Bible Study Guides – How to Understand the Bible

January 23, 2005 – January 29, 2005

Memory Verse:

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26, RSV.

Suggested Reading: Selected Messages, Book 1, 15–23.

1 What claim does the Bible make about itself? 11 Timothy 3:16. See also 11 Peter 1:20, 21.

note: “God committed the preparation of His divinely inspired Word to finite man. This Word arranged into books, the Old and New Testaments, is the guidebook to the inhabitants of a fallen world; bequeathed to them, that by studying and obeying the directions, not one soul would lose its way to heaven.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 16.

2 Why were God’s people in ancient times destroyed? Hosea 4:6. See also Isaiah 5:13.

note: “The words of God to ancient Israel have a solemn warning to the church and its leaders today. Of Israel the Lord said, ‘I have written to him the great things of My law; but they were counted as a strange thing.’ Hosea 8:12. And to the priests and teachers He declared, ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee; . . . seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.’ Hosea 4:6. . . .

“Will they [God’s people today] reject God’s word as the Jewish leaders rejected Christ? The result of Israel’s sin is before us. Will the church of today take warning?” Christ’s Object Lessons, 306.

3 How much of God’s Word is needed for real spiritual growth? Matthew 4:4. See also Deuteronomy 8:3.

note: “The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ, and the Saviour desired to fix the faith of His followers on the word. When His visible presence should be withdrawn, the word must be their source of power. Like their Master, they were to live ‘by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4. . . .

“We should carefully study the Bible, asking God for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that we may understand His word. We should take one verse, and concentrate the mind on the task of ascertaining the thought which God has put in that verse for us. We should dwell upon the thought until it becomes our own, and we know ‘what saith the Lord.’ ” The Desire of Ages, 390.

4 What did Jesus say was the basic theme of the Scriptures? John 5:39. See also Luke 24:44.

note: “In every page, whether history, or precept, or prophecy, the Old Testament Scriptures are irradiated with the glory of the Son of God. So far as it was of divine institution, the entire system of Judaism was a compacted prophecy of the gospel. To Christ ‘give all the prophets witness.’ Acts 10:43. From the promise given to Adam, down through the patriarchal line and the legal economy, heaven’s glorious light made plain the footsteps of the Redeemer. Seers beheld the Star of Bethlehem, the Shiloh to come, as future things swept before them in mysterious procession. In every sacrifice Christ’s death was shown. In every cloud of incense His righteousness ascended. By every jubilee trumpet His name was sounded. In the awful mystery of the holy of holies His glory dwelt.” The Desire of Ages, 211, 212.

5 What did Jesus call those who did not believe all that the Bible says? Luke 24:25. See also Matthew 22:29.

note: “The great themes of the Old Testament were misapprehended and misinterpreted, and Christ’s work was to expound the truth which had not been understood by those to whom they had been given. The prophets had made the statements, but the spiritual import of what they had written, was undiscovered by them. They did not see the meaning of the truth. Jesus reproved His disciples for their slowness of comprehension. Many of His precious lessons were lost to them, because they did not understand the spiritual grandeur of His words.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 404.

6 On what two points did Paul commend the Bereans? Acts 17:10, 11. See also 11 Timothy 2:15; 11 Chronicles 20:20; Isaiah 8:20.

note: “The minds of the Bereans were not narrowed by prejudice. They were willing to investigate the truthfulness of the doctrines preached by the apostles. They studied the Bible, not from curiosity, but in order that they might learn what had been written concerning the promised Messiah. Daily they searched the inspired records, and as they compared scripture with scripture, heavenly angels were beside them, enlightening their minds and impressing their hearts.

“Wherever the truths of the gospel are proclaimed, those who honestly desire to do right are led to a diligent searching of the Scriptures. If, in the closing scenes of this earth’s history, those to whom testing truths are proclaimed would follow the example of the Bereans, searching the Scriptures daily, and comparing with God’s word the messages brought them, there would today be a large number loyal to the precepts of God’s law, where now there are comparatively few.” The Acts of the Apostles, 231, 232.

7 What is one condition that God sets forth for understanding the Bible? Matthew 11:25; Psalm 25:9. See also Isaiah 57:15; 1 Corinthians 1:21, 26–31.

note: “It was the experience gained during the years of toil and waiting in Midian—the spirit of humility and long-suffering there developed—that prepared Moses to meet with patience the unbelief and murmuring of the people and the pride and envy of those who should have been his unswerving helpers. Moses ‘was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth’ [Numbers 12:3], and this is why he was granted divine wisdom and guidance above all others. Says the Scripture, ‘The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.’ Psalm 25:9. The meek are guided by the Lord, because they are teachable, willing to be instructed. They have a sincere desire to know and to do the will of God. The Saviour’s promise is, ‘If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.’ John 7:17.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 384.

8 What is a second condition that God gives for understanding the Bible? 11 Timothy 2:15. See also Isaiah 28:9, 10; Luke 24:25–27, 44.

note: “The Holy Spirit is ever at work, seeking to purify, refine, and discipline the souls of men, in order that they may become fitted for the society of saints and angels. . . . As children of God, we should make earnest efforts to be overcomers; and as students who seek to honor and glorify God, we should study to show ourselves approved of Him, workmen that need not to be ashamed.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 238.

9 What is a third condition for understanding the Bible? 1 Corinthians 2:10–14; John 16:13.

note: “The office of the Holy Spirit is distinctly specified in the words of Christ: ‘When He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.’ John 16:8. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin. If the sinner responds to the quickening influence of the Spirit, he will be brought to repentance and aroused to the importance of obeying the divine requirements.” The Acts of the Apostles, 52.

10 What is the fourth condition God sets forth for understanding the Bible? 11 Thessalonians 2:9–12. See also Romans 1:28; Hebrews 4:12.

note: “Those who are unwilling to accept the plain, cutting truths of the Bible are continually seeking for pleasing fables that will quiet the conscience. The less spiritual, self-denying, and humiliating the doctrines presented, the greater the favor with which they are received. These persons degrade the intellectual powers to serve their carnal desires. Too wise in their own conceit to search the Scriptures with contrition of soul and earnest prayer for divine guidance, they have no shield from delusion. Satan is ready to supply the heart’s desire, and he palms off his deceptions in the place of truth. It was thus that the papacy gained its power over the minds of men; and by rejection of the truth because it involves a cross, Protestants are following the same path.” The Great Controversy, 523.

11 What is a fifth condition God gives for understanding the Bible? Jeremiah 29:13. See also Matthew 5:6; 13:45, 46.

note: “We are not at liberty to teach that which will reach the world’s standard, or the standard of the church, because it is the custom to do so! We are safe only when following the lessons of Jesus Christ. That which was safe for Him to teach, is safe for our children to study. Eternal life is before us, and do we not want our children to win the precious boon? But all who win eternal life, old or young, must put aside their likes and dislikes, and with simplicity of heart and profound humility they must search God’s Word. Those who are bold and domineering and full of self-sufficiency, will not search the Scriptures with an eye single to the glory of God; for they will seek to find something with which to vindicate their own ideas and sustain their own theories. There is a great deal of insubordination in the heart that is not fully sanctified.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 75, 76.

12 What is a sixth condition for understanding the Bible? John 8:31, 32. See also John 7:17; Matthew 13:12; 7:24–27.

note: “When we are truly Christ’s, our hearts will be full of meekness, gentleness, and kindness, because Jesus has forgiven our sins. As obedient children we shall receive and cherish the precepts he has given, and shall attend to the ordinances he has instituted. We shall be seeking constantly to obtain a knowledge of him. His example will be our rule of life.” Review and Herald, August 4, 1891.

Answer key available upon request.

Bible Study Guides – How to Study the Bible

January 16, 2005 – January 22, 2005

Memory Verse:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 11 Timothy 2:15.

Suggested Reading: The Great Controversy, 593–602.


“The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.” The Great Controversy, 593.

1 What example has been left to us by the early followers of Jesus? Acts 18:24.

note: “We all need and must have pure religion, not borrowed from another, but from Christ Jesus, the source of all heavenly grace. Then we are to honor God by looking to God, trusting in God, and keeping the truth in the heart pure and undefiled, having that faith that works by love and purifies the soul. The truth, when practiced, is a guide. Christ is truth. We must yield to him who alone is truth, and who alone can give to the troubled heart assurance and peace.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 29.

2 How often are we to study the Scriptures? Acts 17:11.

note: “It is of little advantage to skim over the surface of the Scriptures. If we would understand fully the words of Christ, thought must be brought into the searching of the Scriptures. We should open the Scriptures with great reverence, and not in a slothful, lazy manner. The word of Christ is spirit and life to the receiver.” The Upward Look, 368.

3 How are we to study the Scriptures? Isaiah 28:10.

note: “The Bible is a divine communication, and is as verily a message to the soul as though a voice from heaven were heard speaking to us. With what awe and reverence and humiliation should we come to the searching of the Scriptures, that we may learn of eternal realities. When the spell of Satan is broken, and the Bible becomes to us the living word of God, we shall be safe in following our convictions of duty; for if we watch unto prayer, they will be inspired by the Spirit of God. Let everyone study the Bible, knowing that the word of God is as enduring as the eternal throne. If you come to the study of the Scriptures in humility, with earnest prayer for guidance, angels of God will open to you its living realities; and if you cherish the precepts of truth, they will be to you as a wall of fire against the temptations, delusions, and enchantments of Satan.” The Signs of the Times, September 18, 1893.

4 How important is the study of the Scriptures? 11 Timothy 3:16, 17.

note: “The first place in our thoughts and affections should be given to the Book of books; for it contains knowledge that we need above all other. ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ [Proverbs 9:10.] Let us seek to be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Let us draw near to God, that his angels may protect and bless us. Thus may we gain the victory over the powers of darkness, and finally receive the crown of glory, honor, and immortal life in the kingdom of God.” The Signs of the Times, May 19, 1887.

5 What will be the experience of those who study the Scriptures? Romans 15:4.

note: “If there was ever a time when a knowledge of the Scriptures was more important than at any other, that time is the present. I appeal to old and young, Make the Bible your text-book. Here you will find the true standard of character. Here you will learn what is required of you in order to become a child of God.” The Signs of the Times, May 19, 1887.

6 To what is the Word of God compared? 11 Peter 1:19.

note: “No one is left in darkness as to that which God approves or disapproves. In studying the Scriptures we become acquainted with God, and are led to understand our relation to Christ, who is the sin-bearer, the surety, the substitute, for our fallen race. These truths concern our present and eternal interests. The Bible stands the highest among books, and its study is valuable above the study of other literature in giving strength and expansion to the mind.” Review and Herald, February 25, 1896.

7 How early in life should a person begin to learn and study the Scriptures? 11 Timothy 3:14, 15. See also Luke 2:40.

note: “In childhood, youth, and manhood, Jesus studied the Scriptures. As a little child, He was daily, at His mother’s knee, taught from the scrolls of the prophets. In His youth the early morning and evening twilight often found Him alone on the mountainside or among the trees of the forest, spending a quiet hour in prayer and in the study of God’s Word. During His ministry His intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures testified to His diligence in their study. And since He gained knowledge as we may gain it, His wonderful power, both mental and spiritual, is a testimony to the value of the Bible as a means of education.” The Signs of the Times, September 19, 1906.

8 What did Peter hope to accomplish by encouraging people to study the Bible? 11 Peter 3:1, 2.

note: “The Bible should be a book for study. The precious pearls of truth do not lie upon the surface, to be found by a careless, uninterested reader. Christ knew what was best for us, of whatever age, when he commanded us, ‘Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.’ [John 5:39.] Jesus, the greatest teacher the world ever knew, would have men and women and children and youth reach the highest standard of excellence of character. He would have them become fully developed mentally, morally, and physically.” Review and Herald, November 9, 1886.

9 If we study the Word of God, how will we deal with sin? Psalm 119:11.

note: “If the Bible had been made the book of study in the schools, what a different showing there would be in society today! It is for our present and our eternal good to inquire at every step, Is this the way of the Lord? Since the fall of Adam, it has been the fashion of the world to sin, and it is for our interest to know what sin is. John declares: ‘Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.’ [1 John 3:4, 5.] The information is plainly given that sin is the transgression of the law.” The Youth’s Instructor, October 20, 1898.

10 What will happen to our mind if we will study the Word of God? Jeremiah 15:16.

note: “Those who are conversant with the Scriptures will be men and women who exert an elevating influence. In searching for Heaven-revealed truths, the Spirit of God is brought into close connection with the heart. An understanding of the revealed will of God enlarges the mind, expands, elevates, and endows it with new vigor, by bringing its faculties into contact with stupendous truth. No study is better to give energy to the mind, to strengthen the intellect, than the study of the Word of God. No other book is so potent in elevating the thoughts, in giving vigor to the faculties, as is the Bible, which contains the most ennobling truths. If God’s Word were studied as it should be, we should see greater breadth of mind, stability of purpose, and nobility of character.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, October 1, 1892.

11 What is another name given to Jesus Christ? John 1:1–3, 14.

note: “We are to feed upon Christ, the living bread from heaven. Our souls are to thirst for the waters of salvation, and we are to study the Scriptures, and practice the truths they teach in our daily life. Those who do this will reveal the fact that they are feasting upon the bread of life, eating the flesh of the Son of God, and drinking daily of the waters of salvation. If we closely study the words of Christ, and take heed to his lessons, we shall feed upon his flesh; for the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. Christ says: ‘The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.’ [John 6:63.]” The Youth’s Instructor, June 27, 1895.

12 What does God desire as the end product through the study of the Word? John 15:1–3.

note: “The Word specifies the gifts and graces that are essential for every soul who receives the truth. But especially does the Lord require His messengers, who carry His Word to others, to live the truth, to reveal that they are sanctified through the truth. If they do not show their love of the truth by meeting the infallible standard, let them step out from the ministry and no longer dishonor God by their disorderly course of action. Let close, critical examination be made of the tenor of their life and action. Have they the marks that testify that they are children of God, that they apply the Word of God as a test of their own qualification to do service that will properly represent Christ? Have they shown a clear understanding, a right judgment in the things of God? Have they a sweet, pure, clean spirit in the sight of God, in the home and in the church? Do they give evidence that they are undefiled, that they can labor to help others out of Satan’s power, or do they show a want of sincere piety and conscientious scruples in willing toil, failing to lift burdens for Christ? Do they give evidence that day by day they are learning the meekness and lowliness of Christ?” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 29.

Bible Study Guides – The Difference Between the Roman Catholic and the Protestant View of the Bible

January 9, 2005 – January 15, 2005

Memory Verse:

“All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 11 Timothy 3:16, 17.

Suggested Reading: The Great Controversy, 197–210.

FIRST DIFFERENCE: The Basic Attitude Toward the Scriptures

1 Does the Bible contain all things necessary for salvation and can the Scriptures alone enable the Christian to reach spiritual perfection? 11 Timothy 3:16, 17.

note: The Protestant Position. “I see plainly and with my own eyes, that there are popes against popes, councils against councils, some fathers against others, the same fathers against themselves, a consent of fathers of one age against a consent of fathers of another age, the church of one age against the church of another age. . . . In a word, there is no sufficient certainty but of Scripture only for any considering man to build upon.” William Chillingworth, M.A., The Religion of Protestants, London, 1866, 463.

“He who receives a single doctrine upon the mere authority of tradition, let him be called by what name he will, by so doing steps down from the Protestant rock, passes over the line which separates Protestantism from Popery, and can give no valid reason why he should not receive all the earlier doctrines and ceremonies of Romanism, upon the same authority.” John Dowling, D.D., History of Romanism, New York, 1871, 67, 68.

See also The Great Controversy, 81, 102, 126, 166.

The Catholic Position. “The church . . . does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paulist Press, Mahwah, New Jersey, 1994, Paragraph 82, 26.

“Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God.” Ibid., 29.

“Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition. For this reason no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community.” Ibid., 291.

“The Bible was actually placed on the ‘Index of Forbidden Books’ by the Council of Valencia in the year 1229.” Loraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism, The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, Philadelphia, 1962, 97.

SECOND DIFFERENCE: What Books Should Be Included in the Bible?

2 What books did Jesus include in the Bible or Scriptures? Luke 24:44.

comment: The Hebrew Bible used by the Jews in the days of Christ consisted of three parts. Those three parts are, first of all, the Law. This first part was Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The second part of the Bible was the prophets. The prophets consisted of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 11 Samuel, 1 and 11 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The third part of the Bible was the Writings. The first book of this third part of the Bible was the Psalms and this third part of the Bible was often referred to as the Psalms as in Luke 24:44. This third section consisted of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and 1 and 11 Chronicles, in that order.

3 What does the Bible warn about either adding or omitting any of the sacred writings? Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18, 19.

note: See The Great Controversy, 289, 290.

4 How many books are in the Catholic Bible? (See any official Catholic Bible in your public library.)

note: “It was by apostolic Tradition that the Church discerned which writings are to be included in the list of the sacred books. This complete list is called the canon of Scripture. It includes 46 books for the Old Testament . . . and 27 for the New.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paulist Press, Mahwah, New Jersey, 1994, 34.

comment: Notice in the above statement that if it is tradition that determines which books should be in the Bible, then tradition is above the Bible as a source of divine revelation. The Bible student who is a Protestant must have a different method of determining what should be included in the Bible than this, or he is on his way to becoming a Roman Catholic.

5 How many books are in the Protestant Bible? (See any Bible that has been translated by people who are Protestants, such as the NASB, the NIV, the fourth revision of the KJV, the NKJV, the RSV, etc.)

comment: Although the apocryphal books as they are called were included in the original 1611 King James Version, Protestants in general, from the time of the sixteenth century Protestant reformers, only have 39 books in their Old Testament (exactly the same as the Hebrew Bible used by the Jews) and 27 books in their New Testament.

6 Does the church have authority to add anything to the teachings of Christ? Matthew 28:18–20.

note: “The disciples were to teach what Christ had taught. That which He had spoken, not only in person, but through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament, is here included. Human teaching is shut out. There is no place for tradition, for man’s theories and conclusions, or for church legislation. No laws ordained by ecclesiastical authority are included in the commission. None of these are Christ’s servants to teach. ‘The law and the prophets,’ with the record of His own words and deeds, are the treasure committed to the disciples to be given to the world.” The Desire of Ages, 826.

7 As in Bible times are there any popular beliefs and church practices today that cannot be found in the Protestant Bible? 1 Peter 1:18; Ephesians 2:3; Matthew 15:8, 9.

note: “When the common people started reading the scriptures they [as the Waldenses and the Paulicians and the Albigenses hundreds of years before] were ‘struck with the strange discrepancy between the teaching of the Sacred Volume and that of the church of Rome.’ ” Eugene Lawrence, Historical Studies, Harper Brothers, New York, 1876, 255.

“In the Book of God there were found no purgatory, no infallible pope, no masses for the dead, no sale of indulgences, no relics working miracles, no prayers for the dead, no worship of the Virgin Mary or of saints!” Christian Edwardson, Facts of Faith, Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tennessee, 1943, 14.

THIRD DIFFERENCE: Attitude Toward Bible Translations

8 What was the Roman Catholic attitude toward the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures and Bible Translations at the time of the Protestant Reformation? What is the Protestant position on this subject? Acts 22:2; 11 Timothy 4:13; 1 Corinthians 14:19.

comment: The Roman Catholic Attitude. The Roman Church at the Council of Trent condemned the idea that the Scriptures must be studied in the original languages. The theory that there were errors in the Vulgate was also condemned by the Council of Trent. In other words, they believed that they had an infallible Bible in terms of faith and doctrine.

The Protestant Position. For any person whose faith is based on a sacred book, it is very important to know exactly what that book teaches as originally written, that is, in the language in which it was originally written. This is why there was an increased interest in the study of Greek and Hebrew among the Protestants during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Protestant position was then, and still is today, that the Scriptures should be studied in the original languages, and that there were errors in the Vulgate. Protestants have never believed that there was an infallible or inerrant translation of the Scriptures. This was not claimed for any of the Protestant Bibles in the sixteenth century or for the King James Version or for any Protestant Bibles since that time.

9 In what language does the Holy Spirit want the people of the human race to receive the Word of God? Acts 2:4–11; 1 Corinthians 14:27, 28.

FOURTH DIFFERENCE: How Can An Understanding of the Bible Be Acquired?

10 What is the Protestant position about understanding the Bible? 11 Timothy 3:13–15.

comment: The Protestant reformers all taught that the Bible was plain, and its meaning could be discovered by anybody with the help of the Holy Spirit even without the aid of commentaries, clergy, or the church. See The Great Controversy, 251.

The Roman Catholic position condemned the idea that the meaning of the Scriptures was plain, and that it could be understood, without commentary, with the help of Christ’s Spirit.

11 What method was used by William Miller to acquire an understanding of the Bible? Isaiah 28:9, 10.

note: “Endeavoring to lay aside all preconceived opinions, and dispensing with commentaries, he compared scripture with scripture by the aid of the marginal references and the concordance.” The Great Controversy, 320.

12 What is the result of allowing either the church or theologians to interpret the Bible for us? 11 Timothy 4:3.

note: “The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.

“Satan is constantly endeavoring to attract attention to man in the place of God. He leads the people to look to bishops, to pastors, to professors of theology, as their guides, instead of searching the Scriptures to learn their duty for themselves. Then, by controlling the minds of these leaders, he can influence the multitudes according to his will.” The Great Controversy, 595.

Bible Study Guides – The Inspiration of Scripture

January 2, 2005 – January 8, 2005

Memory Verse:

“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke [as they were] moved by the Holy Spirit.” 11 Peter 1:19–21.

Suggested Reading: Testimonies, vol. 5, 698–711.

1 How much of the Scripture is inspired? 11 Timothy 3:16.

note: “The apostle Peter says that there are in Scripture ‘things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest . . . unto their own destruction.’ [11 Peter 3:16.] The difficulties of Scripture have been urged by skeptics as an argument against the Bible; but so far from this, they constitute a strong evidence of its divine inspiration. If it contained no account of God but that which we could easily comprehend; if His greatness and majesty could be grasped by finite minds, then the Bible would not bear the unmistakable credentials of divine authority. The very grandeur and mystery of the themes presented should inspire faith in it as the word of God.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 700.

2 How did Scripture come into being? 11 Peter 1:20, 21.

note: “There is need of a much closer study of the Word of God. Especially should Daniel and the Revelation have attention as never before in the history of our work. We may have less to say in some lines, in regard to the Roman power and the papacy, but we should call attention to what the prophets and the apostles have written under the inspiration of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit has so shaped matters, both in the giving of the prophecy, and in the events portrayed, as to teach that the human agent is to be kept out of sight, hid in Christ, and the Lord God of heaven and His law are to be exalted.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, 333.

3 How was the process of inspiration established in the prophet? Isaiah 1:1; Ezekiel 1:1; Daniel 7:1.

note: “The Lord was pleased with the course that Daniel pursued. He was greatly beloved and honored of Heaven; to him the God of wisdom gave skill in the learning of the Chaldeans, and understanding in all visions and dreams.” The Signs of the Times, September 18, 1884.

4 What claim does God make that establishes inspiration? Isaiah 46:9.

note: “The Bible is a wonderful book. It is a history that opens up to us the past centuries. Without the Bible we would have been left to conjectures and fables in regard to the occurrences of past ages. It is a prophecy that unveils the future. It is the word of God unfolding to us the plan of salvation, pointing out the way by which we may escape eternal death and gain eternal life. Of all the books that flood the world, however valuable, the Bible is the Book of books, most deserving of our study and admiration. It gives not only the history of this world but a description of the world to come. It contains instruction concerning the wonders of the universe, it reveals to our understanding the character of the Author of the heavens and the earth. In it is the revelation of God to man.” The Signs of the Times, January 30, 1893.

5 Did the writers of the Bible recognize other prophets also? 11 Peter 3:1, 2; Luke 1:69, 70. See also 11 Thessalonians 3:14.

note: “The Bible points to God as its Author; yet it was written by human hands; and in the varied style of its different books it presents the characteristics of the several writers. The truths revealed are all ‘given by inspiration of God’ (11 Timothy 3:16); yet they are expressed in the words of men. The Infinite One by his Holy Spirit had shed light into the minds and hearts of his servants. He has given dreams and visions, symbols and figures; and those to whom the truth was thus revealed, have themselves embodied the thought in human language.” Review and Herald, August 30, 1906.

6 What did God design that His inspired Word should do? Hebrews 4:12.

note: “The Bible may be studied as a branch of human science would be, but its beauty, the evidence of its power to save the soul that believes, is a lesson that is never thus learned. If the practice of the Word is not brought into the life, then the sword of the Spirit has not wounded the natural heart. It has been shielded in poetic fancy. Sentimentalism has so wrapped it about that the heart has not sufficiently felt the keenness of its edge, piercing and cutting away the sinful shrines where self is worshiped.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 2, 97.

7 Can Bible writers claim the endorsement of God through His Word? 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

note: “There are many who claim that they have been sanctified to God, and yet when the great standard of righteousness is presented to them, they become greatly excited, and manifest a spirit which proves that they know nothing of what it means to be sanctified. They have not the mind of Christ; for those who are truly sanctified will reverence and obey the word of God as fast as it is opened to them, and they will express a strong desire to know what is truth on every point of doctrine.” Review and Herald, March 25, 1902.

8 Why were prophets who were inspired of God given to the church? Ephesians 4:11–14.

note: “We can see from this scripture that the Lord has his appointed workers, and that the work committed unto them has in view a definite object. Prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers, are all to work for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Review and Herald, March 7, 1893.

9 Should we try to separate some Scripture as inspired and others not? Matthew 4:4.

note: “The union of the divine and the human, manifest in Christ, exists also in the Bible. The truths revealed are all ‘given by inspiration of God’ [11 Timothy 3:16]; yet they are expressed in the words of men and are adapted to human needs. Thus it may be said of the Book of God, as it was of Christ, that ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’ [John 1:14.] And this fact, so far from being an argument against the Bible, should strengthen faith in it as the word of God. Those who pronounce upon the inspiration of the Scriptures, accepting some portions as divine while they reject other parts as human, overlook the fact that Christ, the divine, partook of our human nature, that He might reach humanity. In the work of God for man’s redemption, divinity and humanity are combined.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 747.

10 When a person uses inspired Scripture to support some position, should we accept it just because they quote or paraphrase words from the Bible? 1 John 4:1.

note: “We are not to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of scripture, and pile it as proof around their asserted theories. This has been done over and over again during the past fifty years. And while the Scriptures are God’s word, and are to be respected, the application of them, if such application moves one pillar of the foundation that God has sustained these fifty years, is a great mistake. He who makes such an application knows not the wonderful demonstrations of the Holy Spirit that gave power and force to the past messages that have come to the people of God.” The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, 208.

11 Will the time come when there will be an attempt to change the force of God’s Word in the life of His followers? Jude 3, 4.

note: “There are those in the church who, unless thoroughly converted, will crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. I appeal to every church-member to inquire, Am I doing all I can to honor my Redeemer? Truth held in unrighteousness is the greatest curse that can come to our world. But the truth as it is in Jesus is a savor of life unto life. It is worth possessing, worth living, worth defending. Christ calls upon us to enter the narrow pathway, where every step means a denial of self. He calls upon us to stand upon the platform of eternal truth, and contend, yes, contend earnestly, for the faith once delivered to the saints.” Review and Herald, December 4, 1900.

12 Did the gift of prophecy operating under inspiration end with the apostolic age? Acts 2:17, 18.

note: “We call upon you to take your stand on the Lord’s side, and act your part as a loyal subject of the kingdom. Acknowledge the gift that has been placed in the church for the guidance of God’s people in the closing days of earth’s history. From the beginning the church of God has had the gift of prophecy in her midst as a living voice to counsel, admonish, and instruct. We have now come to the last days of the work of the third angel’s message, when Satan will work with increasing power because he knows that his time is short. At the same time there will come to us through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, diversities of operations in the outpouring of the Spirit. This is the time of the latter rain.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 151, 152.

Bible Study Guides – Can We Depend on God’s Word Today?

December 26, 2004 – January 1, 2005

Memory Verse:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105, NKJV.

Suggested Reading: The Great Controversy, v–ix.


The Bible says that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” for “prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” 11 Timothy 3:16; 11 Peter 1:21. The Bible teaches that it is the word of the living God, written by human penmen, to the inhabitants of earth. How can we know that this claim of the Bible is true?

1 What does Jesus say is the source of truth? John 17:17. See also 11 Peter 1:19–21.

note: “ ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ [Proverbs 9:10.] A knowledge of God and His requirements will open the understanding of the student to realize his responsibilities to God and to the world. To this end he will feel that his talents must be developed in that way which will produce the very best results. This cannot be done unless all the precepts and principles of religion are connected with his school education. In no case should he disconnect God from his studies. In the pursuit of knowledge he is searching for truth; and all truth comes from God, the source of truth. Students who are virtuous and are imbued with the Spirit of Christ will grasp knowledge with all their faculties.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 273.

2 From Whom did Jesus receive the information contained in Revelation? Revelation 1:1.

note: “The whole Bible is a revelation; for all revelation to men comes through Christ, and all centers in Him. God has spoken unto us by His Son, whose we are by creation and by redemption. Christ came to John exiled on the Isle of Patmos to give him the truth for these last days, to show him that which must shortly come to pass. Jesus Christ is the great trustee of divine revelation. It is through Him that we have a knowledge of what we are to look for in the closing scenes of this earth’s history. God gave this revelation to Christ, and Christ communicated the same to John.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 953.

3 What two phrases describe the record that John wrote out? Revelation 1:2.

note: “They [kings and rulers] saw John the aged, honored and beloved, constantly referring to Jesus as the eternal Word, giving to him a power exceeding their power. His testimony was always the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. And notwithstanding his age, his venerable appearance, his white locks, in their envy and jealousy they condemned the faithful apostle to what was then thought to be the most severe of all punishments. He was separated from his beloved people, and banished to Patmos. ‘I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ [Revelation 1:9.]” Review and Herald, May 16, 1899.

4 Who does the disciple John say is the Word? John 1:1, 2, 14. See also John 6:47–51; Revelation 19:13.

note: “The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate—a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving happiness to created beings. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.’ John 1:1, 2. Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 34.

5 How long has the Word of God been in existence? Micah 5:2. See also John 17:5; Psalm 119:89, 160.

note: “ ‘His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’ Isaiah 9:6. His ‘goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.’ Micah 5:2. And the Son of God declares concerning Himself: ‘The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting. . . . When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.’ [Proverbs 8:22–30.]” Patriarchs and Prophets, 34.

6 What knowledge does God have concerning the past and the future? Isaiah 46:10. See also Isaiah 41:4; 45:21; Revelation 10:7; 1:1, 2; John 16:13.

note: “He that ruleth in the heavens is the one who sees the end from the beginning—the one before whom the mysteries of the past and the future are alike outspread, and who, beyond the woe and darkness and ruin that sin has wrought, beholds the accomplishment of His own purposes of love and blessing.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 43.

7 For how long will God’s precepts or Commandments be trustworthy? Psalm 111:7, 8. See also Psalm 119:111, 112, 152; Isaiah 40:8.

note: “ ‘The word of our God shall stand forever.’ ‘All His commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.’ Isaiah 40:8; Psalm 111:7, 8. Whatever is built upon the authority of man will be overthrown; but that which is founded upon the rock of God’s immutable word shall stand forever.” The Great Controversy, 288.

8 Where is the Word of God anchored? Psalm 119:89. See also Revelation 11:12.

note: “The law of God in the sanctuary in heaven is the great original, of which the precepts inscribed upon the tables of stone and recorded by Moses in the Pentateuch were an unerring transcript. . . . The law of God, being a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, must forever endure, ‘as a faithful witness in heaven.’ [Psalm 89:37.] Not one command has been annulled; not a jot or tittle has been changed. Says the psalmist: ‘Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.’ ‘All His commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever.’ [Psalms 119:89; 111:7, 8.]” The Great Controversy, 434.

9 What standard of character is ascribed to the testimonies? Psalm 119:144. See also Psalm 119:137, 138, 160, 164, 172.

note: “ ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.’ Proverbs 9:10. The great work of life is character building, and a knowledge of God is the foundation of all true education. To impart this knowledge and to mold the character in harmony with it should be the object of the teacher’s work. The law of God is a reflection of His character. Hence the psalmist says, ‘All Thy commandments are righteousness;’ and ‘through Thy precepts I get understanding.’ Psalm 119:172, 104. God has revealed Himself to us in His word and in the works of creation. Through the volume of inspiration and the book of nature we are to obtain a knowledge of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 596.

10 How enduring are the words of God (the Bible)? Matthew 24:35. See also Psalm 119:144, 152; Mark 13:31.

note: “If with a humble heart you seek divine guidance in every trouble and perplexity, His word is pledged that a gracious answer will be given you. And His word can never fail. Heaven and earth may pass away, but His word will never pass away. Trust in the Lord, and you will never be confounded or ashamed. ‘It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.’ ” Testimonies, vol. 5, 427.

11 Will any weapons or plans to destroy the Scriptures succeed? Revelation 11:3–12. See also Psalm 119:126, 152, Isaiah 54:17.

note: “Millions have joined in the war upon the Bible. But it is so far from being destroyed, that where there were a hundred in Voltaire’s time, there are now ten thousand, yes, a hundred thousand copies of the book of God. In the words of an early Reformer concerning the Christian church, ‘The Bible is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.’ Saith the Lord: ‘No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.’ Isaiah 54:17.” The Great Controversy, 288.

12 What does the Bible say about those who walk according to the law of the Lord and who keep His statutes; who seek Him with all their heart? Psalm 119:1–3; Revelation 22:14. See also Psalm 119:104, 130, 165, 175.

note: “In our churches we should not act as though we were groping our way in the dark. Clear light has been given us. The Lord has spoken to every one in his word, and that word is luminous with light, and weighty with the precious ore of truth. In the Bible we have a perfect rule of conduct, and we are safe in humbly following it. With reverent hearts we should bow to God’s expressed will. We are not left in uncertainty; for in all the varied circumstances of life we may walk according to the instructions of God, which are based upon golden principles of truth, and revealed in the precepts of his law. In the Bible there are rules to meet every case. A complete system of faith has been revealed, and correct rules for practice in our daily life have been made known. Those who turn from the beaten path marked out in God’s word, because it suits their feelings better to do so than to walk according to the commandment, leave the light, and are enshrouded in darkness. Peace of mind, happiness, and heaven are sacrificed for the sake of maintaining human pride and indulging stubbornness of will.” Review and Herald, July 22, 1890.

Editorial – Conjectures

“The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” 

Psalm 119:130

We will never know until the day of judgment how many souls will be lost because of the acceptance of conjectures. Eve was first believing the lie of the serpent. Today millions distrust the Bible as a result of a system of conjecturing that was developed in the 17th and 18th centuries called “higher criticism.” Higher criticism was first called conjectures by some of its originators and are accepted by millions of people today. As a result, they do not believe the Bible. What is true of the Bible is just as much true of the writings of Ellen White. People have put conjectures on the internet and thousands of people all over the world believe them.

Ellen White wrote the following: “The writer states that portions of my earlier visions, as first printed have been suppressed in the work recently published under the title Early Writings of Mrs. E.G. White, and he conjectures as a reason for such suppression that these passages teach doctrines now repudiated by us as a people.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 59.

“In another passage … I speak of scenes upon the new earth, and state that I there saw holy men of old, ‘Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Daniel, and many like them.’ Because I speak of having seen these men, our opponents conjecture that I then believed in the immortality of the soul, and that having since changed my views upon this point I found it necessary to suppress that passage. They are as near the truth here as in other conjectures.” Ibid, 64, 65. [Emphasis author’s.]

The evidence that the Bible is the word of God is contained within the Bible itself so that it is evident to every diligent searcher. But much more powerful than that evidence is the evidence of a changed, transformed life.


Without faith it is impossible to please God.” The reason for this is that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23); and, of course, sin cannot please God. This is why it is that, as stated by the spirit of prophecy on the first page of The Review and Herald, October 18, 1898, “The knowledge of what the Scripture means when urging upon us the necessity of cultivating faith, is more essential than any other knowledge that can be acquired.” And for this cause we shall hereafter, in this place in each number of the Review give a Scripture lesson on faith,—what it is, how it comes, how to exercise it,—that every reader of this paper may have this knowledge that “is more essential than any other knowledge that can be acquired.” The Review and Herald, November 29, 1898.

In order to be able to know what the Scripture means when urging upon us the necessity of cultivating faith, it is essential to know, first of all, what is faith.

Plainly, it must be to little purpose to urge upon a person the necessity of cultivating faith, while that person has no intelligent idea of what faith is. And it is sadly true that, though the Lord has made this perfectly plain in scriptures, there are many church members who do not know what faith is. They may even know what the definition of faith is: but they do not know what the thing is; they do not grasp the idea that is in the definition.

For that reason, the definition will not be touched now; but, rather, there will be cited and studied an illustration of faith, an instance which makes it stand out so plainly that all can see the very thing itself.

Faith comes “by the word of God.” To the Word, then, we must look for it.

One day a centurion came to Jesus, and said to him: “Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed … When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Matt. 8:6–10.

There is what Jesus pronounces faith. When we find what that is, we have found faith. To know what that is, is to know what faith is. There is no sort of doubt about this; for Christ is “the Author … of faith.” And he says that that which the centurion manifested was “faith”; yes, even “great faith.”

Where, then, in this is the faith? The centurion wanted a certain thing done. He wanted the Lord to do it. But when the Lord said, “I will come” and do it, the centurion checked him, saying, “Speak the word only,” and it shall be done.

Now, what did the centurion expect would do the work? “The word ONLY.” Upon what did he depend for the healing of his servant?—Upon “the word ONLY.”

And the Lord Jesus says that that is faith.

Now brother, sister, what is faith? The Review and Herald, December 6, 1898.

Faith is expecting the word of God itself to do what the word says, and depending upon that word itself to do what the word says. When this is clearly discerned, it is perfectly easy to see how it is that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Since the word of God is imbued with creative power, and so is able to produce in very substance the things which that word speaks; and since faith is the expectation that the word says, and depending on “the word only” to do what that word says, it is plain enough that faith is the substance of things hoped for.

Since the word of God is in itself creative, and so is able to produce and cause to appear what otherwise would never exist nor be seen; and since faith is the expecting the word of God only to do just that thing, and depending upon “the word only” to do it, it is plain enough that faith is “the evidence of things not seen.”

Thus it is that “through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were made of things which do appear.”

He who exercises faith knows that the word of God is creative, and that so it is able to produce the thing spoken. Therefore he can understand, not guess, that the worlds were produced, were caused to exist, by the word of God.

He who exercises faith can understand that though before the word of God was spoken, neither the things which are now seen nor the substances of which those things are composed, anywhere appeared, simply because they did not exist; yet when that word was spoken, the worlds were, simply because that word itself caused them to exist.

This is the difference between the word of God and the word of man. Man may speak; but there is no power in his words to perform the thing spoken: if the thing is to be accomplished which he has spoken, the man must do something in addition to speaking the word—he must make good his word.

Not so with the word of God. When God speaks, the thing is. And it is, simply because he has spoken. It accomplishes that which he was pleased to speak. It is not necessary that the Lord, as man, must do something in addition to the word spoken. He needs not make his word good: it is good. He speaks “the word only,” and the thing is accomplished.

And so it is written: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”—in you that exercise faith. I Thessalonians 2:13.

This also is how it is that it is “impossible for God to lie.” It is not impossible for God to lie only because he will not, but also because he can not. And he can not lie, just because he can not: it is impossible. And it is impossible, because when he speaks, the creative energy is in the word spoken; so that “the word only” causes the thing to be so.

Man may speak a word, and it not be so. Thus man can lie; for to speak what is not so, is to lie. And man can lie, can speak what is not so, because there is no power in his word itself to cause the thing to be. With God this is impossible: he cannot lie; for “he spake, and it was;” he speaks and it is so.

This is also how it is that when the word of God is spoken for a certain time, as in prophecy for hundreds of years to come, when that time actually has arrived, that word is fulfilled. And it is then fulfilled, not because, apart from the word, God does something to fulfill it; but because the word was spoken for that time, and in it is the creative energy which causes the word at that time to produce the thing spoken.

This is how it was that if the children had not cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” the stones would have immediately cried out; and this is how it was that when the third day had come, it was “impossible” that he should be any longer holden of death.

O the word of God is divine! In it is creative energy. It is “living and powerful.” The word of God is self-fulfilling; and to trust it and depend upon it as such, that is to exercise faith. “Hast thou faith?” The Review and Herald, January 3, 1899.

©Copyright 1995 TEACH Services, Inc. Used with Permission.

God our Dependence

“To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, His faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5. This is the only way that anybody in this world can ever become righteous: first admit that he is ungodly; then believe that God justifies, counts righteous, the ungodly, and he is righteous with the very righteousness of God.

Everybody in the world is ungodly. “Ungodly” means “unlike God.” And it is written, “All have sinned and come short of the glory [the goodness, the character] of God.” [Romans 3:23.]

Anybody, therefore, who will admit that he ever came short of being like God in anything, in that confesses that he is ungodly.

But the truth is that everybody, in everything, has come short of being like God. For “they are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:9–18.

Then, as there is not one on earth who is not ungodly, and as God justifies the ungodly, this on God’s part makes justification—righteousness, salvation—full, free, and sure to every soul on earth.

And all that anybody needs to do to make it all sure to himself on his own part is to accept it—to believe that God does justify, personally and individually, him who is ungodly.

Thus, strange as it may sound to many, the only qualification, and the only preparation, for justification is for a person to acknowledge that he is ungodly.

Then, having such qualifications, having made such preparations, all that is required of him to obtain justification, full, free, and sure, is to believe that God justifies him, the ungodly one.

It is quite easy for many to believe that they are ungodly, and even to acknowledge it; but for them to believe that God justifies them—that is too much.

And the sole reason why they can not believe that God justifies them is that they are ungodly, so ungodly.

If only they could find some good in themselves, or if only they could straighten up and do better, they might have some courage to hope that God would justify them. Yes, they would justify themselves by works, and then profess to believe in justification by faith!

But that would be only to take away all ground for justification; for if a man can find good in himself, he has it already, and does not need it from anywhere else. If he can straighten up and do better himself, he does not need any justification from anywhere else.

It is, therefore, a contradiction in terms to say that I am so ungodly that I do not see how the Lord can justify me. For if I am not ungodly, I do not need to be made righteous; I am righteous. There is no half-way ground between godliness and ungodliness.

But when a person sees himself so ungodly as to find there is no possible ground of hope for justification, it is just there that faith comes in; indeed, it is only there that faith can possibly come in.

For faith is dependence on the word of God only. So long as there is any dependence on himself, so long as there is any conceivable ground of hope for any dependence upon anything in or about himself, there can be no faith; so long as there is no place for faith, since faith is dependence on “the word only.”

But when every conceivable ground of hope of any dependence on anything in or about himself, is gone, and is acknowledged to be gone; when everything that can be seen is against any hope of justification, then it is that, throwing himself on the promise of God, upon the word only, hoping against hope, faith enters: and by faith he finds justification full and free, all ungodly though he be.

For forever it stands written, “To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.” “Whom God hath set forth … to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past.” [Romans 4:5; 3:22, 25.]

This is what it is to exercise faith. Are you exercising faith? For “understanding how to exercise faith: this is the science of the gospel.”

“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1.

Since faith is the depending upon the work of God only, for what that word says, being justified by faith is simply being accounted righteous by depending upon the word only.

And since the word is the word of God, dependence upon the word only is dependence upon God only, in the word. Justification by faith, then, is justification—being accounted righteous by dependence upon God only; and upon him only because he has promised.

We are all together sinners,— sinful, and ungodly. We are, therefore, all subject to the judgment of God. Romans 3:9–19. Yet for all of us there is escape from the judgment of God, But the only way of escape from the judgment of God is to trust in God.

When David had sinned in numbering the people, and so had incurred the exemplary judgment of God, the Lord gave him his choice as to whether there should be seven years of famine, or he should flee three months before his enemies, or there should be three days’ pestilence. But David would not choose at all; he deferred it all to the Lord, for him to choose: saying, “Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord, for his mercies are great.” II Samuel 24:11–14.

When depending upon God alone, in his word, for righteousness, we have peace with God; because thus we really obtain righteousness, and “the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.” Isaiah 32:17.

When depending upon God alone in his word, for righteousness we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ, because “He is our peace, who hath both” God and man “one,” “having abolished in his flesh the enmity” “for to make in himself of twain”—of God and man—“one new man, so making peace.” Ephesians 2:14,15.

Further, when depending upon God alone, in his word, for righteousness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, because God has “made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; … whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproachable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith”—if you continue to depend only upon God alone in his word. Colossians 1:20–23.

When he has made the way so plain, the justification so complete, and the peace so sure to all, and asks all people only to receive it all by simply accepting it from him, and depending upon him for it, why should not every soul on earth be thus justified, and have the peace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ?

This is “what the Scripture means when urging upon us the necessity of exercising faith.” Are you exercising faith? Are you justified by faith? Have you righteousness by faith? Have you peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ?

“Have faith in God.” Mark 11:22.

Faith is complete dependence upon the word of God only, for the accomplishment of what that word says.

This being so, it must never for a moment be forgotten that where there is no word of God, there cannot be any faith.

This is shown also in the truth that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. Since faith thus comes indeed by the very word of God itself, it is perfectly plain that where there is no word of God, there can be no faith.

This is beautifully illustrated by an instance in the life of David: because David had it in his heart to build a house unto the Lord, the Lord spoke to him by the prophet Nathan, saying, “The Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house. … And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever.”
[I Chronicles 17:14.]

Then David prayed and said, “Now, O Lord God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it forever, and do as thou hast said, And let thy name be magnified forever saying, The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee.

“For thou, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee.
[I Chronicles 17:23–25.]

“And now, O Lord God, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant: that it may continue forever before thee: for thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed forever.” II Samuel 7:11–29.

His prayer was altogether of faith, because it was altogether the word of God: the word of God was the cause of it; the word of God was all the hope of David that the prayer would ever be answered.

He asked according to the will of God, because the will of God was expressed in the word of God. Having asked according to the plainly stated will of God, David knew that his prayer was heard. And knowing that his prayer was heard, David knew that he had the petition which he desired of him. I John 5:14. Therefore he said, So let it be. And therefore also the answer to that prayer was, and is, and forevermore shall be, sure unto David.

And this was written for our learning; that we might know how to pray in faith, and how in prayer to cultivate faith. Therefore, Go and do thou likewise. Because “the knowledge of what the Scripture means when urging upon us the necessity of cultivating faith is more essential than any other knowledge that can be acquired.”

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Therefore the word of God is the only means of faith.

Therefore, where there is no word of God, there can not be any faith.

And where the word of God is, faith is the entire dependence upon that word for the accomplishment of what that word says.

From all this, which is the truth, it is perfectly plain that in order for any one to ask in faith, he must first of all be sure that he has the word of God for what he asks.

Having the word of God for what he asks, he, like David, can find it in his heart to pray with perfect confidence, which is only in perfect faith.

He who thus prays knows that he is asking according to the will of God: for he knows that he has the plain word of God for it.

Therefore he knows that God hears him; and knowing that God hears him, he knows that he has the thing for which he has asked; because the sole basis of his hope for it is the word which has spoken it, and which is the sole basis of his asking.

The Lord tells us thus to pray; and thus he has made provision for the steady, strong, and continuous growth of faith.

Many people pray, but do not have what they pray for, and so do not know whether they can certainly claim it; and not knowing whether they can claim it, they are all at sea as to whether their prayers are answered or not.

The Lord does not want anybody to move uncertainly. Therefore he has given his word, which thoroughly furnishes every one unto all good works, and by which are given all things that pertain unto life and godliness.

And any one who seeks in the word of God the things which God has there provided for all, and upon that specific word prays for that thing, thus asking according to the plainly expressed will of God, knows that his prayer is heard, and that he has the thing for which he prayed.

So doing, the prayers will be always certain, the life will be filled with the direct gifts of God, and the faith will be sure and strong, and will be ever increasing in strength.

Many pray the prayer of the disciples, “Lord, increase our faith.” This is well. Yet along with this, it must never be forgotten that faith comes only by the word of God. Therefore, as certainly as your faith shall be increased and it can be only by there being in you an increase of the word of God, is by harkening to that word, praying to the Lord for the thing which that word says, depending wholly upon that word for that thing, and thanking him that you have received it. Then and thus that word is received by you, and lives in you.

Thus while we can pray, “Lord, increase our faith,” at the same time we must remember that we are to build up ourselves on our most holy faith. Jude 20.

This is how to exercise faith. Faith can be exercised only on the word of God; for where there is no word of God, there can not be any faith.

And “understanding how to exercise faith, this is the science of the gospel.”

“The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17.

Who are the just?—They are only those who are of faith; because men are justified only by faith.

For though we all “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” yet we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” [Romans 3:23, 24.]

For “to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” [Romans 4:4, 5.]

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Romans 5:1.] Those who are of faith, and those alone, are the just in the earth.

Now faith is entire dependence on the word of God, that that word shall accomplish what that word says. “It shall accomplish that which I please.” Isaiah 55:11.

To be justified, then, is to be justified by entire dependence upon the word of God. The just are those who are of the word of God. This is how men become just.

Men must not only become just by faith,—by dependence upon the word of God,—but being just, we must live by faith. The just man lives in precisely the same way, and by precisely the same thing, that he becomes just.

We become just by faith; faith is entire dependence on the word of God. We, being just, must live by precisely the same thing by which we become just; that is, by entire dependence upon the word of God.

And this is exactly what Jesus said: Man shall live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” [Matthew 4:4.] When Jesus said that, it is perfectly plain that he simply said, in other words, Man shall live by faith.

There is no other way truly to live than by faith, which is simply living by the word of God. Without faith, without the word of God, men only die.

Indeed, without the word of God, everything only dies; for in the beginning everything came by the word of God. The word of God is the origin and life of everything; for, “He spake, and it was.”

All things animate and inanimate,—sun, moon, and stars, animals and men,—all are entirely dependent upon the word of God for existence. Only in the case of men, God has bestowed upon them the wondrous gift of choice as to whether they will do so or not. This gift opens the door of faith. And when a man does choose to live by the word of God, which is the only means of life, faith—entire dependence upon the word of God—is the means by which he lays hold on the means of life.

Thus “the just shall live by faith,” and thus “whatsoever is not of faith is sin”; which is simply to say, The just must live by the word of God; and whatsoever is not the word of God is sin.

“We can not have a healthy Christian experience, we can not obey the gospel unto salvation, until the science of faith is better understood; and until more faith is exercised.”

“Hast thou faith?” Have the faith of God. Here are they that keep “the faith of Jesus.”

“The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” Romans 1:17.

Faith is complete dependence upon the word of God, expecting that word to do what the word itself says. Is there, then, righteousness spoken by the word of God, so that people can depend completely upon that word, that the word shall accomplish what the word says?

There it is. Indeed, that is the very object of the gift of Christ. For him “God hath set forth … to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Romans 3:25.

Seeing then that God hath set forth Christ expressly to declare, to speak, the righteousness of God, it is certain that the word of God has spoken, upon which there can be complete dependence, expecting that word to do what that word says. In other words, there is righteousness that can be received by faith.

Wherein is the word spoken? It is spoken in the word “forgiveness.” “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins”; “there is forgiveness with thee.”

Now what is the meaning of “forgive”? The word “forgive” is composed of “for” and “give,” which is otherwise to give for. To forgive, therefore, is simply to give for. For the Lord to forgive sin, is to give for sin. But what does the Lord give for sin?—He declares “his righteousness for the remission of sins.”

Therefore, when the Lord forgives—[He] gives for—sins. He gives righteousness for sin. And as the only righteousness that the Lord has for his own, it follows that the only righteousness that God gives, or can give, for sin is the righteousness of God.

This is the righteousness of God as a gift. All men have only sinned, and, if they are ever clear, must have forgiveness entirely free, as the forgiveness of sin—the righteousness of God as a free gift “upon all men unto justification of life.” Romans 5:18.

Every soul, therefore, who ever asks God for forgiveness of sin, in that very thing asks God to give him righteousness for sin. Every soul who asks God for forgiveness, asks it solely upon the word of God, which speaks forgiveness. And faith is entire dependence upon the word for what the word speaks. Thus righteousness is altogether of faith.

“Every one that asketh receiveth.” You have asked the Lord many a time to forgive your sins; that is, you have asked him to give for your sin. But when you ask the Lord to give for your sin, in that you ask him to give the only thing that he does or can give for sin, which is righteousness. That is what it is to ask forgiveness of the Lord.

And he does forgive—he does give for—your sins when you ask him. He says he does, and he does. “He is faithful”—that is, he will never fail—“and just to forgive our sins.” And the only thing he gives for our sins is his righteousness.

Then why not thank him for the righteousness that he freely gives for your sins when you ask him to?

Do you not see that righteousness by faith is just as plain and simple as asking God for forgiveness of sin? Indeed, it is just that.

To believe that righteousness is given to you for your sin, when you ask forgiveness—and thankfully to receive that righteousness as the gift of God,—this is what it is to exercise faith.

Yet how true it is that we suffer much trouble and grief because of our unbelief, and show our ignorance of how to exercise faith.

“Hast thou faith?” Have the faith of God. “Here are they that keep … the faith of Jesus.” [Revelation 14:12.] [Emphasis author’s.]

Taken from the book, Lessons on Faith, A.T. Jones & E.J. Waggoner.

©1995, TEACH Services, Inc.

Used with Permission

Antidote for Death

“And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.”

Deuteronomy 8:3

“But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Matthew 4:4

 “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

John 6:63, last part


This is a subject that is very dear to my soul, a subject that leaves me in awe and wonder, that gives joy and life, that vitalizes, that heals, that rejuvenates and enlivens. Although these blessings are for all, there are conditions. This subject is quite simply the word of God. This study is about the reality of what His word is and does for the human soul.

However, in order to understand the topic in its depth, its beauty, its power, and its importance, we must begin with a little background.

“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:13–15).

Ezekiel 18:4 and 20 says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel” (Ezekiel 33:11)?

Ellen White wrote, “In order to determine how important are the interests involved in the conversion of the soul from error to truth, we must appreciate the value of immortality; we must realize how terrible are the pains of the second death.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 620.

The agonies of the second death are most clearly revealed in the sufferings of Christ as He bore the penalty in behalf of fallen man for the transgression of God’s law.

“The agony which Christ endured, broadens, deepens, and gives a more extended conception of the character of sin, and of the retribution which God will bring upon those who continue in sin. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).” Bible Training School, September 1, 1915.

“The sword of justice was unsheathed, and the wrath of God against iniquity rested upon man’s substitute, Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father.

“In the garden of Gethsemane Christ suffered in man’s stead, and the human nature of the Son of God staggered under the terrible horror of the guilt of sin, until from His pale and quivering lips was forced the agonizing cry, ‘O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me:’ but if there be no other way by which the salvation of man may be accomplished, then ‘not as I will, but as Thou wilt’ (Matthew 26:39). Human nature would then and there have died under the horror of the sense of sin, had not an angel from heaven strengthened Him to bear the agony. Christ was suffering the death that was pronounced upon the transgressors of God’s law.

“It is a fearful thing for the unrepenting sinner to fall into the hands of the living God. This is proved by the history of the destruction of the old world by a flood, and by the record of the fire which fell from heaven and destroyed the inhabitants of Sodom. But never was this proved to so great an extent as in the agony of Christ, the Son of the infinite God, when He bore the wrath of God for a sinful world. It was in consequence of sin, the transgression of God’s law, that the garden of Gethsemane has become pre-eminently the place of suffering to a sinful world.

“No sorrow, no agony, can measure with that which was endured by the Son of God. Man has not been made a sin-bearer, and he will never know the horror of the curse of sin which the Saviour bore. No sorrow can bear any comparison with the sorrow of Him upon whom the wrath of God fell with overwhelming force. Human nature can endure but a limited amount of test and trial. The finite can only endure the finite measure, and human nature succumbs; but the nature of Christ had a greater capacity for suffering; for the human existed in the Divine nature, and created a capacity for suffering to endure that which resulted from the sins of a lost world. The agony which Christ endured, broadens, deepens, and gives a more extended conception of the character of sin, and of the retribution which God will bring upon those who continue in sin. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ to the repenting, believing sinner.” Ibid.

“The suffering Son of God leaves His disciples, for the power of darkness rushes upon Him with an irresistible force which bows Him to the earth. … His soul was pressed with such agony as no human being could endure and live. The sins of the world were upon Him. He felt that He was separated from His Father’s love; for upon Him rested the curse because of sin. Christ knew that it would be difficult for man to feel the grievousness of sin, and that close contact and familiarity with sin would so blunt his moral sensibility, that sin would not appear so dangerous to him, and so exceedingly offensive in the sight of God. He knew that but few would take pleasure in righteousness, and accept of that salvation which, at infinite cost, He made it possible for them to obtain. While this load of sin was upon Christ, unrealized, and unrepented of by man, doubts rent His soul in regard to His oneness with His Father. …

“Human minds cannot conceive of the insupportable anguish which tortured the soul of our Redeemer. …

“The sufferings of martyrs can bear no comparison with the sufferings of Christ. The divine presence was with them, in their physical sufferings. There was the hiding of the Father’s face from His dear Son. … It was anguish of soul beyond the endurance of finite nature. It was woe condensed that brought from the trembling lips of the noble sufferer these words: ‘Now is My soul troubled’ (John 12:27). ‘O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt’ (Matthew 26:39).” The Signs of the Times, August 14, 1879.

This is a description of the pains of the second death, separation, eternal separation, from the Life-giver, the One alone in whom rests the joy, the happiness, the peace, the divine contentment of the soul of man. This second death is the destiny for every soul – without Christ. We must realize this before we can understand the gift of God’s word, the antidote for this agonizing, soul-wrenching, second death. I pray God make these words full of vitality and reality to each one.

We are told: “The life of Christ that gives life to the world is in His word. It was by His word that Jesus healed disease and cast out demons; by His word He stilled the sea, and raised the dead; and the people bore witness that His word was with power. He spoke the word of God, as He had spoken through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament. The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ, and the Saviour desired to fix the faith of His followers on the word. When His visible presence should be withdrawn, the word must be their source of power. Like their Master, they were to live ‘by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4).

“As our physical life is sustained by food, so our spiritual life is sustained by the word of God. And every soul is to receive life from God’s word for himself. As we must eat for ourselves in order to receive nourishment, so we must receive the Word for ourselves. We are not to obtain it merely through the medium of another’s mind. We should carefully study the Bible, asking God for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that we may understand His word. We should take one verse, and concentrate the mind on the task of ascertaining the thought which God has put in that verse for us. We should dwell upon the thought until it becomes our own, and we know ‘what saith the Lord.’ ” The Desire of Ages, 390.

Steps to Christ, 90, adds a little to this thought. “One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained.” [Emphasis added.]

“The Lord has often made manifest [clear] in His providence [foresight] that nothing less than revealed truth, the word of God, can reclaim man from sin or keep him from transgression. That Word, which reveals the guilt of sin, has a power upon the human heart to make man right and keep him so. The Lord has said that His word is to be studied and obeyed; it is to be brought into the practical life; that Word is as inflexible as the character of God—the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, 118, 119.

“The Bible contains all the principles that men need to understand in order to be fitted either for this life or for the life to come. And these principles may be understood by all. No one with a spirit to appreciate its teaching can read a single passage from the Bible without gaining from it some helpful thought. But the most valuable teaching of the Bible is not to be gained by occasional or disconnected study. Its great system of truth is not so presented as to be discerned by the hasty or careless reader. Many of its treasures lie far beneath the surface, and can be obtained only by diligent research and continuous effort. The truths that go to make up the great whole must be searched out and gathered up, ‘here a little, and there a little’ (Isaiah 28:10).” Education, 123.

Here inspiration takes a few paragraphs and compares and contrasts the teaching of the Bible with any and all other writings. Also delineated in these paragraphs are the benefits gained from a study of the Bible from a merely temporal (that is, earth-bound) point of view. Then Inspiration continues by speaking of the Bible and its blessings from a spiritual perspective, that is, including the reckoning of eternity.

“And even greater is the power of the Bible in the development of the spiritual nature. Man, created for fellowship with God, can only in such fellowship find his real life and development. Created to find in God his highest joy, he can find in nothing else that which can quiet the cravings of the heart, can satisfy the hunger and thirst of the soul. He who with sincere and teachable spirit studies God’s word, seeking to comprehend its truths, will be brought in touch with its Author; and, except by his own choice, there is no limit to the possibilities of his development.

“In its wide range of style and subjects the Bible has something to interest every mind and appeal to every heart. In its pages are found history the most ancient; biography the truest to life; principles of government for the control of the state, for the regulation of the household—principles that human wisdom has never equaled. It contains philosophy the most profound, poetry the sweetest and the most sublime, the most impassioned and the most pathetic. Immeasurably superior in value to the productions of any human author are the Bible writings, even when thus considered; but of infinitely wider scope, of infinitely greater value, are they when viewed in their relation to the grand central thought. Viewed in the light of this thought, every topic has a new significance. In the most simply stated truths are involved principles that are as high as heaven and that compass eternity.” Ibid., 124, 125.

Oh, friends, what is the “grand central thought” of the Bible? The answer to this question is given in the very next paragraph of this passage.

“The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God. [That is, rescuing man from the terrifying, agonizing second death, alone, with no God, to the bliss of eternal life with the Life-giver!] From the first intimation of hope in the sentence pronounced in Eden to that last glorious promise of the Revelation, ‘They shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads’ (Revelation 22:4), the burden of every book and every passage of the Bible is the unfolding of this wondrous theme,—man’s uplifting,—the power of God, ‘which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57).

“He who grasps this thought has before him an infinite field for study. He has the key that will unlock to him the whole treasure house of God’s word.” Ibid., 125, 126.

As thrilling as these words of life are, we must go beyond the beautiful emotion that they inspire. If we are satisfied merely with these good feelings, these wonderful emotions elicited by the reading of God’s words, they will be to us as though we had not read them. It is not merely the study of these precious words that will give the boon of eternal life. There is more. Hear the words of our God. “The love of truth and righteousness must reign in the soul, [then the result is given], and a character will appear which heaven can approve.” Lift Him Up, 336.

“The thoughts must be upon heavenly things if you desire the Holy Spirit of God to impress truth upon the mind and soften and subdue the heart, inspiring ardent love of truth, of justice, of mercy, and of purity. The Spirit will bring to your remembrance the most precious jewels of thought. The whole heart will be warm with the contemplation of Jesus and His love, His teachings will be cherished, and you will love to speak to others the comforting things that have been opened to you by the Spirit of God. This is the privilege of every son and daughter of God. Oh, if those who believe the truth would love and fear the Lord always, if they would abide in Christ, they would treasure up the most precious experience; they would have moral and intellectual power; the grace of God would be in them ‘like a well of water springing up into everlasting life’ (John 4:14), and would flow forth from them as streams of living water. When persecution comes, the influence of such souls will be manifest; they will delight to magnify the truth.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 345.

Think of those truths with which we began our study, the seriousness of sin and the agonies of its consequences. And then consider the fact that Jesus, the divine Son of God, willingly, eagerly came to this earth to endure those agonies of the second death to shield and protect us from having to experience them ourselves!

Only as we truly comprehend the magnitude of the consequences of sin can we rightly appreciate and love the word of God “which gives life to the world,” not just temporal life, but life eternal, perfect, pure, holy, happy, without the mar, the blight of sin. Oh, friends, if God’s word is not the love of your life, plead on your knees for heavenly wisdom and enlightenment, a change of heart. Plead to the Lord to put in your heart divine love for His word, for the principles of His Kingdom. Then act on that prayer. When other things allure and tempt, steadfastly refuse. Act as though God’s word is the most important thing in your life and the Lord will do the rest.

Friends, cherish, study, read, memorize these precious words as if your life, your eternal life, depends upon it—because it does. The life of Christ which gives life to the world, is in His word – God’s word – the “antidote for death.” Will it be yours?


Brenda Douay is a staff member at Steps to Life. She is director of The Training Program for Ministers and Church Leaders, a correspondence course that prepares individuals to serve as pastors or Bible workers. She may be contacted by email at:

God’s Word vs Man’s Word with Respect to the Sabbath

According to the Bible there are many kinds of religions in the world. One is the kind that Jesus had. Many, in Christian countries of the world, desire to have Jesus’ kind of religion. However, many do not really know what kind of religion He had. They believe that if you simply profess to be a Christian that you are practicing the kind of religion that Jesus had. Is that true? How do we know what Jesus’ religion was like? Jesus Himself told us in Matthew 4:4: ” ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” ’ ” Therefore, the religion that Jesus had was based on the Word of God.

Jesus lived among the Jews, the chosen people of God. They professed to be the people of God and to have the oracles of God. They boasted, “We have the Word of God.” And they did, but they were not living by every word in His Book. They were too busy studying the traditions and counsels of the wise men of the land, which had been added to God’s Word. They actually paid more attention to these additions than to the Word of God. They did not have the religion of Jesus.

This caused a controversy. The religious leaders were constantly harassing Jesus because He did not keep all of their traditions. Matthew 15 tells of one such instance: “Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’ [This was a mandatory ritual washing.] But He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, “Honor your father and your mother;” and, “He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.” ‘But you say, “Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me has been dedicated to the temple’ is released from honoring his father or mother.” Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “This people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” ’ ” Matthew 15:1–9.

This is something to think about! Remember, these were not the heathen, idol worshipers of the world, these were people that were religious and worshiped God. But Jesus said their religion was worthless. It was worthless because they honored God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. They said, “We believe the Word of God.” But they did not practice it because they had added to it the commandments of men, which were contrary to the Word of God.

The apostles had the same problem with setting up a man-made religion in the place of God’s religion. Paul had to deal with it over and over again. Notice what he says in Colossians: “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,’ which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” Colossians 2:20–23.

When you look at the many different religions of the world, there are really only two kinds. One religion is based on the Word of God and the other rests on the word of men. And it doesn’t matter who the men are. They may be the most intelligent and brilliant of all men, yet they are mere men. All the heathen religions of the world are based on the words of their founders or religious leaders. And regretfully, the great majority of Christians today have for their ultimate authority the words of religious leaders and not the Word of God. How did Jesus describe that type of religion? He said it was absolutely worthless!


How Are We to Worship?


If we want to have God’s true type of religion, we must ask, how are we to worship God. The Bible tells us exactly. The Psalmist wrote: “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.” Psalm 95:1–7.

Notice, that the reason the Bible says we are to worship the God of heaven is because He is the Creator. He is the one who made the sea and the dry land, and we are the people of His pasture. Because He is our Creator, we owe Him our worship. This subject is so important that it is imbedded in the heart of God’s law. The very first commandment tells us how we are to relate to God because He is our Creator. It says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3. God tells us that we should have no other gods before Him, because only He can claim us as His creation.

The second commandment is more explicit about this problem of worshipping other gods. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:4–6. We are not to worship any man, saint, martyr, or angel of heaven. (For Bible examples see Acts 10, Revelation 22:8, 9.)

But the commandment that is the most explicit about who we are to worship and why we are to worship Him is the fourth commandment. It says: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8–11.


Is There a New Covenant Sabbath?


I have often heard people say, after reading the fourth commandment: “Yes, I believe in the Sabbath commandment in the time of the Old Covenant, but now we are living in the time of the New Covenant and I believe that the Sabbath commandment has been changed from Saturday to Sunday.”

Is there any record in the Word of God that a change of this type has occurred? We read the following concerning the new covenant in the Word of God. “Where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force (confirmed) after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.” Hebrews 9:16, 17. Paul tells us here that the new covenant was confirmed by the death of Christ. Once Christ died, the covenant could not be changed. (The Ten Commandments are called God’s covenant in Deuteronomy 4:13.) Any change that was to occur in God’s law or His covenant had to be made prior to the death of Christ. Paul wrote in another place, “Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.” Galatians 3:15.

There is no evidence that a change occurred before the death of Christ. In fact, the Bible says that Jesus, “as His custom was . . . went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.” Luke 4:16. Jesus Himself said, “I have kept My Father’s commandments.” John 15:10.

A careful study shows that there is no record of a change of the Sabbath anywhere in the New Testament. Instead, there is a direct command, to keep the Sabbath, written many years after the death of Christ. This command is found in Hebrews 4. In this passage, Paul is writing about Israel, which received the judgments of God because she was breaking God’s Sabbath. (See Jeremiah 17, Ezekiel 20.) Paul says, “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He said: ‘So I swore in my wrath, “they [the children of Israel] shall not enter My rest,”’ although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this place: ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today,’ after such a long time, as it has been said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.” Hebrews 4:2–8.

Paul is talking here about how the Israelites did not keep the Sabbath, and refused to enter into God’s rest. But he says that a rest remains for us. Notice that this is not a new rest that was just established at the cross of Christ. This was the rest that had existed since the foundation of the world—the seventh day Sabbath rest. Paul says, “There remains therefore a rest [in Greek the word is “sabbatismos” or the keeping of a Sabbath] to the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9.

Then he says in verse 10: “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. [God ceased from His work of creation on the seventh day.] Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” This is a direct command! We are to be diligent to enter that rest, the seventh day Sabbath rest that he is talking about. If we do not, we will fall after the same example of disobedience.

There are only two kinds of religion in the world. There is a religion that is based on the Word of God and a religion that is based on the traditions of men. Which one will you follow? If you follow the Word of God, then you must keep the seventh day Sabbath. If you follow the word of men, then you can keep Friday, or Sunday, or whatever day men choose for you to keep. The choice is yours.