20 Quotes from The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

God of AIJThe God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by Watchman Nee is a powerful and illuminating book that provides a basic sketch of the Christian experience as viewed through the narrative of the Patriarchs in Genesis. Nee argues for a deep continuity between the Old and New Testaments which does full justice to the typical and allegorical character of Israel’s formative history. Below I’ve selected twenty quotes which certainly do not capture the full extent of Nee’s understanding, but nonetheless allow Watchman Nee to speak for himself.


Twenty Quotes

The experiences of Abraham plus Isaac plus Jacob are the basic experiences of all who desire to be God’s people. (15)

Abraham is the starting point in God’s plan of redemption and in His work of recovery. (16)

All of our experiences are for our future service. We should never say, “Others can do this and that. Why can’t I do the same?” We have to remember that God trains every person in a special way because He wants to use that person in a special way. Our special usefulness comes from our special training. (26)

We have to realize that it is possible for a person to reach Canaan without knowing why he is there… If we do not live continuously in God’s appearing, it will be easy for us to lose the vision of our calling… How easy it is for us to forget what God wants to do! Many times, when we have too much to do and the work becomes a little more hectic, we lose sight of our spiritual calling. We need to come again and again to the Lord and beseech Him: “Appear to me again and again, and speak to me again and again!” We need to have a continuous seeing, an eternal seeing; we need to see God’s goal and what God is doing. (29-30)

When a person is brought by the Lord to the place of weakness and when he feels that he cannot do anything and is not worthy of doing anything, he can begin to work for the Lord. When we truly see that this work is the Lord’s work and that we are useless and when we truly see the Lord’s holiness and our filthiness, the Lord will begin to use us. (50)

Abraham first had to become a vessel before Isaac could be brought in. This means that the glorious Christ will be brought in only when a group of people believe as Abraham believed; only then will God’s work be accomplished… Just as Abraham became a vessel to bring in Isaac, so the church is a vessel to bring in the glorious Christ. (51)

God’s emphasis is not on whether something has happened, but on what the source is. Often our attention is just on the correctness of the results and the forms… However, God is concerned with where something comes from and who is doing it. It is not enough to say that something is the will of God. One must still ask who is fulfilling this will. (54)

We can say that Ishmael includes two characteristics: the first is a wrong source, and the second is a premature timing… God’s goal must be achieved according to God’s time and through God’s power. (59)

Our experience tells us that it is comparatively easy to deal with the sinning flesh, but it is very difficult to deal with the flesh that tries to please God. (66)

We have to be delivered to the point where we want God only, not the things that He wants us to do… We have to realize that God allows our work to fail miserably because He does not want us to have any direct relationship with the work. (82)

Those who satisfy God know the cross on the negative side and know God as the Father on the positive side. If our service does not have this knowledge, it lacks spiritual value. (85)

God is not after just Abraham. He is after a corporate vessel. He is after the descendants of Abraham, the church, who will fulfill His purpose. Abraham’s history includes both his own experience and the necessary experience of every vessel of God… In reading the history of Abraham, we have to realize that it is not only a description of Abraham’s experience in being dealt with by the Lord, but it is also a description of the standard by which God deals with all of His people. Abraham’s experience is God’s requirement on every believer. (87)

In Abraham we see God’s purpose. In Isaac we see God’s power. In Abraham we see the standard which God requires of His people. In Isaac we see the life which enables God’s people to reach that standard. Many Christians have one basic problem: They only see God’s purpose but do not see God’s provisions. They see God’s standard but do not see God’s life. They see God’s demands, but do not see the power that meets these demands. This is why we have to consider Isaac as well as Abraham. (91)

In Isaac we see God supplying Christ to us, while in Jacob we see the Holy Spirit disciplining us. Isaac shows us the meaning of the enjoyment of the overcoming life, while Jacob shows us the meaning of the dealing of the natural life. (96)

In Isaac we know Christ. In Jacob we know ourselves. Because we know Christ, we have confidence, and because we know ourselves, we lose our own confidence. When these two combine together, we will fully live Christ. (98)

Our being in Christ touches Christ’s work, while Christ being in us touches Christ’s life. When we are in Christ, all the facts that are in Christ become ours. When Christ is in us, all the power that is in Christ becomes ours. When we are in Christ, everything that Christ has accomplished becomes ours. When Christ is in us, everything that Christ can accomplish becomes ours. (102)

The daily life of a Christian is one of enjoying Christ and receiving Christ. (109)

We do not need to fulfill God’s goal by living by ourselves or even by the power of the Lord. The spontaneous manifestation of Christ Himself fulfills God’s goal. When the Lord is expressed through us, we become what we are spontaneously. This is Christianity. (110)

The God of Isaac shows us God’s gift, while the God of Jacob shows us God’s workmanship… We can say that the God of Jacob completes the work of the God of Isaac. The God of Jacob works in us to make room for the God of Isaac so that Christ will gain a place and occupy more and more ground in us. (110-111)

What God did through Israel typifies what God wants to do through the church. The commission of the church is to accomplish the work of God’s recovery. The church is God’s vessel in His recovery work. To be the vessel in God’s recovery work, the church needs to know the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. This does not mean that we need someone to be an Abraham, an Isaac, and a Jacob separately. It means that we must all know the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. After we have known Him, we will become His vessel to accomplish His purpose. (168)


(Page numbers are from the Collected Works of Watchman Nee edition, Vol. 35, published by Living Stream Ministry).

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