Translate The Scriptures a Safeguard, The Great Controversy

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“To the law and to the testimony. If they speak not according to this word, it is
because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. The people of God are directed to
the Scriptures as their safeguard against the influence of false teachers and the
delusive power of spirits of darkness. Satan employs every possible device to
prevent men from obtaining a knowledge of the Bible; for its plain utterances
reveal his deceptions. At every revival of God’s work, the prince of evil is aroused
to more intense activity; he is now putting forth his utmost efforts for a final
struggle against Christ and his followers. The last great delusion is soon to open
before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely willIllustration - Ebook cover - The Great Controversy - text
the counterfeit resemble the true, that it will be impossible to distinguish between
them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and
every miracle must be tested.
Those who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God will be opposed
and derided. They can stand only in God. In order to endure the trial before them,
they must understand the will of God as revealed in his Word; they can honor him
only as they have a right conception of his character, government, and purposes,
and act in accordance with them. None but those who have fortified the mind with
the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will
come the searching test, Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is
even now at hand. Are our feet planted on the rock of God’s immutable Word?
Are we prepared to stand firm in defense of the commandments of God and the
faith of Jesus?
Before his crucifixion, the Saviour explained to his disciples that he was to be
put to death, and to rise again from the tomb; and angels were present to
impress his words on minds and hearts. But the disciples were looking for
temporal deliverance from the Roman yoke, and they could not tolerate the
thought that He in whom all their hopes centered should suffer an ignominious
death. The words which they needed to remember were banished from their
minds; and when the time of trial came, it found them unprepared. The death of
Jesus as fully destroyed their hopes as if he had not forewarned them. So in the
prophecies the future is opened before us as plainly as it was opened to the
disciples by the words of Christ. The events connected with the close of
probation and the work of preparation for the time of trouble, are clearlyIllustration - Ebook GC - The Scriptures a Safeguard - text - title - logo
presented. But multitudes have no more understanding of these important truths
than if they had never been revealed. Satan watches to catch away every
impression that would make them wise unto salvation, and the time of trouble will
find them unready.
When God sends to men warnings so important that they are represented as
proclaimed by holy angels flying in the midst of heaven, he requires every person
endowed with reasoning powers to heed the message. The fearful judgments
denounced against the worship of the beast and his image, Revelation 14:9-11,
should lead all to a diligent study of the prophecies to learn what the mark of the
beast is, and how they are to avoid receiving it. But the masses of the people turn
away their ears from hearing the truth, and are turned unto fables. The apostle
Paul declared, looking down to the last days, “The time will come when they will
not endure sound doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:3. That time has fully come. The
multitudes do not want Bible truth, because it interferes with the desires of the
sinful, world-loving heart; and Satan supplies the deceptions which they love.
But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible
only, as the standard of all doctrines, and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of
learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical
councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent,
the voice of the majority; not one or all of these should be regarded as evidence
for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or
precept, we should demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord” in its support.
Satan is constantly endeavoring to attract attention to man in the place of
God. He leads the people to look to bishops, to pastors, to professors of
theology, as their guides, instead of searching the Scriptures to learn their duty
for themselves. Then, by controlling the minds of these leaders, he can influence
the multitudes according to his will.
When Christ came to speak the words of life, the common people heard him
gladly; and many, even of the priests and rulers, believed on him. But the chief of
the priesthood and the leading men of the nation were determined to condemn
and repudiate his teachings. Though they were baffled in all their efforts to find
accusations against him, though they could not but feel the influence of the divine
power and wisdom attending his words, yet they encased themselves in
prejudice; they rejected the clearest evidence of his Messiahship, lest they
should be forced to become his disciples. These opponents of Jesus were men
whom the people had been taught from infancy to reverence, to whose authority
they had been accustomed implicitly to bow. “How is it,” they asked, “that our
rulers and learned scribes do not believe on Jesus? Would not these pious men
receive him if he were the Christ?” It was the influence of such teachers that led
the Jewish nation to reject their Redeemer.
The spirit which actuated those priests and rulers is still manifested by many
who make a high profession of piety. They refuse to examine the testimony of the
Scriptures concerning the special truths for this time. They point to their own
numbers, wealth, and popularity, and look with contempt upon the advocates of
truth as few, poor, and unpopular having a faith that separates them from the
Christ foresaw that the undue assumption of authority indulged by the scribes
and Pharisees would not cease with the dispersion of the Jews. He had a
prophetic view of the work of exalting human authority to rule the conscience,
which has been so terrible a curse to the church in all ages. And his fearful
denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees, and his warnings to the people not to
follow these blind leaders, were placed on record as an admonition to future
The Romish Church reserves to the clergy the right to interpret the Scriptures.
On the ground that ecclesiastics alone are competent to explain God’s Word, it is
withheld from the common people. Though the Reformation gave the Scriptures
to all, yet the self-same principle which was maintained by Rome prevents
multitudes in Protestant churches from searching the Bible for themselves. They
are taught to accept its teachings as interpreted by the church; and there are
thousands who dare receive nothing, however plainly revealed in Scripture, that
is contrary to their creed, or the established teaching of their church.
Notwithstanding the Bible is full of warnings against false teachers, many are
ready thus to commit the keeping of their souls to the clergy. There are today
thousands of professors of religion who can give no other reason for points of
faith which they hold than that they were so instructed by their religious leaders.
They pass by the Saviour’s teachings almost unnoticed, and place implicit
confidence in the words of the ministers. But are ministers infallible? How can we
trust our souls to their guidance unless we know from God’s Word that they are
light-bearers? A lack of moral courage to step aside from the beaten track of the
world, leads many to follow in the steps of learned men; and by their reluctance
to investigate for themselves, they are becoming hopelessly fastened in the
chains of error. They see that the truth for this time is plainly brought to view in
the Bible, and they feel the power of the Holy Spirit attending its proclamation; yet
they allow the opposition of the clergy to turn them from the light. Though reason
and conscience are convinced, these deluded souls dare not think differently
from the minister; and their individual judgment, their eternal interests, are
sacrificed to the unbelief, the pride and prejudice, of another.
Many are the ways by which Satan works through human influence to bind his
captives. He secures multitudes to himself by attaching them by the silken cords
of affection to those who are enemies of the cross of Christ. Whatever this
attachment may be, parental, filial, conjugal, or social, the effect is the same; the
opposers of truth exert their power to control the conscience, and the souls held
under their sway have not sufficient courage or independence to obey their own
convictions of duty.
The truth and the glory of God are inseparable; it is impossible for us, with the
Bible within our reach, to honor God by erroneous opinions. Many claim that it
matters not what one believes, if his life is only right. But the life is moulded by
the faith. If light and truth are within our reach, and we neglect to improve the
privilege of hearing and seeing it, we virtually reject it; we are choosing darkness
rather than light.
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the
ways of death.” Proverbs 16:25. Ignorance is no excuse for error or sin, when
there is every opportunity to know the will of God. A man is travelling, and comes
to a place where there are several roads, and a guide-board indicating where
each one leads. If he disregards the guide-board, and takes whichever road
seems to him to be right, he may be ever so sincere, but will in all probability find
himself on the wrong road.
God has given us his Word that we may become acquainted with its
teachings, and know for ourselves what he requires of us. When the lawyer came
to Jesus with the inquiry, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” the Saviour
referred him to the Scriptures, saying, “What is written in the law? how readest
thou?” Ignorance will not excuse young or old, or release them from the
punishment due for the transgression of God’s law, because there is in their
hands a faithful presentation of that law and of its principles and its claims. It is
not enough to have good intentions; it is not enough to do what a man thinks is
right, or what the minister tells him is right. His soul’s salvation is at stake, and he
should search the Scriptures for himself. However strong may be his convictions,
however confident he may be that the minister knows what is truth, this is not his
foundation. He has a chart pointing out every way-mark on the heavenward
journey, and he ought not to guess at anything.
It is the first and highest duty of every rational being to learn from the
Scriptures what is truth, and then to walk in the light, and encourage others to
follow his example. We should day by day study the Bible diligently, weighing
every thought, and comparing scripture with scripture. With divine help, we are to
form our opinions for ourselves, as we are to answer for ourselves before God.
The truths most plainly revealed in the Bible have been involved in doubt and
darkness by learned men, who, with a pretense of great wisdom, teach that the
Scriptures have a mystical, a secret, spiritual meaning not apparent in the
language employed. These men are false teachers. It was to such a class that
Jesus declared, “Ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God.” Mark
12:24. The language of the Bible should be explained according to its obvious
meaning, unless a symbol or figure is employed. Christ has given the promise, “If
any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.” John 7:17. If men would
but take the Bible as it reads, if there were no false teachers to mislead and
confuse their minds, a work would be accomplished that would make angels
glad, and that would bring into the fold of Christ thousands upon thousands who
are now wandering in error.
We should exert all the powers of the mind in the study of the Scriptures, and
should task the understanding to comprehend, as far as mortals can, the deep
things of God; yet we must not forget that the docility and submission of a child is
the true spirit of the learner. Scriptural difficulties can never be mastered by the
same methods that are employed in grappling with philosophical problems. We
should not engage in the study of the Bible with that self-reliance with which so
many enter the domains of science, but with a prayerful dependence upon God,
and a sincere desire to learn his will. We must come with a humble and
teachable spirit to obtain knowledge from the great I AM. Otherwise, evil angels
will so blind our minds and harden our hearts that we shall not be impressed by
the truth.
Many a portion of Scripture which learned men pronounce a mystery, or pass
over as unimportant, is full of comfort and instruction to him who has been taught
in the school of Christ. One reason why many theologians have no clearer
understanding of God’s Word is, they close their eyes to truths which they do not
wish to practice. 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 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 wrestling truths difficult of comprehension. It is the office of heavenly
angels to prepare the heart to so 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. 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.
Thus “when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up
a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19.
Jesus promised his disciples, “The Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the
Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to
your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26. But the
teachings of Christ must previously have been stored in the mind, in order for the
Spirit of God to bring them to our remembrance in the time of peril. “Thy Word
have I hid in mine heart,” said David, “that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm
All who value their eternal interests should be on their guard against the
inroads of skepticism. The very pillars of truth will be assailed. It is impossible to
keep beyond the reach of the sarcasms and sophisms, the insidious and pestilent
teachings, of modern infidelity. Satan adapts his temptations to all classes. He
assails the illiterate with a jest or sneer, while he meets the educated with
scientific objections and philosophical reasoning, alike calculated to excite
distrust or contempt of the Scriptures. Even youth of little experience presume to
insinuate doubts concerning the fundamental principles of Christianity. And this
youthful infidelity, shallow as it is, has its influence. Many are thus led to jest at
the faith of their fathers, and to do despite to the Spirit of grace. Hebrews 10:29.
Many a life that promised to be an honor to God and a blessing to the world, has
been blighted by the foul breath of infidelity. All who trust to the boastful decisions
of human reason, and imagine that they can explain divine mysteries, and arrive
at truth unaided by the wisdom of God, are entangled in the snare of Satan.
We are living in the most solemn period of this world’s history. The destiny of
earth’s teeming multitudes is about to be decided. Our own future well-being, and
also the salvation of other souls, depends upon the course which we now pursue.
We need to be guided by the Spirit of truth. Every follower of Christ should
earnestly inquire, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” We need to humble
ourselves before the Lord, with fasting and prayer, and to meditate much upon
his Word, especially upon the scenes of the Judgment. We should now seek a
deep and living experience in the things of God. We have not a moment to lose.
Events of vital importance are taking place around us; we are on Satan’s
enchanted ground. Sleep not, sentinels of God; the foe is lurking near, ready at
any moment, should you become lax and drowsy, to spring upon you and make
you his prey.
Many are deceived as to their true condition before God. They congratulate
themselves upon the wrong acts which they do not commit, and forget to
enumerate the good and noble deeds which God requires of them, but which
they have neglected to perform. It is not enough that they are trees in the garden
of God. They are to answer his expectation by bearing fruit. He holds them
accountable for their failure to accomplish all the good which they could have
done, through his grace strengthening them. In the books of Heaven they are
registered as cumberers of the ground. Yet the case of even this class is not
utterly hopeless. With those who have slighted God’s mercy and abused his
grace, the heart of long-suffering love yet pleads. “Wherefore he saith, Awake,
thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See
then that ye walk circumspectly, . . . redeeming the time, because the days are
evil.” Ephesians 5:14-16.
When the testing time shall come, those who have made God’s Word their
rule of life will be revealed. In summer there is no noticeable difference between
evergreens and other trees; but when the blasts of winter come, the evergreens
remain unchanged, while other trees are stripped of their foliage. So the
false-hearted professor may not now be distinguished from the real Christian, but
the time is just upon us when the difference will be apparent. Let opposition arise,
let bigotry and intolerance again bear sway, let persecution be kindled, and the
half-hearted and hypocritical will waver and yield the faith; but the true Christian
will stand firm as a rock, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, than in days of
Says the psalmist: “Thy testimonies are my meditation.” “Through thy
precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” Psalm 119:99,
“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom.” Proverbs 3:13. “He shall be as a tree
planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not
see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the
year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8.

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