1. SCRIPTURES HARD TO BE UNDERSTOOD
a. What does Peter observe about some of Paul’s writings? 2 Peter 3:14–17. What should we realize about some things in Scripture? Deuteronomy 29:29.
“Men of ability have devoted a lifetime of study and prayer to the searching of the Scriptures, and yet there are many portions of the Bible that have not been fully explored. Some passages of Scripture will never be perfectly comprehended until in the future life Christ shall explain them. There are mysteries to be unraveled, statements that human minds cannot harmonize. And the enemy will seek to arouse argument upon these points, which might better remain undiscussed.”—Gospel Workers, p. 312.
b. With what attitude must we approach the Scriptures? John 7:17.
“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, p. 108.
2. DISCERNING SECRETS
a. What specific things did God reveal to Paul for the purpose of sharing with the rest of the world? Romans 16:25, 26; Colossians 1:27.
“To Paul the cross was the one object of supreme interest. Ever since he had been arrested in his career of persecution against the followers of the crucified Nazarene he had never ceased to glory in the cross. At that time there had been given him a revelation of the infinite love of God, as revealed in the death of Christ; and a marvelous transformation had been wrought in his life, bringing all his plans and purposes into harmony with heaven. From that hour he had been a new man in Christ. He knew by personal experience that when a sinner once beholds the love of the Father, as seen in the sacrifice of His Son, and yields to the divine influence, a change of heart takes place, and henceforth Christ is all and in all.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 245.
b. If something in Scripture is difficult to understand, why should we even attempt researching into the matter? 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
“The cross of Christ is all covered with reproach and stigma, yet it is the hope of life and exaltation to man. No one can comprehend the mystery of godliness so long as he is ashamed to bear the cross of Christ. None will be able to discern and appreciate the blessings which Christ has purchased for man at infinite cost to Himself, unless they are willing to joyfully sacrifice earthly treasures that they may become His followers. Every self-denial and sacrifice made for Christ enriches the giver, and every suffering and reproach endured for His dear name increases the final joy and immortal reward in the kingdom of glory.”—Confrontation, p. 93.
c. Explain what we need in order to come to right conclusions. John 16:13.
“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 for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 704, 705.
3. THE ROYAL MORAL LAW
a. Contrary to common belief, how do we know that the law of Ten Commandments were not done away with at the cross? James 2:8, 9.
“Many religious teachers assert that Christ by His death abolished the law, and men are henceforth free from its requirements. There are some who represent it as a grievous yoke, and in contrast to the bondage of the law they present the liberty to be enjoyed under the gospel.
“But not so did prophets and apostles regard the holy law of God. Said David: ‘I will walk at liberty: for I seek Thy precepts.’ Psalm 119:45. The apostle James, who wrote after the death of Christ, refers to the Decalogue as ‘the royal law’ and ‘the perfect law of liberty.’ James 2:8; 1:25. And the revelator, half a century after the crucifixion, pronounces a blessing upon them ‘that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.’ Revelation 22:14.”—The Great Controversy, p. 466.
“When one surrenders to Christ, the mind is brought under the control of the law; but it is the royal law, which proclaims liberty to every captive. By becoming one with Christ, man is made free. Subjection to the will of Christ means restoration to perfect manhood.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 131.
b. Which law defines loving our neighbor as ourselves? Romans 13:9; compare Exodus 20:1–17.
“The first four of the Ten Commandments are summed up in the one great precept, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.’ The last six are included in the other, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Both these commandments are an expression of the principle of love. The first cannot be kept and the second broken, nor can the second be kept while the first is broken. When God has His rightful place on the throne of the heart, the right place will be given to our neighbor. We shall love him as ourselves. And only as we love God supremely is it possible to love our neighbor impartially. . . .
“Christ taught His hearers that the law of God is not so many separate precepts, some of which are of great importance, while others are of small importance and may with impunity be ignored. Our Lord presents the first four and the last six commandments as a divine whole, and teaches that love to God will be shown by obedience to all His commandments.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 607.
4. JUDGED BY THE LAW
a. Explain the far-reaching extent of the judgment upon humanity. Ecclesiastes 11:9; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27.
“All will be judged according to the light that has been given. The Lord sends forth His ambassadors with a message of salvation, and those who hear He will hold responsible for the way in which they treat the words of His servants. Those who are sincerely seeking for truth will make a careful investigation, in the light of God’s word, of the doctrines presented to them.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 232.
b. What standard will be used in the judgment? James 2:12.
c. Which law is this? James 2:11; compare Exodus 20.
“In His teachings, Christ showed how far-reaching are the principles of the law spoken from Sinai. He made a living application of that law whose principles remain forever the great standard of righteousness—the standard by which all shall be judged in that great day when the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 211.
“The law of God is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment. Says the wise man: ‘Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment.’ Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14. The apostle James admonishes his brethren: ‘So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.’ James 2:12.”—The Great Controversy, p. 482.
“When the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, and every man shall be judged according to the things written in the books, then the tables of stone, hidden by God until that day, will be presented before the world as the standard of righteousness. Then men and women will see that the prerequisite of their salvation is obedience to the perfect law of God. None will find excuse for sin. By the righteous principles of that law, men will receive their sentence of life or of death.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 225.
5. THE LAW AS THE SCHOOLMASTER
a. What is the purpose of understanding the law or knowing the truth? John 3:18–21; Romans 7:7.
“The first step in reconciliation to God is the conviction of sin. ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’ ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’ 1 John 3:4; Romans 3:20. In order to see his guilt, the sinner must test his character by God’s great standard of righteousness. It is a mirror which shows the perfection of a righteous character and enables him to discern the defects in his own.”—The Great Controversy, p. 467.
b. By exposing our real condition, what does the law do with that revelation? Galatians 3:24.
“I am asked concerning the law in Galatians. What law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ? I answer: Both the ceremonial and the moral code of ten commandments.
“Christ was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy. The death of Abel was in consequence of Cain’s refusing to accept God’s plan in the school of obedience, to be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, typified by the sacrificial offerings pointing to Christ. Cain refused the shedding of blood, which symbolized the blood of Christ to be shed for the world. This whole ceremony was prepared by God, and Christ became the foundation of the whole system. This is the beginning of its work as the schoolmaster to bring sinful human agents to a consideration of Christ.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1109.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How important is personal heart preparation in Bible study?
2. How is it possible to properly understand something as mysterious as the gospel of salvation?
3. What are the reasons for understanding that after the cross, the law of God is still in force?
4. What is the great standard of character as a prerequisite for eternal life?
5. Why is it necessary for the law, our truant officer, to bring us to Christ?