It may shock some 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 basics of the faith and still have no real understanding of the whole thing. And it is possible to go on to become an expert in Bible doctrine and have no 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 instructions in doctrinal classes, drill them further in a pastor’s class, and still never produce in them a living Christianity or true godliness.Their members show no evidence of having passed from death to 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.
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 Holy 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.
As someone said, “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. Among 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 rightly believe, He has Himself inspired the words. That which is spiritual cannot be shut in by ink or fenced in by 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 this hour among persons who are spiritually hungry is twofold: First, to know the Scriptures, apart from which no saving truth will be vouchsafed by our Lord; secondly, to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit, apart from which the Scriptures will not be understood.
– A. W. Tozer