Lesson 8 – The Essence of the Bible
THE BIBLE BEING GOD-BREATHED
The Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16). This tells us that the Scripture did not come out of man’s thought, man’s mind, but rather, it is God’s breathing His thought and His word through His Spirit into and out of the writers. Hence, the Bible contains God’s elements and carries His flavor.
THE BIBLE BEING THE SPEAKING FROM GOD BY MEN BORNE BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
Since the Scripture is God’s breathing His word out from men through His Spirit, no word of the Scripture can be of man’s will; rather, men were borne by the Spirit and spoke out of God. The word, “men spoke from God while being borne by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21), has a twofold meaning: first, men were borne by the Spirit; second, men spoke from God. In the original Greek, being borne by the Holy Spirit means being carried along as a ship by the wind. The writers of the Bible received God’s inspiration, and they were under the power of the Holy Spirit, being borne and carried along by Him to speak out God’s word. Furthermore, when they spoke, they spoke from within God. It was the Spirit of God carrying men along to speak, and it was also men speaking from within God.
THE BIBLE BEING GOD’S SPEAKING IN THE PROPHETS AND IN THE SON
The Old Testament is God’s speaking in the prophets; the New Testament is God’s speaking in the Son, our Lord Jesus (Heb. 1:1-2).
THE BIBLE BEING THE HOLY SPIRIT’S REVELATION
[The Bible is the Holy Spirit’s revelation.] John 16:13 says, “But when He, the Spirit of reality, comes, He will guide you into all the reality; for He will not speak from Himself, but what He hears He will speak; and He will declare to you the things that are coming.” The Lord’s word here also proves that after the Spirit’s descension, what His disciples spoke and wrote was disclosed to them by the Spirit. Hence, the Lord’s word here proves that after His ascension, all the books of the New Testament, written by His disciples, were of the Spirit’s revelation and their divine authority was acknowledged by Him.
THE WORD OF GOD BEING THE BREATHING OUT OF GOD
The Word of God is the Bible. Its essence is: first, God’s Word is God’s breathing out (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible is God’s breathing out; that is, it is the breath breathed out by God. The Bible is God’s breathing. To God it is a matter of breathing out; to us it is a matter of breathing in. Through God’s breathing out and our breathing in, God’s word enters into us and becomes our life and life supply. Therefore, when we read the Bible, we must understand that the Bible is not merely black words on white paper, but it is the breathing out of God. It is full of spiritual breath. Therefore, we must not only understand the Bible with our mind, but we also must contact the word of the Bible with our spirit. Whenever we read the Bible we come to contact God.
THE WORD OF GOD BEING THE SPIRITUAL MILK
Second, the Bible is the spiritual milk. In 1 Peter 2:2 Peter said that we need to be like newborn babes desiring the guileless milk of the Word. In the Word of God there is the element of milk. This is also implied in Hebrews 5:12, which says, “You…have become those who have need of milk and not of solid food.” God’s Word is our spiritual breath; therefore, we must breathe it in. God’s Word is also our milk; hence, we must drink it. We must desire the guileless milk of the Word.
THE WORD OF GOD BEING THE BREAD OF LIFE
Third, God’s Word is our bread of life, our food of life. This is indicated in Matthew 4:4, a word out of the Lord’s mouth and a quote of Deuteronomy 8:3: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.” Therefore, whenever we read the Bible, we must breathe in the spiritual air, that is, the Spirit of God. We also must drink the spiritual milk and eat the bread of life, which is the Lord Himself.
THE WORD OF THE LORD BEING SPIRIT AND LIFE
Fourth, the word of the Lord is spirit and life. In John 6:63 the Lord Jesus said, “The words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
GOD BEING THE WORD, THE WORD ALSO BEING GOD
Fifth, God is the Word, and the Word also is God. The consummation of the Word is Christ Himself, because Christ is the Word of God. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God.” This Word became flesh, and His name is Jesus Christ. Ultimately, the word in the Bible is God Himself. It is the embodiment of God Himself. This does not mean that we consider the words in black and white as the living God. What we mean is that the words in black and white contain God Himself. This God is Christ; He is our bread of life. This Christ is also the Spirit, who becomes our spiritual milk and our spiritual breath. Therefore, when we come to read the Bible and learn to understand the Bible, we must have the attitude that the Bible is different from the textbooks in the schools. They are merely black words on white paper, simply a matter of knowledge. The essence of God’s Word, however, is the breathing out of God, God’s spiritual breath. God’s Word is also the spiritual milk and the bread of life. It is spirit and life, and it is even God Himself. Therefore, we need to understand God’s Word and also enter into the essence of God’s Word.
God has worked in a wonderful way. He has given us both the Bible and the Spirit. The Bible, however, is the breathing out of God, God’s spiritual breath. God’s Word is also the spiritual milk and the bread of life. It is spirit and life, and it is even God Himself. Therefore, we need to understand God’s Word and also enter into the essence of God’s Word. God has worked in a wonderful way. He has given us both the Bible and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is contained within the Bible, and the Bible is carried within the Holy Spirit. They are mutually in one another; hence, the two are inseparable.
When we read the Bible, we touch the Spirit. When we touch the Spirit, the Bible is there as our practical support. We not only breathe in the spiritual breath, drink the spiritual drink, eat the spiritual food, and receive the Spirit and life, but we also have the clear Word to be our support, to satisfy our thinking and our thoughts. Here we can see the wonderful work of God. Not only do we have the Holy Spirit, but we also have the Bible. We cannot separate the two. If we read the Lord’s Word daily, the Lord’s Word will enter into us. Then we will know it and understand it.
TESTIFYING CONCERNING THE LORD JESUS
The first function of the Bible is to testify concerning the Lord Jesus (John 5:39). The Lord Jesus is the subject and contents of the Bible; the Bible is the explanation and expression of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus is God’s living Word; the Bible is God’s written Word. The Bible, God’s written Word, must have the Lord Jesus, the living Word, as its reality; otherwise, it is but mere doctrines and empty letters.
MAKING MEN WISE UNTO SALVATION
The [second] function of the Bible toward us is to make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15); it reveals to us how God saves men in Christ, and how men may be saved by faith, so that we may know the way of salvation.
CAUSING MEN TO BE REGENERATED
The third function of the Bible is] to cause us to be regenerated (1 Pet. 1:23). The Bible is the Word of the living God, and it contains the life of the living God. When we receive the word of the Scriptures into us by faith, it comes into us like a seed of life, sowing God’s life into us; thus, we have God’s life and are regenerated.
BEING THE BELIEVERS’ SPIRITUAL MILK
When we first get saved, we do not have a strong enough comprehension concerning spiritual things. Some portions of the Scriptures are like milk that can nourish us and make us grow in our spiritual life (1 Pet. 2:2).
BEING THE BELIEVERS’ BREAD OF LIFE
The word of the Scriptures is also our spiritual bread of life (Matt. 4:4) which supplies the need of our spiritual life. The nourishment of our spiritual life can only be supplied by the word of the Bible. In order to be living and strong before God, we cannot depend on bread alone, but on every word, that is, the word of the Bible, that proceeds out through the mouth of God.