1. THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY
a. How much authority does the Word of God have over human teaching? Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 8:20.
“The Holy Scriptures are the perfect standard of truth.”—Education, p. 17.
“ ‘All human teaching should be subordinate to the oracles of God.’ ”—The Great Controversy, p. 204.
“The Lord has one path of safety for His people, and that is the path of obedience to His word. That word is given to us as our guide.”—The Bible Echo, August 19, 1895.
b. How can we use our reasoning powers properly in understanding God’s Word? Isaiah 1:16–18; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 25; 2:14–16.
“When we come to the Bible, reason must acknowledge an authority superior to itself, and heart and intellect must bow to the great I AM.”—Steps to Christ, p. 110.
“We are to beware of deifying reason, which is subject to the weakness and infirmity of humanity.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 703.
“With your Bibles open before you, consult sanctified reason and a good conscience. Your heart must be moved, your soul touched, your reason and intellect awakened by the Spirit of God; and then holy principles revealed in the word of God will give light to the soul.”—The Review and Herald, February 7, 1893.
2. LISTENING TO GOD THROUGH HIS WORD
a. What will be the result if we personally listen to God through His word? Deuteronomy 4:6; Psalm 119:94, 97–100.
“The precious book of God contains rules of life for men of every class and every vocation.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 416.
“We shall advance in true spiritual knowledge only as we realize our own littleness and our entire dependence upon God; but all who come to the Bible with a teachable and prayerful spirit, to study its utterances as the word of God, will receive divine enlightenment.”—Ibid., vol.5, p. 704.
“In searching the Scriptures for yourself, you will become established in the faith. It is of the greatest importance that you continually search the Scriptures, storing the mind with the truths of God.”—The Bible Echo, October 15, 1892.
“Conservative traditions received from educated men, and from the writings of great men of the past, are not safe guides for us in these last days. . . . Daily, hourly, we must be actuated by the principles of Bible truth—righteousness, mercy, and the love of God. He who would have moral and intellectual power must draw from the divine source. At every point of decision inquire, ‘Is this the way of the Lord?’”—The Review and Herald, February 7, 1893.
b. What assurance do we have that God will talk to us, individually, through the Bible? John 6:63; Jeremiah 15:16; Psalm 34:8.
“The word of the living God is not merely written but spoken. The Bible is God’s voice speaking to us, just as surely as though we could hear it with our ears. If we realized this, with what awe would we open God’s word, and with what earnestness would we search its precepts! The reading and contemplation of the Scriptures would be regarded as an audience with the Infinite One.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 393.
“When Satan presses his suggestions upon our minds, we may, if we cherish a ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ be drawn into the secret pavilion of the Most High.”—Ibid.
“So many are full of busy plans, always active; and there is no time or place for the precious Jesus to be a close, dear companion. They do not refer every thought and action to Him, inquiring: ‘Is this the way of the Lord?’ If they did they would walk with God, as did Enoch.”—Ibid.
3. ESSENTIAL COMMUNICATION
a. Why were the scriptures written? John 20:31.
b. If we reject God’s voice in His written Word, can we expect Him to communicate His will to us through other means? Luke 16:31; Proverbs 28:9. Why?
“The law and the prophets are God’s appointed agencies for the salvation of men. . . . If they do not listen to the voice of God in His word, the testimony of a witness raised from the dead would not be heeded.
“Those who heed Moses and the prophets will require no greater light than God has given; but if men reject the light, and fail to appreciate the opportunities granted them, they would not hear if one from the dead should come to them with a message. They would not be convinced even by this evidence; for those who reject the law and the prophets so harden their hearts that they will reject all light.”— Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 265.
c. Why can’t we rely on anyone else to listen to God for us? Ezekiel 14:12–14; 33:14–16.
“We must study the truth for ourselves; no man should be relied upon to think for us, no matter who he may be or in what position he may be placed. We are not to look upon any man as a perfect guide for us. We are to counsel together and be subject one to another; but at the same time we are to exercise the ability God has given us to learn what is truth. Each one of us must look to God for divine enlightenment, that we may individually develop a character that will stand the test of the great day. . . .
“Many are drifting into darkness and infidelity, picking flaws with the Bible, bringing up superstitious inventions, unscriptural theories, and speculations of vain philosophy; but it is the duty of everyone to seek a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. The importance and benefit of Bible study cannot be overestimated. In searching the Scriptures our minds are led to dwell upon the infinite sacrifice of Christ, on His mediation in our behalf. As we see His love, as we meditate upon His humiliation and sufferings, the same spirit of self-denial and sacrifice for the good of others will be kindled in our hearts.”—The Bible Echo, October 15, 1892.
4. FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE WITH GOD
a. Why were the people of Berea commended? Acts 17:10–12.
“No man can safely trust his soul to the minister, or to men who are learned and talented. Jesus charged the priests and rulers, who were regarded as learned in the Scriptures, as being ignorant both of the Scriptures and the power of God. Those to whom God has intrusted talents are responsible for the use of their gifts, and should study the Bible as a book that may be understood. A single text has proved in the past, and will prove in the future, a savor of life unto life to many a soul. As men diligently search, the Bible will open out new treasures of truth that will be as bright jewels to the mind.”—The Signs of the Times, August 20, 1894.
“Unless the mind is used, it will cease to expand; unless the taste is cultivated to love the Bible, it will cease to relish the truths of God’s word. The student can see only to the depth of what he has explored, and he cannot appreciate that which lies beyond the compass of his own narrow boundaries. But his very ignorance will make him conceited, talkative, and boastful. What can I say to you, young men and young women, to arouse you to vigor in your efforts to overcome obstacles? Mental effort will become easier and more satisfactory as you put yourselves to the task of understanding the deep things of God. You should each decide that you will not be a second-class student, that you will not allow others to think for you.”—The Review and Herald, May 20, 1890.
b. What was Timothy told to do while he waited for Paul to return? 1 Timothy 4:13, 15, 16.
c. What does Jesus say of those who hear His words and obey them? Matthew 7:24, 25.
“Those who hear and obey the words of Christ are building upon the rock, and when the tempest comes, their house will not be overthrown. They will through faith in Christ Jesus gain eternal life.”—This Day With God, p. 215.
5. LOOKING DEEPER
a. How deeply should we study the Bible? Colossians 3:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
“There is but little benefit derived from a hasty reading of the Scriptures. One may read the whole Bible through and yet fail to see its beauty or 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 the mind.”—Steps to Christ, p. 90.
“You are to offer to God nothing less than your best. You should do better and better work as you put in practice what you learn. You should seek to fathom every subject requiring your investigation, comparing not only the ideas and thoughts of men concerning the matter, but also comparing scripture with scripture, that you may know that you do know every point of the faith. The taxation of your mind will only strengthen your mental powers for greater effort.”—The Review and Herald, May 20, 1890.
“An 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 Great Controversy, p. 599.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What are the conditions to receiving enlightenment from God as we study the Bible?
2. What question should we ask when making any decision?
3. What effect will searching the Scriptures have upon us?
4. What do we become when we are ignorant of our Bible?
5. Instead of reading many Bible chapters without learning anything, how can we discover the deep, hidden truths of the Bible?