Christ and the Bible (2)
By Titus Chu
The Function of the Word
The Word Leads Us to Christ
The Bible says we might “search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39–40). This is an interesting verse. It says that we can read the Bible thinking that in the Bible there is eternal life. But no matter how inspired we are, no matter how much the Bible speaks to us, it cannot give us life. It can only lead us to Christ, and it is in Him that we find life. The more we read the Bible, the more we know Christ. The more we love the Bible, the more we know Christ. The more we memorize the Bible, the more we know Christ. The more the Bible is able to operate in us, the more it leads us to Christ.
Suppose we love our bed so much that we often come late to the church meetings or miss them altogether. Then one day we read Galatians 2:20 and begin to realize that we have already been crucified with Christ, and now we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. As we experience Him, we are freed from our late sleeping. This is how the Bible leads us to Christ. There is no way we can read the Bible and receive revelation void of Christ. The Bible can give us revelation upon revelation, vision upon vision, but it will always lead us to the person of Christ.
The Word Exposes
None of us really knows what negative things are hiding in us. We think we have a good heart, but we don’t realize that there is something hidden in us that can be very damaging toward what God is doing. We may do good things, but ambition, pride, and self are the motivators behind the scene. We need to experience that “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
When the word of God comes, something surprising happens—we get very, very exposed. Think of the progression. First, the word is God. Second, the word is the very breathing of God. Third, the word is rhema, and gives us a lot of inspiration. When the inspiration comes, it leads us to Christ, and testifies only of Him. Then it will begin to penetrate us. Not one of us is a “good boy.” If asked, we will say, “Oh, I am lousy.” But if we are continually told, “That’s right, you are lousy, you are terrible, you are so bad,” we will eventually lose our patience. We will say, “What do you mean by that? I’m not that bad!” Why is this? None of us knows what is really in our heart. Without the Bible, we may think we are very glorious. Without the word of God, we may seem to have a lot of accomplishments. But when the piercing and dividing word comes, we will begin to know ourselves. We will cast ourselves before Him saying, “Lord, I’m so hopeless and useless. Every decision I make could be against You, could be unsatisfying to You. Lord, have mercy on me. I really need You.”
The Bible encourages us to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16). When we are exposed by the Word, we can come to the Lord who is more than able to meet all our needs.
When the word as rhema speaks to us, we become inspired and receive life. This word leads us directly to Christ. In His presence we begin to see ourselves. Everyone loves himself, appreciates himself, and even boasts about himself. But as the Lord uses the Bible to expose us to ourselves just a little, it causes us to come to the Lord for grace and mercy.
The Word Gives Growth
Hebrews continues, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature” (Heb. 5:13–14). The word is not only a word of grace, but also a word of righteousness. This verse says that if we only take the word as milk for our nourishment and satisfaction, we are short of the word of righteousness, which is related to God’s economy. We are not yet mature and need to grow. When rhema comes, three things happen. First, we know Christ. Second, we know ourselves. Third, we grow.
My desire is that we would all grow. I hope that if we meet in the future and ask each other how we are doing, we would not simply answer, “I am doing well. I have not missed any meetings in the past fifteen years.” If by that time our only boast is perfect meeting attendance, we will have not grown at all. This would be most depressing and discouraging. I hope that in fifteen years we are all taking the lead, serving in the church life, bearing the burden of the church life, and caring for the need of some young ones by shepherding, nourishing, and feeding them. This is a life full of meaning. For this we need to grow.
When we look at one another today, we should not just see good Christians. We should see Christian men and women who will one day have grown to the point God can send us to Africa, bear the burden of churches in North America, take the lead with a group of young people on a college campus, divide the truth, minister the word, and give life to the churches. This requires growth, and this growth does not come from attending church meetings. Only the word gives us the growth and maturity needed to support and bear the churches, operating according to God’s desire.
When we have the Bible, we see Christ. When we have the Bible, we see ourselves. When we have the Bible, we grow. We should tell the Lord, “Please give me a lot of rhema, a lot of inspirational words, so I can often be inspired by You, so I can know Christ more, so I can know myself more, and so I can really grow.” He is longing to hear such prayers, and He will be faithful to answer.
The Word as Rhema
While it is true that the word is God, and even God’s breath, the most experiential aspect of the word is that it is rhema, God’s inspirational speaking. Out of rhema we know Christ, ourselves, and our need for growth. These are the most crucial things in the universe, and the key to experiencing them is rhema. The whole Bible can become rhema. This speaking is not doctrinal, but is very inspirational, opening up many life changing things for us to see.
For example, every young man gets inspired when he first begins to pursue the one who will become his wife. He will spend a lot of time and money for gas just to be with her. He has seen many other girls before, but for some reason when this one appears he is inspired to change his priorities and his life. With the Bible, it is the same. We can read the Bible in such a way that it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just another page full of words. But when we read the Bible and it becomes very inspirational, a lot of things begin to happen.
Suppose we opened our Bible this morning and read Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” As we muse on this verse, we might get inspired with just the first half, “In the beginning God.” We begin to realize that only God can give the real beginning. Without God there is no beginning. If there is a beginning without God, it is not a beginning at all. We might consider our life, thinking we have had many beginnings. We had a first day in school, a first day in college, a first day on a job, a first day of marriage, a first time to buy a house, and so on, but now we begin to realize that none of these were real beginnings if God was not in them. The company we had our first day with will someday go bankrupt. The new house we just moved into will someday be torn down. The new car we bought will someday rust and fall apart. Nothing that begins without God will last. Then we remember the day we met the Lord and believed in Him—that was a real beginning! We were born again! The Lord said, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28). Our whole life was changed from that day on because God was there. How many other times has God met us and given us new beginnings, including this morning as we read Genesis 1:1? The more we consider this verse, the more we have to praise Him! God is our beginning! He gives us new beginnings all the time!
Every year people celebrate their birthdays, marking what they hope is a new beginning in their lives. Yet for most the new year is never any different than the previous year—it ends void of Christ. I was once in a restaurant and heard a group of people singing to an old man, “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you.” In my mind I started singing to the same tune, “You’ve wasted your life, you’ve wasted your life.” I wanted to ask him, “Did you gain any Christ last year? Did you have any growth? Did God speak anything to you as rhema?” No matter how many birthdays we have had, a life without Christ has not even begun.
How can we continue to serve Christ day after day? Because He gives our service a new beginning every day. How can we continue to love Him every day? Because He first loved us and He shows it to us every day. Nothing can last unless God begins it. We are hopeless and would easily give up, but the Spirit of God continually moves, brooding over us, inspiring us to always have new beginnings. For some reason, we just have a feeling, “Lord I want to love You.” The Lord may respond by motivating us to go to the church meetings, be with other Christians, read the Bible, and love Him even more. We do not know how God moves, but His move always initiates a new beginning that changes our whole person.
The Bible is so precious. “In the beginning God” is just half a verse, yet it can become the rhema that inspires us to love God more. The next verse continues that everything became void. Do we have any experiences like this? Does it ever seem that all of God’s work in us has disappeared? Then the Spirit moved and God spoke light, firmament, land, and all the living creatures into being. Do we have God’s beginning? Do we have the Spirit’s move? Do we have God’s speaking? If so, we are blessed people. Don’t think I say this lightly. It’s written so simply in the Bible, but when we read such verses they can become rhema to us. They can become the divine speaking that inspires and motivates us. If we learn how to experience God’s speaking as the living rhema like this, we will never be able to put the Bible down. It will become our inspiration and encouragement for the rest of our lives.