The Release of the Spirit: Themes of Personal Impact, Challenges Posed to Faith and How the Contemporary Church
In reading this manuscript we have been impressed that it is a vital message needing to be shared and known by all the Lord's seeking ones who long to be a channel for His Life. One cannot read very far before sensing Watchman Nee's longing and prayer is that the Church may know the Lord in the fullest way, that God's people may be increasingly fruitful unto Him, that He may find a minimum of hindrance in us, and that He may be fully released through our quickened and controlled spirit.
The Release of the Spirit was originally a series of sermons or lessons delivered in Foochow, South China between May 25th and 28th, 1948. The book was first published in 1955 and the first English edition in 1965. In this particular work, Nee suggests that man must ultimately be broken if his is to be an effective agent for God, and in fact God cannot use a servant who has not has a release of his inter spirit. The flesh serves as an impenetrable capsule like an alabaster box. Once this box is broken, life may come forth. Nee argues that the Holy Spirit orchestrates the breaking, writing, "He makes sure one event after another and one difficulty after another come to us. These break our outward man so that our inward man may come through" (15). Most people however, try to avoid being broken not realizing the necessity of the outerman to crack and free the innerman. "Let us remember," states Nee, "that the one reason for all misunderstandings, all fretfulness, all disappointments, is that we secretly love ourselves. Hence, we plan a way whereby we can rescue ourselves. Many times problems arise due to our seeking a way of escape--an escape from the working of the cross". While the overall point of of The Release of the Spirit is valuable, there is some difficulty with the its starting point. Nee take a position of trichotomy, that is that man is made up of three parts--body, soul, and spirit. Even for one who is a dichotomist (like this reviewer), typical arguments from a trichomists position tend to remain within biblical tension. Nee however, identifies the soul and spirit with definitions that press upon this tension with some force that may be problematic for the dichotomist. According to Nee, the body is the physical body, the flesh. The soul is the intellect, thought, emotion, and intangible aspects of personality and being, and the spirit is something different. "When God comes to indwell us by His Spirit with His life and power," states Nee, "He comes into our spirit at the time when we are born again".
Eventually, this book discusses a fundamental lesson facing a servant of Christ—the breaking of the outer man by the Lord for the release of the spirit. The only work God approves is that of the spirit, and the breaking of the outer man is the only way that the spirit can have full freedom.All of these messages were given by Watchman Nee during his training in Kuling for his co-workers in 1948 and 1949.