Andrew Murray on ‘The Spirit and the Word #2.3
In Chapter 4 of the Indwelling Spirit, Andrew Murray quotes the following verses from Scripture to which he will regularly refer while discussing this theme:
John 6:63, 68
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of Spirit and life. . . . Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
2 Corinthians 3:6
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The Spirit’s work in the believer
Murray starts off by outlining the Spirit’s work in the believer as being: sealing, sanctifying, enlightening, and strengthening. By contrast with the flesh that profits nothing, it is the Spirit who gives life.
He also warns that the letter (the words of Scripture) will kill when the Spirit is not present to illumine it and to give it life.
Murray goes on to say that even Jesus when He was here on earth was not able to effect what He desired in his disciples until the Spirit had been poured out.
The Word as a living seed
The word comes in the power of the Spirit with its divine life. But it needs a spiritual nature to receive it. In the same way as seeds need a congenial soil to grow, so too must the Word be taken through the avenues of the mind, feelings, and the will into the life of the believer. It does this via the Spirit who assimilates truth and power to the believer.
The above truth, says Murray, will keep us from expecting to enjoy the teaching of the Spirit without the Word, or to master the teaching of the Word without the Spirit.
The Spirit’s work in the Holy Trinity
Murray states that in the Holy Trinity the Word and the Spirit are intertwined and are one with the Father. He goes on to say that the Holy Spirit through the ages has embodied the thoughts of God in the written Word, and that the Spirit therefore lives now to reveal the power and meaning of the Word.
If you would have the Spirit fulfill His office of bringing to mind at the right moment and applying with divine accuracy what Jesus has spoken to your need, allow the Words of Christ to abide in you.
We need to have the Word living in us, says Murray, so that the Spirit can reveal to us what the will of God is for each circumstance of our lives with unerring precision. As Jesus said in John 6:63:
The words I have spoken to you—they are full of Spirit and life.
Full of the Spirit; full of the Word
Murray now urges us to compare Ephesians 5:18-19 with Colossians 3:16. Both passages describe the joyful fellowship of the Christian life—the one describing it as coming when we are full of the Spirit; the other when we are full of the Word.
Do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Learning an essential lesson
Murray warns that the Word will not unfold its life in us unless the Spirit is there too.
To highlight this point, he turns to the history of the Jews during the time of Christ. Despite being exceedingly zealous, their zeal was based on their human reasoning and interpretation of God’s Word. Jesus said to them in John 5: 39:
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify of me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Murray follows this up by saying:
The weakness in the life of so many believers is . . . that they think that in the Scriptures they have eternal life. But they know little of the living Christ in the power of the Spirit.
How to renew the power of the Spirit within you
Murray now points us to the lessons that renewed his own spiritual life:
- In an act of faith, look to God to renew the working of His Spirit within you.
- Yield yourself to the Holy Spirit that dwells within you.
- Wait on Him so that not the mind but the life in you may be opened to receive the Word. If we wait on the Holy Spirit in the depths of our soul, we shall know in truth what the following words mean: ‘It is the Spirit that gives life.’
Give me, Father, the Spirit of wisdom to interpret each Word of yours, and to remember that spiritual things can only be spiritually discerned.
Teach me in all my interaction with your Word to deny the flesh and to wait in humility and faith for the inward working of the Spirit to quicken your Word to my heart. --Andrew Murray
© Olea Nel
Murray, Andrew, The Indwelling Spirit. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2006, chapter 3.
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