He had studied Roman law. He was the governor of Judea, and to a great degree the freedom of millions depended on his decisions. He even had the authority to judge whether the Son of God should live or die. But he was ignorant of the truth. He lived in such darkness that, when Jesus was in his presence and mentioned the word “truth,” his immediate question was: “What is truth?” John 18:38. The judge of an entire region did not know what the truth was! How could Pilate make decisions when he was ignorant of the most basic factor in decision making? And he was not alone.
Two men had a problem and submitted themselves to arbitration before a judge. The plaintiff was very eloquent and persuasive in presenting his case.
When he finished, the judge nodded in approval and said, “That’s right.”
On hearing this, the defendant jumped up and said, “Wait a moment, Judge! You haven’t even heard my side of the case yet.” So, the judge told the defendant to state his case. And he, too, was very persuasive and eloquent.
When he finished, the judge said, “That’s right.”
When the court clerk heard this, he jumped up and said, “Judge, they both can’t be right!”
The judge looked at the clerk of court and said, “That’s also right.” It seems that this judge had no more understanding of the truth than did Pilate in his day.
Can we say that people know more truth today than is represented in these two cases?
We can thank the Lord that we are not abandoned to the confusion of the world, for the greatest Authority in the universe has revealed who is the truth and where we can find it. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Later, referring to the word of God, He stated: “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” John 14:6; 17:1. Thus, Jesus and God’s holy word are the truth; we have this truth in our hands, just as Pilate had Jesus in his presence. Did the governor value for His excellence the One who was the truth? And what about us? What use are we making of this great treasure?
Knowing the great darkness of error and sin existing in the world, Jesus gave the great commission to His people to go and preach the truth of the gospel. “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” “And Jesus came and s-pak–e unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:18-20. Faithful to this mandate, the apostle Paul could say that he had “not shunned to declare … all the counsel of God.” To the believers in his charge he repeated that “by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Acts 20:27, 31.
To carry out the divine commission, we have to study the word of the Lord with all that it contains. The Spirit of prophecy states: “If we are to be sanctified through a knowledge of the truth found in the word of God, we must have an intelligent knowledge of His will therein revealed. We must search the Scriptures, not merely rush through a chapter and repeat it, taking no pains to understand it, but we must dig for the jewel of truth which will enrich the mind, and fortify the soul against the wiles and temptations of the arch-deceiver.” –Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 19.
These Sabbath School Lessons have been prepared so we can understand “all the counsel of God.” They cover the list of subjects found in the Principles of Faith. In the last half of 2015 and in the first quarter of 2016, we will study the Principles in order. It is our sincere desire that this will result in a great blessing for God’s people all around the world.
Truth is like light; and as light scatters darkness, so truth reveals and conquers error. More than this, divine truth has the capacity to transform. “The Scriptures are the great agency in … transformation of character…. If studied and obeyed, the word of God works in the heart, subduing every unholy attribute. The Holy Spirit comes to convict of sin, and the faith that springs up in the heart works by love to Christ, conforming us, body, soul, and spirit, to His will.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 100.
Let us make this wonderful experience of transformation as from Sabbath to Sabbath we study the truth deeply, not just consider it as a theoretical message from God. We are urged to go even further, bringing all truth into our daily lives, for “However enlightened the youth may be through Bible studies, their nature is such that unless the truth of which they have knowledge is practiced in the daily life, every attempt to elevate and ennoble will be unavailing.” –Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 68.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us study these lessons not only to know the truth and be able to present it to others, but with a much higher goal–to obey it, to “be established in the present truth.” And being established in the truth, let us be purified in our “souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:12; 1 Peter 1:22.
“The Father,” writes the Spirit of prophecy, “sets His love upon His elect people who live in the midst of men. These are the people whom Christ has redeemed by the price of His own blood; and because they respond to the drawing of Christ, through the sovereign mercy of God, they are elected to be saved as His obedient children. Upon them is manifested the free grace of God, the love wherewith He hath loved them. Everyone who will humble himself as a little child, who will receive and obey the Word of God with a child’s simplicity will be among the elect of God.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1114.
Let us pray earnestly together that this will be our experience as from day to day and from Sabbath to Sabbath we study and live the precious truth that the Lord permits to shine on our pathway.
–The brothers and sisters of the General Conference
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Sabbath, July 4, 2015
“Christ resisted Satan with Scripture. He might have had recourse to His own divine power, and used His own words; but He said, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ If the Sacred Scriptures were studied and followed, the Christian would be fortified to meet the wily foe; but the word of God is neglected, and disaster and defeat follow.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 210.
God’s inspired word
1. Where did the instructions to write the books of the Holy Scriptures come from? Is there anything in the Bible that was written directly by God?
Exodus 34:27 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
Isaiah 30:8 Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever.
Revelation 1:11, first part Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia…
Exodus 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (See Exodus 32:16).
“He did not even then trust His precepts to the memory of a people who were prone to forget His requirements, but wrote them upon tables of stone. He would remove from Israel all possibility of mingling heathen traditions with His holy precepts, or of confounding His requirements with human ordinances or customs. But He did not stop with giving them the precepts of the Decalogue. The people had shown themselves so easily led astray that He would leave no door of temptation unguarded. Moses was commanded to write, as God should bid him, judgments and laws giving minute instruction as to what was required. These directions relating to the duty of the people to God, to one another, and to the stranger were only the principles of the Ten Commandments amplified and given in a specific manner, that none need err. They were designed to guard the sacredness of the ten precepts engraved on the tables of stone.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 364.
2. In what ways did the Lord convey His messages to the prophets? What special guidance did they receive as they recorded the messages?
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
Numbers 12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
1 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
“ ‘The secret things,’ says Moses, ‘belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever;’ and the Lord declares by the prophet Amos, that He ‘will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.’ Deuteronomy 29:29; Amos 3:7. The students of God’s word may, then, confidently expect to find the most stupendous event to take place in human history clearly pointed out in the Scriptures of truth.” –The Great Controversy, p. 324.
“The Saviour had spoken through all the prophets. ‘The Spirit of Christ which was in them’ ‘testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.’ 1 Peter 1:11.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 234.
“Through the inspiration of His Spirit the Lord gave His apostles truth, to be expressed according to the development of their minds by the Holy Spirit. But the mind is not cramped, as if forced into a certain mold.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 22.
3. What are the Scriptures called, reflecting their holy origin and manner of transmission?
2 Samuel 22:31 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
1 Chronicles 17:3 And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan,…
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.
Romans 3:2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
“This Holy Book has withstood the assaults of Satan, who has united with evil men to make everything of divine character shrouded in clouds and darkness. But the Lord has preserved this Holy Book by His own miraculous power in its present shape–a chart or guidebook to the human family to show them the way to heaven…. This Word … is the guidebook to the inhabitants of a fallen world, bequeathed to them, that by studying and obeying the directions, not one soul would lose its way….
“How many are betrayed into sin, because they have not, through prayerful study of the Word of God, realized the sinfulness of sin, and found out how they may steadfastly resist it. When temptation comes upon them, they seem to be off guard, and ignorant of the devices of the enemy. We are living in perilous times, and as we draw near the close of earth’s history, there will be no safety for those who do not become familiar with the Word of God.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 190.
For light and inspiration
4. For what purpose did the Lord give this valuable resource to man? Having a divine origin, how long will it be valid?
Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
2 Timothy 3:16, 17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
“In His word, God has committed to men the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience.” –The Great Controversy, p. vii.
“The Bible is the standard by which to test the claims of all who profess sanctification. Jesus prayed that His disciples might be sanctified through the truth, and He says, ‘Thy word is truth;’ while the psalmist declares, ‘Thy law is the truth.’ All whom God is leading will manifest a high regard for the Scriptures in which His voice is heard. The Bible will be to them ‘profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.’ ” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5. p. 1147.
Power to create and regenerate
5. How powerful is God’s word? What happened when the Lord spoke at creation or when Jesus responded to those who pleaded for healing?
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Psalm 33:9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
Mark 4:39, 41 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm…. 41And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Matthew 12:13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
“The creative energy that called the worlds into existence is in the word of God. This word imparts power; it begets life. Every command is a promise; accepted by the will, received into the soul, it brings with it the life of the Infinite One. It transforms the nature and re-creates the soul in the image of God.” –Education, p. 126.
“The word of God–the truth–is the channel through which the Lord manifests His Spirit and power. Obedience to the word produces fruit of the required quality –’unfeigned love of the brethren.’ This love is heaven-born and leads to high motives and unselfish actions.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 519.
Conditions for receiving the blessings
6. In studying the inspired letter of our heavenly Father, what is a prerequisite for understanding it? What attitude makes it possible for one to receive the promised blessings?
2 Chronicles 20:20, last part Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
Luke 11:28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
Romans 2:13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
“We are accountable only for the light that shines upon us. The commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus are testing us. If we are faithful and obedient, God will delight in us, and bless us as His own chosen, peculiar people. When perfect faith and perfect love and obedience abound, working in the hearts of those who are Christ’s followers, they will have a powerful influence….
“The light of prophecy still burns for the guidance of souls, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it.’ It shines on the pathway of the just to commend, and on the way of the unjust to lead to repentance and conversion. Through its agency sin will be rebuked and iniquity unmasked. It is progressive in the performance of its duty to reflect light on the past, the present, and the future.” –My Life Today, pp. 42, 43.
7. What other attitudes are necessary to receive divine revelation? What does this spiritual food produce when it is “eaten” daily like bread?
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. (See Matthew 18:3.)
John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.
“We must be constantly meditating upon the word, eating it, digesting it, and by practice, assimilating it, so that it is taken into the life current. He who feeds on Christ daily will by his example teach others to think less of that which they eat, and to feel much greater anxiety for the food they give to the soul.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 89, 90.
“The Bible is God’s voice speaking to us just as surely as though we could hear Him with our ears. The word of the living God is not merely written, but spoken. Do we receive the Bible as the oracle of God? If we realized the importance of this Word, with what awe would we open it, and with what earnestness would we search its precepts. The reading and contemplating of the Scriptures would be regarded as an audience with the Most High.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 134.
- How much do I love the word of God and eating it as daily spiritual food?
- Do I consider the Bible’s messages merely as information or as living principles?
- What do I choose to follow when discrepancies seem to appear between God’s word and man’s interests?