Lord, when the Father ne’er was known

Susan Tansey

Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand

Enjoyed singing this hymn this morning. Thank You, Lord.


Fullerton, California, United States

This is one of our dear Bro. Nee's hymns to the Father and His sending His Son to the earth, but many didn't realize Who He truly was. Now that you, Father have infused us with Your Spirit in our spirit, You can mold us unto Your image from glory to glory, AMEN! Father thank You for the love You have for us.

Stanza 5 of Hymns, #490 says, "Thou, Lord, the Father once wast called, / But now the Holy Spirit art." This hymn was written by Brother Watchman Nee based on Isaiah 9:6 and 2 Corinthians 3:17. He had clear light concerning Christ being the Spirit. We need to know that the Lord is the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6-7). Our knowledge of Christ as the Spirit is very much related to our experience of Christ.

We do not teach in a light way that Christ is the Son, the Father, and also the Spirit. We have spent many years studying this matter in the Bible and in our experience. The New Testament tells us that the Father is in us (Eph. 4:6), the Son is in us (2 Cor. 13:5; Col. 1:27), and the Spirit is in us (John 14:17). According to our experience, do we have three or one in us? In John 14:23 Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him." Here the Lord said that "We," the Father and the Son, will abide in the disciples. However, it is not accurate to say that two or three dwell in us, because the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one.

Shortly before Brother Nee was imprisoned, he wrote a hymn that says,

Thou, Lord, the Father once wast called,

But now the Holy Spirit art;

The Spirit is Thine other form,

Thyself to dwell within our heart. (Hymns, #490)

Prior to his imprisonment, Brother Nee published a large hymnal containing a thousand and fifty-six songs. Some of the best hymns in our hymnal were taken from that source. One of the hymns in our hymnal, number 490, was written by Brother Nee and translated by us for inclusion in our hymnal. The fifth stanza says,

Thou, Lord, the Father once wast called,

But now the Holy Spirit art;

The Spirit is Thine other form,

Thyself to dwell within our heart.

The original Chinese, which is much clearer than the English, says "Once You were the Father; now You are the Spirit." Now you know from where I derived the truth that Christ is the Spirit. This truth has been practiced, testified, and fully proved by my own experience. I say once again that we don't care for doctrine; we care for experience.

Over fifty years ago, Brother Watchman Nee often told us that the Lord Jesus was the Son, but in eternity past He was the Father, and after resurrection He was the Spirit. Hymns, #490 was written by him. Verse 5 says:


The above verse is written from the economical point of view. A form is a mode. If you do not know that in God's divine economy there is the essential Trinity and there is the economical Trinity, and if you do not know the difference and the distinction between them, you will think that Brother Nee was teaching the heresy of modalism. Essentially speaking, the Triune God is one. But economically speaking, there is the distinction of three. I will not say that there are three modes, for I do not want to be mistaken for a modalist. This is why I use the expression, "distinction of three." In the Lord Jesus' conception, birth, human living, death on the cross, and resurrection, the Triune God was in Him passing through all these processes together with Him. The Father was in Him; the Son was in Him; and the Spirit was in Him. The whole Triune God was in Him. Essentially speaking, the Father and the Spirit never departed from Him. But in the aspect of God's economy, after the Lord Jesus' baptism, the Holy Spirit was upon Him as His power for three and a half years. Then at the time when He was put on the cross, God forsook Him. This is not according to His essence but is according to His economy. Over twenty years ago, I wrote a book in English entitled The Economy of God. In this book there is a passage that reads, "Thus, the three Persons of the Trinity become the three successive steps in the process of God's economy" (p. 10). Here I said "three successive steps in the process of God's economy." In the book The God-Men, my opposers changed the word "economy" to "existence," making it read that there are three successive steps in God's existence. This is far off from what I wrote. What I said was that the Triune God has three successive steps in His economy. But the opposers changed my words to read that the Triune God has three successive steps in His existence. This is a great misrepresentation! In God's existence there are not three successive steps because the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are coexistent from eternity. Although there are three, yet They are one God. This is the essential Trinity. But in God's economy, the Triune God has three successive steps. First, the Father planned. Next, the Son came to accomplish what the Father has planned. Last, the Spirit executes what the Father has planned and what the Son has accomplished. This is the economical Trinity. The Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, have a distinction in Their existence and economy. Anyone who fails to realize this distinction will drift into heresy. I hope that you can clearly understand this difference so that you will not be deceived by the seemingly right but actually wrong teachings.