III. ENTERING INTO THE SPIRIT OF THE SCRIPTURES
In order to study the Bible well, we have to acquaint ourselves with the thoughts of the Holy Spirit as well as the facts from the Holy Spirit. In addition, we have to enter into the spirit of the Scriptures.
A. Touching the Spirit behind the Word
God’s Spirit prompted men to write the Scriptures, and whether it is history or doctrines, each portion has a spirit of its own. Every portion of the Bible has its own unique spirit behind the word. The Holy Spirit expresses Himself through the spirit of man. When we say that the Holy Spirit rejoices, the Holy Spirit is not just rejoicing within Himself; rather, the Holy Spirit is rejoicing through man’s spirit. In the same way, when we say that the Holy Spirit grieves, the Holy Spirit is not grieving within Himself; rather, the Holy Spirit is grieving through man’s spirit. Hence, when the Holy Spirit enters man’s spirit, the condition of the Holy Spirit becomes the condition of man’s spirit. Putting it another way, we can say that the condition of man’s spirit is the condition of the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit of God recorded history, He recorded the facts of history. However, this history contained not only facts, it also captured a certain spirit. We can say that certain feelings and conditions of the Spirit are impregnated within each portion of the Word. In the same principle, in the writing of the Epistles, the Holy Spirit did not just convey doctrines and thoughts. Behind every passage there is the feeling of the Spirit. The Bible is not merely a book full of facts and doctrines. On the surface there are the words. Underneath the words there are thoughts, and behind the thoughts is the spirit. If we only touch the words, our reading of the Bible is too superficial. If we can form a proper impression and enter into the thoughts behind the words, we have gone deeper. However, if we remain in this realm, our understanding is still very limited. Behind every word of God is a certain spirit. The feeling of the Holy Spirit and the condition of the writers govern these writings. When we study the Bible, we have to touch the spirit behind the word.
There is an inseparable link between the word and the spirit. The ministry of the word is the release of the spirit. Anyone who stands up to be a minister of the word has to release his spirit. If he cannot release his spirit, he cannot be a minister of the word. Moreover, the spirit must be right. One must have a right spirit before he can have a right ministry of the word. We often fail as ministers of the word because the spirit cannot match the word that is released. There is nothing wrong with the words that are spoken, yet something is wrong with the spirit. The words are strong, but the spirit is weak. However, the ministers of the word in the Bible did not have this problem. Their spirit matched the content of their writings. Behind every passage and every book, there is a proper spirit; this spirit is impregnated in the word. In releasing the ministry of the word, we need the word on the surface and the spirit to back up the word. In receiving the ministry of the word, we also have to touch the spirit behind the word. When we study the Bible, our purpose is to receive the ministry of the word. As such ones, we have to touch the spirit behind the word. If we do not touch that spirit, our understanding of the Bible will be very shallow indeed. At most we will have some doctrines and facts; we will not find spiritual nourishment. If God’s word is only impressions and thoughts to us, it cannot become our food. God’s word must become spirit before it can become our food. Our food can only come as we touch the spirit behind the word. The essence of the Bible is spirit. If we do not touch the spirit behind a passage, we have not touched that portion of the Scriptures yet. In reading the Bible, we have to touch the spirit, that is, the particular spirit behind a portion of the Word.
(How to Study the Bible, Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)