OUR INWARD REALITY BEING THE SPIRIT OF GOD
The Chinese Union Version of the Bible confuses the heart with the spirit in John 4:24. Most Christians not only confuse the heart with the spirit, but also make no distinction between the spirit and the soul. Actually, the salvation of the spirit is one thing; the salvation of the soul is another. These are two aspects of salvation. When I started working in the United States in 1961, I led the saints to exercise their spirit from the very beginning. During those years, traveling from coast to coast, I visited many places. After hearing my messages, many older Christians who were well-acquainted with the Bible and had even gone through theological training came to me and said that they had never known that man had a spirit. Christians in general are very vague about this matter. The Chinese metaphysicists were also quite ignorant of man’s spirit. They divided man into two parts, one part being invisible, which is man’s soul which they referred to as man’s higher form, and the other part being visible, which is man’s body which they referred to as man’s lower form. As late as the turn of this century, there was still a major turbulence aroused when Mrs. Penn-Lewis spoke on the tripartite man, especially on the distinction between the spirit and the soul.
The Bible, however, clearly shows us that man is tripartite. First Thessalonians 5:23 says, “And may your spirit and soul and body be preserved.” This word strongly points out that man has three parts—spirit, soul, and body. If only two things were referred to here, the verse would not require the conjunction “and” in two places. Since Paul used the conjunction twice, surely there are three things here. Furthermore, it is clearly spoken in Hebrews 4:12 that the word of God is living, piercing even to the dividing of the soul and the spirit. The distinction between the spirit and the soul is too great. These two can be spoken of as two different worlds or two different spheres. According to John 3:6, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” It is in our spirit that the Spirit of God regenerated us. Therefore, our spirit today is not only the highest part of man, but it is also that part which the Spirit of God has enlivened. The Spirit of God is the heavenly electric current, conducted through us and remaining in us, even becoming one spirit with our spirit. Today we must learn to serve God, work for Him, and preach the gospel in this spirit. This is because God Himself is the Spirit, and this Spirit is in our spirit. If we do not know our spirit, and if we do not know how to use our spirit or how to apply it, we cannot touch God. God is Spirit. At the same time, this Spirit dwells in our spirit. It is impossible to serve God in a genuine way without using our spirit.
The life which we live in the twentieth century is a life of electricity. Once the electricity is cut off, the room becomes pitch black, the elevator will not move, the washer will not turn, the freezer will not operate, and the electric cooker will cease to cook. Although a power failure may last only a few hours, everyone groans with pain. Man’s life in the twentieth century fully depends on electricity. In the same way, the Christian life is fully a matter in the spirit. Today the Christian life is fully a life of the spirit. We must learn to use the spirit. However, today there are still many Christians who are not willing to use their spirit. To them, it is too troublesome a matter. It is convenient for them to use their mind, for they have been using it since they were young. It is also convenient for them to use their emotion, since they are accustomed to living entirely in their soulish parts.
When you go out for the gospel outreach, this is the point you need to pay the most attention to. If you do not use your spirit regularly, you will not be able to use your spirit when you speak to people concerning the gospel. Therefore, you must know not only that God is the Spirit, but also that this Spirit dwells in your spirit and is one spirit with you in your spirit. This is what transpires inwardly in a Christian. Within this inward happening, there is a reality which is the Spirit of God. Not only do we need to use our spirit in our prayer and our speaking with God, but we need to use our spirit even when we speak with man. Since God is in our spirit, only by using our spirit can we help people to touch Him.
(Messages in Preparation for the Spread of the Gospel, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)