THE SPIRIT AND LIFE
Romans 8:2 joins life to the Spirit. Revelation 2:7 also joins life to the Spirit, saying, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.” This means that whoever listens to the Spirit will be given to eat of the tree of life. Most Bible expositors say that strictly speaking this refers to the millennial kingdom when the overcomers will eat of the tree of life in the Paradise of God as their reward. But today, we in the churches must enjoy Christ as the tree of life in order to obtain this reward in the future. If we do not exercise to eat today, then we will not know how to eat in the future.
In the millennial kingdom, the New Jerusalem will be the Paradise of God (Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10; 22:1-2, 14, 19), and the church today, as the precursor and foretaste of the New Jerusalem, is the Paradise of God today. Therefore, in the churches today we must exercise to eat of the tree of life. In Greek the word for tree in Revelation 2:7, as in 1 Peter 2:24, means wood. This is not the word usually used for tree. This implies the crucified and resurrected Christ. In the Bible, the tree of life always refers to Christ as the embodiment of all God’s riches (Col. 2:9) to be our food. Thus, when we hear what the Spirit says to the churches, we overcome, and the result is that we enjoy Christ as our life supply.
If we want to enjoy the Lord Jesus, we must constantly contact the Lord to be filled with Him. The way to be filled with the Lord is to exercise our spirit and read His word. In John 6:63, the Lord Jesus says, “The words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” Today the Lord is the Spirit who is not only our life within but also the word. Therefore, the inward Spirit is life, and the outward word is Spirit and life. If we want to enjoy the Lord, we need to exercise our spirit and read the Lord’s word. Reading the Bible requires our eyes to see, our mind to understand, and our heart to receive, but it also requires our spirit to digest the word. This means that when we read the Bible, we must turn what our mind has understood and our heart has received into prayer. When we pray, we exercise our spirit, and the word becomes spirit and life in us for our supply.
This is why we need to come to the Lord again and again every day, not to use our mind to study, but to use our spirit to make a prayer out of what our eyes have seen, our minds have understood, and our hearts have received. If we exercise in this way for only ten minutes, we will immediately be filled inwardly with the Spirit, and the Lord’s life will function within us, causing us to live in a transcendent situation. This is because we are eating not the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but the fruit of the tree of life. We are eating not Christianity but the living Christ, who is the Spirit and life. The result is that we do not live in the kingdom of morality, nor do we live in the kingdom of sin, but we live in the kingdom of life, which is the kingdom of reality.
Our need today is not merely to hear this doctrine, but to practice this matter. When you turn on a light switch, an electric light shines, but when you turn off the switch, it does not shine. This illustrates the secret of life. Christ has already saved us in His life, but if we do not constantly contact Him, we are cut off from His life, and spontaneously we are still in darkness inwardly and without function. Today the power source has been installed into us, but the important matter is whether or not we turn on the switch in order to obtain the heavenly electricity.
LIFE ISSUING IN THE CHURCH
To maintain our human life properly and to be healthy, we must breathe every moment, eat three meals, and drink eight glasses of water every day. In addition, we need to stay in a good mood and be pleasant; we should not be angry, depressed, or downhearted. Likewise, we need to exercise our spirit every moment and read the Lord’s word every day, or else we will catch a spiritual sickness and become weak in our spirit. Then we will only be able to rely on conferences to give us a good “dose of vitamins” or to strongly charge us up to keep us going for a period of time. After a period of time, however, our spiritual sicknesses will again come back to bother us. Therefore, we should not rely on conferences and listening to good messages. We must understand that today the Lord is the Spirit who is in us as life. We need to contact Him every moment and read His word frequently, not only with our mind to understand, but even the more with our heart to receive and with our spirit to digest it. This is the way that our inward life receives “fresh air, nutrients, and water” to become lively and healthy so that we may live a normal Christian life.
We must have a normal Christian life before we can have a proper church life. Just as there cannot be a good country without good citizens, there is no way to produce a good church without good Christians. Christ is the Spirit, the Spirit is life, and life issues in the church. We thank and praise the Lord that He has given us the secret of the Holy Spirit within and the Holy Bible without. We have His Spirit and His word to enjoy. The way to enjoy is to pray, read the word, and call on the Lord’s name. Through these practices, we have deep breathing, and we eat to the full and drink until we are satisfied that we may live a normal Christian life and bring in the proper church life.
(Four Crucial Elements of the Bible, The—Christ, the Spirit, Life, and the Church, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)