iowa and finishing up a Master of Science in Counseling from Clarks Summit University in Clarks Summit, PA. As I was nearing the end of my counseling degree, I needed to find a ministry where I could complete my practicum and internship requirements. As I was praying and searching for possible locations, I remembered a counseling ministry that focused on remedial discipleship under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Grace Fellowship International (GFI). Dr. John Woodward graciously agreed to allow GFI to be my supervision and practicum site. I have been able to meet with Dr. Woodward every other week to discuss counseling and ministry situations, and he has guided me in applying the Exchange Life Model to my current ministry settings. This has been extremely helpful and I have seen great results.

2 Corinthians chapter 1 is sometimes referred to as the soul care passage. Paul teaches us important attributes of God. He is the God of all comfort and Father of mercies (2 Corinthians 1:1-7). He then moves from theological to personal testimony. In verses 8-11 we are invited to the apostle’s personal struggle and affliction. The climax of his testimony is found in verse 9, “Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” This verse summarizes the impact GFI has had on my counseling methodology. The struggles, afflictions, aspects of rejection, unmet expectations, frustrations, and so on all happen in our life, as Paul says, to teach us something extremely important. They teach us reliance. We can rely either on ourselves to get through the difficult journey or on God who raises the dead.

This is summed up in the wheel and line diagrams which — along with the other significant contributions GFI have made to the field of biblical counseling — has been so valuable to me. I desire to come alongside the local church and to train and equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12). As I continue to embrace this Christ centered message in my own life, I look forward with great excitement to see how the Lord will use my training at GFI. I’m excited to see the Exchanged Life message be used in bringing about hope in a world that desperately needs it.

New DVD Album: How to Exchange Your Life

How to Exchange Your Life for a New One by Dr. Phil Jones is an entry-level Bible study intended to reach and assimilate new church members. The booklet is available in the book store here. Grace Fellowship Int’l announces the publication of a new DVD album to accompany this booklet. These videos are about 15 minutes in length:
  • Sessions 1, 2: “Verify Your Salvation” – Dr. Phil Young
  • Sessions 3, 4: “New Life in Christ” – Dr. Dan Riley
  • Sessions 5, 6: “The Spirit-Filled Life & Victory” – Dr. Phil Jones
We pray that many small groups and churches will discover the strategic value of this outreach/initial discipleship kit. The DVD album is on sale for $39.95 at the online store or by calling 865-429-0450. Sample video sessions can be previewed at the How to Exchange Your Life for a New One resource page.