THE ALL-INCLUSIVE WORD
What is true of the Spirit is also true of the Bible. There is both a killing factor and a nourishing factor in the Word.
I was raised in China, where the teachings of Confucius were widespread. His book, The Highest Learning, aims at developing the natural virtues, even the conscience, which he terms “the bright virtue.” I remember hearing missionaries say that the teachings of Confucius were just like the teachings of the Bible. As one who had been reared and educated in Christianity, I was troubled; why did we need the Bible if its teachings were already in the writings of Confucius? After some comparative study, I concluded that the ethical teachings were the same: Honor your parents, love your neighbor, be kind, and be humble. At that time I could not distinguish between the virtues advocated by Confucius and those revealed in the Bible.
Now I am clear. The Highest Learning is just a cultivation of the natural virtues. The Bible, on the other hand, kills your natural virtues and then brings in the divine virtues of Christ. The more you read the Bible, the more killing you will get. From my experience the killing is first of the negative things, like pride, hatred, and jealousy. Once these are dealt with, the finer killing begins—of your love, humility, patience, and niceness. You may protest that the Lord is killing such desirable qualities, but these must be dealt with until eventually you yourself are also killed. Everything in our natural make-up must be killed.
When I saw this, I fell before the Lord and said, “Lord, forgive me. I will take the killing. I want You to cut this poor self into pieces.” And He did. By the Word in the Bible I was killed and cut into pieces. But the Bible not only kills; it also resurrects. Here rather than a cultivated bright natural virtue, we have the resurrected Christ living in us.
Day by day we must contact the Word and touch the Spirit; both do the same work of killing us and then resurrecting us. We must live this way during the week, then bring this crucified and resurrected life to the meetings. When our meetings are such a show case of the riches of Christ, thirsty ones will be attracted and all the members will grow, be knit together, and be built up.
THE VANITY OF “A GOOD TIME”
In some of the churches an atmosphere has come in encouraging the young people just to have a good time— singing, shouting, playing guitars. If this is your aim, how can the young people be solidly built up? Within a few years the Lord’s recovery will vanish. The church should be (1) a home with a family, (2) a school, (3) a hospital, and (4) a camp to train an army. In the Lord’s recovery we do not want our meetings to be places of entertainment; that is the way of Babylon. If the young people are built up with the Word day after day, week after week, other serious-minded young ones will be attracted, and the future of the recovery will be bright.
WHY BE STARVING?
Man must not “live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). The Bible is likened to food. Food is not for you to understand but to eat. If you go to a restaurant, you don’t just read the menu and then feel you have finished your meal. How much have you been eating of the Word? I am afraid many of you are starving!
It is a necessity that you have a “breakfast” of the Word daily. Do not say that you are too weak to do this regularly. Do not quote Romans 7:18: “To will is present with me, but to do the good is not”! Romans 7 is referring to the overcoming of sin; we are talking about a necessity of life, like breathing or eating. This “breakfast,” though you may have no sense of it, will nourish, enlighten, water, and strengthen you.
Do not be casual about your Christian life. Paul said, “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:26-27). If you are a loose Christian, you may become a castaway.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)