Those who desire to know the truth have nothing to fear from the investigation of the word of God. But upon the threshold of investigation of the word of God, inquirers after truth should lay aside all prejudice, and hold in abeyance all preconceived opinion, and open the ear to hear the voice of God from His messenger. Cherished opinions, long-practiced customs and habits, are to be brought to the test of the Scriptures; and if the word of God opposes your views, then, for your soul’s sake, do not wrest the Scriptures, as many do to their soul’s destruction in order to make them seem to bear a testimony in favor of their errors. Let your inquiry be, What is truth? not, What have I hitherto believed to be truth? Do not interpret the Scriptures in the light of your former belief, and assert that some doctrine of finite man is truth. Let your inquiry be, What saith the Scriptures? Let God speak to you from His living oracles, and open your heart to receive the word of God.
Follow the Original—Not Tradition
Many are following the traditions of men; but as the traditions of men are erroneous, and no error has sanctifying power, their souls are not sanctified to God. Yet they hold on to the doctrines of men with firm tenacity, and will not be moved by the testimony of Scripture. They have been educated to believe falsehood, and they use every ingenious method to make it appear that the Bible supports them in their position of error, making falsehood appear to be truth. But the first work to be done by those who would know the truth, is to open the Bible with a determined purpose to conform to the requirements of the word of God, establishing their faith upon “It is written.” Make up your mind that your former theories must change if they are not in harmony with the doctrines of the Bible. You are called upon to put forth diligent effort to discover what is truth. This should not be thought a hard requirement; for men are called upon to toil for their temporal and earthly blessings, and it is not to be expected that we shall find the heavenly treasure unless we are willing to dig in the mines of truth, and exercise all our powers of mind and heart to understand.…
How to Read God’s Word
Beware lest you read the word of God in the light of erroneous teaching. It was on this very ground that the Jews made their fatal mistake. They declared that there must be no different interpretation placed upon the Scriptures than that which had been given by the rabbis in former years; and as they had multiplied their traditions and maxims, and had clothed them with sacredness, the word of God was made of no effect through their traditions; and if Jesus Christ, the Word of God, had not come into the world, men would have lost all knowledge of the true God. Christ was the light of the world. . . .
He told them that they made the commandments of God of no effect through their tradition. The requirements of men were placed where the requirements of God should have been, and Jesus charged them with being ignorant both of the Scriptures and of the power of God. It is Satan’s studied plan to pervert the Scriptures, and to lead men to put a false construction on the words of God. He has led the Roman Church to take a position that the Bible is to be read in the light of the interpretation of the Fathers and of the Church, and therefore the Lord cannot penetrate the minds of the members of this Church until they read the Bible as the word of the infinite God. All articles of faith, all doctrines and creeds, however sacred they have been regarded, are to be rejected if they contradict the plain statements of the word of God. If the Bible supports the doctrine we have held in the past, we are justified in retaining it; for the word of God gives us foundation for our faith.…
Experience Is Not the Standard
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. An exultant feeling is no evidence of sanctification. The assertion, “I am saved, I am saved,” does not prove that the soul is saved or sanctified. Many who are greatly excited are told that they are sanctified, when they have no intelligent idea of what the term means; for they know not the Scriptures nor the power of God. They flatter themselves that they are in conformity to the will of God, because they feel happy; but when they are tested, when the word of God is brought to bear upon their experience, they stop their ears from hearing the truth, saying, “I am sanctified,” and that puts an end to the controversy.
They will have nothing to do with searching the Scriptures to know what is truth, and prove that they are fearfully self-deceived. Sanctification means very much more than a flight of feeling. Excitement is not sanctification. Entire conformity to the will of our Father which is in heaven is alone sanctification, and the will of God is expressed in His holy law. The keeping of all the commandments of God is sanctification. Proving yourselves obedient children to God’s word is sanctification. The word of God is to be our guide, not the opinions or ideas of men. Let those who would be truly sanctified search the word of God with patience, with prayer, and with humble contrition of soul. Let them remember that Jesus prayed. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”
Christianity is simply living by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. We are to believe in, and live in, Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. We have faith in God when we believe His word; we trust and obey God when we keep His commandments; and we love God when we love His law. Believing a lie will not put any one of us in the way of being sanctified. Should all the ministers in the world tell us that we were safe in disobeying a single precept of the holy standard of righteousness, it would not lessen our obligations, nor make our guilt less, if we reject a plain “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not.” We need not think that because our fathers did a certain way, and died happy, we may follow in their footsteps, and be accepted in rendering the same service, and doing the same works, that they did. We have had more light than they had in their day; and if we would be accepted of God, we must be as faithful in obeying the light and walking in it as they were in receiving and obeying the light that God sent to them. We must accept and improve the light that shines upon our pathway, as faithfully as they accepted and improved the light that fell upon their pathway in their generation. We shall be judged according to the light that shines into the soul-temple in our day; and if we follow the light, we shall be free men and women in Christ Jesus.
Scripture quotations in this article are from the King James Version.
This article was first published in The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald,March 25, 1902. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.