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Jesus said, “The [Holy] Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63)
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
The Bible (God’s Word) is radically different than any other book in the entire world, secular or sacred. It is alive as the Holy Spirit of God speaks to us through it.
The Holy Spirit is the only one who can reveal and communicate the Bible’s spiritual truths to us. Those who read the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit teaching them cannot understand it because, unlike all other books, it is spiritually discerned. It is not a mental exercise but a spiritual one. (See 1 Corinthians 2:6-16).
“We [believers in Jesus] have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. The man without the Spirit [of God] does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:12,14)
Jesus said, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)
Those who read the Bible without relying on the Holy Spirit to breathe spiritual revelation of it to them will gravely misconstrue it (2 Peter 3:15-16). This is where differing interpretations of the Bible arise. There is only one absolute truth and one correct interpretation of the Bible, and that belongs to God. The more time we spend reading the Bible with the Holy Spirit ‘quickening’ it to us, the more he arights our misinterpretations and brings us into alignment with his one, absolute truth.
As an unbeliever, I read the Bible every day for several years without the Holy Spirit. Because of this, I could only “understand” it on a very shallow, mental level. However, I vividly remember the first time I read it after being “born again” (trusting in Jesus as my Savior and receiving the Holy Spirit). (See Message and About The Artist and Photographer.) All of a sudden I could understand the Bible and spiritually perceive its truths because my spiritual eyes were opened by the Holy Spirit! I once was blind, but now I could see, for Jesus came and gave me my sight! It was a complete night and day difference that happened the moment I was born again and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we evangelical Christians can get confused about what the Word of God really is. Jesus made an important point to the Pharisees, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). In addition, the Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). But what on earth does that really mean? How can these 2 passages be reconciled? How do we escape the trap of becoming Christian Pharisees who are full of Scriptural doctrines that impart no life?
Pastor and author Francis Frangipane made the following comments in his book Holiness, Truth and The Presence of God (Arrow Publications, Inc.). They greatly helped me understand what the Word of God really is, how to learn from God’s Word and how to avoid becoming an indoctrinated Christian Pharisee. His comments here were part of the inspiration behind this painting:
THE WORD IS GOD
Many read the Scriptures simply to reinforce their current beliefs. Although they read the entire Bible, their mind only sees certain doctrines. Instead of believing what they read, they merely read what they already believe. Rarely do they find new truths in the Word. Baptists see from their perspective, Pentecostals and charismatics each have theirs, while Catholics and other denominations often have a completely different emphasis. The same way the Jews were “baptized into Moses” (1 Corinthians 10:2), so Christians are often baptized into their denomination. When they are fully indoctrinated, their minds have been immersed into a pool of teaching that leaves them more conformed to the image of their sect than to the likeness of Christ.
But if we would grow in Christ’s likeness, we must be baptized into Christ’s Spirit, not the spirit or slant of any particular denomination. When one is baptized in Christ, his spirit is actually clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27). It is Christ’s image in holiness and power which a true disciple seeks. We cannot allow ourselves to be innoculated with a dozen or so special Bible verses that merely get us “saved” but leave us immune from the fulness of God! You are a disciple of Jesus Christ; the reality of God’s kingdom is found in the combined meaning of all Jesus taught. Therefore, you must treasure every word!
The Word is God. The Scriptures are not God but the Spirit that breathes through the words is God. And this Holy Spirit should be honored as God. Therefore, as you seek the Lord, place your Bible at the foot of your bed and kneel as you read: are you not seeking to meet with the Almighty? Pray that you will not merely read intellectually. Rather, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart through the Word.