The title of this article comes from the reply Jesus gave to a certain lawyer when he queried: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 10:25. Jesus responded: “How readest thou?” Verse 26. The same can be asked of each of us. Do we study just to gain knowledge to settle theological questions or win arguments? Or do we study to be truly converted, having our eyes on Jesus? We must focus on specific things that are necessary to be converted and saved as individuals and as a people. We need to be focused on Jesus and learn of Him.
Our Greatest Need
Our greatest need is to get en-rolled in the school of Christ, to study His life as we have never before studied it.
“Heaven is a school; its field of study, the universe; its teacher, the Infinite One. A branch of this school was established in Eden; and, the plan of redemption accomplished, education will again be taken up in the Eden school.
“ ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’ 1 Corinthians 2:9. Only through His word can a knowledge of these things be gained; and even this affords but a partial revelation.” Education, 301.
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.
“But such a character is not the result of accident; it is not due to special favors or endowments of Providence. A noble character is the result of self-discipline, of the subjection of the lower to the higher nature—the surrender of self for the service of love to God and man.” Ibid., 57.
Brothers and sisters, the highest and greatest education that man can obtain will be found in the Bible—Genesis to Revelation—and in the little books written by Ellen White. These are the greatest textbooks that have ever been written, yet they are the books that are collecting the most dust. They contain information for eternal life.
Steps of Repentance
“Christ must be revealed to the sinner as the Saviour dying for the sins of the world; and as we behold the Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary, the mystery of redemption begins to unfold to our minds and the goodness of God leads us to repentance. In dying for sinners, Christ manifested a love that is incomprehensible; and as the sinner beholds this love, it softens the heart, impresses the mind, and inspires contrition in the soul.” Steps to Christ, 26, 27.
“Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life.” Ibid., 23.
We Own Not Ourselves
Somehow Satan has given us the idea that we are complete owners of ourselves, that we can think, do, act, and worship the way we want. But consider this food for thought: “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:23.
“How natural it is to regard ourselves as complete owners of ourselves! But the Inspired Word declares, ‘Ye are not your own.’ ‘Ye are bought with a price.’ 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. . . . In our relation to our fellow men we are owners of our entrusted mental and physical capabilities. In our relation to God, we are borrowers, stewards of His grace. . . .
“It is your privilege to obey the living Word of God as a truly converted and transformed soul, to perform the highest service as a free, heaven-born spirit, to give evidence that you are worthy of the sacred trust that God has given you by sending His only begotten Son to die for you. If you believe in Christ as your personal Saviour, you receive every grace, every spiritual endowment, necessary for the perfecting of the Christian character.” Our High Calling, 40.
Hunger and Thirst
Have you and I come to that real hunger and thirst for righteousness?
“[God] has promised, ‘I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.’ Isaiah 44:3. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who long after God, may be sure that they will be filled. The heart must be open to the Spirit’s influence, or God’s blessing cannot be received.” Steps to Christ, 95. That quote should not be too difficult to understand, should it?
Let me ask you a question, Which has more faith, birds or man? Mrs. White explains this: “The swallow and the crane observe the changes of the seasons. They migrate from one country to another to find a climate suitable to their convenience and happiness, as the Lord designed they should. But God’s people sacrifice life and health by seeking to gratify appetite. In their desire to accumulate treasure, they forget the Giver of all their blessings. Their health is abused, and their God-given powers are used to carry out their unsanctified, ambitious projects. Their days are filled with pain of body and disquietude of mind because they are determined to follow wrong habits and practices. They will not reason from cause to effect, and they sacrifice health, peace, and happiness to their ignorance.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 335, 336.
Rejection of Truth
“Rejection of truth has produced [the] present condition. ‘The prevalence of sin is alarming; the world is being filled with violence as in the days of Noah. Would the world be in its present condition if those who claim to be the people of God had reverenced and obeyed the law of the Lord? It is the rejection of the truth, man’s dispensing with the commandments of God, that has produced the condition of things which now exists. God’s Word is made of none effect by false shepherds. The decided opposition of the shepherds of the flock to the law of the Lord reveals that they have rejected the Word of the Lord, and have put their own words in its place. In their interpretation of the Scriptures they teach for doctrines the commandments of men. In their apostasy from the truth they have encouraged wickedness, saying, “We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us.” [Jeremiah 8:8.] The words of Christ to the Pharisees are applicable to them. Christ said to these teachers, Ye are both ignorant of the Scriptures and of the power of God. [See Matthew 22:29.] . . .
“ ‘The condition of our world today is just as the prophet has represented that it would be near the close of this earth’s history.’ ” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1155.
A Skeptic’s Understanding
“How readest thou?” A choice example of the knowledge of the Bible possessed by skeptics is here related: Once a skeptic was at a dinner and sat next to a Bible teacher who engaged him in conversation and opened to him the subject of faith in Christ. The skeptic said that he had once been a reader of the Bible. He related, “I came across the story of Noah and the ark. I am a lumberman, and it interested me. I began to figure out its dimensions and how many feet of lumber went into it. I was astonished and impressed at its size. A few days later, I opened the Bible again and saw that the Levites took the ark on their shoulders and carried it around the wilderness. Such foolishness made me angry. I have never looked inside the Bible again.”
This is a sample of some people’s understanding of the Bible and the arguments used against authenticity of the Bible! The Bible needs to be studied prayerfully and earnestly to find the gospel plan of salvation. Oh, friend, how do you study the Bible?
“It is not by looking away from Him that we imitate the life of Jesus, but by talking of Him, by dwelling upon His perfections, by seeking to refine the taste and elevate the character, by trying, through faith and love, and by earnest, persevering effort, to approach the perfect Pattern. By having a knowledge of Christ—His words, His habits and His lessons of instruction—we borrow the virtues of the character we have so closely studied, and become imbued with the spirit we have so much admired. Jesus becomes to us ‘the chiefest among ten thousand,’ the One ‘altogether lovely.’ [The Song of Solomon 5:1, 16.]” Our High Calling, 58.
“The character of Christ was one of unexampled excellence, embracing everything pure, true, lovely, and of good report. . . . Not one of His hours from childhood to manhood was misspent, none were misappropriated. . . .
“Jesus was sinless and had no dread of the consequences of sin. With this exception His condition was as yours. You have not a difficulty that did not press with equal weight upon Him, not a sorrow that His heart has not experienced. His feelings could be hurt with neglect, with indifference of professed friends, as easily as yours. Is your path thorny? Christ’s was so in a tenfold sense. . . .
“Take Jesus as your standard. Imitate His life. Fall in love with His character. Walk as Christ walked.” Ibid., 59.
“For such an high priest became us, [who is] holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” Hebrews 7:26.
“How readest thou?”
Would You Deny Christ?
Would we even think of denying (crucifying) Christ today? Hastily we might respond with a definite “No way!” But let us take a serious look at this question.
“He who would confess Christ must have Christ abiding in him. He cannot communicate that which he has not received. The disciples might speak fluently on doctrines, they might repeat the words of Christ Himself; but unless they possessed Christlike meekness and love, they were not confessing Him. A spirit contrary to the spirit of Christ would deny Him, whatever the profession. Men may deny Christ by evilspeaking, by foolish talking, by words that are untruthful or unkind. They may deny Him by shunning life’s burdens, by the pursuit of sinful pleasure. They may deny Him by conforming to the world, by uncourteous behavior, by the love of their own opinions, by justifying self, by cherishing doubt, borrowing trouble, and dwelling in darkness. In all these ways they declare that Christ is not in them. And ‘whosoever shall deny Me before men,’ He says, ‘him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.’ [Matthew 10:33.]” The Desire of Ages, 357.
“True, saving faith is a precious treasure of inestimable value. It is not superficial. The just lives by faith a truly spiritual, Christlike life. It is through faith that the steps are taken one at a time up the ladder of progress. Faith must be cultivated. . . .
“The life of obedience to all of God’s commandments is a life of progression, a life of constant advancement. . . .
“ ‘Grace and peace’ will be multiplied ‘through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.’ [11 Peter 1:2.] Here is the Source of all spiritual power, and faith must be in constant exercise, for all spiritual life is from Christ.” Our High Calling, 67.
Ladder to Heaven
How are you and I going to get to heaven? The only way is by the ladder that we must climb. You may ask what ladder that may be. Genesis 28:12 says, “And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.”
“Let us consider this ladder which was presented to Jacob. . . . The sin of Adam cut off all intercourse between heaven and earth. Up to the moment of man’s transgression of God’s law there had been free communion between earth and heaven. They were connected by a path which Deity could traverse. But the transgression of God’s law broke up this path and man was separated from God. . . .
“Every link which bound earth to heaven and man to the infinite God seemed broken. Man might look to heaven, but how could he attain it? But joy to the world! The Son of God, the Sinless One, the One perfect in obedience, becomes the channel through which the lost communion may be renewed, the way through which the lost paradise may be regained. Through Christ, man’s substitute and surety, man may keep the commandments of God. He may return to his allegiance and God will accept him. Christ is the ladder. ‘By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.’ John 10:9. . . .
“The ladder is the medium of communication between God and man. Through the mystic ladder the gospel was preached to Jacob. As the ladder stretched from earth, reaching to the highest heavens, and the glory of God was seen above the ladder, so Christ in His divine nature reached immensity and was one with the Father. As the ladder, though its top penetrated into heaven, had its base upon the earth, so Christ, though God, clothed His divinity with humanity and was in the world ‘found in fashion as a man’ (Philippians 2:8). The ladder would be useless if it rested not on the earth or if it reached not to the heavens.
“God appeared in glory above the ladder, looking down with compassion on erring, sinful Jacob. . . . It is through Christ that the Father beholds sinful man. . . . The broken links have been repaired. A highway has been thrown up along which the weary and heavy laden may pass. They may enter heaven and find rest.” Our High Calling, 66.
Thank God that ladder, Jesus Christ, has been provided for mankind to have an escape to a better land through obedience to His Word.
“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou [art] the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” Psalm 25:5.
Are You Enrolled?
Are you getting your education? Are you getting the right education? Are you enrolled in the preparatory school?
“Those who in this earth become sons of God sit together with Christ in the preparatory school, getting ready to be received into the higher school. Day by day we are to make an individual preparation; for in the courts above no one will be represented by proxy. Each one must heed for himself the call, ‘Come unto me, . . . and I will give you rest. . . .’ [Matthew 11:28.]
“The Lord Jesus has paid your tuition fees. All that you have to do is to learn of Him. The Christlike politeness practiced in the higher school is to be practiced in this lower school, by both old and young believers. All who learn in Christ’s school are under the training of heavenly agencies; and they are never to forget that they are a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.
“They are to represent Christ. They are to help one another to become worthy of admission into the higher school. They are to help one another to be pure and noble, and to cherish a true idea of what it means to be a child of God. They are to speak encouraging words. They are to lift up the feeble hands and strengthen the feeble knees. Upon every heart there is to be inscribed the words, as with the point of a diamond, ‘There is nothing that I fear, save that I shall not know my duty, or shall fail to do it.’ . . .
“A self-controlled spirit, words of love and tenderness, honor the Saviour. Those who speak kind, loving words, words that make for peace, will be richly rewarded. . . . We are to let His spirit shine forth in the meekness and lowliness learned of Him.
“Jesus is the great Teacher. . . . He is so willing, so ready to take you into a closer fellowship with Himself. He is willing to teach you how to pray with the believing confidence and assurance of a little child. . . . Enroll your name anew as a student in His school. Learn to pray in faith. Receive the knowledge of Jesus. . . .
“Will you not sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of Him?” Our High Calling, 102.
“How readest thou?” Are you learning of Christ? Are you making sure you are not denying or crucifying Christ afresh? What is your answer today?
[All emphasis supplied.]
An ordained minister of the gospel, Howard Anderson, now retired, lives in Zellwood Station, Florida. He may be contacted by telephone at: 407-886-1951.