Watch the video presentation HERE or you can read the script below.
In this presentation, I want to look at an issue that I believe is very important for us to understand.
As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, that it is important for us to study this Word; and to put its counsel into practice in our daily lives should be our goal.
However, the enemy does not want us to realize the importance of this Word. It is Satan’s goal, to so confuse, misrepresent, and obscure the scripture that no one will be able to obtain a correct understanding of the Eternal Word of God.
“Eph 6:12-18 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places… And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Satan, would like nothing better than for us to disregard our armor and let go of our only weapon of defense – our sword! So he sets about to accomplish this goal by various means, and more times than not, he is very successful.
With the antediluvians, he was successful by keeping them so busy with entertainments and amusements, that they failed to understand God’s warning message.
This quote is taken from AH 524
“As the time of their probation was closing, the antediluvians gave themselves up to exciting amusements and festivities. Those who possessed influence and power were bent on keeping the minds of the people engrossed with mirth and pleasure, lest any should be impressed by the last solemn warning. Do we not see the same repeated in our day? While God's servants are giving the message that the end of all things is at hand, the world is absorbed in amusements and pleasure seeking. There is a constant round of excitement that causes indifference to God and prevents the people from being impressed by the truths which alone can save them from the coming destruction.”
With the Jewish nation, he was successful by getting them to think of themselves as the chosen people of God. They thought that because they were so ordained by God, that God would protect them – even though they were disregarding and rejecting His Word in the form of His Son. Listen to this quote about the Jews taken from GC p.29
“The leaders of the opposing factions at times united to plunder and torture their wretched victims, and again they fell upon each other's forces, and slaughtered without mercy. Even the sanctity of the temple could not restrain their horrible ferocity. The worshipers were stricken down before the altar, and the sanctuary was polluted with the bodies of the slain. Yet in their blind and blasphemous presumption the instigators of this hellish work publicly declared that they had no fear that Jerusalem would be destroyed, for it was God's own city. To establish their power more firmly, they bribed false prophets to proclaim, even while Roman legions were besieging the temple, that the people were to wait for deliverance from God. To the last, multitudes held fast to the belief that the Most High would interpose for the defeat of their adversaries. But Israel had spurned the divine protection, and now she had no defense.”
As we near the close of this earth’s history, Satan is escalating his efforts because he knows that his time is short. Today, in the church, we see all these same characteristics developing, plus many others.
3SM 339 “The Bible has accumulated and bound up together its treasures for this last generation. All the great events and solemn transactions of Old Testament history have been, and are, repeating themselves in the church in these last days.”
Not only are God’s professed people busy with parties, church socials, and worldly amusements, but even as they are doing these things, they have developed the idea that they are God’s chosen and He will bless them. God’s people today lack the spiritual connection to God that they need to have in order to stand firm for the truth through the final events. The counsel to us, the Laodicean church is:
“…thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” Rev. 3:17
We claim that we are the remnant church, that we have the truth, and that we are under the blessing of God. Now I believe this is true – to a point. But in order for us to remain in the truth and under the blessing of God, we are to be living up to the light that we claim to have! But what are many of our church doing today? We claim to have separated from the world, but our actions prove otherwise.
2Co 6:17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,”
TM 507 “Only those who are living up to the light they have will receive greater light.”
Many of us today are eating the way the world eats.
We are dressing the way the world dresses.
We are listening to the same kinds of music that the world listens to.
We celebrate the same holidays, watch the same things, attend the same festivals, socials & parties, and, in general, behave pretty much just like the world.
If we are, who we claim to be, shouldn’t the world be able to tell it? When you walk through town, can people look at you and say, “Now there goes a Seventh-day Adventist?”
If they cannot tell that you are a Seventh-day Adventist, by the way you dress, the way you talk, and the way you carry yourself, then just what is the problem?
Could it be, that although we profess to have the truth, we haven’t come to the realization of what it means to bring it into our lives? It is one thing to profess the truth, but it is quite another thing to actually live it!
I believe that this condition is a result (at least partially) of the view we have of the Bible.
Many people have read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but it was only a surface reading. They do not go below the surface to discover the depth of meaning in it. To them, it is just another good book with moral lessons given in story form. They do not comprehend the Eternal Word of God! They have a form of godliness but they deny the power thereof.
I would like to read an excerpt from the book Pilgrim’s Progress. This was written by John Bunyan while he was in prison for preaching without a license. Ellen White had this to say about Pilgrim’s Progress. This is taken from RH, May 30, 1912:
“Consider John Bunyan imprisoned in the Bedford jail. His enemies think they have placed him where his work for others must cease. But not so. He is not idle. The love for souls continues to burn within him, and from the loath-some dungeon there is sent forth a light that has shone to all parts of the civilized world. There he wrote his wonderful allegory of the pilgrim's journey from the land of destruction to the celestial city. This book, "The Pilgrim's Progress," portrays the Christian life so accurately, and presents the love of Christ so attractively, that through its instrumentality hundreds and thousands have been converted.”
Now in this story line, Christian the Pilgrim, has come to the house of the Interpreter. The Interpreter is taking him from room to room showing him different scenes that illustrate some spiritual lessons. This is one of those scenes.
I’m reading from Pilgrim’s Progress beginning on page 64
(Read story of Paper Giants)
This is a fascinating story. Tuck this story back in your mind, because as I share some thoughts in this presentation, the significance of this story will become more revealing.
Now I would like to take a look at 3 different methods that are being used today to teach people what the Bible says, but before we take a look at some of these methods of study we need to establish a few points about Bible study.
1. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible.
2. All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by a diligent application and study.
3. Scripture must be its own expositor, since it is a rule of itself.
4. You cannot build your doctrine on just one verse.
The first point is that, when you are studying the Bible, every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible. We can see this in numerous places, one of which is:
Matt. 5:18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law [(to parcel out, especially food or grazing to animals); law (through the idea of prescriptive usage), generally (regulation), specifically (of Moses [including the volume]; also of the Gospel), or figuratively (a principle): - law.], till all be fulfilled.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan, His reply was
Mat 4:4 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.
“Do we receive the Bible as the "oracle of God"? It is as really a divine communication as though its words came to us in an audible voice.“ 5T 533
When you read a verse in the Bible, is it just words on paper, or do you hear God speaking to you?
This is one of the reasons why we are warned in Rev. 22 not to add to or take away from the words of the Bible.
Now some people try to get around this by saying, well, the words are not inspired, it is the thoughts that God inspired, and man wrote it down in his own words. They like to use quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy to try and back up their position, such as this quote from 1SM 21 :
“It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man's words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God.-- Manuscript 24, 1886 (written in Europe in 1886).”
Now before you say, “Well see, she says that the words of the Bible are not inspired”, lets take a look at exactly what it is that she is saying here. To start with, we should look at the surrounding context because this quote has been taken out of context. Here are the sentences before it:
“The Bible is not given to us in grand superhuman language. Jesus, in order to reach man where he is, took humanity. The Bible must be given in the language of men. Everything that is human is imperfect. Different meanings are expressed by the same word; there is not one word for each distinct idea. The Bible was given for practical purposes. The stamps of minds are different. All do not understand expressions and statements alike. Some understand the statements of the Scriptures to suit their own particular minds and cases. Prepossessions, prejudices, and passions have a strong influence to darken the understanding and confuse the mind even in reading the words of Holy Writ. The disciples traveling to Emmaus needed to be disentangled in their interpretation of the Scriptures. Jesus walked with them disguised, and as a man He talked with them. Beginning at Moses and the prophets He taught them in all things concerning Himself, that His life, His mission, His sufferings, His death were just as the Word of God had foretold. He opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures. How quickly He straightened out the tangled ends and showed the unity and divine verity of the Scriptures. How much men in these times need their understanding opened. The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. Men will often say such an expression is not like God. But God has not put Himself in words, in logic, in rhetoric, on trial in the Bible. The writers of the Bible were God's penmen, not His pen. Look at the different writers. It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man's words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God.”-- Manuscript 24, 1886 (written in Europe in 1886).
So what is she trying to get us to understand here? God is big, God is Eternal, His language – the language of Heaven, is as big and massive as He is. If the Bible was written in heaven’s language, the entire earth could not contain it. Therefore, God had to shrink His ideas and thoughts down and bottle them up in mortal, finite man’s language so that we could understand them.
He did this by inspiring the humans that wrote the Bible, with His thoughts and then they wrote human words down to try to express what God had given them. He didn’t dictate, word for word what they had to write, but impressed upon them His thoughts and guided them as they wrote.
In other words, while the heavenly language can have a single word that expresses a single thought, the Bible, containing the thoughts of God but written in human language, has many thoughts and ideas expressed in just a single word. Listen to this quote from an address that W. C. WHITE gave on June 2, 1913
"GOD HAS BEEN PLEASED TO COMMUNICATE HIS TRUTH TO THE WORLD BY HUMAN AGENCIES, AND HE HIMSELF, BY HIS HOLY SPIRIT, QUALIFIED MEN AND ENABLED THEM TO DO THIS WORK. HE GUIDED THE MIND IN THE SELECTION OF WHAT TO SPEAK AND WHAT TO WRITE. THE TREASURE WAS ENTRUSTED TO EARTHEN VESSELS; YET IT IS NONE THE LESS FROM HEAVEN. THE TESTIMONY IS CONVEYED THROUGH THE IMPERFECT EXPRESSION OF HUMAN LANGUAGE; YET IT IS THE TESTIMONY OF GOD; AND THE OBEDIENT, BELIEVING CHILD OF GOD BEHOLDS IN IT THE GLORY OF A DIVINE POWER, FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH." GCB, June 2, 1913
The biggest problem with some people’s idea that it was only the thoughts that were inspired and not the words is that it opens the door for doubt, skepticism, and unbelief in God. If God inspired only the thoughts and did not control to some extent the words written in the Bible, then suddenly, we have reason to believe that the Bible writings can contain errors. And if that is the case, then we find ourselves setting fallible man up as the judge, to determine what is the truth and what are the mistakes in the Bible!
My question is, If God inspired the thoughts, and He is as powerful and mighty as we believe He is, could He not also influence the writer’s mind and guide him in what he wrote? The answer of course is, Yes. Therefore, when we understand this, it is easy to see that though the thoughts were what God inspired and not the words, He still had control of what was written, and that is why we must believe every word and not think that there is error in it!
A good example of this is that Jesus Christ is called “the Word” in John 1:1-3. Jesus is God. He is divinity.
And in John 1:14 it says that the “Word” was made flesh and dwelt among us. Here we see what I was explaining earlier. It is a combining of divinity with humanity. This is what happened with the inspiration of and writing of the Bible. Divinity was combined with humanity. The Word of God was made flesh. All of the divinity of Christ was contained in his human form. He was 100% God and 100% human. In other words, All the divinity of God is contained in the Bible even though it is written in mortal’s language.
Question: Did Jesus have errors or sin because He was like a man? No! Therefore, to believe that the words of the Bible might contain error is a direct attack on the Word – Jesus Christ!
You can also see this thought lying behind much of the skepticism that is showing up in the church today. Skepticism is a viper, if you play with it- you will get bitten. It is just like a plague. If you dabble with it or hang around with people who talk it or preach it, you will gradually begin to catch it and think and talk like they do.
Now look at the first temptation of Christ. The Spirit of Prophecy states that Christ could not recognize the tempter by his looks, He could only tell it was Satan by what he said. She says in DA 118 :
“There came to the Saviour, as if in answer to His prayers, one in the guise of an angel from heaven. He claimed to have a commission from God to declare that Christ's fast was at an end. As God had sent an angel to stay the hand of Abraham from offering Isaac, so, satisfied with Christ's willingness to enter the bloodstained path, the Father had sent an angel to deliver Him; this was the message brought to Jesus. The Saviour was faint from hunger, He was craving for food, when Satan came suddenly upon Him. Pointing to the stones which strewed the desert, and which had the appearance of loaves, the tempter said, "If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."
Though he appears as an angel of light, these first words betray his character. "If Thou be the Son of God." Here is the insinuation of distrust. Should Jesus do what Satan suggests, it would be an acceptance of the doubt. The tempter plans to overthrow Christ by the same means that were so successful with the human race in the beginning. How artfully had Satan approached Eve in Eden! "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" Genesis 3:1. Thus far the tempter's words were truth; but in his manner of speaking them there was a disguised contempt for the words of God. There was a covert negative, a doubt of the divine truthfulness. Satan sought to instill into the mind of Eve the thought that God would not do as He had said; that the withholding of such beautiful fruit was a contradiction of His love and compassion for man. So now the tempter seeks to inspire Christ with his own sentiments.”
There was nothing wrong with most of the sentence that Satan spoke. It was just that one little word “If”.
What would have happened if Christ had said to himself, “Well, I just don’t have enough information to make a good decision, maybe I had better wait awhile and see what this angel’s fruits are, after all, we are not supposed to be judgmental and I haven’t seen any really bad fruits yet. Maybe we should just let this situation play itself out; after all, God will take care of it anyway.
You know, Friends, it was just a little doubt, insinuated about the Word of God, that caused the entire human race to fall into sin. If Christ had not been as close as He was to God, that same little insinuated doubt would have caused the whole plan of Salvation to fail. But when Christ recognized that subtle little doubt expressed – He recognized Satan – even through his robes of light. His response was immediate. He turned and met that iceberg of error – head on!
We have to have that same connection with God that Christ had! We must respond the same as He did; with no hesitation. We are going to have to face that same doubt and skepticism because the Bible says:
2Cor. 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
If you associate with or listen to those who insert little doubts about the Word of God, you will find that it will be more and more difficult for you to comprehend truth. Skepticism produces confusing thoughts and by parleying with it for any amount of time, you will imperil not only your own soul, but the souls of others around you.
“As Eve listened, the warnings that God had given faded from her mind. She yielded to the temptation, and as she tempted Adam he also forgot God's warnings. He believed the words of the enemy of God. In Eden Satan used the serpent as his instrument. Today he makes use of the members of the human family, striving by means of every species of deception to hedge up the path of righteousness cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in.” ST, May 29, 1901
Satan used, in the Garden of Eden, the very arguments which he uses today,--flattery, envy, distrust, questioning, and unbelief. If Satan was so cunning at first, what must he be now, after gaining an experience of many thousands of years?
Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Now having said all of that, I will make this disclaimer – this concept that every word is put there by the guidance of God, does not include things like punctuation, chapter & verse numbers or any of the extra words that were added centuries later by translators. But if you are using a King James Bible, it is easy to see which words have been added to the text by translators, because they are put in italics. Sometimes they may help with understanding a thought, but sometimes they do not and their insertion was not necessarily guided by God. But the words that are translated from the original transcript – in other words, those not in italics, were placed there under the guidance of God Himself.
Now I really want everyone to understand this concept, because it has a very important bearing on not only how we view the Bible, but also on how we view God.
Those who think that the words are not inspired, tend to try to put God’s Word in a box. They attempt to limit it by trying to interpret which words are correct and which are not, then they come to the conclusion that it is only the thought that we need from the text, and once they understand a thought from the text, they believe they have all the information that God was trying to convey in that passage. These individuals approach the Bible as any worldly scholar would do, and they have a tendency to just take the surface truth as the one and only meaning in the text.
Now, while there is nothing wrong with the surface truth, there is so much more that God wants us to understand! Listen to this quote from the book Ed 171:
“It is impossible for any human mind to exhaust even one truth or promise of the Bible. One catches the glory from one point of view, another from another point; yet we can discern only gleamings. The full radiance is beyond our vision. As we contemplate the great things of God's word, we look into a fountain that broadens and deepens beneath our gaze. Its breadth and depth pass our knowledge. As we gaze, the vision widens; stretched out before us we behold a boundless, shoreless sea. Such study has vivifying power. The mind and heart acquire new strength, new life. This experience is the highest evidence of the divine authorship of the Bible.”
Did you catch that? “It is impossible for any human mind to exhaust even one truth or promise of the Bible!” Let that sink in to your mind! One truth! One Promise!
With that in mind, look at Rev 14:7 and the phrase, “Fear God.” Now is that truth? Yes, of course it is.
My challenge to you – exhaust that thought! You can’t. The more you look at it, the more meaning comes out.
Remember, God shrunk His Eternal thoughts down into finite language. Every word in our Bible contains an unlimited amount of meaning.
Now a scholar that has been trained in all the man-made rules of Bible study, will look at that text and say, “well, that just means that we are to have respect and awe toward God.” That is only the surface meaning, there is an unlimited amount of meaning there that a surface reader will never understand.
In my own studies, I have just finished spending over 100 hours studying the Bible phrase “the voice of the Lord”. Not that I actually finished it, but I choose to move on to another topic, because the phrase “voice of the Lord” is inexhaustible. The amount of information and meaning found in just that one phrase in the Bible, boggles the mind.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that there is only one meaning to any Bible text. There is an unlimited amount of meaning!
Now having said that, I will point out that none of the meanings will ever contradict the others, they just add more and more meaning to the previous one, because the Bible is truth and truth never contradicts itself. It is like a jewel – there are many facets, many sides, that add more and more beauty to the gem stone, but it is all one jewel.
If you find what seems like contradictory statements in the Bible, it is because you are not understanding one or both in the correct light. Go back and study more, and when you have the correct meaning, the statements will harmonize perfectly. This is kind of like a safety check that God instilled in the Bible so that those who are honestly searching for truth will not be misled.
OK, point # 2 that we need to understand is that all Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by a diligent application and study.
2 Tim. 3: 15-17. “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
Now many people believe these verses, but then they look at the Bible and start saying, “Well, this text is for doctrine, and this text is for correction, and this one over here only has to do with prophecy, and that one over there is just poetry, and it just keeps going and going.
This text here in 2 Tim. Says that All scripture is profitable for doctrine, all scripture is profitable for reproof, all scripture is profitable for correction, all scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness.
You shoot yourself in the foot – so to speak, if you start saying that only this part is prophecy, and only that part is poetry, and only that part is this and this part is that.
Did you know, that the book of Song of Solomon, is just as prophetic as is the book of Revelation. Most people don’t want to read it because they consider it just lover’s talk, all mushy and the like. But it is the story of Christ and His Bride and lover (the church) and the history of their courtship. (the name Solomon means peace) He was a prince, the son of a king, the son of David – so he represents - the prince of peace – Jesus Christ.
The books of Psalms and Proverbs, while most scholars only consider them poetry, are just as prophetic as the book of Daniel. They portray not only the life of Christ, but also the life of the church through the ages.
Another concept that we need to understand is point # 3, and that is that Scripture must be its own expositor, since it is a rule of itself. The Bible interprets itself! Many people think that they cannot understand the Bible and that they have to have a minister or biblical scholar to explain it to them. This is a false idea that many ministers and scholars cash in on to promote their own authority. But if I depend on a teacher to expound to me, and he should guess at the meaning of a text, or desire to have the meaning just so on account of his sectarian creed, or to make himself look wise, then his guessing, desire, creed, or wisdom, is my rule, and not the Bible. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with or bad about being a leader or biblical scholar. Properly used, these positions can be a source of great blessing to others – But – the problem comes in when, as a leader or biblical scholar, a person starts promoting man’s wisdom and talent above God’s. Remember that Moses had plenty of worldly wisdom and training in Egypt, but he had to spend 40 years keeping sheep and unlearning that worldly wisdom before God could use him. Paul also had all kinds of worldly wisdom and scholarly education, but he had to spend time learning in the school of Christ before God could use him also. When any scholar or leader or individual in general start teaching that the common man has to rely on the works and wisdom of the scholars in order to understand the scriptures, we see a gradual shift of the Holy Bible – from the hands of the common man – to the hands of the scholars. Gradually, people are indoctrinated with the thought that only the leaders and the scholars can understand and interpret what the Bible says. This will inevitably lead to the leaders and scholars being dictators over the laity and demanding that the laity submit to their understanding of the scriptures.
The Bible was written for the common man. It is not, nor ever was meant to be, reserved only for the biblical scholars. Everyone who is willing to put earnest effort into studying God’s word and willing to let God lead them, can understand the deep things of God’s Word.
John 7:17 “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine,…”
1Co 2:12-14 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
“God intends that, even in this life, truth shall be ever unfolding to His people. There is only one way in which this knowledge can be obtained. We can attain to an understanding of God's word only through the illumination of that Spirit by which the word was given. "The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God;" "for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." And the Saviour's promise to His followers was: "When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth. . . . For He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you." 5T 703
The Holy Spirit is the only interpreter of the Bible, because only the Holy Spirit – the original author – knows what He wants the Bible to say. When you study the Bible, the first thing you should do is pray and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth! Claim the promise in Jas 1:5,6
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
Remember this sea – you will see it again later.
Now whenever a teacher, leader, or scholar, teaches that man has to come to him for an explanation of the Bible, he has usurped the authority of the Holy Spirit and followed in the steps of Rome, to make the Bible inaccessible and incomprehensible to the common man.
Luke 11:52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.
In this verse, Christ is talking (not to the lawyers in the sense that we consider lawyers in modern days) but to the religious leaders and biblical scholars of His day. (You can see this in verse 53) If you look at the typology of the Jewish church, you can see the spiritual lesson here. The scholars of His day, were misinterpreting the Bible and were leading the common folk astray. They had taught the people that they, the biblical scholars, where the only ones who could understand and explain the Bible, and by so doing, they had taken the scriptures out of the hands of the common people.
Hence, the majority of the Jewish people rejected Christ, because they were going on the false teachings of the scribes and Pharisees.
We had better be careful that we do not repeat the same mistake. Just look at John the Baptist.
“What was it that made John great? -- He closed his mind to the mass of tradition taught by the teachers of the Jewish nation, opening it to the wisdom "which cometh down from above." FE 447
The 4th point and also one of the more important concepts to realize is that you cannot build your doctrine on just one verse. It is kind of like building a house supported by only one pillar. That very reason is why there are so many churches and denominations out there that all claim to be teaching truth and yet they never agree. They have taken and built a doctrine on one or two verses without comparing them with other verses. To understand doctrine, you must bring all the scriptures together on the subject you wish to know; then let every word have its proper influence; and if you can form your theory ( in other words, your thoughts on that particular subject) without other verses contradicting it, you cannot be in error.
OK, now the 3 most common methods of Bible study, that I want to take a look at are
The Prooftext Method, The Historical-critical Method, and the Historical-grammatical Method
The first method we will look at is what is called the Prooftext method or sometimes it is referred to as the Historicist method. It looks at the Bible as the inspired Word of God given to the present generation, and that it applies to the current reader.
“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” 1Pet. 1:10-12
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1Cor. 10:11
The Prooftext method requires no education or higher training, it can be utilized by anyone.
This method can be found shown in Isaiah 28:10,
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:”
Now notice that it says, “precept upon precept”.
This is the point that we just looked at – if you want to understand a doctrine, you must bring all the texts that have to do with that subject, to the table and base your conclusions on ALL of those texts. This is the precept upon precept.
If you want to understand the line upon line of prophecy, you must take all the lines of prophecy and lay them together, line upon line, and you will discover that the different lines of prophecy will begin to shed light on the others. When you build a house, you lay the corner stones and then stretch a line between the two so that as you build the wall, it is straight. The first layer is a line, the second is a line, and so on it goes as you progress up the wall of the house. This is the line upon line. This is the purpose of and the way to understand prophecy! Line upon Line!
To understand the Bible, you compare scripture with scripture, here a little and there a little. This is one of the spiritual meanings of Dan 12:4
“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”
On a literal aspect, this prophecy has had a literal fulfillment in the fact that within the last 150 years, mankind went from horse and buggy to cars and jets. We are literally running to and fro, and knowledge has definitely increased. But there is more to this verse, it is talking about the knowledge of the Word of God being increased by people spiritually running back and forth in the scriptures.
This is precept upon precept here a little and there a little.
This Prooftext method can be seen shown in the New Testament. The apostles and writers of the New Testament used this method in their study of the Old Testament scriptures. That is why you find many, almost word for word quotes in the NT that are taken from the OT and defined.
The Christians down through the centuries used the Prooftext method.
In the 1800’s, with the Millerite movement, the Adventist pioneers all used the Prooftext method. That is the method of study that discovered the doctrines that our church is founded on. If you look at William Miller’s prophecy chart, you can see precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little. This is the foundation of our church! This method of study is the foundation of our faith and it is also revealed in the sanctuary. It can be seen in the table of shewbread. On the Table of shewbread there were two identical stacks of 6 loaves of bread. Bread represents the word of God. Here you have illustrated the old and new testaments. You have precept upon precept. You have line upon line. And you have here a little and there a little. This bread forms the base or foundation that supports the frankincense on the top. Frankincense represents our faith.
“Sincere and uncorrupted faith are to him as gold and frankincense and myrrh…" RH, January 11, 1912
Now I would like to read a dream that William Miller had. It is found in the book Early Writings beginning on page 81
“I dreamed that God, by an unseen hand, sent me a curiously wrought casket about ten inches long by six square, made of ebony and pearls curiously inlaid. To the casket there was a key attached. I immediately took the key and opened the casket, when, to my wonder and surprise, I found it filled with all sorts and sizes of jewels, diamonds, precious stones, and gold and silver coin of every dimension and value, beautifully arranged in their several places in the casket; and thus arranged they reflected a light and glory equaled only to the sun. I thought it was not my duty to enjoy this wonderful sight alone, although my heart was overjoyed at the brilliancy, beauty, and value of its contents. I therefore placed it on a center table in my room and gave out word that all who had a desire might come and see the most glorious and brilliant sight ever seen by man in this life. The people began to come in, at first few in number, but increasing to a crowd. When they first looked into the casket, they would wonder and shout for joy. But when the spectators increased, everyone would begin to trouble the jewels, taking them out of the casket and scattering them on the table. I began to think that the owner would require the casket and the jewels again at my hand; and if I suffered them to be scattered, I could never place them in their places in the casket again as before; and felt I should never be able to meet the accountability, for it would be immense. I then began to plead with the people not to handle them, nor to take them out of the casket; but the more I pleaded, the more they scattered; and now they seemed to scatter them all over the room, on the floor and on every piece of furniture in the room. I then saw that among the genuine jewels and coin they had scattered an innumerable quantity of spurious jewels and counterfeit coin. I was highly incensed at their base conduct and ingratitude, and reproved and reproached them for it; but the more I reproved, the more they scattered the spurious jewels and false coin among the genuine. I then became vexed in my physical soul and began to use physical force to push them out of the room; but while I was pushing out one, three more would enter and bring in dirt and shavings and sand and all manner of rubbish, until they covered every one of the true jewels, diamonds, and coins, which were all excluded from sight. They also tore in pieces my casket and scattered it among the rubbish. I thought no man regarded my sorrow or my anger. I became wholly discouraged and disheartened, and sat down and wept. While I was thus weeping and mourning for my great loss and accountability, I remembered God, and earnestly prayed that He would send me help. Immediately the door opened, and a man entered the room, when the people all left it; and he, having a dirt brush in his hand, opened the windows, and began to brush the dirt and rubbish from the room. I cried to him to forbear, for there were some precious jewels scattered among the rubbish. He told me to "fear not," for he would "take care of them". Then, while he brushed the dirt and rubbish, false jewels and counterfeit coin, all rose and went out of the window like a cloud, and the wind carried them away. In the bustle I closed my eyes for a moment; when I opened them, the rubbish was all gone. The precious jewels, the diamonds, the gold and silver coins, lay scattered in profusion all over the room. He then placed on the table a casket, much larger and more beautiful than the former, and gathered up the jewels, the diamonds, the coins, by the handful, and cast them into the casket, till not one was left, although some of the diamonds were not bigger than the point of a pin. He then called upon me to "come and see." I looked into the casket, but my eyes were dazzled with the sight. They shone with ten times their former glory. I thought they had been scoured in the sand by the feet of those wicked persons who had scattered and trod them in the dust. They were arranged in beautiful order in the casket, every one in its place, without any visible pains of the man who cast them in. I shouted with very joy, and that shout awoke me.”
In Miller’s dream, the casket represented the Bible, the key that unlocked it was the rules of interpretation that he had discovered – simply put, the key was the knowledge that was revealed by the Prooftext method. The jewels and coins are the true doctrines and lessons that he had found in the Bible. The false jewels and coins are the false doctrines and rubbish of man’s ideas that have come into the room (the church) and covered the true ones. The dirt brush man is Jesus, and the wind is the shaking. We are in this shaking right now. Jesus is cleaning the rubbish out of His church so that the true doctrines can be restored to their rightful place.
To give you an example of a study using the Prooftext method, lets look at verse 9 of Is. 28
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.”
Now the surface truth portrayed here is that babies cannot understand doctrine, only youth and adults can. But there is a lot more to it than that. So using precept upon precept, lets find out who this is talking about, what is represented by milk, and what is represented by breasts.
Now if you were doing this study yourself, you would look up all the texts that talk about milk and the Bible would start painting a picture of what the spiritual meaning of milk is. But since we are short on time here, I will just hit some of the key texts, and you can go back and study the topic more fully for yourself, and this I highly recommend that you do.
1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
Heb 5:12-13 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
Now like I said, I am just summarizing the study here, there are many more texts that shed even more light on this subject.
We see here that milk represents the Word of God, but it is not all the Word, it is the first principles – in other words, the surface truth. A baby is a new Christian, he is a baby and what do all babies need? Milk! So just as a newborn baby needs milk, a newborn Christian needs the surface truth of God’s Word. But a baby will never grow up if that is all he gets. After a while of receiving milk, he starts needing more solid food – strong meat (and this word “meat” here is referring to solid food, not animal flesh) After being weaned from milk, he no longer needs the milk, he needs to have more and more solid food. The same with a baby Christian, after he has gotten the surface truth, he needs to start understanding the deeper things of God’s Word, that are not on the surface.
Now where does the milk come from? It comes from the breasts of the mother – a woman.
A woman in the Bible represents a church –
Jer. 6:2 I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.
Rev 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
And you will discover as you study this topic, that the breasts of the woman, are representing the Old & New Testaments of the Bible.
So you can see that here in Is. 28:9, it is actually saying that only those who are no longer getting their nourishment from just the surface truth, but are digging in the Word to discover the deep things of God, will understand the doctrine and knowledge of God.
This is just one example of how real objects in the Bible have spiritual meanings, such as a table represents the Bible, and a ship represents a church, and so forth, but that should give you an idea of how the Prooftext method works. As you study out prophecy using this method, you will begin to see how history is fulfilling prophecy – hence it’s other name, the historicist method.
Now of course, Satan, cannot stand it, to have people actually understanding the Bible. So he developed plans to destroy faith in the Word of God, without actually doing away with it. And that brings us to the next method that I wanted to take a look at.
With the discovery of the Sinaiticus manuscript, that had been erased and rewritten up to 70 times and finally thrown in a trash can in a Roman Catholic convent, and with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and various other archeological finds, people started incorporating a method of study that no Christian should ever be found promoting.
It has become known as the “Historical-critical” method. That is “Historical” different from “historicist”. Now as you can imagine from it’s name, it looks at the Bible in a critical manner. People who are promoters of this method, attempt to understand the Bible and interpret it just as they would do any other literary work. It tries to ascertain what the author of each scripture meant, by studying into the original language, culture, event setting and circumstances of that particular author’s generation, and to ascertain what thoughts the author intended to convey to the people of their time. It sees the Bible more from a historical account, not a revelation from God. What did it mean to the people of that time. They deny, either in words, or acts, that the Bible is supernaturally inspired. This method discounts supernatural occurrences like miracles and tries to explain it from a scientific standpoint, and they basically destroy the divine authority of the Bible.
These people use big words like Hermeneutics and Exegesis fluently and are very strong in their support for the works of the biblical scholars. Some of its proponents have coined the term “Historical Method” in order to hide the more revealing term “critical.” But these two are the same method!
This method requires extensive training in history, languages, culture, etc., thereby placing it out of reach of the poorer, uneducated class; however, the scholars state that the uneducated can still utilize it, by using the scholar’s written works as study tools.
Now the first time I was confronted by one of these people, they dogmatically informed me that I could not understand a certain text the way I had come to understand it. They told me that the way I study the Bible, goes against all the rules of hermeneutics and exegesis and that I was in error. This very much surprised me, for I had never been confronted with such big words before. So I started studying, trying to learn what hermeneutics and exegesis were. To be specific, what I found, was a lot of Babylonian confusion. But I will try to simplify it as much as I can.
Hermeneutics is like the rule book for a game, and exegesis is the game itself.
Hermeneutics are the rules for studying the Bible and Exegesis is the actual process of studying.
So, on the surface, these words don’t appear to be bad, just big, complicated, and confusing to the common man. However, it was interesting to me how, out of numerous websites, encyclopedias, and other sources that I studied, I could not find any two scholars that agreed with each other on just what the rules were! I found several lists of rules, but they were never the same. From the writings of several different scholars, I was able to come to the conclusion that as long as you submit to the scholar’s conclusions, they allow you a certain liberty of just how you interpret these rules; but if you are making your own decisions and understanding of the Bible, as the rule, then they will condemn you for going against the rules of Hermeneutics. Now this seemed to be a big red flag to me, but my concern was just beginning.
As I was discussing this condemnation of the common person by the scholars, with my family, my son gave me a wonderful illustration of the truth. He said that we should all be like instruments in an orchestra, we are all different, and are making different sounds and different notes, but we are playing the same song.
“The Lord desires us to distinguish between the means and the instrument. [1 Corinthians 3:5, 6 quoted.] The human agent is only the instrument; it is to the Lord he owes his efficiency. He must cooperate with divine power (Letter 150, 1900).” 6BC 1086
I thought this was interesting because you don’t see one instrument condemning another instrument in the orchestra because it isn’t playing the same notes as the first instrument!
Now as I was studying into this subject, I began to find links with the word hermeneutics and the Greek god Hermes. I was curious how these two topics were related so I dug a little deeper to find out.
From Wikipedia I found the following information on the word Hermeneutics:
“The folk etymology places the origin (Greek: hermeneutike) with Hermes, the mythological Greek deity whose role is that of messenger of the Gods. Besides being mediator between the gods themselves, and between the gods and humanity, he leads souls to the underworld upon death. He is also considered the inventor of language and speech, an interpreter, a liar, a thief and a trickster. These multiple roles make Hermes an ideal representative figure for hermeneutics. As Socrates notes, words have the power to reveal or conceal, thus promoting the message in an ambiguous way. The Greek view of language as consisting of signs that could lead to truth or falsehood is the very essence of Hermes, who is said to relish the uneasiness of the recipients.”
Now this was extremely alarming to me. We have already discussed how God is the author of the Bible, and that the Holy Spirit is the only one qualified to be the interpreter. But here it says that Hermes was the interpreter. I began to wonder, could it be possible that we have replaced the Holy Spirit with the mythological god Hermes?
Webster’s dictionary defines HERMENEUTIC, HERMENEUTICAL, a. [Gr. an interpreter, from Mercury.]
Interpreting; explaining; unfolding the signification; as hermeneutic theology, the art of expounding the Scriptures.
Now if Hermes is the interpreter, and he is also known as a liar, a thief and a trickster. Who could that be referring to?
John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Now if that is not a red flag, I do not know what is!
In short, what we have here is Satan, convincing people that in order for them to understand the Bible, instead of going to the true authority of scripture, the Holy Spirit, they are to go to the scholars to learn what Hermes (in other words, Satan) thinks the scriptures teach.
This friends, is just a deceptive way of getting people to deny the role of the Holy Spirit. Could this actually be one way of grieving away the Holy Spirit? Its just a thought.
If you look at what the book of Psalms says about the children of Israel in Ps. 78:41, it take on even more meaning. “Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.”
Remember, the Israelites always had trouble taking God at His Word. When He told them to do something, many times they took the view that God couldn’t handle the situation. They had effectively put God in a box and limited Him.
Now according to Strong’s concordance, this word translated “limited” in this verse, not only means limited, but also “to grieve”.
It really does appear that to limit God and try to put Him and His Word into a Box has some connection with grieving away the Holy Spirit.
Strong’s Concordance has this definition for Hermes, “the name of the messenger of the Greek deities;”
If you look at the counsels to the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3, each one is given by God to an angel to give to each church. The word “angel” means messenger. Could the rules of Hermeneutics be Satan’s counterfeit for the true messenger?
If you look at the closing statements of each of those letters to the seven churches – it says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches”. Who is supposed to hear what the Spirit says? Those who have ears. That is everyone! But the common understanding of the rules of Hermeneutics is that only those who are scholars, who have the education and training to understand the Bible, can understand and interpret it.
“It is our individual duty to understand what God means, and to do whatever He bids us.” 1MR 119
“The Bible is God’s voice speaking to us, just as surely as if we could hear it with our ears. If we realized this, with what awe we would open God’s Word and with what earnestness we would search its precepts. The reading and contemplation of the Scriptures would be regarded as an audience with the Infinite One.” My Life Today p.283
This Greek figure, Hermes was also known by the name Mercury to the Romans.
Webster’s dictionary gives this definition: “In mythology, Mercury is the god of eloquence and of commerce, called by the Greeks Hermes”
Now the puzzle pieces start falling together. Look back at the verses that we looked at earlier in Is. 28.
In verse 7, you see that the “priest and the prophet” have erred through wine and strong drink.
The priest and the prophet, were the ones that were the leaders, the educated, the scholars. This wine that has caused them to err, is false doctrine, the wine of Babylon.
In verse 9, the question is asked “Who can understand doctrine?” Then it answers the question with
“Those who follow the Prooftext method of precept upon precept”
Now in verse 11 it states that it is the ones that talk with stammering lips that are going to give this message.
If the Greek god Hermes, is the same as Mercury; and Mercury is the god of eloquence; and the leaders and scholars are the ones that are out of the way through false doctrine and they are the ones promoting these rules of the god of eloquence; and God says that He is going to use those with stammering lips – in other words, the ineloquent - to give this message to the world; exactly who are the ones who are going to be calling people back to the Prooftext method?
It is the common people, the laity, the uneducated, those who have not been indoctrinated in the schools of false higher education.
The scholars and leaders (the priest and prophet), because of their critical view of the Bible (the table), have met the spiritual fulfillment of Ps. 69:22
“Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.”
Look at this quote from 5T 80
“The days are fast approaching when there will be great perplexity and confusion. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will deceive, if possible, the very elect. There will be gods many and lords many. Every wind of doctrine will be blowing. Those who have rendered supreme homage to "science falsely so called" will not be the leaders then. Those who have trusted to intellect, genius, or talent will not then stand at the head of rank and file. They did not keep pace with the light. Those who have proved themselves unfaithful will not then be entrusted with the flock. In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged. They are self-sufficient, independent of God, and He cannot use them.”
Now this is vitally important to understand. This issue is a life or death matter for every person on the globe. The reason why is shown in verse 12
Isa 28:12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
The Prooftext method which is becoming so controversial in this day and age of the higher critics, is the key (so to speak) that unlocks the refreshing. And we know that the refreshing is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain.
You know right now, worldwide, everyone is praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy plainly tell us that the latter rain is not going to be poured out until God’s servants are sealed. And this seal is a settling into the truth so that we cannot be moved.
“Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads--it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved--just as soon as God's people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has begun already; the judgments of God are now upon the land, to give us warning, that we may know what is coming.” Maranatha 200
If we pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but we are rejecting the God ordained means of preparing us to receive it – we will receive the spirit, but it will be the wrong spirit! You can also see this illustrated in the book Early Writings p.55,56 where she sees 2 groups both praying for the Holy Spirit.
“Those who rose up with Jesus would send up their faith to Him in the holiest, and pray, "My Father, give us Thy Spirit." Then Jesus would breathe upon them the Holy Ghost. In that breath was light, power, and much love, joy, and peace. I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left it. Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, "Father, give us Thy Spirit." Satan would then breathe upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy, and peace. Satan's object was to keep them deceived and to draw back and deceive God's children.”
Now in verse 15 of Isaiah, these scholars make the claim that the overflowing scourge will not come to them because they say, “for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:”
If this refuge of theirs is a refuge of lies and falsehood, what kind of refuge is it? It is a false refuge, a counterfeit. Can you guess what the name Hermes and the name Mercury mean?
That’s right! Both names mean “a refuge”
Now of course, this does not include every leader and every scholar, there are still some godly men in leadership positions that are trying to do what is right. There are always exceptions to the rule. This is just in general. It is like the destruction of Jerusalem. The majority of the scribes and Pharisees were bad and were lost in the destruction, but we do have record of some that were not bad, such as Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus. It should also be noted that some scholars and leaders do not understand the issue. They have entered upon a road, not knowing where it is leading them. Hopefully, they will see where they are headed and turn around before it is too late. And this also does not minimize the responsibility of the lay person either. If they are not careful, they can easily follow the same path as the misled scholars.
In the original copy of Uriah Smith’s book, Daniel & Revelation on p. 653 is this statement:
“Christ says, "Be not ye called Rabbi," that is, master, or doctor; "for one is your Master, even Christ." To do this is to partake of the same spirit which has lead aspiring men to assume to be the head of the church, the successor of St. Peter, the vicegerent of Christ, and a god upon earth. Yet how many in the Protestant church, in imitation of the Romish, adopt the title of "Reverend," which in our version of the Scriptures is applied to God alone: "Holy and reverend is his name." But not content with this, some become "Very Reverend," and "Right Reverend," and "Doctors of Divinity."
Could we, unknowingly, be in danger of imitating that Romish error? Hmmm!
Anyway, if you look at Webster’s dictionary, it defines HERMENEUTICS as, n. The art of finding the meaning of an author's words and phrases, and of explaining it to others.
Now this concept would be correct, if they realized that the Author of the Bible is God, but they do not do this. Instead, they try to find out what the human writer had in mind.
This poses a major problem, first because then it makes the Bible only applicable to those who lived when it was written, and second, because there are times (like Dan 12:8) when the human writer did not understand the importance of what they were writing. If the prophet did not understand what the significance of his own writings were, how are we supposed to determine what that writer had in mind and what he was trying to tell the people of his day? The Bible is the Word of God! Yes, it did apply to them up to a point, but it was written more for us at the end of time than for them.
“Each of the ancient prophets spoke less for their own time than for ours, so that their prophesying is in force for us.” 3SM 338
“Prophecy has been fulfilling, line upon line. The more firmly we stand under the banner of the third angel's message, the more clearly shall we understand the prophecy of Daniel; for the Revelation is the supplement of Daniel. The more fully we accept the light presented by the Holy Spirit through the consecrated servants of God, the deeper and surer, even as the eternal throne, will appear the truths of ancient prophecy; we shall be assured that men of God spake as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Men must themselves be under the influence of the Holy Spirit in order to understand the Spirit's utterances through the prophets. These messages were given, not for those that uttered the prophecies, but for us who are living amid the scenes of their fulfillment.” 2SM 114
It is quite amazing that the Bible even foretells this movement to replace the Holy Spirit with Hermes. As you study out the issue, you will discover that in the Bible, the furniture in the sanctuary was very significant. The Ark of the Covenant, in which was the 10 commandments (the Law), the pot of Manna (the hidden Bread of Life), and Aaron’s rod that budded (symbolizing the power of the Holy Spirit), actually symbolized, among other things, the Bible, the Word of God.
Ellen White realized this when she said:
“We call on you to take your Bible, but do not put a sacrilegious hand upon it, and say, "That is not inspired," simply because somebody else has said so. Not a jot or tittle is ever to be taken from that Word. Hands off, brethren! Do not touch the ark. Do not lay your hand upon it, but let God move. It is with His own power, and He will work in such a manner that He will compass our salvation. We want God to have some room to work. We do not want man's ideas to bind Him about.” Sermons And Talks vol. 1 p.73.
This is a fascinating thought because if you look at the story of Eli’s two sons, you see a typology of what is happening in our church. In 1 Sam. 4 there is the story of the sons of Eli, priests and leaders in the God’s church, and they take the Ark, the Bible, out of the sanctuary of the Lord, and it ends up in the temple of Dagon. Now Dagon was also known as OANNES the fish god. And in the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry we find this statement:
“The earliest instructor of man in letters, sciences, and arts, especially in architecture, geometry, botany. and agriculture, and in all other useful Knowledge, was the fish-god Oannes, according to ancient mythology. This universal teacher, according to Berossus, appeared in the Persian Gulf, bordering on Babylonia, and, although an animal, was endowed with reason and great knowledge. The usual appearance of the creature was that of a fish, having a human head beneath that of a fish, and feet like unto a man. This personage conversed with men during the day, but never ate with them. At Kouyunjik there was a colossal statue of the fish-god Oannes. The following is from the Book of Enoch (volume ii, page 514): “The Masons hold their grand festival on the day of Saint John, not knowing that therein they merely signify the fish-god Oannes, the first Hermes and the first founder of the Mysteries, the first messenger to whom the Apocalypse was given, and whom they ignorantly confound with the fabulous author of the common Apocalypse.”
So the Ark – the Bible – is taken out of the temple of God and it ends up in the temple of Dagon, which is Hermes.
Anyway, as I studied this out, I discovered that some were trying to bring this historical-critical method into the church even back in Ellen White’s day. She referred to it as Higher Criticism. This is what she had to say about it:
“Night, dark and portentous, is enclosing the Christian world. Apostasy from God's commandments is evidence of this night, deep, dark, and apparently impenetrable. Systems that make the truth of God of none effect are cherished. Men are teaching for doctrine the commandments of men; and their assertions are taken as truth. The people have received man-made theories. So the gospel is perverted, and the Scripture misapplied. As in the days of Christ, the light of truth is pushed into the back-ground. Men's theories and suppositions are honoured before the word of the Lord God of hosts. The truth is counteracted by error. The word of God is wrested, divided, and distorted by higher criticism. Jesus is acknowledged, only to be betrayed by a kiss. Apostasy exists, and will enclose the world till the last. Its hideous character and darkening influence will be seen in the maddening draughts dealt out from Babylon… Man can be exalted only by laying hold of the merits of a crucified and risen Savior. The finest intellect, the most exalted position will not secure heaven. Satan had the highest education that could be obtained. This education he received under the greatest of all teachers. When men talk of higher criticism; when they pass their judgment upon the word of God, call their attention to the fact that they have forgotten who was the first and wisest critic. He has had thousands of years of practical experience. He it is who teaches the so-called higher critics of the world today. God will punish all those who, as higher critics, exalt themselves, and criticize God's Holy word.” BEcho, February 1, 1897
“The warnings of the word of God regarding the perils surrounding the Christian church belong to us today. As in the days of the apostles men tried by tradition and philosophy to destroy faith in the Scriptures, so today, by the pleasing sentiments of higher criticism, evolution, spiritualism, theosophy, and pantheism, the enemy of righteousness is seeking to lead souls into forbidden paths. To many the Bible is as a lamp without oil, because they have turned their minds into channels of speculative belief that bring misunderstanding and confusion. The work of higher criticism, in dissecting, conjecturing, reconstructing, is destroying faith in the Bible as a divine revelation. It is robbing God's word of power to control, uplift, and inspire human lives.” AA 474
In the book, Bible Footlights, on p. 305, I found this statement:
“Under what is called “Higher Criticism,” the Bible is taken by scholars and treated as is any man-made book. Everything it says is questioned till it is proved true. If its statements do not square up with evolution they are rejected. This dissecting has gone on till there is nothing left of the Old Book to believe. It is said that the Old Testament belongs to a bygone age and is not for us, except as ancient Hebrew literature. In the New testament, the writings of Paul and the other apostles are rejected because it is said that they brought into the church certain doctrines that Jesus never taught. John’s gospel is rejected because they say it does not seem to the critics to be genuine. The first three gospels are the only books left, and only the exact words of Christ himself in these are accepted. If anything Christ said does not look plausible, then the accuracy of those who copied the sayings is under suspicion.”
In Stephen Haskell’s book, Story of Daniel the Prophet, on p.261 it says:
“Here it was that such men as Origen and Clement, recognized Fathers of the church, adopted the philosophy of the Greeks, and applied to the study of the Bible the same methods which were common in the study of Homer and other Greek writers. Higher Criticism had its birth in Alexandria. It was the result of a mingling of the truths taught by Christ and the false philosophy of the Greeks. It was an attempt to interpret divine writings by the human intellect, a revival of the philosophy of Plato.”
Here is how Webster’s dictionary defines Higher Criticism = “Scientific study of literature, and esp. of the Biblical writings, aiming to ascertain their authorship, dates, and general character, primarily by means of internal evidence (style, historical allusions, dominant ideas, etc.), but also by external historical evidence. The term is variously used as the equivalent of literary criticism or historical criticism or both. The so-called Higher Criticism which in substance is nothing but a scientific attempt to find out what the Bible did mean literally to those who wrote it.” Walter Lippmann
Here again, we see that the historical-critical / higher criticism method is just a scientific attempt to find out what the Bible meant to those who wrote it.
Now tuck this thought back into your mind, because you are going to see it again shortly.
Remember that some people were trying to bring this into the church in sister White’s day? Well, it turns out that they succeeded in bringing it into the church full force during the mid-1930’s. This can be shown from multiple SDA history books. It also reveals itself in our current view of the Bible, but it gets even more sinister than that.
Look at this quote from Raymond Cottrell one of the main supporters of this method and one of the editors for the SDA Commentaries:
“The privilege of writing more than two thousand pages for the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary and editing it from Gen. 1:1 to Revelation 22:20 was perhaps the major event of my forty-seven years of service to the church prior to retirement in 1977. Last night I recounted for you the story of the commentary and need not repeat it here. The important point I do wish to make is that, to the best of our ability, we built the principles and procedures of the historical method into it, making it the first Adventist publication to reflect that method of reading and understanding the Bible.”
Farther on down the page, he states:
“We followed three fundamental guiding principles in editing the Commentary: (1) to be absolutely faithful to the meaning the inspired writers, guided by the Holy Spirit, intended their words to convey, (2) to make it a faithful witness to the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the Bible, and (3) to be in harmony with the writings of Ellen G. White. At a few major points we found it impossible to reconcile the first two of these principles. We did the best we could, but none of us were happy with the compromise between them to which we found it necessary to come, in these instances. The major instance in which we found it impossible to reconcile our comment with the first and second of these three principles was the eighth and ninth chapters of Daniel.”
Do you realize what he is saying here? The eighth and ninth chapters of Daniel is where we get our understanding of not only the 490 years of probation for the Jews, but also the starting date and the time prophecy of the 2300 days and some pivotal understanding of the sanctuary doctrine. Cottrell is saying that their first guiding principle, the historical-critical method, destroys some of our foundational beliefs and that the sanctuary doctrine cannot be supported by the historical-critical method.
And just in case, you may think that that is not what he is saying, several pages later he states:
“With our recent experience in editing the Book of Daniel vividly in mind I set out resolutely to find a way to reconcile our sanctuary doctrine with sound biblical hermeneutics – and failed miserably.”
Of course, Cottrell is using the term “sound biblical hermeneutics” to refer to the historical-critical method. These facts should really alarm any alert Seventh-day Adventist. This is very revealing.
Now as it turns out, the promoters of this historical-critical or just historical method as it is sometimes called were busy pushing it into position when Robert Pierson, became General Conference president in the mid-60’s. Now Pierson was from the “old school” and was a firm believer of the Prooftext method.
He therefore tried to put a stop to all this new critical method by removing its promoters from their positions and putting in their place, those whom he felt were more of the Prooftext method supporters.
After a few years however, some of those men, had been so influenced by the historical promoters that they took the historical-critical method and the Prooftext method and they mixed them and made a hybrid form of study method.
This method is referred to as the historical-grammatical method.
And here is that 3rd method that was on our list.
Now this method seems to be the one that many are promoting in the church in this current day.
Like I said, studying this all out has revealed a lot of confusion that has come in with these new methods, but this is just as simple of an explanation that I can give, without going into all the many details.
So here we have the right method, then the wrong method, then a mixture of the two. Sounds like the tree of knowledge of good and evil to me.
In Stephen Haskell’s book, Story of Seer of Patmos, on p.46 it says:
“There were many among the pagans who listening to Paul, were convinced of the truth in their minds, but retained their Greek manner of reasoning. Indeed, they applied to the Scriptures the same interpretation which they had formerly placed upon their own Greek writings.”
And on p.51 it says:
“When there were no longer true prophets, false teachings spread rapidly; the philosophy of the Greeks led to a false interpretation of the Scriptures, and the self-righteousness of the ancient Pharisees, so often condemned by Christ, again appeared in the midst of the church.”
And later on on page 57 it says:
“The doctrine of the Nicolaitans, as described under the church of Ephesus, was a mingling of the pure teachings of Christ with the philosophy of the Greeks”
This is very eye opening, especially when you do a search through the Spirit of Prophecy writings and see what she had to say about the Nicolaitans. There are many connections that there is not time enough to cover in this presentation.
To sum up these quotes:
The philosophy of the Greeks that had its birth in Alexandria, is what we refer to as “higher criticism”, more commonly called the “historical-critical” or “historical” method.
This was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans that is condemned in the counsel to Ephesus, and Pergamos.
And here is another interesting quote from Development of Christian Doctrine by Cardinal Newman p.372:
“Confiding then in the power of Christianity to resist the infection of evil, and to transmute the very instruments and appendages of demon worship to an evangelical use… the rulers of the church from early times were prepared, should the occasion arise, to adopt, or imitate, or sanction the existing rites and customs of the populace, as well as the philosophy of the educated class.”
Now I do need to point out, that there is nothing wrong with understanding some of the things that the historical method promotes, such as the culture and customs of Bible times, the original language in which it is written, and the history which surrounds it.
Properly used, these thoughts can add more meaning to your understanding of the Bible – But, these thoughts and ideas should always be under the control of the Prooftext method. It should always be the controlling factor.
The problem with the historical methods is that they discount the Prooftext method and make the historical method the ruling power. When this happens, you have people trying to make the Bible fit into the mold of history and culture, instead of history and culture fitting into the mold of the Bible. The Bible alone is the ultimate authority, not history, not culture, and not language!
“The study of history, an acquaintance with the countries, nations, and customs referred to in the Word, a study of the men whom the Lord has enlightened, are important helps in an understanding of the Word of God, but are not absolutely essential to enable the inquiring mind to find the path to heaven. The Bible makes plain the pathway of life, and "the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein." The gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ is made apparent in the Bible.”--Ms 12b, 1896, p. 15. (Untitled Manuscript, March 17, 1896.)
Have you ever sat in a Sabbath school class or church service and listened to the speaker say phrases like, We think, or I think, or This is what some say, or The scholars believe that?
“Our Saviour did not encourage any to attend the rabbinical schools of His day for the reason that their minds would be corrupted with the continually repeated, "They say," or, "It has been said." Why, then, should we accept the unstable words of men as exalted wisdom, when a greater, a certain wisdom is at our command?” 8T 310
You will often hear these kind of teachers asking questions that are totally unimportant – such as –What kind of tools do you suppose Christ used in the carpenter’s shop? Or – How are the righteous going to all fit in the New Jerusalem? Or – Where did God get all those quail to feed the Israelites?
These kind of questions, on the surface, are just not relevant; but subtly, they are leaving questions and doubts in people’s minds that will germinate and grow over time, and eventually lead people to doubt the Bible.
1Tim. 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
Now one thing I learned as I was researching this topic, is that those who promote the historical-critical, and those who promote the historical-grammatical, try to discredit the Prooftext method by a technique used in propaganda and mind management programs that is sometimes referred to as “guilt by association”. This means that they try to associate something that is totally wrong with what is correct, and by so doing, when people reject the obvious error, they have to reject the truth that has been associated with it. I have seen this same illustration used several times, where they say that the Prooftext method - is like a man wanting counsel and flipping open his Bible and putting his finger on a text. The text says “Judas went out and hanged himself”, then he flips some pages and puts his finger on another text and it says “Go thou and do likewise”.
Friends, this story is totally ludicrous. Yes, I’m sure that there are people out there that might try this kind of method – but this is not the Prooftext method. As we have already discussed, the true Prooftext method looks at all the texts on a given topic, not just one! The true Prooftext method would take into account all the texts that talk about Judas, or all the texts that talk about hanging. It would never build its doctrine on just one text! Do not ever, let someone use such a foolish story to turn you against the Prooftext method.
Now look at this quote from Wikipedia on the historical-grammatical method:
“The aim of the historical-grammatical method is to discover the meaning of the passage as the original author would have intended and what the original hearers would have understood. The original passage is seen as having only a single meaning or sense. As Milton S. Terry said: "A fundamental principle in grammatico-historical exposition is that the words and sentences can have but one significance in one and the same connection. The moment we neglect this principle we drift out upon a sea of uncertainty and conjecture." Wikipedia
Did you catch that? Not only does the historical-grammatical method fit Webster’s definition of Higher Criticism that we mentioned earlier, but it also narrows the Word of God down to a single meaning.
Big problems indeed.
Now notice the last sentence in this quote. “The moment we neglect this principle (that there is only one meaning to any given text) we drift out upon a sea of uncertainty and conjecture”
Very interesting! Do you recall hearing about a sea recently? Let me help jog your memory:
It is impossible for any human mind to exhaust even one truth or promise of the Bible. One catches the glory from one point of view, another from another point; yet we can discern only gleamings. The full radiance is beyond our vision. As we contemplate the great things of God's word, we look into a fountain that broadens and deepens beneath our gaze. Its breadth and depth pass our knowledge. As we gaze, the vision widens; stretched out before us we behold a boundless, shoreless sea. Such study has vivifying power. The mind and heart acquire new strength, new life. This experience is the highest evidence of the divine authorship of the Bible.” Ed 171
Friends, this sea that God wants you to explore and find the wonderful depths of His Word, is the same sea, that the historical-critical and the historical-grammatical methods are trying to keep you from discovering. Of course, if you follow their methods, it is a sea of uncertainty and conjecture – a stormy sea, because they venture upon it using man’s wisdom and not God’s.
A Spirit of Prophecy quote given in 2BC 1039
“Those who will not take God's Word as assurance, need not hope that human wisdom can help them; for human wisdom, aside from God, is like the waves of the sea, driven with the wind, and tossed. The word of Christ is, "He shall guide you into all truth." Reject not the light given.”
Your safety lies in your surrender to God, to let His Spirit guide you. If you follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you will find that this sea, is the safest place you can be, because you will understand Him when He speaks to you.
You know, if I say the phrase, “As bad as Thunder!” You do not know what I am talking about. The scholars would all get together, and analyze that statement, and they would come up with several different meanings for that statement. Some would say that the noise that I am referring to is loud and booming. Others would say that the sound shakes the house. While still others would claim that the sound scares my children. But they would all be wrong!
Those who are close to me, those who are members of my family and know me personally – they recognize that someone has broken or torn up something important! You see – Thunder is my dog!
This is how it is with God!
It is all about your relationship with Him.
If you are part of His family, if you truly know Him, you will understand what He is saying when He speaks to you, you will understand His Word. The closer you come to God, the more you will understand of His Word
One other thought, on this sea; in order for you to reach the harbor – you have to cross this sea! How will you cross? With the safety and security of the guidance from God, or will you try to navigate the dangerous shoals and stormy waters of man’s wisdom.
“There is no greater deception than for man to suppose that in any difficulty he can find a better guide than God, a wiser counselor in any emergency, a stronger defense under any circumstance. Man cannot act more unwisely than to rely upon human wisdom, to devise and plan when Christ has said, "Without Me ye can do nothing…" 17MR 228
Will you sign your name and enter that glorious castle, or like the scholars that Christian saw, just stand where you are, outside the gate of the castle and never cross the drawbridge; desiring to enter the Promised Land, but, who like the schoolmen and scholars that had no faith, never reach that blessed goal. The choice is yours!