An Open Book
“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men.” 2 Corinthians 3:2 (NASB).*
Finding the Perfect Example
No man, woman, or youth can attain to Christian perfection and neglect the study of the word of God. By carefully and closely searching his word we shall obey the injunction of Christ, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” [John 5:39, KJV]. This search enables the student to closely observe the divine Model.… The Pattern must be inspected often and closely in order to imitate it. As one becomes acquainted with the history of the Redeemer, he discovers in himself defects of character; his unlikeness to Christ is so great that he sees he cannot be a follower without a very great change in his life. Still he studies, with a desire to be like his great Exemplar; he catches the looks, the spirit, of his beloved Master; by beholding he becomes changed.… It is not in looking away from him, and in losing sight of him, that we imitate the life of Jesus; but in dwelling upon and talking of him, and seeking to refine the taste and elevate the character; seeking to approach through earnest, persevering effort, through faith and love, the perfect Pattern. The attention being fixed upon Christ, his image … becomes enshrined in the heart as “the chief among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely.” Even unconsciously we imitate that with which we are familiar. By having a knowledge of Christ, his words, his habits, his lessons of instruction, and by borrowing the virtues of the character which we have so closely studied, we become imbued with the spirit of the Master which we have so much admired.
An Unwavering Faith
The word of God, spoken to the heart, has an animating power.
After the resurrection, two disciples traveling to Emmaus were talking over the disappointed hopes occasioned by the death of the beloved Master. Christ himself drew near, unrecognized by the sorrowing disciples. Their faith had died with the Lord, and their eyes, blinded by unbelief, did not discern the risen Saviour. Jesus, walking by their side, longed to reveal himself to them, but he did not choose to do so abruptly; he accosted them merely as fellow-travelers, and asked them in regard to the communication which they were having one with another, and why they were so sad. They were astonished at the question, and asked if he were indeed a stranger in Jerusalem and had not heard that a prophet mighty in word and in deed had been taken by wicked hands and crucified. And now it was the third day, and strange reports had been brought to their ears that Jesus had risen, and had been seen by Mary and certain of the disciples. Jesus said to them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” [Luke 24:25, 26, KJV]. And beginning at Moses and the prophets, he opened to them the scriptures concerning himself.
When they arrived at Emmaus, Jesus made as though he would have gone farther; but the disciples constrained him to tarry with them, for the day was far spent and the night was at hand. The evening meal was quickly prepared, and while Jesus was offering devotional thanks the disciples looked at one another with astonished glances. His words, his manner, and then his wounded hands were revealed, and they exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” Had the disciples been indifferent in regard to their fellow-traveler, they would have lost the precious opportunity of recognizing their companion who had reasoned so ably from the Scriptures regarding his life, his suffering, and his death and resurrection. He reproved them for not being acquainted with the scriptures in reference to himself. Had they been familiar with the Scriptures, their faith would have been sustained, their hopes unshaken; for prophecy plainly stated the treatment Christ would receive from those he came to save. The disciples were astonished that they could not discover Christ at once, as soon as he spoke with them by the way, and that they had failed to bring to their support the scriptures which Jesus had brought to their remembrance. They had lost sight of the precious promises; but when the words spoken by the prophets were brought to their remembrance, faith revived, and after Christ revealed himself they exclaimed, “Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” [Luke 24:32, KJV].
Awakening the Flame of Passion for Christ
The word of God, spoken to the heart, has an animating power, and those who will frame any excuse for neglecting to become acquainted with it will neglect the claims of God in many respects. The character will be deformed, the words and acts a reproach to the truth. The apostle tells us, “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 perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” [2 Tim. 3:16, 17, KJV]. One of the prophets of God exclaims, “While I was musing the fire burned” [Ps. 39:3, KJV]. If Christians would earnestly search the Scriptures, more hearts would burn with the vivid truths therein revealed. Their hopes would brighten with the precious promises strewn like pearls all through the sacred writings. In contemplating the history of the patriarchs, the prophets, the men who loved and feared God and walked with him, hearts will glow with the spirit which animated these worthies. As the mind dwells upon the virtue and piety of holy men of old, the spirit which inspired them will kindle a flame of love and holy fervor in the hearts of those who would be like them in character.
*Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
This article is excerpted from one that first appeared in The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, now the Adventist Review, November 28, 1878. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.