LEARNING TO TOUCH THE SPIRIT AND LIFE IN THE BIBLE
There is a further problem, which is related to our different organs. As humans we have eyes and ears, and we have something deeper, which is our mind and heart. In addition, we have something even deeper, which is our human spirit. In John 4:24 the Lord Jesus gave us a principle. He said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.” God is Spirit, so in order to worship Him, we have to worship Him in our spirit. The principle is that the way to worship Spirit is with our spirit. It is only possible for spirit to worship Spirit. In the same way, we must realize that the words in the Bible are not mere letters. Apparently, all the words in the Bible are letters printed on paper, but in actuality they are spirit and life (John 6:63). Since the words of the Bible are spirit, we have to exercise our spirit to touch the Word. Only our spirit can touch the Spirit.
We may illustrate this in the following way. Outwardly, a man appears to have only a physical body, but inwardly, he has a mind to consider and understand things and a heart to love and seek things. He also has a spirit to contact, receive, and contain God. If I shake hands with him, I make outward contact with his physical body. If while I am shaking hands, he looks at me and I look at him, there is also a communication between our two minds. If I smile at him and he responds by smiling back at me, then a deeper communication, a communication between the hearts, takes place. Then if I say, “Praise the Lord!”, and he responds by saying, “Amen!”, we have communicated in the spirit.
The Bible also has a “body.” The body of the Bible is the black and white letters. The first part of John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world.” The letters that spell these words are the body of this verse. However, in the body of the Bible there is spirit and life. When we exercise our mind to read the letters of the Bible, we touch only the body of the Bible, but when we exercise our spirit, we touch spirit and life.
The Bible is the means for God’s dispensing. God’s dispensing is to dispense Christ into us, and the Bible is the means used by God to do this. Christ as the all-inclusive Spirit is abstract and mysterious, but in the Bible He becomes solid. We can touch the Bible, hold it, and carry it anywhere, but we still must open it, open our spirit, and open our mouth to utter something from the Bible to the Lord. In this way we receive the Spirit and life.
THE OUTWARD WAY AND THE INWARD WAY TO TOUCH THE BIBLE
There are two ways to touch the Bible: the outward way and the inward way. The outward way to touch the Bible is by exercising our mind merely to understand it, while the inward way is by using our spirit not mainly to understand it but to touch the spirit and get the life supply.
John 1:1 is a wonderful verse. Suppose two brothers come together to read this verse. After reading it, one brother may ask, “What does in the beginning mean?” The other brother may say, “God is the beginning.” The first brother may respond, “I don’t think so. How can you say that God is the beginning? I don’t understand what you are talking about. And what is the Word? This verse says that the Word was with God and the Word was God. Surely the Word and God are two. How can they be one? Let us ask the students at the Bible institute.” This is an illustration of touching the Bible in an outward way. Touching the Bible even for only a few minutes in this way is deadening.
There is another way to touch the Bible, the inward way, the way of exercising our spirit. Suppose these same two brothers come to the Word in the following way, saying, “O Lord, in the beginning. In the beginning was the Word. Amen! Hallelujah for the beginning. O Lord, the Word. Hallelujah, for the Word! And the Word was with God. O God! And the Word was God!” When we exercise our spirit to touch the Word in such a living way, we may not understand much, but we are filled with the Spirit, and we get the life supply.
It is very clear that the Bible can be two entities. It can be dead letters to kill us, or it can be the Spirit to enliven us. It depends upon which way we touch it. If we touch the Bible in an outward way using only our mind, we will be deadened. However, if we touch the Bible in an inward way exercising our spirit, we will be enlivened. This is true of any verse or chapter, from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation. Sometimes we may not understand what we read, and sometimes we may understand but not be able to utter what we see. We may even say, “Praise the Lord, I received something this morning, but I do not have the words to speak it!” This is the right way. The right way to touch the Bible is to touch the Lord Himself. We must never separate the Bible from the Lord. Whenever we open the Bible, we have to open our mouth and open our spirit to utter something to the Lord. We can say, “O Lord! O Lord Jesus!” The louder we say these words the better. This is truly something wonderful and marvelous.
Today the best dietitians cannot fully tell us what is in the food that we eat day by day. If the smallest wheat germ cannot be fully understood, how can we understand the Bible in full? Although we do not fully understand the food we eat, we still take it in day by day. Many things get into us and nourish us, whether or not we understand them. It is the same with the Bible. The Bible is not merely for our understanding. If the Bible were only for our understanding, we would be miserable because our understanding is so limited. We should not trust in our understanding of the Bible. Forty years ago I trusted very much in my understanding of the Bible, but today I no longer trust in my understanding. I do not care merely to understand the Bible. When I come to the Bible, I simply receive it. I receive it not merely by using my mind to understand but by exercising my spirit. I may say, “O Lord! Amen. In the beginning. Hallelujah, for the beginning! Oh, hallelujah, for the beginning! In the beginning was the Word. I don’t know what the Word is, and I don’t know what the beginning is, but I do know that in the beginning was the Word!” This is a marvelous way to touch the Bible. In this way we get the Spirit and life from the Bible.
Many Christians appreciate that the Bible is a wonderful book. Yet the Bible is more than a wonderful book; it is the embodiment of Christ. The way we touch the Bible determines whether or not we touch Christ. If we touch the Bible only by using our mind, we are finished. To touch the Bible in this way makes us like the Jews who researched the Bible without touching the Lord Jesus. This is the wrong way. Whenever we pick up the Bible with our hand, immediately we have to stir up our spirit. Whenever we open the Bible, we have to open our mouth, and whenever we read a word in the Bible, we have to utter it from our spirit.
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)