Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
I sometimes hear people say that Christianity, like Judaism and Islam, is a “religion of the Book”. But Christianity is not a religion of the Book. Christianity is a Person! In today’s scripture Jesus is coming to the end of His earthly ministry. But He does not tell them He is leaving them a Book which explains everything they will need to know. Rather, Jesus promises to send to them the Holy Spirit who will “take what is mine and declare it to you.” The Holy Spirit in them will “guide…speak…declare.” The Holy Spirit will take Jesus’ place as the believers’ teacher, and help them grasp the richness of the living Word, Jesus Christ! The infinite and eternal God cannot be codified or condensed in the pages of a Book. Jesus promises us the Holy Spirit who will “guide you into all the truth.”
- W. Tozer writes about the difference between being “Bible taught” and “Spirit taught”, saying:
“It is possible to go on to become expert in Bible doctrine and not have spiritual illumination…Jesus Christ is Himself the Truth, and He cannot be confined to mere words even though, as we ardently believe, He has Himself inspired the words…The best a book can do is give us the letter of truth. If we ever receive more than this, it must be by the Holy Spirit who gives it.” (Emphasis added.) (A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous)
For us to be “Spirit taught” and not just “Bible taught” means that we must read and interpret the Scriptures with the same Holy Spirit that inspired them. That is why the old hymn earnestly prays, “Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord; / My spirit pants for Thee, O Living Word.” (Mary Lathbury, “Break Thou The Bread of Life”) God’s Spirit spoke a Book and He lives in that Book today! In its pages we encounter the Living God.
Jesus warned the religious leaders of His day about merely being people of the Book: “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). Only Jesus can breathe life into us!
The church’s need today is twofold. We first need to know the Bible, apart from which there is no knowledge of truth; and secondly, we need to be taught the Bible by the Spirit, apart from which the Bible cannot be understood or lived. Christianity is not a religion of the Book, but the Living Word within us!
- Am I more “Bible taught” or “Spirit taught”?
- What would it mean for me to read and study the Scriptures with the same Holy Spirit who inspired them?
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)