1. THE BASIS OF FAITH
a. What is the basis of the Christian’s faith? 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
“Christ calls upon His people to believe and practice His word. Those who receive and assimilate this word, making it a part of every action, of every attribute of character, will grow strong in the strength of God. It will be seen that their faith is of heavenly origin. They will not wander into strange paths. Their minds will not turn to a religion of sentimentalism and excitement. Before angels and before men, they will stand as those who have strong, consistent Christian characters.
“In the golden censer of truth, as presented in Christ’s teachings, we have that which will convict and convert souls. Present, in the simplicity of Christ, the truths that He came to this world to proclaim, and the power of your message will make itself felt. Do not present theories or tests that Christ has never mentioned and that have no foundation in the Bible. We have grand, solemn truths to present. ‘It is written’ is the test that must be brought home to every soul.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 300.
b. What is necessary in connection with diligent Bible study? Matthew 26:41; 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
a. What is necessary in order to have a genuine Christian experience? James 4:7 (first part); Luke 9:23.
“The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness.”—Steps to Christ, p. 43.
“Battles are to be fought every day. A great warfare is going on over every soul, between the prince of darkness and the Prince of life.”—The Review and Herald, July 19, 1892.
“When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. . . . But unless we do yield ourselves to the control of Christ, we shall be dominated by the wicked one. We must inevitably be under the control of the one or the other of the two great powers that are contending for the supremacy of the world. It is not necessary for us deliberately to choose the service of the kingdom of darkness in order to come under its dominion. We have only to neglect to ally ourselves with the kingdom of light. If we do not cooperate with the heavenly agencies, Satan will take possession of the heart, and will make it his abiding place. The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 324.
b. To what extent is this commitment to be maintained? Revelation 2:10.
“Said . . . [one] of the princes [at the Diet of Spires in Germany in 1529] as he took the pen: ‘If the honor of my Lord Jesus Christ requires it, I am ready . . . to leave my goods and life behind.’ ‘I would rather renounce my subjects and my states, rather quit the country of my fathers staff in hand,’ he continued, ‘than receive any other doctrine than that which is contained in this Confession’. . . . Such was the faith and daring of those men of God.”—The Great Controversy, p. 207.
“Even one wrong trait of character, one sinful desire cherished, will eventually neutralize all the power of the gospel. The prevalence of a sinful desire shows the delusion of the soul. Every indulgence of that desire strengthens the soul’s aversion to God. The pains of duty and the pleasures of sin are the cords with which Satan binds men in his snares. Those who would rather die than perform a wrong act are the only ones who will be found faithful.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 53.
3. RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY
a. How are we to treat governmental authority and why? Hebrews 13:17; Romans 13:1–7; Daniel 2:20, 21.
b. What are all who have ruling authority to do with that responsibility? 1 Corinthians 11:1.
“David’s power had been given him by God, but to be exercised only in harmony with the divine law. When he commanded that which was contrary to God’s law, it became sin to obey. ‘The powers that be are ordained of God’ (Romans 13:1), but we are not to obey them contrary to God’s law. The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, sets forth the principle by which we should be governed. He says, ‘Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 11:1.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 719.
c. Does that authority extend to a person’s conscience—that is, their relationship with God? Acts 5:28, 29; 23:1; 24:16.
“[When testifying at Worms, Martin Luther] the Reformer answered: ‘Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require from me a clear, simple, and precise answer, I will give you one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the councils, because it is clear as the day that they have frequently erred and contradicted each other. Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.’ ”—The Great Controversy, p. 160.
“ ‘In matters of conscience the majority has no power’. . . . To protect liberty of conscience is the duty of the state, and this is the limit of its authority in matters of religion. Every secular government that attempts to regulate or enforce religious observances by civil authority is sacrificing the very principle for which the evangelical Christian so nobly struggled.”—Ibid., p. 201.
“Instead of these abuses, Protestantism sets the power of conscience above the magistrate, and the authority of the word of God above the visible church.”—Ibid., p. 204.
“Conscience is the voice of God, heard amid the conflict of human passions; when it is resisted, the Spirit of God is grieved.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 120.
4. THE CONSCIENCE
a. Can we always trust our conscience? Titus 1:15; 2 Timothy 4:1, 2.
“One says, ‘My conscience does not condemn me in not keeping the commandments of God.’ But in the Word of God we read that there are good and bad consciences, and the fact that your conscience does not condemn you in not keeping the law of God does not prove that you are uncondemned in His sight.”—Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 323.
“My brother, your soul must be quickened and your faith enlarged. You have so long excused yourself in your disobedience on one plea or another that your conscience has been lulled to rest and ceases to remind you of your errors. You have so long followed your own convenience in regard to keeping the Sabbath that your mind has been rendered unimpressible as to your course of disobedience; yet you are none the less responsible, for you have brought yourself into this condition. Begin at once to obey the divine commandments, and trust in God. Provoke not His wrath, lest He visit you with terrible punishment. Return to Him before it is too late, and find pardon for your transgressions. He is rich and abundant in mercies; He will give you His peace and approbation if you come to Him in humble faith.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 254.
b. What did God miraculously insert in order to help our conscience? Genesis 3:15; John 1:9.
“When Adam and Eve were placed in the garden of Eden, they were innocent and sinless, in perfect harmony with God. Enmity had no natural existence in their hearts. But when they transgressed, their nature was no longer sinless. They became evil; for they had placed themselves on the side of the fallen foe, doing the very things that God specified they should not do. Had there been no interference on the part of God, man would have formed a firm alliance with Satan against heaven. . . .
Satan knew that although he had succeeded in making human beings sin, although he had led them to believe his lie, and to question God, although he had succeeded in depraving human nature, some arrangement had been made whereby the beings who had fallen would be placed on vantage ground, their nature renewed in godliness. . . .
“In the statement, ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,’ God pledged Himself to introduce into the hearts of human beings a new principle—a hatred of sin, of deception, of pretense, of everything that bears the marks of Satan’s guile.”—Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, p. 6.
5. THE CONSCIENCE TO BE EDUCATED
a. Is it possible to have a good conscience? 1 Timothy 1:18, 19; 3:9.
“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; the holy principles laid down in His word will give light to the soul. I tell you, my brethren, our true source of wisdom and virtue and power is in the cross of Calvary. Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He says, ‘Without Me ye can do nothing.’ Jesus is the only sure guarantee for intellectual success and advancement.”—Medical Ministry, p. 99.
b. How does one obtain a pure conscience? Hebrews 9:14.
“Take your conscience to the Word of God and see if your life and character are in accordance with the standard of righteousness which God has there revealed. You can then determine whether or not you have an intelligent faith and what manner of conscience is yours. The conscience of man cannot be trusted unless it is under the influence of divine grace. Satan takes advantage of an unenlightened conscience, and thereby leads men into all manner of delusions, because they have not made the Word of God their counselor. Many have invented a gospel of their own in the same manner as they have substituted a law of their own for God’s law.
“It is not enough for a man to think himself safe in following the dictates of his conscience. . . . The question to be settled is, Is the conscience in harmony with the Word of God? If not, it cannot safely be followed, for it will deceive. The conscience must be enlightened by God. Time must be given to a study of the Scriptures and to prayer. Thus the mind will be stablished, strengthened, and settled.”—Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, pp. 323, 324.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How do we establish the Christian faith in our lives?
2. Why is submission the crux of Christianity?
3. What are the limits to governmental and religious authority?
4. What is necessary in order to guide our conscience?
5. How do we develop a good conscience?