READING THE BIBLE FOR CHRIST TO INCREASE IN US
The genuine spirituality of a Christian depends on Christ’s being mingled with him. If Christ is mingled with us to one degree, we have one degree of spirituality. If Christ is mingled with us to ten degrees, we have ten degrees of spirituality. The extent of our spirituality is based upon the extent to which Christ has mingled Himself with us. Thus, our spiritual reality depends on Christ’s being mingled with us. We should have the realization that our pursuing and our spirituality all depend on Christ’s being mingled with us.
Take reading the Bible as an example. A person may have read the Bible for one year, but Christ was not mingled with him one bit. Why not? It is because he does not know what the Bible is. Second Corinthians 3:6 says, “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” This shows us that we have to read the Bible with our spirit, because what the Bible reveals to us is not in our mind but in our spirit. That which is in our mind is of doctrine, of the letter, which kills us. That which is in our spirit gives us life and makes us living. Therefore, when we read the Bible, we have to know Christ through the words of the Scriptures. We have to know Him in our spirit and give Him the ground to increase in us.
Now we all are clear that the purpose of reading the Bible is not to gain some biblical knowledge but to allow Christ to increase in us. Many times, through our reading of the Bible, Christ comes into us. Many people, however, merely read the Bible without having Christ mingled with them. A person may have been a Christian for over ten years and may have read the Bible many, many times, but he may not have much of Christ added into him or have much knowledge of Christ. When others come into contact with such a one who has read the Bible numerous times and yet does not have the increase of Christ, what they touch is simply doctrines in letter. Such a person always thinks that others are wrong and at fault, because his mind is filled with doctrines in letter, and he is short of Christ.
Many Christians like to refer to “learning the truth.” Actually, learning the truth is not a bad thing, but today many people are misusing this term. The truth is Christ Himself. To “learn the truth” is to let Christ come into us, to let the element of Christ increase in us. Many people allow Christ to add Himself to them in a continual way through their reading of the Bible, the divine word. Thus, when we contact them, they do not have to give a long discourse, but after only a few simple words they give us the sense of the presence of Christ. They have Christ’s life and Christ’s element, so when we meet them, we feel that we are meeting Christ. There is something in their words that causes our spirit to feel sweet, at ease, and watered, and also to sense that Christ is nearer and more glorious.
At other times, however, we meet certain saints who read the Bible regularly and know how to preach. Yet the more they speak, the colder we become; the more they speak, the more we lose the Lord’s presence; the more they speak, the more we lose our interest in attending the meetings. Why is this? It is because they are full of doctrines. The letter kills. Only Christ gives life. We should read the Bible not to look for doctrines but to seek after Christ. If you really see the revelation through these words, when you go and read the Bible again, you will hate to have merely the doctrines, and you will pray, “O God, save me from knowing mere doctrines without meeting You. Reveal Yourself in Your word, and touch my spirit with Your word that I may give You the ground in me. Lord, do come in.”
If we read the Bible in this way, the Lord will touch our inner being and even deeply touch our opinions and concepts. We may have been saved for ten or twenty years but not have much of the increase of Christ in us. We are still full of our natural man, our opinion, our self, and our disposition. We do not have much Christ in us. From now on, however, when we read the Bible, the Lord may touch our inner being with just one sentence or one verse. When this happens, we have to pray, “O Lord, forgive me. I have not been seeking after You all these years; rather, what I have been seeking is just doctrine in letter, and what I have been seeking is just myself. I am filled with the world, my lusts, and my preferences, yet I am so short of You. You have not gained much ground in me. Lord, please forgive me.” If we read the Bible with a contrite spirit—asking the Lord for His mercy that He would break in us what we are unable to break by ourselves and remove what we are unable to remove by ourselves—then perhaps after just twenty minutes or half an hour Christ’s element will be added into us.
As a result, when we fellowship with others, our careless speaking will disappear, our evil and perverted thoughts will vanish, and our contemptuous and jealous heart will depart. Why will these things happen? They will happen because Christ will have increased in us. His sweetness in us will replace our sourness. This kind of Bible reading is real Bible reading. The Bible is neither doctrine nor knowledge but Christ Himself. If we do not gain Christ and touch Christ, our reading of the Bible is empty and in vain. Only when we touch Christ will we have the genuineness and the reality of the Bible.
(The Crucified Christ, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)