How To Study – Rule 14

Rule 14: The most important rule of all is, that you must have faith. It must be a faith that requires a sacrifice, and, if tried, would give up the dearest object on earth, the world and all its desires, character, living, occupation, friends, home, comforts, and worldly honors. If any of these should hinder our believing any part of God’s word, it would show our faith to be vain. Nor can we ever believe, so long as one of these motives lies lurking in our hearts. We must believe that God will never forfeit his word. And we can have confidence that He that takes notice of the sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our head, will guard the translation of his own word, and throw a barrier around it, and prevent those who sincerely trust in God, and put implicit confidence in his word, from erring far from the truth, though they may not understand Hebrew or Greek.

My Comments

Maybe this is the best rule of all, and also the one with the most meaning for us individually. This rule brings our attention to our own spiritual condition, and challenges our faith in God as the author and protector of His Word, the Bible. We need to have strong faith and a good understanding of each point mentioned in this rule. Therefore, I encourage you to carefully consider each sentiment expressed by Miller and how you must personally apply it.

A portion of this rule touches on translation and interpretation of God’s Word. That is no small subject in the world of theology. In fact, how each person believes the Bible should be interpreted can product a totally different conclusion. Two different theologians having two different methods of interpretation can come up with two opposite interpretations! But there is only one truth and one right way of interpreting God’s Word.

One important thing to note in this rule is that we can come to truth without an understanding of the original Hebrew or Greek. Does that mean we are not allowed to look at the original text or original words in a Strong’s Concordance? I do not see a mandate anywhere in this rule, preventing us from exploring some of the meanings in the original text. What Miller is saying here is simply that we have a translation of the Bible in our own language, which God guided. Therefore if we compare scripture with scripture (as the other rules explain) we can be assured of truth even though we may not know the Hebrew or Greek. The Bible is for the common person, as much as for the theologian.

We need to be sure we are founded on the right interpretation methods, which is why I have posted these rules. I believe that these rules are simple enough for anyone, yet comprehensive enough to give us reasonable boundaries that will prevent unreasonable conclusions.

The overall idea of this rule is that our efforts to understand the Bible are not so much about us and our human ability. God has given us a Book so complete in itself that we only need to ask for the help of the Holy Spirit, and trust that we can find the answers within the pages of scripture.

 

Spirit of Prophecy Support

…you must have faith.

“The teachers of the truth need to search the word with great diligence. As represented in the Saviour’s parable, they are to dig for the truth as for hid treasure, that the precious jewels may be discovered and revealed to others. But the pearls of truth found in the Scriptures can be discerned only by the eye of faith. ‘The pure in heart shall see God.’ They can hear his voice, and discern his love.”

– The Review and Herald {RH, April 12, 1892 par. 24}

Genuine faith is founded on the Scriptures; but Satan uses so many devices to wrest the Scriptures and bring in error, that great care is needed if one would know what they really do teach. It is one of the great delusions of this time to dwell much upon feeling, and to claim honesty while ignoring the plain utterances of the word of God because that word does not coincide with feeling. Many have no foundation for their faith but emotion. Their religion consists in excitement; when that ceases, their faith is gone. Feeling may be chaff, but the word of God is the wheat. And ‘what,’ says the prophet, ‘is the chaff to the wheat?'”

– The Review and Herald {RH, November 25, 1884 par. 26}

…will guard the translation of his own word

Truth is inspired and guarded by God; and it will triumph over all opposition.

During ages of spiritual darkness the church of God has been as a city set on a hill. From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders. …”

– Acts of the Apostles, p. 11-12 {AA 11.3 – 12.1}

Truth is inspired and guarded by God; it will live, and will succeed, although it may appear at times to be overshadowed. …”

– Manuscript Releases Volume 17, p. 10 par. 1 {17MR 10.1}

Important links and connections are preserved:

“The Bible is God’s word, and is for His people. It was communicated by men; but ‘they spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’ It was given at different periods, and the men called to express the divine will and diffuse the light of truth, were chosen from all stations, from the humblest to the most exalted. The wonderful thing about it is the harmony there is in the divine word, coming to us, as it does, through these different channels and such widely separated periods. Each wrote in his own natural style, giving utterance, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to his own personal impressions, relating the events and scenes opened before him, or made to pass before his eyes; yet link is connected with link in the chain of precious truth given us in the word of God. The plan of redemption, and the will and character of God, are revealed to meet the necessities of man in every age; for these human instrumentalities were under divine control, and are not false witnesses of what they saw and heard.”

– The Bible Echo {BEcho, August 19, 1895 par. 4}

“In giving the word, “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The word was not given at the option of men, and the use to be made of it is not left to their option. Men may not dissect or pronounce upon, wrest or misinterpret, take from or cast aside, any portion of that word according to their own judgment. Although its compilation, preservation, and transmission have been committed to men, it is wholly divine in its origin and in the thoughts expressed. It may not be demerited and pronounced upon by finite minds, because of its transmission through human agents.

It is wonderful what an amount of evidence is required on the side of truth by the mind trained to doubt, and what weak, thread-like suppositions will be readily fastened upon to support skepticism. In the language of the apostle Paul it might be asked, O skeptic, “who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?” The interpretation often heard that “All scripture given by inspiration of God,” means that some Scripture is not inspired, is a very slender peg to hang a doubt upon. …”

– The Bible Echo {BEcho, August 26, 1895 par. 1-2}

“Spiritual darkness has covered the earth and gross darkness the people. There are in many churches skepticism and infidelity in the interpretation of the Scriptures. Many, very many, are questioning the verity and truth of the Scriptures. Human reasoning and the imaginings of the human heart are undermining the inspiration of the Word of God, and that which should be received as granted, is surrounded with a cloud of mysticism. Nothing stands out in clear and distinct lines, upon rock bottom. This is one of the marked signs of the last days.  {1SM 15.2}

This Holy Book has withstood the assaults of Satan, who has united with evil men to make everything of divine character shrouded in clouds and darkness. But the Lord has preserved this Holy Book by His own miraculous power in its present shape–a chart or guidebook to the human family to show them the way to heaven.  {1SM 15.3}

But the oracles of God have been so manifestly neglected that there are but few in our world, even of those who profess to explain it to others, who have the divine knowledge of the Scriptures. There are learned men who have a college education, but these shepherds do not feed the flock of God. They do not consider that the excellencies of the Scriptures will be continually unfolding their hidden treasures as precious jewels are discovered by digging for them.  {1SM 15.4}

There are men who strive to be original, who are wise above what is written; therefore, their wisdom is foolishness. They discover wonderful things in advance, ideas which reveal that they are far behind in the comprehension of the divine will and purposes of God. In seeking to make plain or to unravel mysteries hid from ages from mortal man, they are like a man floundering about in the mud, unable to extricate himself and yet telling others how to get out of the muddy sea they themselves are in. This is a fit representation of the men who set themselves to correct the errors of the Bible. No man can improve the Bible by suggesting what the Lord meant to say or ought to have said.  {1SM 16.1}

Some look to us gravely and say, “Don’t you think there might have been some mistake in the copyist or in the translators?” This is all probable, and the mind that is so narrow that it will hesitate and stumble over this possibility or probability would be just as ready to stumble over the mysteries of the Inspired Word, because their feeble minds cannot see through the purposes of God. Yes, they would just as easily stumble over plain facts that the common mind will accept, and discern the Divine, and to which God’s utterance is plain and beautiful, full of marrow and fatness. All the mistakes will not cause trouble to one soul, or cause any feet to stumble, that would not manufacture difficulties from the plainest revealed truth.  {1SM 16.2}

God committed the preparation of His divinely inspired Word to finite man. This Word, arranged into books, the Old and New Testaments, is the guidebook to the inhabitants of a fallen world, bequeathed to them that, by studying and obeying the directions, not one soul would lose its way to heaven. {1SM 16.3}

Men should let God take care of His own Book, His living oracles, as He has done for ages. They begin to question some parts of revelation, and pick flaws in the apparent inconsistencies of this statement and that statement. … {1SM 17.5}

We thank God that the Bible is prepared for the poor man as well as for the learned man. It is fitted for all ages and all classes.–Manuscript 16, 1888 (written at Minneapolis, Minn., in autumn of 1888).” {1SM 18.4}

– Selected Messages Book 1, p. 15-18 various paragraphs {1SM}

“There are professed Christians who read the Bible without a fine perception of the gems they are handling. There are portions of Scripture that they are not sure are inspired, and they think that in God’s word there are errors and human reasoning. With the lamp of life in their very hands, they stumble. They interpret the Scriptures to suit themselves; they cannot appreciate the wisdom of God, and their own human wisdom is the light that guides them.”

– The Bible Echo {BEcho, August 26, 1895 par. 7}

He… will … prevent those who sincerely trust in God and put implicit confidence in his word, from erring far from the truth

“Some look to us gravely and say, “Don’t you think there might have been some mistake in the copyist or in the translators?” This is all probable, and the mind that is so narrow that it will hesitate and stumble over this possibility or probability would be just as ready to stumble over the mysteries of the Inspired Word, because their feeble minds cannot see through the purposes of God. Yes, they would just as easily stumble over plain facts that the common mind will accept, and discern the Divine, and to which God’s utterance is plain and beautiful, full of marrow and fatness. All the mistakes will not cause trouble to one soul, or cause any feet to stumble, that would not manufacture difficulties from the plainest revealed truth.”

– Selected Messages Book 1, p. 16 {1SM 16.2}

Many a portion of Scripture which learned men pronounce a mystery, or pass over as unimportant, is full of comfort and instruction to him who has been taught in the school of Christ. One reason why many theologians have no clearer understanding of God’s word is, they close their eyes to truths which they do not wish to practice. As understanding of Bible truth depends not so much on the power of intellect brought to the search as on the singleness of purpose, the earnest longing after righteousness.

The Bible should never be studied without prayer. The Holy Spirit alone can cause us to feel the importance of those things easy to be understood, or prevent us from wrestling truths difficult of comprehension. It is the office of heavenly angels to prepare the heart to so comprehend God’s Word that we shall be charmed with its beauty, admonished by its warnings, or animated and strengthened by its promises. …”

– The Great Controversy, p. 599, par. 2-3 {GC 599.2 – 599.3}

“There are many things apparently difficult or obscure, which God will make plain and simple to those who thus seek an understanding of them. But without the guidance of the Holy Spirit we shall be continually liable to wrest the Scriptures or to misinterpret them. There is much reading of the Bible that is without profit and in many cases a positive injury. When the word of God is opened without reverence and without prayer; when the thoughts and affections are not fixed upon God, or in harmony with His will, the mind is clouded with doubts; and in the very study of the Bible, skepticism strengthens. The enemy takes control of the thoughts, and he suggests interpretations that are not correct. Whenever men are not in word and deed seeking to be in harmony with God, then, however learned they may be, they are liable to err in their understanding of Scripture, and it is not safe to trust to their explanations. Those who look to the Scriptures to find discrepancies, have not spiritual insight. With distorted vision they will see many causes for doubt and unbelief in things that are really plain and simple.

Disguise it as they may, the real cause of doubt and skepticism, in most cases, is the love of sin. The teachings and restrictions of God’s word are not welcome to the proud, sin-loving heart, and those who are unwilling to obey its requirements are ready to doubt its authority. In order to arrive at truth, we must have a sincere desire to know the truth and a willingness of heart to obey it. And all who come in this spirit to the study of the Bible will find abundant evidence that it is God’s word, and they may gain an understanding of its truths that will make them wise unto salvation.

Christ has said, “If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching.” John 7:17, R.V. Instead of questioning and caviling concerning that which you do not understand, give heed to the light that already shines upon you, and you will receive greater light. By the grace of Christ, perform every duty that has been made plain to your understanding, and you will be enabled to understand and perform those of which you are now in doubt.”

– Steps to Christ, p. 111 {SC 110.1 – 111.2}

“Has not God said He would give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him? and is not this spirit a real, true actual guide? Some men seem afraid to take God at His word as though it would be presumption in them. They pray for the Lord to teach us and yet are afraid to credit the pledged word of God and believe we have been taught of Him. So long as we come to our heavenly Father humbly and with a spirit to be taught, willing and anxious to learn, why should we doubt God’s fulfilment of His own promise? You must not for a moment doubt Him and dishonor Him thereby. When you have sought to know His will, your part in the operation with God is to believe that you will be led and guided and blessed in the doing of His will. We may mistrust ourselves lest we misinterpret His teachings, but make even this a subject of prayer, and trust Him, still trust Him to the uttermost, that His Holy Spirit will lead you to interpret aright His plans and the working of His providence (Letter 35, 1893).”

– SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1157 {3BC 1155.7}

“…though they may not understand Hebrew or Greek

“Jesus’ manner of teaching was beautiful and attractive, and it was ever characterized by simplicity. He unfolded the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven through the use of figures and symbols with which his hearers were familiar, and the common people heard him gladly; for they could comprehend his words. There were no high-sounding words used, to understand which it was necessary to consult a dictionary. He illustrated the glories of the kingdom of God by the use of the experiences and occurrences of earth. In compassionate love and tenderness he cheered and comforted and instructed all who heard him; for grace was poured upon his lips that he might convey to men in the most attractive way the treasures of truth.”

– Christian Education, p. 126 {CE 126.3}

The Bible is written in language that the humblest mind may comprehend; for it is written for the people, and the Lord reveals His truth according to their necessities and their comprehension. Through His servants, the truth is made so plain by pen and voice that none need call for greater evidence than has been given. …”

–The Bible Echo {BEcho, August 19, 1895 par. 5}

“Whenever the study of the Scriptures is entered upon without a prayerful, humble, teachable spirit, the plainest and simplest as well as the most difficult passages will be wrested from their true meaning. The papal leaders select such portions of Scripture as best serve their purpose, interpret to suit themselves, and then present these to the people, while they deny them the privilege of studying the Bible and understanding its sacred truths for themselves. The whole Bible should be given to the people just as it reads. It would be better for them not to have Bible instruction at all than to have the teaching of the Scriptures thus grossly misrepresented.

The Bible was designed to be a guide to all who wish to become acquainted with the will of their Maker. God gave to men the sure word of prophecy; angels and even Christ Himself came to make known to Daniel and John the things that must shortly come to pass. Those important matters that concern our salvation were not left involved in mystery. They were not revealed in such a way as to perplex and mislead the honest seeker after truth. Said the Lord by the prophet Habakkuk: “Write the vision, and make it plain, . . . that he may run that readeth it.” Habakkuk 2:2. The word of God is plain to all who study it with a prayerful heart. Every truly honest soul will come to the light of truth. “Light is sown for the righteous.” Psalm 97:11. And no church can advance in holiness unless its members are earnestly seeking for truth as for hid treasure.”

– The Great Controversy, p. 521 {GC 521.2 – 521.3}

“Jesus knew that he could do the scribes and Pharisees no good, unless they would empty themselves of self-importance. He chose new bottles for his new wine of doctrine, and made fishermen and unlearned believers the heralds of his truth to the world. And yet, though his doctrine seemed new to the people, it was in fact not a new doctrine, but the revelation of the significance of that which had been taught from the beginning. It was his design that his disciples should take the plain, unadulterated truth for the guide of their life. They were not to add to his words, or give a forced meaning to his utterances. They were not to put a mystical interpretation upon the plain teaching of the Scriptures, and draw from theological stores to build up some man-made theory. It was through putting a mystical meaning upon the plain words of God, that sacred and vital truths were made of little significance, while the theories of men were made prominent. It was in this way that men were led to teach for doctrines the commandments of men, and that they rejected the commandment of God, that they might keep their own tradition.”

– The Review and Herald {RH, June 2, 1896 par. 7}

“We must be careful lest we misinterpret the Scriptures. The plain teachings of the Word of God are not to be so spiritualized that the reality is lost sight of. Do not overstrain the meaning of sentences in the Bible in an effort to bring forth something odd in order to please the fancy. Take the Scriptures as they read. Avoid idle speculation concerning what will be in the kingdom of heaven.– Manuscript 30, 1904.”

– Selected Messages Book 1, p. 170 par. 2 {1SM 170.2}

References

Bible, King James Version

Quotes taken from the Ellen G. White Writings, Comprehensive Research Edition 2008 CD

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