HEBREWS—THE SPIRIT OF GRACE
THE SPEAKING SPIRIT
The Epistle to the Hebrews firstly shows us that the Holy Spirit is the speaking Spirit. Hebrews 3:7-8 says, “Therefore, even as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the provocation, in the day of trial in the wilderness.’” The Holy Spirit here is a very emphatic term; according to Greek, it is “the Spirit the Holy.” Therefore, the word spoken by the Holy Spirit here in Hebrews is different from the word spoken by the Spirit in 1 Timothy 4:1. What the Spirit says there in 1 Timothy 4:1 is not a quotation from the Old Testament but the sensation given to us by the Spirit in our spirit, whereas here in Hebrews the Holy Spirit speaks by quoting the words in the Old Testament.
Hebrews 9:8 says, “The Holy Spirit [lit., the Spirit the Holy] thus making this clear, that the way of the Holy of Holies has not yet been manifested while the first tabernacle still has its standing.” You see again that the Holy Spirit uses a figure of the Old Testament. Whatever is spoken by “the Spirit the Holy,” whatever is purely the word spoken by God, is a quotation from the Old Testament. Hence, it is the objective Spirit speaking the Old Testament words objectively. However, the word in 1 Timothy 4:1 is a subjective word; it is the feeling given to us from within by the Spirit who is mingled with us as one spirit.
Hebrews 10:15-16 says, “The Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after having said, ‘This is the covenant which I will covenant with them after those days, says the Lord.’” Again, this is a quotation from the Old Testament. This is the objective Holy Spirit, not the subjective Spirit, speaking an objective word. In 1 Timothy 4:1, however, when the subjective Spirit speaks in us a subjective word, He does not quote from the Old Testament. Do you see the difference? Whenever the objective word is spoken, it is “the Spirit the Holy” who speaks to us. Whenever the subjective word is spoken, it is the Holy Spirit mingled with our spirit as one spirit—the subjective spirit—who speaks. That is a feeling that we have from deep within and not a word quoted or a figure taken from the Old Testament.
Unlike the other Epistles, the Epistle to the Hebrews does not tell us from the outset who the author is. Rather, it says that God spoke of old through the prophets and speaks now through His Son. Therefore, when it quotes from the Old Testament, it does not do so like the other Epistles by saying that it is a word spoken by Isaiah or by Jeremiah. Rather, it says that it is the Holy Spirit’s speaking. This is an amazing thing. The Epistle to the Hebrews does not indicate plainly the person who speaks but rather tells us that it is God who speaks, or the Holy Spirit who speaks. Thus, the Spirit in Hebrews is the speaking Spirit.
THE SPIRIT OF GRACE
Those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit. (6:4)
By how much do you think he will be thought worthy of worse punishment who has trampled underfoot the Son of God and has considered the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing and has insulted the Spirit of grace? (10:29)
These two verses show us that the Spirit in Hebrews has become the blessing of which we partake. The speaking Spirit has become the Spirit of grace for our enjoyment.
THE ETERNAL SPIRIT
Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God. (9:14)
The Lord Jesus’ offering Himself to God on the cross was through the eternal Spirit. Therefore, the Spirit in Hebrews is also the eternal Spirit. These are the three aspects of the Spirit in Hebrews: the speaking Spirit, the Spirit of grace (the Spirit of enjoyment), and the eternal Spirit. It is easy to understand the speaking Spirit, and it is also easy to understand the Spirit of grace, the Spirit of enjoyment, but it is not so easy to understand the eternal Spirit. Many of us consider eternity as something in the future. However, in the Bible, eternity includes the entire span of time. May I ask you, brothers and sisters, when did the Lord Jesus offer Himself to God? In other words, when was the Lord Jesus put on the cross as a sin offering? According to history, the Lord Jesus was crucified on Calvary’s mountain almost two thousand years ago, and standing in front of Him were His disciples including Peter and John. Thus, it is true that the Lord Jesus died for those who were His contemporaries. But how could He die for people such as Abel, Job, and Abraham, who were there many years before Him? Furthermore, how could He die for people like us, who are here many years after Him and who were not yet born at His time? I do not know if you can solve this. Here we need to read Hebrews 9:14, which says that Christ offered Himself without blemish to God through the eternal Spirit. According to His flesh, He was crucified at a certain time. However, according to the eternal Spirit, His crucifixion encompasses the entire span of time. Thus, according to the sense of time, Job and Abraham were before the crucifixion and we are after the crucifixion, but according to the sense of eternity, there is no differentiation between before and after. Christ through the eternal Spirit offered Himself to become our sin offering. There is no time element with His death. In our perception and in the historical sense, there is the time element. In God’s view, however, there is no time element because God is eternal. Therefore, Revelation 13:8 speaks of “the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world.” He was slain not just two thousand years ago but from the foundation of the world. His being slain meets the need of all sinners. Although His being slain was accomplished in time, in God’s view He was slain in eternity. Thus, He became an eternal sin offering. If your view is according to the flesh, He is Jesus the Nazarene who died two thousand years ago. However, through the eternal Spirit He died in the realm of eternity. His one offering accomplished redemption eternally because He died not only in the flesh but also through the eternal Spirit.
Hence, if we want to understand spiritual things, we must not remain in our mind. Instead, we must be in spirit. Once we are living in our mind, we are in time, but when we turn to our spirit, we enter into eternity. It is then that we are able to comprehend the things that transcend time.
Hebrews 5, 6, 9, and 10 speak of eternity. Hence, this is truly a book concerning eternity. However, this is not the eternity in the future but the eternity that includes all needs and encompasses all time. In this book which deals with eternity, the Spirit is not only the speaking Spirit and the Spirit for our enjoyment but also the eternal Spirit. You can understand the things of eternity only in the eternal Spirit. In other words, you can understand the things of God which are in the realm of eternity only in the eternal Spirit.
Brothers and sisters, I believe that you can sense what I am saying. If you learn to always get out of your mind and turn to your spirit, your spirit will be freed from the restriction of your little mind. Our mind cannot comprehend the eternal things. Once you fall into the mind, your understanding becomes bound, confined in every way, and is unable to comprehend. However, once you reject your mind and get into your spirit, you become like one who has soared into space; you are released. Your created mind is limited, but you have been saved, and you have the eternal Spirit in you. This Spirit has neither beginning nor ending. You cannot find the start or the finish. In this Spirit you are able to understand the eternal things.
(The Spirit in the Epistles, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)