There’s a little word that the Lord has giv’n

1
There’s a little word that the Lord has giv’n
  For our help in the hour of need:
Let us reckon ourselves to be dead to sin,
  To be dead and dead indeed.
  Let us reckon, reckon, reckon,
Let us reckon, rather than feel;
Let us be true to the reck’ning,
    And He will make it real.
2
There’s another word that the Lord has giv’n,
  In the very same verse we read,
Let us reckon ourselves as alive in Him,
  As alive and alive indeed.
3
While we trust in feeling or inward frames
  We shall always be tossed about,
Let us anchor fast to the Word of God,
  And reckon away our doubt.
4
As the mariner, when the skies are dim.
  Sails on by his compass true;
So our faith would cling to the promise firm.
  And reckon the journey through.
5
O how sweet it is to be anchored fast
  To a hope that can never fail;
Let us reckon on with a firmer trust,
  Till we anchor within the veil.
6
You may claim the promise from every pain,
  You may know His power to heal;
But your faith must rest in His word alone,
  And reckon, rather than feel.

Before 1937 Brother Nee also preached this message of reckoning to us. He had A. B. Simpson's hymn, "Let us reckon, reckon, reckon" (Hymns, #692), included in our Chinese hymnal. After 1937, however, Brother Nee saw something further regarding Romans 6. He told us that this chapter declares the fact, but that it cannot be the experience. Only when we go on to Romans 8, he said, could we experience what it is to die with Christ. Death with Christ can only be experienced in the Spirit. I surely said amen when I heard that.

When we are filled with the Spirit, the effectiveness of the death of Christ is our experience. If we keep praying until we are in the Spirit, we shall find the killing. There is no need to reckon. We have all experienced that when we are filled with the Spirit, our bad temper, our wrong attitude, our feeling of jealousy, and our opinions are all killed.

This effective praying is the way to take nourishment into us. Just as eating the proper food helps destroy the germs in our body that make us ill, so when we are filled with the Spirit, the effectiveness of the death of Christ kills all the negative things in us.

What I am sharing with you is the fruit of what I have learned and experienced these many years. As I have said, in the early years we collected many spiritual books on the way to have a holy, victorious life. We read them and attempted to practice what they taught. Actually those books did not help us very much.

On the matter of overcoming sin, for example, most writers referred us to Romans 6. You must die, they said, because once you die you are free from sin. When we tried to practice this, however, we could not find the way to die. Eventually we concluded that reckoning was the answer. As A. B. Simpson's hymn says,

There's a little word that the Lord has giv'n

For our help in the hour of need:

Let us reckon ourselves to be dead to sin,

To be dead and dead indeed.

Let us reckon, reckon, reckon,

Let us reckon, rather than feel;

Let us be true to the reck'ning,

And He will make it real.

Hymns, #692

I did a lot of reckoning and discovered that if I did not reckon, sin was somewhat dormant. The more I reckoned, however, the more alive sin became in me. That way did not work, nor did most of the other ways recommended by the Christian writers.

Eventually we discovered that the way is Christ (John 14:6). The way to overcome sin is Christ. The way to die is Christ; when you take Him, you die. The way to holiness is Christ. The way to pray is Christ. The way to study the Bible is Christ. The way to love your wife or submit to your husband is Christ. He is the way.

This holy anointing ointment as the Spirit is a great topic. Do not think that I am exaggerating; over the past fifty years, the Lord has led us to progress in our knowledge of the truth. I would like to give you an example to show the importance of the Spirit. Up until 1938 or 1939, whenever Brother Watchman Nee spoke on Romans 6 he emphasized "reckoning" according to the light that we had up to that time. We "reckon" ourselves dead, and we "reckon" ourselves alive. He translated into Chinese a hymn written by A. B. Simpson, the founder of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. That hymn says, "Let us reckon, reckon, reckon…Let us reckon ourselves to be dead to sin…Let us reckon ourselves as alive in Him" (Hymns, #692).

In the summer of 1935, Brother Nee came to Chefoo, my hometown, and spoke a message in which he gave an illustration. He said that three persons were walking along the top of a wall. The first one was Fact, the second was Faith, and the third was Experience. Whenever Faith did not look to either side or to the back but kept going on, constantly looking at Fact, then Experience would not have a problem but would follow after him. But whenever Faith wavered and turned back to look at Experience, they all fell off the wall. Therefore, he said that we must have reckoning faith. The Lord Jesus already died on the cross and already crucified our flesh. These are facts, good news of great joy. Today you should have faith welling up in you because of God's word. This faith does not look from side to side or to the rear but always gazes at the fact. When you keep looking by faith, the experience will follow, and that experience is the experience of death.

Brother Nee's speaking was powerful, and we were very moved when we heard it. However, when we tried to put it into practice, we simply could not reckon ourselves dead. Before we tried to reckon ourselves dead, our flesh seemed to be sleeping; once we tried to reckon ourselves dead, it woke up and became more living. Between 1935 and 1938 Brother Nee frequently spoke on this topic, and from 1935 we tried to learn how to reckon ourselves dead, but year after year we were unable to do it. This continued until 1939 when Brother Nee returned from Europe and unexpectedly released a message in a meeting in Shanghai. That message was so different from what he had spoken before that it shocked me, yet it was a great help to me.

He said that the fact of our co-death with Christ that we see in Romans 6 can be experienced only in the Spirit found in Romans 8. You can never have the experience of the fact of being crucified with Christ in Romans 6 unless you are in the Spirit in Romans 8. In other words, it does not depend on your believing or reckoning; it depends only on your being in the Spirit. Without Romans 8 you can never have the experience of Romans 6. Romans 6 can only be a fact to you; it can never become your experience unless you live in the Spirit in Romans 8. At that time I wondered whether Brother Nee's present speaking was different from his previous speaking. It seemed to be different, but it was not truly different; it was a word of experience.

We need to reckon; Paul also reckoned. Nevertheless, we should not merely reckon in our mind without living in the Spirit. For example, your wife may provoke you, and you may be about to lose your temper. You will then feel that you must reckon yourself dead; you must reckon that the "I" who loses his temper has been crucified on the cross, and you must reckon him dead. But I must tell you that before you finish your reckoning, the devil may come to taunt you by saying, "You cannot make it to reckon yourself dead." Then you give up reckoning and your temper comes out. We have all experienced this.

Hence, it is not a matter of reckoning but a matter of living in the spirit and walking according to the spirit, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit (Rom. 8:4). The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace (v. 6). When Brother Nee released this message, I received much help, and I had a turn in my knowledge of the Spirit. From that day on I knew that strictly speaking any word of preaching which does not have the Spirit is useless. This is because the word preached is like a prescription, but a prescription must be filled by the pharmacist before it can be useful. If you do not get the medicine, a prescription from the most famous doctor will be useless. The word is like the prescription, and the Spirit is like the medicine. It is not the prescription but the medicine that works. The high preaching cannot save you, but the Spirit can save you. Therefore, we all need this Spirit.