On Knowing the Bible, by Witness Lee


The Spirit and the Bible are two sides of one matter. Similarly, in knowing the Bible, there are also two sides. Almost everything God ordained in the universe has two sides. For example, there is the heaven and the earth; there is male and female; there are two sides, the inside and the outside; there is the top and there is the bottom—these are all two-sided. For a person to know the Bible, it is the same. There is the need for the mind, and there is the need for the spirit. No one can know the Bible properly by neglecting either aspect of this. To know the Bible, one must be trained in the mind; he must also be exercised in the spirit.

However, in knowing the Bible, Christians today are either for the mind or for the spirit. Those for the mind are too much for studying the letter, whereas those for the spirit are too free in spiritualizing everything, to the extent that the Bible becomes almost void of letters to them. Therefore, in studying the Bible, there is again the danger of being one-sided.

Many people bury themselves in the Bible day after day. They become experts in studying the letter of the Bible. For example, the Hebrew language is made up of an alphabet with twenty-two letters. Some have studied so much that they have counted how many times each letter in the alphabet is used in the Bible. Similarly, they have also counted the number of times each letter of the Greek alphabet is used in the New Testament. Not only so, the Hebrew and Greek languages are similar to Latin, in that each letter represents a numeral. For example, in Latin X is equivalent to ten, and V represents five. Similarly, each letter in Hebrew and Greek also represents a number. Some people buried themselves in study over this matter. They calculated the numerical value for every word in the Old and the New Testament. It is amazing that they found that the numerical value represented by each word in the Bible can all be divided by seven. I myself have never tried this, but there are writings that have confirmed this. Now you know to what extent people have gone in studying the letter. Then there are the concordance compilers who are also into the letter and have researched much into the Bible.

At the same time, there are people today who open the Bible and go entirely by their inner inspiration. This is really like “the wind [that] blows where it wills”! Whichever way the “wind” blows, they would speak accordingly. Sometimes they come on like a tornado. Originally, the train was running properly along the railroad tracks, but when the tornado came, the track was blown away and the train was blown into the air. I believe you have met this kind of person. Their exposition of the Bible is really up in the air; it floats all over. They are totally slanted toward the spiritual side.

Now let me repeat. To lean toward letters results in much death, and to lean toward the spiritual results in much danger. It is true that those who lean toward the spiritual can be very interesting and persuasive, even spirit-releasing; but after one hears them speak, he is easily carried away into the air. On the other hand, for those leaning toward the letter, every line they speak is backed by proofs, yet they are very dead. After less than half an hour of their speaking, one may fall asleep. Both sides are off.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, if we really want to know the Bible, we must be balanced. We must understand properly the letter of the Bible and must properly use our spirit to sense the spiritual meaning in the Bible. To read the Bible well, we must train our mind for this and, perhaps even the more, exercise our spirit for this. To train the mind is for the purpose of understanding the Bible. To exercise the spirit is for the purpose of touching and contacting the Bible. One is a matter of the mind; the mind has to understand the Bible. The other is a matter of the spirit; the spirit has to contact the Bible.

With the matter of electricity, to understand it is one thing, and to contact it is quite another. Understanding electricity is a matter of the mind, whereas contacting electricity is a matter of the body. Many times there is electricity, but a board insulates the body from it. Under such a circumstance, although a person’s mind may understand electricity, his body cannot contact it. In contrast, some people do not understand electricity at all, yet their bodies have actually contacted electricity. They are able to contact electricity because electricity is there, and because their bodies are not insulated from it. Once they touch it, they come into contact with it. This is a good illustration. Our relationship with the Bible is the same. For our mind to understand the Bible is one thing, and for our spirit to touch it, to contact it, is quite another. Perhaps your mind understands the Bible, but your spirit has not yet contacted or touched it. We must not only use our mind to understand the Bible; we must also use our spirit to contact it. It is not sufficient merely to understand the Bible with the mind; we must also contact and touch the Bible with the spirit.

(On Knowing the Bible, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)