Life-Study of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message I would like to give a word concerning the proper way to come to the book of Proverbs.
The Bible first reveals God (Gen. 1:1). The whole universe is a mystery, and the center of this mystery is God. God created the heavens and the earth. Without God nothing would exist.
The second thing the Bible shows us is God's speaking, God's word. Hebrews 1:1-2a says, "God, having spoken of old in many portions and in many ways to the fathers in the prophets, has at the last of these days spoken to us in the Son." Thus, in the Bible we first have God, and then we have God's speaking, the word that proceeds out of His mouth.
Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created," and John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word." This Word became flesh (v. 14). First is God, then the Word, and then the Word became flesh.
We are accustomed to saying that God was incarnated. However, it may be more precise to speak of the Word becoming flesh. This Word-become-flesh is Christ in the flesh as the embodiment of God. Now we have three: God, the Word, and Christ in the flesh. The Word, Christ the Son of God, became flesh.
Fourth, the Son of God in the flesh as the Word became the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b). Therefore, we have God, the Word, Christ in the flesh, and the Spirit.
Ephesians 6:17 says, "Receive..the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God." According to the Greek grammar, which in this verse refers not to sword but to Spirit, indicating that the Spirit is the word. This corresponds to Christ's word in John 6:63: "The words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." Hence, we have God, the Word, Christ in the flesh as the embodiment of the Word, the Spirit, and the word again.
In the book entitled The God-men, I pointed out that the Bible shows us the God-men, the new man, the new creation, the Body of Christ, and the New Jerusalem. Here I would point out that all of these issue from God, the Word, Christ as the embodiment of the Word, the Spirit, and the Spirit as the word. Without these five things as the factors, we cannot have the God-men, the new man, the new creation, the Body of Christ, and the New Jerusalem. Furthermore, these five factors are one. God is the Word; the Word is Christ; Christ is the Spirit; and the Spirit is the word. Today all these five are in our regenerated human spirit and are even mingled with our spirit as one spirit (1 Cor. 6:17).
The book of Proverbs is recorded in the Word of God, but it is not the word directly from God. Rather, it is the word of many wise men, especially Solomon. In the same way, most of the Bible is not the word of God directly. However, much of the Old Testament is God's speaking, such as Genesis 1:3, where God said, "Let there be light." Although Proverbs is a book in the Bible, when we contact it by our natural man, it is not the word of God to us.
In 1 Corinthians 7:25a Paul said concerning marriage, "I have no commandment of the Lord, but I give my opinion." Here Paul says clearly that what he is about to speak is not the word of God but his opinion. In verse 40 he went on to say, "But I think that I also have the Spirit of God." This is an illustration of the fact that the Bible is full of human words, the words of the people of God. These words are the word of God because they are in the Bible, and the Bible is God's breathing (2 Tim. 3:16a), God's exhaling of Himself.
When we come to contact the word in the Bible by our natural man, by our mind, it is not the word of God to us. But when we come to the Bible by exercising our spirit to contact God, the word becomes the Spirit. This should be our experience as we read the book of Proverbs. The words in this book are the words of wise men, but when we contact these words by exercising our spirit in the spirit of prayer, every word becomes spirit and life to us. It is crucial that we all see this.
As believers in Christ, we are no longer the old manwe are the new man. However, no matter how new we may be, we still have our humanity. Instead of casting away our created humanity, God regenerated this humanity. Yes, Christ crucified, terminated, the fallen old man, but He regenerated, germinated, our God-created humanity with God's life.
Resurrection follows crucifixion, and without resurrection there can be no regeneration (1 Pet. 1:3). What Christ terminated on the cross was the fallen humanity, the fallen old man, yet the God-created humanity remained to be resurrected. In resurrection the divine element uplifted the regenerated humanity. Now after we have been regenerated to be a new man, we still have our humanity, but it is a resurrected, regenerated humanity.
Because this is a difficult matter for believers to understand, we need to have a clear vision concerning the old man and the new man. On the one hand, our old, fallen humanity has been terminated in Christ's crucifixion; on the other hand, our God-created humanity has been germinated, regenerated, through Christ's resurrection. Thus, we have been terminated and also germinated. The humanity which we have today is not the old, terminated, fallen humanity but the new, germinated, uplifted humanity.
In the first part of Galatians 2:20 Paul says, "I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live." If we pay attention only to this part of the verse, we may think that Paul is saying that his humanity has been altogether terminated, for he says, "It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives." But where and in whom does Christ live? Paul answers this question when he says, "Christ..lives in me." Furthermore, Paul immediately goes on to say, "And the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith." First, Paul declares, "I am crucified..it is no longer I who live," but then he says, "I live." The crucified "I" is the old "I." The "I" who lives is the new, regenerated "I," the regenerated humanity.
Now we can understand the place that Proverbs should have in our Christian life. Because we still have our humanity, we need the proper, spiritual proverbs, not to cultivate our natural man but to cultivate our regenerated new man. For example, a certain brother may be able to speak much about doctrines, but he may be very slothful, careless, and disorderly with many things in his daily life. Such a person surely needs to have his regenerated humanity cultivated through the book of Proverbs.
We all need Proverbs for the cultivation of our new man. We need to come to Proverbs as a new man by exercising our spirit with the Spirit to contact the word. Then the word in Proverbs will become spirit and life to us, not to cultivate our natural man but to cultivate our regenerated new man.
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