Concerning the Bible (3) (Excerpt II)
Today, people believe the Bible is God, and that God is the Bible. So, too, do they believe that all the words of the Bible were the only words God spoke, and that they were all said by God. Those who believe in God even think that although all of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament were written by people, they were all given by inspiration of God, and a record of the utterances of the Holy Spirit. This is the erroneous interpretation of people, and it does not completely accord with the facts. In fact, apart from the books of prophecy, most of the Old Testament is historical record. Some of the epistles of the New Testament come from people’s experiences, and some come from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit; the Pauline epistles, for example, arose from the work of a man, they were all the result of the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, and they were written for the churches, were words of exhortation and encouragement for the brothers and sisters of the churches. They were not words spoken by the Holy Spirit—Paul could not speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit, and neither was he a prophet, much less did he see visions. His epistles were written for the churches of Ephesus, Philadelphia, Galatia, and other churches. And thus, the Pauline epistles of the New Testament are epistles that Paul wrote for the churches, and not inspirations from the Holy Spirit, nor are they the direct utterances of the Holy Spirit. They are merely words of exhortation, comfort, and encouragement that he wrote for the churches during the course of his work. So, too, are they a record of much of Paul’s work at the time. They were written for all of the brothers and sisters in the Lord, and were in order to make the brothers and sisters of all of the churches at the time follow his advice and abide by all of the ways of the Lord Jesus. By no means did Paul say that, be they the churches of that time or of the future, all must eat and drink the things of him, nor did he say that his words all came from God. According to the circumstances of the church at that time, he simply communed with the brothers and sisters, and exhorted them, and inspired belief in them; and he simply preached or reminded people and exhorted them. His words were based upon his own burden, and he supported the people through these words. He did the work of an apostle of the churches of that time, he was a worker who was used by the Lord Jesus, and thus he was given the responsibility of the churches, he was charged with carrying out the work of the churches, he had to learn about the circumstances of the brothers and sisters—and because of this, he wrote epistles for all of the brothers and sisters in the Lord. All he said that was edifying and positive to people was right, but it did not represent the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and he could not represent God. It is an egregious understanding, and a tremendous blasphemy, for people to treat the records of a man’s experiences and a man’s epistles as the words spoken by the Holy Spirit to the churches! That is particularly true when it comes to the epistles that Paul wrote for the churches, for his epistles were written for the brothers and sisters based on the circumstances and situation of each church at the time, and were in order to exhort the brothers and sisters in the Lord, so that they could receive the grace of the Lord Jesus. His epistles were in order to rouse the brothers and sisters of that time. It can be said that this was his own burden, and was also the burden given to him by the Holy Spirit; after all, he was an apostle who led the churches of the time, who wrote epistles for the churches and exhorted them—that was his responsibility. His identity was merely that of a working apostle, and he was merely an apostle who was sent by God; he was not a prophet, nor a foreteller. So to him, his own work and the lives of the brothers and sisters were of the utmost importance. Thus, he could not speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit. His words were not the words of the Holy Spirit, much less could they be said to be the words of God, for Paul was nothing more than a creature of God, and was certainly not the incarnation of God. His identity was not the same as that of Jesus. The words of Jesus were the words of the Holy Spirit, they were the words of God, for His identity was that of Christ—the Son of God. How could Paul be His equal? If people see the epistles or words like Paul’s as the utterances of the Holy Spirit, and worship them as God, then it can only be said that they are too indiscriminating. To speak more harshly, isn’t this nothing but blasphemy? How could a man talk on behalf of God? And how could people bow down before the records of his epistles and of the words he spoke as if they were a “holy book,” or a “heavenly book”? Could the words of God be casually uttered by a man? How could a man talk on behalf of God? And so, what say you—could the epistles that he wrote for the churches not be tainted with his own ideas? How could they not be tainted with human ideas? He wrote epistles for the churches based on his personal experiences and the extent of his own life. For instance, Paul wrote an epistle to the Galatian churches which contained a certain opinion, and Peter wrote another, which had another view. Which of them came from the Holy Spirit? No one can say for sure. Thus, it can only be said that they both bore a burden for the churches, yet their letters represent their stature, they represent their provision and support for the brothers and sisters, and their burden toward the churches, and they only represent human work; they were not entirely of the Holy Spirit. If you say that his epistles are the words of the Holy Spirit, then you are absurd, and you are committing blasphemy! The Pauline epistles and the other epistles of the New Testament are equivalent to the memoirs of the more recent spiritual figures. They are on a par with the books of Watchman Nee or the experiences of Lawrence, and so on. It’s simply that the books of recent spiritual figures are not compiled into the New Testament, yet the substance of these people is the same: They were people who were used by the Holy Spirit during a certain period, and they could not directly represent God.
Excerpted from The Word Appears in the Flesh