LIFE IS DIFFERENT FROM GIFTS
Because spiritual gifts are mentioned in the Bible, Christians may have the misunderstanding that gifts are something of life. But gifts are different from life. Genesis 2:9 proves strongly that knowledge is contrary to life, and 1 Corinthians proves that gifts are not life.
First Corinthians 1:7 points out that the Corinthian believers were behind in no gift. The context of this verse reveals that they had all the gifts and all knowledge and utterance. We would think that surely they must be full of life. But we must read the first four verses of 1 Corinthians 3: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto fleshy, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet fleshly: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not fleshly, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not fleshly?” Paul told them that they were not spiritual, but fleshly and babyish. He could not feed them with solid food, but with milk because of their condition. They had all the gifts, yet they were still babes in Christ. This proves strongly that you may have the gifts, and yet not have much life.
Many times I have used the illustration of Balaam’s donkey in the Old Testament. A Gentile prophet by the name of Balaam had a donkey which suddenly spoke in a human language (Num. 22:28-30). For a donkey to speak a human language is a real gift of tongues. It was not the result of human manufacture, and it was not artificial or superficial. It was a genuine tongue given by divine power; otherwise, how could a donkey speak with the human language? But did that donkey receive the human life? It received the gift to function, but not the life. No matter how much it spoke the human language, it was not a human; it was still a donkey. A donkey is still a donkey, even though it may speak the human language better than I do. I am a human being, and it is not; I do not have its gift, but I have the human life. It has the gift, but not the human life.
To know life, we must clearly discern the difference between life and knowledge and between life and gifts. Do you still consider gifts as life? Suppose we have a person who speaks in tongues often and another person who has a powerful healing gift. Do you consider these gifts as life? If you do, you misunderstand life. Life is different from knowledge, and life is different from gifts.
LIFE IS DIFFERENT FROM POWER
We must also see that life also differs from power. Electricity is a kind of power; we even call it electrical power. But there is no life in that power. Thus, we may be powerful and still be short of life. We can see this especially in one person in the Old Testament. Samson was very powerful, yet he was short of life (Judg. 16). We can never take him as an example of life. He might be an example of power, but he was short of life.
Many Christians today also have this misunderstanding—they think that if you have power, surely you must have life. But power is power, and life is life. You may be exceedingly powerful and still not have much life. The Lord Jesus said in Luke 24:49, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be clothed (lit.) with power from on high.” The Lord told the disciples to wait until they would be clothed with power, which He likened to an article of clothing. We all know that an article of clothing does not have life. If a policeman were to take off his uniform, he would lose his power, but he would still be living. This power is not related to life. If you were driving a car, and a policeman signaled you to stop, you would stop immediately. This is because he exercises power. But that power is not life.
We must be clear that life is different from knowledge, gifts, and power. Today in Christianity there is a very serious trend. Many Christians give their attention either to knowledge, gifts, or power, but very few give their full attention to life. Can we find any power or gifts in Genesis 2? We can only find knowledge mentioned in a negative way, and there is no mention of gifts or power. Can we find them in Revelation 21 and 22? All we see in that Holy City is life, life, life! There is the tree of life and the river of water of life. Only life is for eternity.
We must come back to the pure Word in the Lord’s recovery. The Lord’s recovery brings us back to the beginning. We must tell others that the Bible shows us in Genesis 2 and Revelation 21 and 22 that life is the main emphasis. According to the Bible we can clearly see that life is different from knowledge, gifts, and power.
(Life and Building as Portrayed in the Song of Songs, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)