Bible Taught or Spirit Taught: by A.W. Tozer

 Bible Taught or Spirit Taught?
By A.W. Tozer

It may shock some readers to suggest that there is a difference between
being Bible taught and being Spirit taught. Nevertheless it is so.
It is altogether possible to be instructed in the rudiments of the faith and
*still have no real understanding of the whole thing*. And it is possible to
go on to become expert in Bible doctrine and *not have spiritual
illumination*, with the result that a* veil remains over the mind,
preventing it from apprehending the truth in its spiritual essence.
Most of us are acquainted with churches that teach the Bible to their
children from their tenderest years, give them long instruction in the
catechism, drill them further in pastor’s classes, and still never produce
in them a living Christianity nor a virile godliness. Their members show no
evidence of having passed from death unto life. None of the earmarks of
salvation so plainly indicated in the Scriptures are found among them. *Their
religious lives are correct and reasonably moral, but wholly mechanical and
altogether lacking in radiance*. They wear their faith as persons in
mourning once wore black arm bands to show their love and respect for the

Such persons cannot be dismissed as hypocrites. Many of them are
pathetically serious about it all. They are simply blind. *From lack of the
vital Spirit they are forced to get along with the outward shell of faith,
while all the time their deep hearts are starving for spiritual reality and
they do not know what is wrong with them.
This difference between the religion of creed and the religion of the Spirit
is well set forth by the saintly Thomas in a tender little prayer to his
Lord: ”The children of Israel in time past said unto Moses, ‘Speak thou with
us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’* Not so,
Lord, not so, I beseech Thee; but rather with the prophet Samuel, I humbly
and earnestly entreat, ‘Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.’ Let not Moses
speak unto me, nor any of the prophets, but rather do Thou speak, O Lord
God, the inspirer, enlightener of all the prophets; for Thou alone without
them canst perfectly instruct me, but they without Thee can profit nothing.
They indeed may utter words, but they cannot give the Spirit. Most
beautifully do they speak, but if Thou be silent, they inflame not the
heart. They teach the letter, but Thou openest the sense; they bring forth
mysteries, but Thou unlockest the meaning of sealed things… They work only
outwardly, but Thou instructest and enlightenest the heart… They cry aloud
with words, but Thou impartest understanding to the hearing.”
It would be hard to wrap it up better than that. The same thing has been
said variously by others; however, the most familiar saying probably is. *”The
Scriptures, to be understood, must be read with the same Spirit that
originally inspired them.”* No one denies this, but even such a statement
will go over the heads of those who hear it unless the Holy Spirit inflames
the heart.
The charge often made against us by Liberals, that we are ”bibliolaters,” is
probably not true in the same sense as meant by our detractors; but candor
and self-analysis will force us to admit that there is often too much truth
in their charge. *Among religious persons of unquestioned orthodoxy there is
sometimes found a dull dependence upon the letter of the text without the
faintest understanding of its spirit*. That truth is in its essence
spiritual must constantly be kept before our minds if we would know the
truth indeed. 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. That which is spiritual cannot be shut in by ink or fenced in by
type and paper. The best a book can do is to give us the letter of truth. If
we ever receive more than this, it must be by the Holy Spirit who gives it.
The great need of the hour among persons spiritually hungry is twofold:
First, to know the Scriptures, apart from which no saving truth will be
vouchsafed by our Lord; the second, to be enlightened by the Spirit, apart
from whom the Scriptures will not be understood.
(From "The Root of the Righteous" by A.W.Tozer)