KNOWLEDGE VERSUS LOVE
In 1 Corinthians 8:1 Paul tells us, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” The outward, objective knowledge that puffs up comes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the source of death. The spiritual (not fleshly) love, which is an expression of life as described in 1 Corinthians 13, builds up. It comes from the tree of life, the source of life. Knowledge is something of the tree of knowledge, and love is of the tree of life.
Second Timothy 4:3 says, “For the time will come when they will not tolerate healthy teaching, but according to their own lusts they will heap up to themselves teachers tickling the ear.” Teaching is something of knowledge, but “healthy” implies the matter of life. Anything that is healthy refers to the health of life. What we need is not merely the teaching but the healthy teaching. A person’s teaching might be quite sound but still dead. We need the healthy teaching, the teaching with life.
Second Timothy 4:3 tells us that the ones who will not tolerate healthy teaching “according to their own lusts…heap up to themselves teachers tickling the ear.” These ones cannot bear with the healthy teaching but they heap up teachers because they have an itching ear, an ear that seeks pleasing speaking for its own pleasure.
In 1964 I was invited to San Diego, and the responsible one in this certain Christian group put up a sign that told people to hear Witness Lee. When I saw this sign, I told the one responsible to take it down. Otherwise, I would not be able to speak. Some Christians attend conference after conference and there is no change in their life. These ones are addicted to listening to good speakers. They have itching ears, and these good speakers become a drug to them. Many teachings were heard, but their daily life remained the same. They have only heaped up to themselves teachers who tickle their itching ears.
THE LETTER VERSUS THE SPIRIT
Second Corinthians 3:6 tells us that the apostles were “ministers of a new covenant, not of letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Genesis 2 shows us that the tree of knowledge is a tree of death. God warned Adam that if he ate of the tree of knowledge he would surely die (Gen. 2:17). The New Testament says that the letter kills. When Paul talked about the letter, he was not referring to the letter of a newspaper, but to the letter of the Bible. In a sense, the Bible kills. In 2 Corinthians 3:6 the letter is versus the Spirit.
THE SCRIPTURES AND THE LORD HIMSELF
The Lord Jesus told the Jewish religionists, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is these that testify concerning Me; and you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). Since the Scriptures testify concerning the Lord, they should not be separated from the Lord. We may contact the Scriptures, and yet not contact the Lord. Only the Lord can give life. If we have the Scriptures without the Lord, we cannot receive life. Without Christ, even the Scriptures are merely knowledge. Instead of finding life in the Bible, we could get killed by the Bible. Without Christ, the Bible is a book of the letter, and the letter kills.
(The Crucial Revelation of Life in the Scriptures, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)