NOT RELIGION, BUT LIFE
Then Jesus went on to say, "As the Father raiseth the dead and giveth them life, even so the Son also giveth life to whom He will" (v. 21). What is this? This is Christ versus religion. We must all realize today it is not a matter of religion, but of Christ as the very God imparting life to us. This is all we need. We need a Christ who is equal to God and who is God Himself, imparting life to us. And the way He imparts life to us is not by any religion, forms, doctrines, teachings, or regulations, but by His living Word. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my Word, and believeth Him that sent Me. hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life" (v. 24). Whoever hears His living Word and receives it has eternal life. This is all—it is so simple.
NOT THE SCRIPTURES. BUT CHRIST
Then the Lord Jesus turned again to the Jews and said, "Ye search the scriptures..." (v. 39). The English translation of the word "search" is not adequate. In the Greek it means "research." The Lord Jesus was saying, "Ye search and research the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life." This was their imagination: they thought that they could find life in the Scriptures. But the Lord Jesus said to them, "Beside Me, without Me. regardless of how many times you read the Scriptures, you cannot have life." To say that in the Bible there is life is in a sense a kind of imagination. Life. strictly speaking, is not in the Scriptures, but in Christ. If you have Christ with the Scriptures, surely you will have life; but if you have the Scriptures. but are devoid of the living Christ as the life-giving Spirit, you have no life. If you say you do, that is a game, that is your imagination. "Ye search the scriptures" Jesus said "because ye think that in them ye have life but really you do not. What you have is just deadness. The more you search, the more dead you are. The letter kills. Ye search the Scriptures. but ye will not come to Me that ye may have life."
Brothers and sisters, never forget verses 39 and 40 of John 5. It is these two verses in the entire Bible which show us that to search the Scripture is one thing, and to come to the Lord for life is another. It is entirely possible to search and even research the Scriptures, yet never to touch the living Christ as the life-giving Spirit.
When I was young I did much searching and researching of the Bible. But, Hallelujah, today I have given it up. Today I just come to the living Christ through the living word of the Bible. Whenever I open the Scriptures, I firstly touch the Lord. I open my mouth and say, "O Lord Jesus, I come to You." Brothers, never come to this living Book without coming to the living Lord Jesus. If you do, you will simply be religious.
Why do you read the Scriptures? Because there is life in the Scriptures? It is indeed a wonderful and marvelous Book. But look at those who spend so much time in Bible study. Do not misunderstand me: I respect the Bible, and I have spent very much time in its pages. But I have found one thing: we should never read the Bible without touching the living Christ. If you separate the Bible from Christ, then Christ is versus your Bible. Christianity today almost makes the Scriptures a book of dead letters. So Christ in this sense versus the Scriptures. People take this Book for knowledge and even obtain degrees in Bible study, but they utterly miss Christ. He said, "Ye search the scriptures...and ye will not come to Me, that ye may have life."
You may say that the Bible testifies of Christ. Undoubtedly. Even Moses spoke of Christ in all his writings. But you should not separate all those writings from the living, present Christ. You need to wed all the Scriptures to Christ; then you will have the life; then you will have the living Word. The Lord said, "It is the Spirit that giveth life...the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life" (John 6:63). The words, the Lord said, are spirit; so they must be taken as the Spirit and in the Spirit. It is the Spirit that gives life; the letter kills (2 Cor. 3:6). If you take the Bible just as letters, you receive death, not life. All the words in the Bible proceeded out of the mouth of the very Lord who is the Spirit; so whatever comes from Him must also be Spirit, for He Himself is the Spirit. Every word of the Bible must be taken as the Spirit that gives life. If we exercise our mind to research the Scriptures, we make every word of the Bible dead letters. If, however, we exercise our spirit to contact the Word by calling on His name, it is life. There is no other way to make this word, printed in black and white, so living, as the Spirit to us. We must read it by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus from deep within. Mingle your reading and calling on the Lord as one. Then you will get the life.
(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)