Chapter 48—The Knowledge Received through God’s Word
The whole Bible is a revelation of the glory of God in Christ. Received, believed, obeyed, it is the great instrumentality in the transformation of character. And it is the only sure means of intellectual culture.
The reason why the youth, and even those of mature years, are so easily led into temptation and sin is that they do not study the word of God and meditate upon it as they should. The lack of firm, decided will power, which is manifest in life and character, results from their neglect of the sacred instruction of God’s word. They do not by earnest effort direct the mind to that which would inspire pure, holy thought and divert it from that which is impure and untrue. There are few who choose the better part, who sit at the feet of Jesus, as did Mary, to learn of the divine Teacher. Few treasure His words in the heart and practice them in the life.
The truths of the Bible, received, will uplift the mind from its earthliness and debasement. If the word of God were appreciated as it should be, both young and old would possess an inward rectitude, a strength of principle, that would enable them to resist temptation.
Let men teach and write the precious things of the Holy Scriptures. Let the thought, the aptitude, the keen exercise of brain power, be given to the study of the thoughts of God. Study not the philosophy of man’s conjectures, but study the philosophy of Him who is truth. Other literature is of little value when compared with this.
The mind that is earthly finds no pleasure in contemplating the word of God; but for the mind renewed by the Holy Spirit, divine beauty and celestial light shine from the sacred page. That which to the earthly mind was a desolate wilderness, to the spiritual mind becomes a land of living streams.
To Be Given to Our Children
The knowledge of God as revealed in His word is the knowledge to be given to our children. From the earliest dawn of reason they should be made familiar with the name and the life of Jesus. The very first lesson given them should be that God is their Father. Their very first training should teach them to render loving obedience. Reverently and tenderly let the word of God be read and repeated to them, in portions suited to their comprehension and adapted to awaken their interest. Above all, let them learn of His love revealed in Christ, and its great lesson:
“If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” 1 John 4:11.
Let the youth make the word of God the food of mind and soul. Let the cross of Christ be made the science of all education, the center of all teaching and all study. Let it be brought into the daily experience in practical life. So will the Saviour become to the youth a daily companion and friend. Every thought will be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. With the apostle Paul they will be able to say:
“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6:14.
An Experimental Knowledge
Thus through faith they will come to know God by an experimental knowledge. They have proved for themselves the reality of His word, the truth of His promises. They have tasted, and they know that the Lord is good.
The beloved John had a knowledge gained through his own experience. He could testify:
“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 also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-3.
So everyone may be able, through his own experience, to “set his seal to this, that God is true.” John 3:33, A. R. V. He can bear witness to that which he himself has seen and heard and felt of the power of Christ. He can testify:
“I needed help, and I found it in Jesus. Every want was supplied, the hunger of my soul was satisfied; the Bible is to me the revelation of Christ. I believe in Jesus because He is to me a divine Saviour. I believe the Bible because I have found it to be the voice of God to my soul.”
It is our privilege to reach higher and still higher for clearer revealings of the character of God. When Moses prayed, “I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory” (Exodus 33:18), the Lord did not rebuke him, but He granted his prayer. God declared to His servant: “I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the name of Jehovah before thee.” Verse 19, A. R. V.
It is sin that darkens our minds and dims our perceptions. As sin is purged from our hearts, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, illuminating His word and reflected from the face of nature, more and more fully will declare Him “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Exodus 34:6.
In His light shall we see light, until mind and heart and soul are transformed into the image of His holiness.
Wonderful possibilities are open to those who lay hold of the divine assurances of God’s word. There are glorious truths to come before the people of God. Privileges and duties which they do not even suspect to be in the Bible will be laid open before them. As they follow on in the path of humble obedience, doing His will, they will know more and more of the oracles of God.
Let the student take the Bible as his guide and stand like a rock for principle, and he may aspire to any height of attainment. All the philosophies of human nature have led to confusion and shame when God has not been recognized as all in all. But the precious faith inspired of God imparts strength and nobility of character. As His goodness, His mercy, and His love are dwelt upon, clearer and still clearer will be the perception of truth; higher, holier, the desire for purity of heart and clearness of thought. The soul dwelling in the pure atmosphere of holy thought is transformed by intercourse with God through the study of His word. Truth is so large, so far-reaching, so deep, so broad, that self is lost sight of. The heart is softened and subdued into humility, kindness, and love.
And the natural powers are enlarged because of holy obedience. From the study of the words of life, students may come forth with minds expanded, elevated, ennobled. If they are, like Daniel, hearers and doers of the word of God, they may advance as he did in all branches of learning. Being pure-minded, they will become strong-minded. Every intellectual faculty will be quickened. They may so educate and discipline themselves that all within the sphere of their influence may see what man can be, and what he can do, when connected with the God of wisdom and power.
Results of Receiving God’s Word
This was the experience which the psalmist gained through a knowledge of God’s word. He says:
“Blessed are they that are upright in way, Who walk in the law of Jehovah. Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, That seek Him with the whole heart…. O that my ways were established To observe Thy statutes! Then shall I not be put to shame, When I have respect unto all Thy commandments.”
“Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word.” “I have chosen the way of faithfulness: Thine ordinances have I set before me.” “Thy word have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against Thee.” “And I shall walk at liberty; For I have sought Thy precepts.”
“Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold Wondrous things out of Thy law.” “Thy testimonies also are my delight And my counselors.” “The law of Thy mouth is better unto me Than thousands of gold and silver.”
“O how love I Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” “Thy statutes have been my songs In the house of my pilgrimage.” “Thy testimonies are wonderful; Therefore doth my soul keep them. The opening of Thy words giveth light; It giveth understanding unto the simple.” “Thy commandments make me wiser than mine enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers; For Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, Because I have kept Thy precepts…. Through Thy precepts I get understanding: Therefore I hate every false way.”
“Thy word is very pure; Therefore Thy servant loveth it.” “The sum of Thy word is truth; And every one of Thy righteous ordinances endureth forever.”
“Great peace have they that love Thy law; And they have no occasion of stumbling. I have hoped for Thy salvation, O Jehovah, And have done Thy commandments. My soul hath observed Thy testimonies; And I love them exceedingly.”
“I have longed for Thy salvation, O Jehovah; And Thy law is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise Thee; And let Thine ordinances help me.” “Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever; For they are the rejoicing of my heart.” Psalm 119:1-6, margin, 9, 30, 11, 45, 18, 24, 72, 97, 54, 129, 130, 98-104, 140, 160, 165-167, 174, 175, 111, A. R. V.
An Aid in the Study of Nature
He who has a knowledge of God and His word through personal experience is prepared to engage in the study of natural science. Of Christ it is written: “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4. When Adam and Eve in Eden lost the garments of holiness, they lost the light that had illuminated nature. No longer could they read it aright. But for those who receive the light of the life of Christ, nature is again illuminated. In the light shining from the cross, we can rightly interpret nature’s teaching.
He who has a knowledge of God and His word has a settled faith in the divinity of the Holy Scriptures. He does not test the Bible by man’s ideas of science. He brings these ideas to the test of the unerring standard. He knows that God’s word is truth, and truth can never contradict itself; whatever in the teaching of so-called science contradicts the truth of God’s revelation is mere human guesswork.
To the really wise, scientific research opens vast fields of thought and information. The ways of God as revealed in the natural world and in His dealings with man constitute a treasury from which every student in the school of Christ may draw.
The real evidence of a living God is not merely in theory; it is in the conviction that God has written in our hearts, illuminated and explained by His word. It is in the living power in His created works, seen by the eye which the Holy Spirit has enlightened.
Those who judge of God from His handiwork, and not from the suppositions of great men, see His presence in everything. They behold His smile in the glad sunshine, and His love and care for man in the rich fields of autumn. Even the adornments of the earth, the grass of living green, the lovely flowers of every hue, the lofty and varied trees of the forest, the dancing brook, the noble river, the placid lake, testify to the tender, fatherly care of God and to His desire to make His children happy.
Nature a Key to Divine Mysteries
As the student thus contemplates the things of nature, a new perception of truth comes to him. The teachings in God’s great book of nature bear testimony to the truth of the written word.
In the plan of redemption there are mysteries that the human mind cannot fathom, many things that human wisdom cannot explain; but nature can teach us much concerning the mystery of godliness. Every shrub, every tree bearing fruit, all vegetation, has lessons for our study. In the growth of the seed are to be read the mysteries of the kingdom of God.
To the heart softened by the grace of God, the sun, the moon, the stars, the trees, the flowers of the field, utter words of counsel. The sowing of the seed carries the mind to spiritual seed sowing. The tree declares that a good tree cannot bear evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bear good fruit. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:16. Even the tares have a lesson. They are of Satan’s sowing, and, if left unchecked, spoil the wheat by their rank growth.
Fathers and mothers, teach your children of the wonder-working power of God. His power is manifest in every plant, in every tree that bears fruit. Take the children into the garden and explain to them how He causes the seed to grow. The farmer plows his land and sows the seed, but he cannot make the seed grow. He must depend upon God to do that which no human power can do. The Lord puts His own Spirit into the seed, causing it to spring into life. Under His care the germ breaks through the case enclosing it and springs up to develop and bear fruit.
As the children study the great lessonbook of nature, God will impress their minds. As they are told of the work that He does for the seed, they learn the secret of growth in grace. Rightly understood, these lessons lead to the Creator, teaching those simple, holy truths that bring the heart into close touch with God.
A Lesson of Obedience
God’s laws for nature are obeyed by nature. Cloud and storm, sunshine and shower, dew and rain, all are under the supervision of God and yield obedience to His command. In obedience to the law of God the spire of grain bursts through the earth, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4:28. The fruit is first seen in the bud, and the Lord develops it in its proper season because it does not resist His working. So the birds fulfill God’s purpose as they make their long migrations from land to land, guided through trackless space by the hand of infinite power.
Can it be that man, made in the image of God, endowed with reason and speech, shall alone be unappreciative of His gifts and disobedient to His laws? Will those who might be elevated and ennobled, fitted to be colaborers with Him, be content to remain imperfect in character and to cause confusion in our world? Shall the bodies and souls of God’s purchased inheritance be hampered with world-bound habits and unholy practices? Shall they not reflect the beauty of Him who has done all things well, that through His grace imperfect man might hear at last His benediction: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: …enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”? Matthew 25:21.
God desires us to learn from nature the lesson of obedience.
“Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; And the birds of the heavens, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; And the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these, That the hand of Jehovah hath wrought?” “With God is wisdom and might; He hath counsel and understanding.” Job 12:7-9, 13, A. R. V.
“Blessed is the man” whose “delight is in the law of Jehovah…. He shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also doth not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3, A. R. V.
The book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. Both make us better acquainted with God by teaching us of His character and of the laws through which He works.
Education in the Life to Come
The education begun here will not be completed in this life; it will be going forward throughout eternity, ever progressing, never completed. Day by day the wonderful works of God, the evidences of His miraculous power in creating and sustaining the universe, will open before the mind in new beauty. In the light that shines from the throne, mysteries will disappear, and the soul will be filled with astonishment at the simplicity of the things that were never before comprehended.
Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now we know in part; but then shall we know even as also we are known.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8 pp. 319-328