God has given us his Word as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Its teachings have a vital bearing on our prosperity in all the relations of life. Even in our temporal affairs it will be a wiser guide than any other counselor. Its divine instruction is the only way to success. There is no social position, no phase of human experience, for which the study of the Bible is not an essential preparation.
The Bible is the great standard of right and wrong, clearly defining sin and holiness. Its living principles, running through our lives like threads of gold, are our only safeguard in trial and temptation.
The Bible is a chart, showing us the waymarks of truth. Those who are acquainted with this chart will be enabled to tread with certainty in the path of duty, wherever they may be called to go.
The Bible contains a simple and complete system of theology and philosophy. It is the book that makes us wise unto salvation. It tells us how to reach the abode of eternal happiness. It tells us of the love of God as shown in the plan of redemption, imparting the knowledge essential for all,—the knowledge of Christ. He is the Sent of God; he is the Author of our salvation. But apart from the Word of God, we could have no knowledge that such a person as the Lord Jesus ever visited our world, nor any knowledge of his divinity, as indicated by his previous existence with the Father.
The Bible is not written for the scholar alone; on the contrary, it was designed for the common people. The great truths necessary for our salvation are made as clear as noonday, and none will mistake and lose their way except those who follow their own judgment instead of the plainly revealed will of God.
The Word of God strikes at every wrong trait of character, molding the whole man, internally and externally, abasing his pride and self-exaltation, leading him to bring the spirit of Christ into the smaller as well as the larger duties of life. It teaches him to be unswerving in his allegiance to justice and purity, and at the same time always to be kind and compassionate.
The appreciation of the Bible grows with its study. Whichever way the student may turn, he will find displayed the infinite wisdom and love of God. To him who is truly converted, the Word of God is the joy and consolation of the life. The Spirit of God speaks to him, and his heart becomes like a watered garden.
A Strengthener of the Intellect
There is nothing more calculated to strengthen the intellect than a study of the Bible. No other book is so potent to elevate the thoughts, to give vigor to the faculties, as the broad, ennobling truths of the Bible. If God’s Word were studied as it should be, men would have a breadth of mind, a nobility of character, that is rarely seen in these times.
No knowledge is so firm, so consistent, so far-reaching, as that obtained from a study of the Word of God. If there were not another book in the wide world, the Word of God, lived out through the grace of Christ, would make man perfect in this world, with a character fitted for the future, immortal life. Those who study the Word, taking it in faith as the truth, and receiving it into the character, will be complete in him who is all in all. Thank God for the possibilities set before humanity.
“Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” “Meditate upon these things: give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; but the word of the Lord endureth forever.” The time devoted to a study of God’s Word and to prayer will bring a hundredfold return.
The Word of God is the living seed, and as this seed is sown in the mind, the human agent must give diligent care to the successive stages of its growth. How is this to be done?—After the Word has been prayerfully received, it is to be cherished, and practised in the daily life. It is to spring up and bear fruit, putting forth first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.
The Spirit Necessary
It is not enough to study the Bible as other books are studied. In order for it to be understood savingly, the Holy Spirit must move on the heart of the searcher. The same Spirit that inspired the Word must inspire the reader of the Word. Then will be heard the voice of heaven. “Thy Word, O God, is truth,” will be the language of the soul.
The mere reading of the Word will not accomplish the result designed of heaven; it must be studied and cherished in the heart. The knowledge of God is not gained without mental effort. We should diligently study the Bible, asking God for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that we may understand his Word. We should take one verse, and concentrate the mind on the task of ascertaining the thought which God has put in that verse for us. We should dwell on the thought till it becomes our own, and we know “what saith the Lord.”
There is but little benefit derived from a hasty reading of the Scriptures. One may read the Bible through, and yet fail to see its beauty, or to comprehend its deep and hidden meaning. One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind, and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view, and no positive instruction gained. Keep your Bible with you. As you have opportunity, read it; fix the texts in your memory. Even while you are walking the streets, you may read a passage, and meditate upon it, thus fixing it in mind.
The life of Christ, that gives life to the world, is in his Word. It was by his word that Jesus healed disease and cast out demons; by his word he stilled the sea, and raised the dead; and the people bore witness that his word was with power. He spoke the word of God, as he had spoken to all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament. The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ. It is our source of power.
As our physical life is sustained by food, so our spiritual life is sustained by the Word of God. And every soul is to receive life from God’s Word for himself. As we must eat for ourselves in order to receive nourishment, so we must receive the Word for ourselves. We are not to obtain it merely through the medium of another mind.
Yes, the Word of God is the bread of life. Those who eat and digest this Word, making it a part of every action and of every attribute of character, grow strong in the strength of God. It gives immortal vigor to the soul, perfecting the experience, and bringing joys that will abide forever.
Excerpt by Ellen G. White, author and co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, The Review and Herald, June 11, 1908. Reprinted with permission.