“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, ‘Will ye also go away?’ Then Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the word s of eternal life.’ ” John 6:66–68.
“Lord, to whom shall we go?” was a relevant question then and still is now. As the disciples watched that great multitude, turning their backs on Jesus, their hearts sank lower and lower. Jesus confronted them and said, “Are you going away, too?” They replied, “To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of life.” Today we ask the same question, “To whom shall we go?”
Where could the disciples have turned? They could have gone to the philosophers. Greek philosophy was at its height at this time. They had what they called peripatetic philosophers. These philosophers would walk through the country and speak wherever they could gather a crowd. The disciples could have listened to one of those philosophers, but they would not have heard the words of life.
Here is a little sample of what they might have heard. The following is from a book called, The Theory of Man, by a philosopher named Romero. The first chapter is about intentional consciousness. “A lived estate constitutes a single undivided situation in consciousness. There is neither object or, strictly speaking, a subject. When the objectification occurs, subject and object are born simultaneously, separated by an interval or distance that makes possible a specific function of each.” Is that clear now? That is philosophy then and now. If you were thirsting for salvation, how long could you endure that?
They could also have turned to the eastern religions then existing, such as Zoarastrianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Here is what they might have heard: “Body, brethren, is without the self. If body, brethren, were of the self, body would not be involved in sickness and one would be able to say, ‘Thus let my body be, thus let my body not be.’ But, brethren, inasmuch as body is not the self, that is why body is involved in sickness and one cannot say of body, ‘Thus let my body be, thus let my body not be.’ ” The Sayings of Buddha. Any questions?
If unsatisfied, the disciples could have run to the rabbis. There were many rabbis in Palestine at this time and they had lots of words. But were they the words of life?
In reference to the words of the rabbis, Mrs. White says that they used a lot of senseless repetitions, and they spoke with hesitation and uncertainty. She writes, that despite all of their claims, their words made it clear that they did not know God. When Jesus spoke, no one had to go to a dictionary to figure out what He meant. In contrast, the rabbis’ teachings made it clear that they were ignorant both of the Word of God and the power of God. (See The Signs of the Times, March 26, 1896; Review and Herald, August 22, 1899; Review and Herald, July 19, 1887; Youth’s Instructor, December 5, 1895.)
The rabbis were placing the word of men above the Word of God, which brings up a question and challenge that we sometimes hear. People will say to us when we quote Ellen White, God’s inspired messenger, “You are quoting Ellen White above the Bible.” I answer, “No, I am putting Ellen White above YOU!” Do you see the difference? I am saying that Ellen White knows a thousand times more about the Bible than any theologian or doctor of philosophy.
Speaking Like the Rabbis
“The rabbis spoke with doubt and hesitancy, as if the Scriptures might be interpreted to be one thing or exactly the opposite.” Lift Him Up, 172. Today we call that a “paradox” or holding things in “tension.” If you would like to see a modern counterpart, I refer you to the book Issues, page 12. “The subjects of the nature of Christ and righteousness by faith are not nearly as straight forward as adherents to Hope International would have them appear. Both Scripture and Ellen White contain statements that seem to support varying view points and these must be held in tension.” They are saying that if you read conflicting ideas, you can say, “Yes, I believe that and I believe this, too.” Just hold them in tension and everything will be all right. That has a resounding echo of rabbinical reasoning.
Some time ago I went to a Conference to speak at a little campmeeting. When I arrived, I learned that the Conference president had been there about two weeks before me to counteract my influence. He had given a talk on the nature of Christ. He began by saying, “Ellen White writes very clearly that Jesus Christ came in the fallen nature of man.” He then gave some quotations from her writings. Then he said, “That seems very clear, but now, I am going to show you that she also wrote the exact opposite.” Then he read a couple of quotations that he twisted to say that Christ came in the unfallen nature of Adam.
That is not true. I offered $1,000, and I still offer $1,000, to anyone who can show me, from Ellen White’s writings, one statement that Christ came to this earth in the unfallen nature of Adam. Even though they often claim to have the statements, they do not come to collect their money. My offer has been standing for five or six years, and the response to it has been a thunderous, ear-shattering silence.
I am astounded at their boldness. Ellen White wrote four hundred times in her published writings that Christ came to this earth in the human nature of fallen man, yet they still deny it, and refuse to understand.
If any writer, on any subject, prints their belief four hundred times, and we still do not know what they mean, we have a serious problem. The problem is not with the writer, it is with us, the readers.
Searching for an Excuse
Why were the rabbis like that? Why are modern theologians like that? Why are they not willing to take the straight forward simple words of truth? Why do they say, “It is mysterious, it is hard to understand?” Because the plain teaching of God’s Word condemns their practices, they try to destroy its force. The same thing is being done today as was being done before. “The Word of God is made to appear mysterious and obscure in order to excuse transgression of His law.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 39.
What are you hearing all over the land in Seventh-day Adventist Churches today? “You cannot obey God’s law—even by the power of Christ.” To be sure that their claim is not disproved, they try to disqualify Ellen White’s writings. But she says the opposite, that it is possible and necessary to overcome, 4,500 times.
“One reason why many theologians have no clearer understanding of God’s Word is, they close their eyes to truths which they do not wish to practice. An understanding of Bible truth depends not so much on the power of intellect brought to the search as on the singleness of purpose, the earnest longing after righteousness.” The Great Controversy, 599.
The Bible was not written for the scholar alone, but for the common person. Those who have a real thirst after righteousness will have no trouble understanding it. Those who do not want to live the life set forth there, find problems, but the problem is with them—not with the written Word.
Looking back again to John 6, we see that the people all around the apostles had words. Words and words, piles and piles of words, but how could they turn from Him to those meaningless words?
“Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; he that believeth on Me shall never thirst . . . All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:35, 37.
Contrast that with the words of the rabbis, the words of the eastern religions, the words of the philosophers. Would it take you long to make a choice? Not if your soul was hungry for truth.
“Jesus said unto her [standing at the graveside of Lazarus], I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” John 11:25.
“Jesus sayeth unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” John 14:6.
“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28–30.
Is it any wonder that when the disciples went through the Roman empire repeating these words of Jesus, people said, “We have never heard anything like that before”! They had heard the meandering philosophers. They had heard the eastern religions, but never anything like the words of Christ: “Come to Me and I will give you rest.”
The Living Word
Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” Stretch your minds to the ultimate to take in the simple fact that the Word of God is the living Word. Do not treat it as a dead book. The words of Christ have not lost their power. “As they feed upon His Word, they find that it is spirit and life. The Word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to the soul as a Comforter. By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature. Love takes the place of hatred, and the heart receives the divine similitude. This is what it means to live ‘by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ ” The Desire of Ages, 391.
“The life of Christ that gives life to the world is in His Word . . . When His visible presence should be withdrawn, the Word must be their [the disciples] source of power.” The Desire of Ages, 390.
“When the Bible is made the Guide and Counselor, it exerts an ennobling influence upon the mind. Its study more than any other will refine and elevate. It will enlarge the mind of the candid student, endowing it with new impulses and fresh vigor.” Counsels to Teachers, 396. I have seen this demonstrated. In the Hawaiian Islands we took into our home several teenage girls, and kept them for two or three years. They did not have a very high IQ when they arrived, but after those three years, their IQ had changed remarkably. The experts say that the IQ is unchangeable, but it does change under those circumstances.
“Let the Bible be received as the food of the soul, the best and most effectual means of purifying and strengthening the intellect.” Ibid., 396.
“We commend to every student the Book of Books as the grandest study for human intelligence . . . Divorce God from the acquisition of knowledge and you have a lame, one-sided education, dead to all the saving qualities that give true power to man.” Ibid., 395.
“Here is the grand stimulus, the hidden force which quickens the mental and physical powers and directs the life into right channels. Here in the Word is wisdom, poetry, history, biography and the most profound philosophy . . . It is impossible to study the Bible with a humble, teachable spirit, without developing and strengthening the intellect. Those who become best acquainted with the wisdom and purpose of God as revealed in His Word become men and women of mental strength.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 432.
“If the mind is set to the task of studying the Bible for information, the reasoning faculties will be improved. Under study of the Scriptures the mind expands, becomes more evenly balanced than if occupied in obtaining general information from the books that are used which have no connection with the Bible.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 393.
“As a stimulus to develop [the mind], nothing else can equal the study of God’s Word. As a means of intellectual training, the Bible is more effective than any other book or all other books combined . . . No other study can impart such mental power as does the effort to grasp the stupendous truths of Revelation. The mind thus brought in contact with the thoughts of the Infinite cannot but expand and strengthen.” Education, 124.
“Studied and obeyed, the Word of God would give to the world men of stronger and more active intellect than will the closest application to all the subjects that human philosophy embraces.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 599.
Changed by the Word
Pitcairn Island was settled by mutineers who rebelled against Captain Bligh on the H. M. S. Bounty. They took women from Tahiti to be their wives, and went to the little island of Pitcairn, to make their own little paradise. Then came a time when all of the Tahitian men were dead, and all but one of the white men and some women and children were dead. The remaining white man did some long, hard thinking. He realized that if something did not change, soon there would not be a living person left on the island.
He dug a Bible out of the ship’s trunk, and began to read it and teach it to the people. Today, Pitcairn Island is a place filled with Seventh-day Adventists. Have you ever heard of any one revolutionizing a whole culture after reading a book on philosophy, mathematics, history or psychology? Only the Bible can do that. It is alive!
“The study of the Bible will ennoble every thought, feeling, and aspiration as no other study can. It gives stability of purpose, patience, courage, fortitude; it refines the character and sanctifies the soul. An earnest, reverent study of the Scriptures, bringing the mind of the student in direct contact with the Infinite mind would give to the world men of stronger and more active intellect, as well as of nobler principle, than has ever resulted from the ablest training that human philosophy affords.” The Great Controversy, 94.
“The Word of the living God is not merely written but spoken. The Bible is God’s voice speaking to us just as surely as though we could hear it with our ears. The reading and contemplation of the Scriptures should be regarded as an audience with the Infinite One.” Education, 393.
Do not miss the opportunity to have a personal interview with the God of the universe. Make a decision today to spend more time in the Bible than you ever have before. Consider your situation and the times in which we live. Time is fast coming to a close. Do not waste the short time left.
To whom shall we go? There is no choice. Go to the Living Word. I appeal to you. Do some thinking on this subject. Study your schedule, and figure out a way that you can spend more time with the Living Word during this year of 1997. I appeal to you to make the Word of God your counselor. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”