1. THE REQUIRED EFFORT
a. What is required when studying the Bible? Proverbs 2:1–5.
“We cannot obtain wisdom without earnest attention and prayerful study. Some portions of Scripture are indeed too plain to be misunderstood, but there are others whose meaning does not lie on the surface to be seen at a glance. Scripture must be compared with scripture. There must be careful research and prayerful reflection. And such study will be richly repaid. As the miner discovers veins of precious metal concealed beneath the surface of the earth, so will he who perseveringly searches the word of God as for hid treasure find truths of the greatest value, which are concealed from the view of the careless seeker.”—Steps to Christ, pp. 90, 91.
b. Can we rest satisfied with what has already been discovered in the Scriptures by ourselves or by others? Matthew 13:52; Proverbs 4:18.
“We are to discover new aspects of truth in both the Old and the New Testament, to behold the exceeding breadth and compass of truths which we imagine we understand, but of which we have only a superficial knowledge. He who earnestly searches the Scriptures will see that harmony exists between the various parts of the Bible.”—The Bible Echo, October 15, 1892.
2. SINCERE SEARCHERS WILL BE REWARDED
a. What is more important than intelligence in order to rightly understand the Bible? Matthew 11:25; Psalm 25:9.
“It is sometimes the case that men of intellectual ability, improved by education and culture, fail to comprehend certain passages of Scripture, while others who are uneducated, whose understanding seems weak and whose minds are undisciplined, will grasp the meaning, finding strength and comfort in that which the former declare to be mysterious or pass by as unimportant. Why is this? It has been explained to me that the latter class do not rely upon their own understanding. They go to the Source of light, the One who has inspired the Scriptures, and with humility of heart ask God for wisdom, and they receive it. There are mines of truth yet to be discovered by the earnest seeker. Christ represented the truth as treasure hid in a field. It does not lie right upon the surface; we must dig for it. But our success in finding it does not depend so much on our intellectual ability as on our humility of heart and the faith which will lay hold upon divine aid.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 704.
b. Who will give us an understanding of essential Bible truths? Proverbs 2:6; Luke 10:21; 24:45. Why isn’t it necessary to our salvation to be able to explain everything that is difficult to understand in the Bible?
“Many feel that a responsibility rests upon them to explain every seeming difficulty in the Bible in order to meet the cavils of skeptics and infidels. But in trying to explain that which they but imperfectly understand, they are in danger of confusing the minds of others in reference to points that are clear and easy to be understood. This is not our work. Nor should we lament that these difficulties exist, but accept them as permitted by the wisdom of God. It is our duty to receive His word, which is plain on every point essential to the salvation of the soul, and practice its principles in our life, teaching them to others both by precept and example. Thus it will be evident to the world that we have a connection with God and implicit confidence in His word. A life of godliness, a daily example of integrity, meekness, and unselfish love will be a living exemplification of the teaching of God’s word, and it will be an argument in favor of the Bible which few will be able to resist.”—Ibid., pp.705, 706.
3. HAVING A PROPER ATTITUDE
a. What attitude should we have when we study the Bible? Psalms 10:17; 46:10; Isaiah 57:15.
“We should come with reverence to the study of the Bible, feeling that we are in the presence of God. All lightness and trifling should be laid aside. While some portions of the word are easily understood, the true meaning of other parts is not so readily discerned. There must be patient study and meditation and earnest prayer. Every student, as he opens the Scriptures, should ask for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and the promise is sure that it will be given.
“The spirit in which you come to the investigation of the Scriptures will determine the character of the assistant at your side. Angels from the world of light will be with those who in humility of heart seek for divine guidance. But if the Bible is opened with irreverence, with a feeling of self-sufficiency, if the heart is filled with prejudice, Satan is beside you, and he will set the plain statements of God’s word in a perverted light.”—Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 107, 108.
b. How should we respond to other people’s conclusions about what the Bible says? 2 Timothy 2:15; Acts 17:11.
“Truth is eternal, and conflict with error will only make manifest its strength. We should never refuse to examine the Scriptures with those who, we have reason to believe, desire to know what is truth as much as we do. Suppose a brother holds a view that differs from yours, and he comes to you, proposing that you sit down with him and investigate that point in the light of the Scriptures; should you rise up filled with prejudice and condemn his ideas while refusing to give him a hearing? The only right way would be to sit down as Christians and investigate the position presented in the light of God’s Word, which will reveal truth and unmask error. To ridicule his ideas would not weaken his position, though it were false, or strengthen your position, though it were true. If the pillars of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it; for it is foolish to become set in our ideas and think that no one should interfere with our opinions. Let everything be brought to the Bible; for it is the only rule of faith and doctrine.”—The Bible Echo, October 15, 1892.
4. UNDERSTANDING GOD’S WORD
a. How can we be sure that we understand any portion of the Bible correctly? Isaiah 28:10, 13; 2 Corinthians 13:1.
“’The Holy Scriptures ought to be explained by other and clearer texts; . . . this Holy Book is, in all things necessary for the Christian, easy of understanding, and calculated to scatter the darkness. We are resolved, with the grace of God, to maintain the pure and exclusive preaching of His only word, such as it is contained in the biblical books of the Old and New Testaments, without adding anything thereto that may be contrary to it. This word is the only truth; it is the sure rule of all doctrine and of all life, and can never fail or deceive us. He who builds on this foundation shall stand against all the powers of hell, while all the human vanities that are set up against it shall fall before the face of God.’”—The Great Controversy, p. 203.
“The Book of books has the highest claims to our reverent attention. Superficial study cannot meet the claims it has upon us, nor furnish us with the benefit that is promised. We should seek to learn the full meaning of the words of truth and to drink deep the spirit of the holy oracles.”—The Bible Echo, October 1, 1892.
“You must dig deep in the mine of truth if you would find its richest treasures. Comparing scripture with scripture, you may find the true meaning of the text; but if you do not make the sacred teachings of God’s Word the rule and guide of your life, the truth will be nothing to you.”—My Life Today, p. 22.
b. How did Jesus use this method to overcome Satan’s temptations? Matthew 4:6, 7; Isaiah 59:19.
“Temptations often appear irresistible because, through neglect of prayer and the study of the Bible, the tempted one cannot readily remember God’s promises and meet Satan with the Scripture weapons. But angels are round about those who are willing to be taught in divine things; and in the time of great necessity they will bring to their remembrance the very truths which are needed.”—The Great Controversy, p. 600.
5. BEGIN WITH PRAYER
a. Why do we need to pray before we open the Bible? 1 Corinthians 2:11–13; James 1:5; Psalm 10:17.
“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 is 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 doubt; 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.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 704, 705.
b. Whose help should we be asking for in prayer? Luke 11:9–13. What will that Helper do for us? John 16:13; 14:13, 16, 17, 26.
“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 wresting truths difficult of comprehension. It is the office of heavenly angels to prepare the heart so to comprehend God’s word that we shall be charmed with its beauty, admonished by its warnings, or animated and strengthened by its promises. We should make the psalmist’s petition our own: ‘Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law’ (Psalm 119:18).”—The Great Controversy, pp. 599, 600.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How much attention and focus should I give to studying the Bible?
2. What is more important than intelligence in the study of the Scriptures?
3. How can we guarantee the help of angels in understanding the Bible?
4. Why are we often overcome by temptation?
5. How should we prepare each time before we begin to study the Bible?