Week 3 — Day 1
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning…concerning the Word of life.
The Bible stands above all other books in the world. It is a unique book. The sixteenth President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, once said that “the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book.” It is the world’s most widely read book and has been translated into over one thousand languages, more than any other book in the world.…The word Bible comes from the Greek word biblos, which means “the book.” This means that the Bible stands as the unique book among all other books in the world.63
The Bible is inspiring because it is the Word of life, the living Word. It is living because it is the expression of the living God.64
In the Godhead Christ is the Word of life.…The phrase “the Word of life” in Greek indicates that the Word is life. In His person Christ is the divine life, the eternal life, which we can touch.65 [Thus], the Word is living, a divine person, Christ the Son of the living God (Rev. 19:13). The eternal Word is our Lord Jesus Christ [John 1:1], and the living Word is also He [1 John 1:1]. Furthermore, Christ is the written Word, the holy writings, the Bible (Heb. 10:7; Luke 24:27, 44). Christ is also the spoken Word, the rhema, the instant word to be spirit and life to man (John 6:63). Therefore, Christ is the eternal Word, the living Word, the written Word, and the spoken Word.66
God’s intention in His economy [plan] is to dispense Christ into us, and for this dispensing there must be some means. The Bible is the means that God uses to dispense Christ into us.
There are two ways to touch the Bible: the outward way and the inward way. The outward way to touch the Bible is by exercising our mind merely to understand it, while the inward way is by using our spirit not mainly to understand it but to touch the spirit and get the life supply.
John 1:1 is a wonderful verse. Suppose two brothers come together to read this verse. After reading it, one brother may ask, “What does in the beginning mean?” The other brother may say, “God is the beginning.” The first brother may respond, “I don’t think so. How can you say that God is the beginning? I don’t understand what you are talking about. And what is the Word? This verse says that the Word was with God and the Word was God.…” This is an illustration of touching the Bible in an outward way. Touching the Bible even for only a few minutes in this way is deadening.
There is another way to touch the Bible, the inward way, the way of exercising our spirit. Suppose these same two brothers come to the Word in the following way, saying, “O Lord, in the beginning. In the beginning was the Word. Amen! Hallelujah for the beginning. O Lord, the Word. Hallelujah, for the Word! And the Word was with God. O God! And the Word was God!” When we exercise our spirit to touch the Word in such a living way, we may not understand much, but we are filled with the Spirit, and we get the life supply.…This is true of any verse or chapter, from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation. Sometimes we may not understand what we read, and sometimes we may understand but not be able to utter what we see. We may even say, “Praise the Lord, I received something this morning, but I do not have the words to speak it!” This is the right way. The right way to touch the Bible is to touch the Lord Himself. We must never separate the Bible from the Lord. Whenever we open the Bible, we have to open our mouth and open our spirit to utter something to the Lord. We can say, “O Lord! O Lord Jesus!”67
Enlightenment and inspiration:
Week 3 — Day 2
1 Pet. 2:2-3 As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation, if you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Matt. 4:4 But He answered and said, It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.”
In 1 Peter 2:2-3 we have a most important passage.… These verses are important to us because they tell us clearly how to taste the Lord: drink “the guileless [pure] milk of the Word.” If we would taste Christ, we must take into us the milk of the Word. Then we will be nourished for spiritual growth. Praise the Lord, the Bible says tasted! It does not say that we know this aspect or that aspect about the Lord, but that we taste the Lord. When we drink the milk of the Word, we are actually tasting the Lord. Therefore, the way for us to taste the Lord is simply by drinking the milk of the Word. The Word is not only for us to study or learn, but even more for us to taste. The way the Lord nourishes His Body is by His Word. If we desire to enjoy the Lord and be nourished by the Lord, we must come to the Word to taste the Lord.
However, the concept which most of us have of the Bible is that it is a kind of teaching, a book full of doctrines. Thus, we come to the Word with the intention of understanding and knowing something.…We must not come to the Bible only to learn and to understand. The Bible is not the tree of knowledge; it is the tree of life! If we take the Word of God as the tree of knowledge, we misuse the Bible, because 2 Corinthians 3:6 tells us that the letter kills. We must never take the Bible as a book of letters, but as a book of life.
The main function of the Bible is to impart God into us as life and as the nourishment of life. It is not only to give us knowledge about God and His love, but to impart God Himself into us. Whenever we read the Bible, we should not merely try to know or understand it, but take something of God’s essence into us just as we take our food. Then, like food, this substance will be assimilated into our very being.
The Scriptures contain at least three examples of those who ate the Word of God. The first is Jeremiah, who said, “Your words were found and I ate them” (Jer. 15:16a). To eat something is not merely to receive it, but to assimilate it. To assimilate is to receive something into you, digest it, and make it a part of yourself. The second example of someone eating the Word of God is recorded in the book of Ezekiel, where the prophet Ezekiel ate the Word of God (3:1-3).
Jeremiah said, “Your word became to me / The gladness and joy of my heart” (Jer. 15:16b). This is a kind of enjoyment. The Word, after being eaten, became a joy and also a gladness. God’s Word is an enjoyment; after it is taken into us and assimilated into our very being, it becomes joy within us and gladness without. [In the third example], David said, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! / Sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psa. 119:103). The Word is indeed an enjoyment; it is even sweeter and more pleasant than honey to our taste.
From these verses we realize that the Word of God is not only for us to learn, but even more for us to taste, to eat, to enjoy, and to digest. The Lord Jesus even speaks of God’s Word as spiritual food: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4:4). Every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God is spiritual food to nourish us. This is the food by which we must live.68
Enlightenment and inspiration:
Week 3 — Day 3
Eph. 6:17-18 And receive…the word of God, by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit…
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
When we come to the Bible, we have to prepare ourselves. We are getting ourselves prepared to read the word of God, not a newspaper or any secular book. First, [we must pray, “O Lord, cleanse me with Your precious blood. Lord], I am sinful, forgive me. I am mistaken; forgive me. I do not love You; forgive me. Even I do not fear You; forgive me.”…We must confess all of our sins to make ourselves pure and clean, without any hindering thing between us and God. Then we are in God’s fellowship. At that time we are in the Spirit of God, and when we come to the Bible, it is different.
Then we have to pray-read, not just read, the Word.… Throughout the centuries, all the devoted lovers of the Lord and students of the Bible practiced pray-reading in fact, though they did not have the term pray-reading. Some in the past pointed out that we have to read the Bible prayerfully. To read the Bible prayerfully is to pray-read.
We teach the practice of pray-reading based upon Ephesians 6:17-18.69 [The apostle] Paul took in, received, the word of God by means of all prayer and petition. He not only prayed in a general way, but he also petitioned in a particular way. Prayer is general, while petition is particular. Not only so, Paul prayed with “all prayer and petition.” All includes a great number of ways. You can pray loudly, or you can pray softly. You can pray quickly, or you can pray slowly. You can pray-read not only in one way but in many ways: by yourself, with your spouse, with a group, and in the meetings. Paul said that we should receive the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, by means of all prayer and petition. This tells us that we pray all prayer and petition to take in, receive, the word of God.70
[What is the most profitable way to touch and deal with the Word of God?] First, there is no need to close your eyes when you are pray-reading. Keep your eyes on the Word as you pray. In all of the sixty-six books of the Bible I cannot find one verse which says that we must close our eyes to pray, but there is a verse telling us that Jesus looked up to the heavens, saying, “Father…” (John 17:1). He was looking at heaven while He was praying.…[Second], there is no need for you to compose any sentences or create a prayer. Just pray-read the Word. Pray the words of the Bible exactly as they read. Eventually, you will see that the whole Bible is a prayer book!…Open to any page of the Bible, and start to pray with any portion of the Word.71
In John 6:63 the Lord Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” The words, the Spirit, and life are three items, but the Lord speaks of them here as one. When the words are merely words, they are only black letters printed on the white paper; they are not the Spirit. But when the words get into your mind through your eyes and you begin to pray with your spirit, then the words become the Spirit. When the words become the Spirit, they are life.
When we pray in our reading of the Word, we turn the verses we have read into prayer. When we pray, we must forget everything else and have only the Lord and His word. Hymns, #389 says, “From morning to evening my one world Thou art.” This means that when we seek the Lord, we have only one world: “O Lord, You are my world; I seek You.”…Once the word enters your spirit, it becomes the Spirit and life. However, if you do not pray, then the word that you read will not become the Spirit, nor will it become life.72
Enlightenment and inspiration:
Week 3 — Day 4
2 Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed…
John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that testify concerning Me. Yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed.” On God’s side, the Scripture is His breathing out; on our side, it is for us to breathe in. God has already breathed out. The Bible is God’s breathing out, and to this day it is still God’s breathing out. Therefore, whenever you come to read the Bible, if you just read the dead letters and do not breathe in what God has breathed out, then the Bible will be dead letters to you. The Scripture is the breathing out of God, whereas our prayer is our breathing in. By this breathing out and breathing in, we breathe God into us. This is the meaning of the Scriptures. However, no matter how much God breathes out, if we do not breathe in, we cannot receive God as our enjoyment and supply. This is why many people come to the Bible but do not receive the life in it.
The words of the Bible are the breathing out of God, but when you turn them into prayer, they become your breathing in.…What you breathe in is spirit and life. Therefore, the Lord said that the words which He has spoken to us are spirit and life [John 6:63].
The Holy Bible is the word of God, and we live on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God. Therefore, the Bible also tells us that God’s word is our food….In [John 6:35] the Lord Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall by no means hunger.” He also said, “He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” (v. 57). Because of His concern at that time that the disciples who listened to Him might not understand the meaning of His words, He added the words in verse 63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” Therefore, you can see that the Lord’s words are the food of life to us.
However, it is necessary not only for the food to be prepared in the kitchen and set on the table; it is also necessary that you come to eat it. If you do not eat, you will not get the nourishment. Therefore, we all must learn to do one thing. Every good, living, and strong Christian must learn to do this one thing, that is, to eat the word of life.73
The word in the Bible is not only [the breath of God, the bread of life, and] the word of God; it is also the embodiment of God. When we touch the word, we must touch God Himself. It is short and even wrong to touch the word in the Bible and not touch God Himself. The Lord Jesus told the Jewish leaders, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that testify concerning Me. Yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (5:39-40). The word search in Greek means to research, to search and search again. The Lord Jesus seemed to say, “I am one with the Scriptures, and the Scriptures are one with Me. If you come to the Scriptures, you have to come to Me.…You have to make the Scriptures one with Me; instead, you have made the Scriptures something separate from Me. Therefore, you are wrong. You may gain knowledge in letters from the Scriptures, but you cannot have life because I am life.”
These two verses are a warning to us. It is possible to come to the Bible yet not come to the Lord. It is possible to separate the Bible from the Lord.…All the time we have to take the Bible as one with the Lord. Whenever we come to the Bible, we have to come to the Lord. Whenever we read the Bible, we have to touch the Lord. The Bible is not merely a book of knowledge. The Bible is the embodiment of the Lord Himself.74
Enlightenment and inspiration:
Week 3 — Day 5
Col. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God.
By comparing [verses 4 and 7 of John 15], we can see that the way the Lord abides in us is by His words abiding in us. The practical way to have the Lord abiding in us is simply by taking His Word in. Whenever we touch the Word and let the Word abide in us, we touch the Lord Himself and let the Lord Himself abide in us.
It is clear from the Scriptures that the Word of Christ is nothing less than Christ Himself. This is proven from the verses we have read in John 15. The only way to have Christ abiding in us is to take in His Word.
When I was young, I read John 15 many times and wondered how I could have the Lord abiding in me. Then I found the way from the Word of the Lord. To have the Lord abiding in us is simply to take His Word into us, because the Lord is in His Word and is the Word. When we take His Word into us, we have the Lord abiding in us. To be filled with the Word in our spirit means to be filled with the Lord Himself as the Spirit.
Also, Colossians 3:16 tells us that when the Word of Christ dwells in us, we will be filled with singing. Then Ephesians 5:18 and 19 tell us that when we are filled in spirit, we will be filled with singing. In other words, to have the Word of Christ dwelling in us simply means to be filled in spirit.…The concrete way to be filled in spirit is to take the Word into you.
Let me illustrate this with some safety matches. We know that a match is the embodiment of phosphorus.… The phosphorus on a match will catch fire when it is struck in a proper way. But if you try to strike a safety match on the paper cover, it will not catch fire, because you are striking the match on the wrong spot. If you strike the match on the striking area, it will catch fire immediately. First, there is the phosphorus; second, the phosphorus is embodied in the match; and third, there is the fire.
Likewise, the Bible is the embodiment of the Spirit of Christ. And within the Spirit, there is the fire, which is the life. On one hand, we have the match, the phosphorus, and the fire; on the other hand, we have the Bible, the Spirit, and the life. Whenever you read the Bible, do you really catch fire?…The problem is that we not only strike in the wrong way, but also at the wrong spot. Instead of striking the Bible in our spirit, we strike it in our troublesome mentality.…If we analyze the match, we see that one part of the match is white, and another part is red. But do we get fire by knowing this? No, we must strike the match, and at the right spot. To study the match is wrong, and to strike the match at the wrong spot is also wrong.
When we strike it at the right spot we get fire! We must forget our mind and learn to pray-read with our spirit: “Lord, I praise Thee, ‘In the beginning…’” (John 1:1). Simply pray this three times, and your spirit will catch fire. “Hallelujah, in the beginning.” Really, this is good enough. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Hallelujah, I don’t know much what this means, but how it nourishes me!”
When we are truly filled with the Word, we cannot help but sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord. Whenever we pray-read the Word, it will become a singing in the spirit.…Simply learn to strike the Word in the right way and at the right spot. Then there will be a real fire.75
Enlightenment and inspiration:
Week 3 — Day 6
Eph. 5:18 …Be filled in spirit.
25-26 Christ…loved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word.
In [Ephesians] 5:18 Paul charges us to “be filled in spirit,” no doubt with the Spirit of God. But how can the Spirit of God get into our spirit? The answer is that the Spirit comes into our spirit through the Word. When our spirit is filled with the Word, the Word, having come into us, becomes the Spirit. This is proved by 5:26 which speaks of “the washing of the water in the word.” If the Word did not get into us, how could it wash us inwardly? The washing in 5:26 is not an outward washing, but a washing from within, a washing that removes spots and wrinkles, thereby accomplishing a work of transformation.…The fact that we are washed by the water in the Word proves that it is possible for the Word to get into us.76
According to the divine concept, water here refers to the flowing life of God typified by flowing water (Exo. 17:6; 1 Cor. 10:4; John 7:38-39; Rev. 21:6; 22:1, 17). The washing of such water is different from the washing of the redeeming blood of Christ. The redeeming blood washes away our sins (1 John 1:7; Rev. 7:14), whereas the water of life washes away the blemishes of the natural life of our old man, such as “spot or wrinkle or any such things” (v. 27). In sanctifying the church, the Lord firstly washes away our sins with His blood (Heb. 13:12) and then washes away our natural blemishes with His life. We are now in such a washing process in order that the church may be holy and without blemish.77
If we read and pray-read the Bible in a proper way, even musing upon the Word, singing it, and dwelling in it, our inner being will be filled. We may say that we are filled with the Word, with the Spirit, or with faith. We may also say that we are filled with the anointing, with God, or with Christ. By this inward filling we have the power to defeat the darkness in the air. We also have the living water flowing within us to wash away the old elements, the wrinkles and the spots, and to renew us. When we are filled in this way, we sense that Christ is settling Himself in our being, making our inner chambers the rooms for His dwelling place. Also, when we enjoy such a filling, we love all believers, no matter what their nationality may be. Moreover, our inner eyes are enlightened, and our vision becomes clear.
Oh, there is nothing more refreshing and cleansing than to be inwardly washed by the water in the Word! When we are filled with the Word and washed by it, our entire being is renewed and transparent, and we have a foretaste of the New Jerusalem.78
If we would pray-read chapter by chapter and book by book, week after week, month after month, and year after year, gradually we will receive enlightenment, and all the things of Christ will spring up within us. All the riches of Christ will become our enjoyment.…In this way all the riches of Christ are ministered and dispensed into us.… These heavenly elements and spiritual ingredients will cause us to have not only an outward change but a metabolic change, a change in life. All these new elements will replace and discharge all the old things. This is a metabolic change, transforming us into a new condition.
Pray-reading is wonderful, but we also have to pray, “Lord, clear a way within me. O Lord, have a free course within me.” Pray-reading does not help us to obtain mere knowledge; rather, it brings many things of the Lord into us. Therefore, we need to give the things of the Lord a free course within us. This affords us the best spiritual digestion, assimilating what we have pray-read. Never say no to the Lord; learn always to say amen.79
Enlightenment and inspiration:
Week 3 — Hymn
1. My heart is hungry, my spirit doth thirst;
I come to Thee, Lord, to seek Thy supply;
All that I need is none other but Thee,
Thou canst my hunger and thirst satisfy.
Feed me, Lord Jesus, give me to drink,
Fill all my hunger, quench all my thirst;
Flood me with joy, be the strength of my life,
Fill all my hunger, quench all my thirst.
2. Thou art the food and the water of life,
Thou canst revive me, my spirit upbear;
I long to eat and to drink here of Thee,
Thyself enjoy through my reading and prayer.
3. Thou art the Word with God’s fulness in Thee,
Thou too the Spirit that God my life be;
Thee in the Word I enjoy as my food,
Thou as the Spirit art water to me.
4. Thou from the heavens as food camest down,
Thou to be drink hast been smitten for me;
Thou as the food, my exhaustless supply,
Thou as the water, a stream unto me.
5. Thou in the Word art the Spirit and life,
Thus by the Word I may feed upon Thee;
Thou dost as Spirit in my spirit live,
Thus I may drink in the spirit of Thee.
6. Now to enjoy Thee I come to Thy Word,
On Thee to feed till my hunger is o’er.
Now in my spirit I turn unto Thee,
Of Thee to drink till I’m thirsty no more.
7. Feeding and drinking, Lord Jesus, of Thee,
Feeding by reading, and drinking by prayer;
Reading and praying, I eat and I drink,
Praying and reading — Lord, Thou art my fare.
1. I come to Thee, dear Lord,
My heart doth thirst for Thee;
Of Thee I’d eat, of Thee I’d drink,
Enjoy Thee thoroughly.
2. Just to behold Thy face,
For this my heart doth cry;
I deeply long to drink of Thee
My thirst to satisfy.
3. Thy glorious, radiant face
My heart delights to see;
Here I’d abide and ne’er depart,
4. In such a fellowship
Thou, Lord, art grace to me;
My heart and spirit gladdened, filled,
I enter rest in Thee.
5. Lord, I would linger here,
Still seeking after Thee,
Continue in the Word and prayer
Till Thou dost flow thru me.
Speaking the Truth in Love
This is how denominations are formed.
The main direction is to come out of the system; it cannot change.
"I began to realize that our practices have differed and deviated from our vision. Our vision was the same, our teaching was mostly the same, the truth is always the same, but our practice has really differed."