Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 107, 1897

“Search the Scriptures”


September 15, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 8MR 413.

In the plan of God, it is designed that old and young shall study His Word. This is necessary for the development of the intellect. God would have all realize that the truth is capable of expanding and increasing in grace and power. The student of God’s Word finds that an effort to comprehend truth calls forth all his powers. The truth is deep and broad and high. Were it other than this, it would not be the truth. But its clearness is proportionate to its depth. Upon those who search the Scriptures, the truth found therein has an elevating, ennobling influence, enabling them to reach the standard of perfection. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 1

But much ignorance of Scripture prevails, even among those that preach the Word. Well-educated, intelligent men preach at the Word, and around the Word, but they do not touch the inner meaning of the Word. They do not present truth in its genuine simplicity. These men, considering themselves authority, tell their hearers that they cannot understand either Daniel or Revelation. Many ministers make no effort to explain Revelation. They call it an unprofitable book to study. They regard it as a sealed book, because it contains the record of figures and symbols. But the very name that has been given it—“Revelation”—is a denial of this supposition. Revelation is a sealed book, but it is also an opened book. It records marvelous events, that are to take place in the last days of this earth’s history. The teachings of this book are definite, not mystical and unintelligible. In it the same line of prophecy is taken up as in Daniel. Some prophecies God has repeated, this showing that importance must be given to them. The Lord does not repeat things that are of no great consequence. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 2

Many in the professed Christian world are too well satisfied with the surface truths of revelation. Precious gems of truth are passed by because their value is not discerned. But we are not to be satisfied with a thimbleful of truth. Let the Bible student put his mind to the tax as he studies God’s Word, for the meaning often lies beneath the surface. The knowledge thus received will be like heavenly seeds planted by the divine Sower. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 3

Christ’s words have a value far beyond that which a casual reading reveals. His sayings are worthy of the closest study. “The words that I speak unto you,” He declared, “they are spirit and they are life.” [John 6:63.] These words, falling from the lips of Christ with divine authority, were to the disciples as a new revelation. They were not new, but it seemed so to the disciples, because their eyes were opened to behold wonderful things in the Scriptures. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 4

Christ reproached His disciples with the slowness of their comprehension. They were influenced by maxims and traditionary lore, so that the truths that fell from the lips of the greatest Teacher the world has ever seen were often lost truths to them. Christ led them to realize that He had put in their possession truths of which they little suspected the value. After His resurrection, as He was walking to Emmaus with two of the disciples, He opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures. His exposition of the Old Testament unfolded to them a meaning the depth of which the writers themselves had not realized. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 5

Christ’s words are represented as being bread from heaven, that will quicken and nourish spiritual life. As the disciples ate the words of Christ, their understanding was quickened. As they diligently sought for the truth as for hidden treasure, they understood better the value of the grace and righteousness of Christ. They were enabled to realize the worth of His teachings. In their understanding of the words of their Lord, they stepped from the obscurity of dawn to the radiance of noon day. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 6

But “Show us a sign” was the cry of the scribes and Pharisees. [Matthew 12:38.] Even after Christ had fed the multitude with five loaves and two fishes, they came to Him with this demand. On this occasion, after the hunger of all had been satisfied, Christ had said, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” [John 6:12.] And they gathered up twelve baskets. This miracle was sufficient evidence, but the priests had closed their eyes to the light. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 7

What is the matter with those who have Bibles, and who claim to believe them? They do not eat the heavenly manna. Light shines upon them, but it is not appreciated. Many professed Christians refuse to gather up the light sent from heaven, because it does not justify the transgression of the law. There are many teaching the Word of life to others who are themselves dull of comprehension. They do not bring the truth into the inner sanctuary of the soul. It is not a living reality to them, because they do not practice it. It has not been digested and converted into spiritual muscle and sinew. They have closed their eyes, for fear that they will see and be converted. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 8

It is a sad thing to admit, but much ignorance of the Scriptures prevails, even among educated men and women, among those who look upon themselves as authority. Thus it was with the Jewish rabbis. Many teachers of the Word need to become learners before they can truly teach the Scriptures to others. Many accept the position of expositor of the Scriptures that are not fitted for it. Were Christ on earth, We would say to them, Ye teach for doctrines the commandments of men. Ye are both ignorant of the Scriptures and of the power of God. They know little of true moral or religious science, and less of the Word of God. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 9

The professed Christian world have had opportunity to obtain light and knowledge, but they close their eyes lest they shall see. A knowledge of the Scriptures would make them wise unto salvation; but many, though professing, as did the rabbis, to know much, know very little. They stand only on the threshold of knowledge. They have never entered in to obtain a real spiritual understanding. Because of the very simplicity of the truth, they think it necessary to clothe it with their supposedly superior, though far-fetched, explanations. But did they do no more than read the Scriptures, the common people would understand God’s Word far better. Because of the way in which the Scriptures are now handled and interpreted, they are [made] intricate. Better would it be for the student to compare scripture with scripture, using one passage to unlock another. Scripture can only be correctly interpreted by Scripture. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 10

The work of no human author is perfect. The depth of human intellect may be measured. The richest mines of human production are not inexhaustible. But the highest, deepest, broadest flight of the imagination cannot find out God. There is an infinity beyond all that we in our own strength cannot comprehend. They Holy Spirit must reveal Him. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 11

Should an angel from heaven come and dwell among us, unfolding to us that wonderful mysteries of science, showing us what constitutes the piety and holiness that heaven requires, bringing the atmosphere of heaven with him, and living as an example to us, how eagerly would we listen to his instruction. What numbers would throng his steps. And if when this heavenly being returned to his home, he left behind him a book recording the purpose of his mission, how it would be prized. Thousands upon thousands from all parts of the world would copy its words. With intense interest they would read and reread its pages. Much more knowledge would be gained from a study of it than from the works of men. The truth of heavenly origin would appear in a new aspect. But after a time, the attraction would cease. Other matters more engaging would occupy men’s minds. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 12

Should the angel Gabriel or one of the seraphims be sent to the world to take human nature, and to teach men the mysteries of science and the knowledge of God, how eagerly men would listen to his instruction. Supposing he were able to set us a perfect example of purity and holiness, sympathizing with us in our sorrows, bereavements, and afflictions, and suffering the punishments of our sins, what a following he would have. What exaltation he would receive. How many would desire to place him on the throne of David, and gather the nations under his banner. Should he go from the earth, leaving with its inhabitants a book containing the history of his mission and character, with revelations regarding the future of the world, how eagerly would the seal be broken. How eagerly would men seek a copy of the book containing the solution of mysteries that the brightest of earth’s intellects had been unable to search out. Eagerly would thinking men grasp the precious instruction for the benefit of future generations. For a time, every other interest would be subordinated to this. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 13

But One far surpassing all that supposition can present came to this world. Nearly two thousand years ago a voice of strange and mysterious import was heard from the throne of God, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me. ... Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.” [Hebrews 10:5, 7.] 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 14

The prophet Isaiah bears a striking testimony to Christ: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” [Isaiah 9:6.] 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 15

Of Himself Christ declares, “Before Abraham was, I am.” “I and my Father are one.” “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” [John 8:58; 10:30; 5:21, 22.] 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 16

John bears testimony of Christ, saying, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” [1 John 3:8.] In the simplest language John sets before us true practical godliness. This simplicity does not show shallowness; it shows depth. John is speaking to real men and women, and the Holy Spirit directed him to write so that he might bring them in contact with a real, living God. He shows us what God is doing, and what man must do to meet God’s requirements. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 17

John does not present the truth hesitatingly, but in a decided way. He speaks positively. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye may have fellowship with us; and truly, our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, That God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” [1 John 1:1-7.] 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 18

“For the life was manifested, and we have seen it.” [Verse 2.] Yes, the eternal life that was with the Father was manifested to us. This subject is beyond human reason. Jesus Christ was a divine being, but He clothed His divinity with humanity and became a man of flesh and blood. John talked with Him, learnt of Him, and loved Him with a sincere, pure, undeviating fidelity. 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 19

As Paul beheld Christ in His power, he broke out into an exclamation of admiration: “Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” [1 Timothy 3:16.] “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Philippians 2:5-11.] 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 20

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible or invisible, whether they be thrones or principalities or powers; all things were created by him, and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. ... For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” [Colossians 1:16, 17, 19.] 12LtMs, Ms 107, 1897, par. 21