Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

January 11, 1899

The Importance of the Word

It is God's plan that old and young shall study His Word. This is necessary for intellectual and spiritual growth. God would have all realize that the truth is capable of expanding and increasing in grace and power. The student of the divine Word finds that an effort to comprehend truth calls forth all his powers. The truth is deep, and broad, and high. Were it otherwise than this, it would not be the truth. But its clearness is equal to its depth. Upon those who search the Scriptures, the truth found therein has an elevating, ennobling influence, enabling them to reach the standard of perfection.

But much ignorance of God's Word prevails, even among those who preach this Word. There are many teaching the Word of life to others when they are themselves dull of comprehension. They do not bring the truth into the inner sanctuary of the soul. It is not a living reality to them, because they do not practise it. It has not been digested, and converted into spiritual muscle and sinew.

Many who claim to believe the Bible do not eat the heavenly manna. Light shines upon them, but it is not appreciated. Many refuse to accept the light God sends from heaven, because it does not justify transgression of the law. They close their eyes, for fear they will see, and be converted.

Thus it was with the Jewish rabbis. “Show us a sign,” they cried in unbelief. Even after Christ had fed the multitude with five loaves and two fishes, they came to Him with this demand. The miracle just performed was evidence sufficient, but the priests had closed their eyes to the light.

The professed Christian world has had opportunity to obtain light and knowledge, but many close their eyes lest they shall see. Well-educated, intelligent men preach at the Word and round the Word, but they do not touch its inner meaning. They do not present truth in its genuine simplicity. These men, regarding themselves as authority, tell their hearers that it is not possible to understand either Daniel or the Revelation. Many ministers make no effort to explain the Revelation. They call it an unprofitable book to study. They look upon it as a sealed book, because it contains the truth in figures and symbols. But the very name that has been given to it—“Revelation”—is a denial of their suppositions. The Revelation is a sealed book, but it is also an open book, recording marvelous events that are to take place in the last days of this earth's history. Its teachings are definite, not mystical and unintelligible, and God would have us understand it.

Many teachers of God's Word need to become learners before they can truly teach the Scriptures to others. Were Christ on earth, He would say to them, Ye teach for doctrine the commandments of men; ye are ignorant both of the Scriptures and of the power of God. They know little of true moral and religious science, and less of the Word of God. A knowledge of the Scriptures would make them wise unto salvation, but they stand only on the threshold of knowledge. They have never entered in to obtain true spiritual understanding. Because of the simplicity of the truth, they think it necessary to clothe it with their far-fetched explanations. But did they do no more than read the Scriptures, the common people would understand God's Word far better. The Scriptures are made intricate by the way in which they are interpreted. Better would it be for the student to compare scripture with scripture, using one passage to unlock another. Scripture can be correctly interpreted only by scripture.

John bears testimony of Christ, the Giver of the Word, saying, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” In the simplest language John sets before us true practical godliness. This simplicity does not show shallowness, but depth. John is speaking to real men and women, and the Holy Spirit directed him to write in such a way that they would be brought in contact with a real, living God. He shows us what God is doing, and what man must do to meet God's requirements.

John does not present the truth hesitatingly, but in a decided manner. He speaks positively. “That which was from the beginning,” he says, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us); that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

“For the life was manifested, and we have seen it.” Yes, the eternal life that was with the Father was manifested to us. Christ clothed His divinity with humanity, and became a man of flesh and blood. John talked with Him, learned of Him, and loved Him with a pure, sincere, undeviating fidelity.

As Paul beheld Christ in His power, he broke out into exclamations of admiration: “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” “For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.... For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.”

Mrs. E. G. White

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