How Shall We Escape?

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation?

By MILTON E. KERN, General Field Secretary of the General Conference

In the book of Hebrews we are admonished "to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." Then it is argued that "if the word spoken by angels was steadfast" and every transgression was justly punished, "how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first be­gan to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him." Heb. 2:1-3.

This great salvation comes to us through the Word of God, and it is pertinent to ask—"How shall we escape if we neglect the Bible?" Conver­sion, or the new birth, comes to us through the Word of God. ( James 1:18.) We are kept from sinning by hiding that Word in our hearts (Ps. 119 :11) ; and Christian growth comes from feed­ing upon the "sincere milk of the Word." (I Peter 2:2.) Ellen G. White said: "Salvation depends upon our knowledge of God's will as contained in His Word. Never cease asking and searching for truth. It is God's will that you shall know what He has said to you."—Signs of the Times, Sept. 5, 1906. George Muller, that great man of tri­umphant faith, said, "The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts."

Then, as ministers, how shall we escape the judgment of God unless our minds are saturated with the Scriptures and unless we lead our people to drink from this living fountain of spiritual truth? And how shall our church members escape eternal loss if they neglect the study of God's Word? We read again from the facile pen of Ellen G. White:

"The Bible contains all the principles that men need in order to be fitted either for this life or for the life to come. And these principles may be understood by all."—Id., Sept. 19, 1906. "As long as we are content with our limited knowledge, we are disqualified to ob­tain rich views of truth. We cannot comprehend the facts connected with the atonement, and the high and holy character of God's law."—Review and Herald, Feb. 4, 1890.

In this time of universal suffering and crumbling civilization, many thinking men are turning to the Word of God. Like President Woodrow Wilson, they know that "the sum of the whole matter is this, that our civilization cannot survive materially unless it is redeemed spiritually." The Nation­wide Bible Reading which the American Bible Society is promoting is sponsored by more than thirty Protestant denominations, including Sev­enth-day Adventists, and also by a large commit­tee of such well-known Americans as Herbert Hoover, Harvey Firestone, Jr., Helen Keller, Ad­miral King, Francis B. Sayre, and John Winant.

It is hoped that every one of our ministers in North America will preach a sermon on Bible reading and study to his church, or the churches in his district, on or before December 9. If you cannot reach all your churches, encourage the local elders to present this important matter.

While many of our people are studying the Sab­bath school lesson daily, and our young people and others are following the Character Classics out­line of reading, there are doubtless many in our churches who are doing no serious Bible reading. Let us work and pray for a revival of Bible study in our own churches. Let us by God's help im­press upon the minds of all our people the dire results of neglecting the Bible. In this favored land we have easy access to the Bible in our own tongue. Then "how shall we escape" if we allow the "cares of this world" or any other thing to crowd out of our lives the diligent and prayerful study of the Bible? How bitter will be the cry, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved"!

Many parents have neglected the spiritual train­ing of their children till it was too late, too late! Their spiritual instruction was "too little and too late." In the same way we may neglect our own spiritual culture until it is too late. Soon we shall have a famine—"not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." Then will those who have neglected the Bible "run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord, and shall not find it." Yes, and "in that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst." (Amos 8:11-13.) Thousands who pro­fess to be children of God, but who are neglecting the needed preparation, will then seek for an ex­perience which it will be too late to obtain. And "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Immediately following this article are quotations on Bible study that may be helpful to our workers in the preparation of their message. We are ask­ing all our people to take part in this great effort to get all the people of America to unite with the boys "over there" in the reading of selected por­tions of Scripture each day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The General Conference has asked the Home Missionary Department, assisted by the Missionary Volunteer Department, to lead our people in house-to-house visitation.

We hope the necessary planning and organiza­tion will be under way in your church even before you receive this number of THE MINISTRY. Let us not fail ! We often go to the people to sell them our literature and to ask for offerings for mis­sions. Let us now go and speak to them of the importance of reading God's Holy Word, and leave in each home a copy of the bookmark leaflet furnished by the Bible Society, and the leaflet, "A Knowledge of God" (a chapter from Steps to Christ), which is furnished by the General Con­ference.

This is a golden opportunity to speak to our neighbors and friends about God's Book. "What a Book! Vast and wide as the world, rooted in the abysses of creation and towering up behind the blue secrets of heaven. Sunrise and sunset, prom­ise and fulfillment, birth and death, the whole drama of humanity—all in this Book."

The Power of the Bible

Search, O search the Bible with a heart hungry for spiritual food. Dig into the Word as the miner digs into the earth to find the veins of gold. Do not give up your search till you have ascertained your relation to God and His will concerning you.—Ellen G. White in Signs of the Times, Sept. 5, 1906.

The theme of redemption is one that angels desire to look into ; it will be the science and the song of the redeemed throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Is it not worthy of careful thought and study now ?—Id., April 8, 1906.

The fountainhead of the power of the Bible in litera­ture lies in its nearness to the very springs and sources of human life—life taken seriously, earnestly, intently ; life in its broadest meaning, including the inward as well as the outward; life interpreted in its relation to uni­versal laws and eternal values. . . . There is no other book which reflects so many sides and aspects of human experience as the Bible, and this fact alone would suffice to give it a world-wide interest and make it popular.—Henry van Dyke.

All the wonders of Greek civilization heaped together are less wonderful than is the simple book of Psalms, the history of the human soul in relation to its Maker.—W. E. Gladstone.

I have for many years made a practice of reading through the Bible once a year. My custom is to read four or five chapters every morning immediately after rising. It employs about an hour of my time and seems to me the most suitable manner of beginning the day.—John Quincy Adams.

We cannot obtain wisdom without earnest attention and prayerful study. Some portions of Scripture are, indeed, too plain to be misunderstood ; but there are others whose meaning does not lie upon the surface, to be seen at a glance. . . , There must be careful research and patient reflection. And such study will be richly repaid. As the miner discovers veins of precious metal concealed beneath the surface of the earth, so will he who perseveringly searches the Word of God as for hid treasure, find truths of greatest value,_ which are concealed from the view of the careless seeker.—E. G. White in Review and Herald, Oct. 9, 1883.

Everything that I have written, every greatness that has been in any thought of mine, whatever I have done in my life has been simply due to the fact that when I was a child my mother daily read with me a part of the Bible and daily made me learn a part of it by heart.—John Ruskin.

In reading the Bible the first question to ask is, What does it say? Then only may we ask the second, What does it mean? If more attention were given to the first, there would often be less difficulty in answering the sec­ond question. . . . Perhaps no more practical advice can be given on this subject than to be always first sure of what the Bible says. This demands thoughtful, repeated reading, with constant reflection and meditation.—W. W. White.

This earth has been honored and blessed with the pres­ence of the Son of God. In the Scriptures we read of His incarnation, His teaching, His miracles, His death, and His resurrection. The effort to understand these wonderful subjects puts to the tax the highest powers of the mind, and then there is an infinity beyond which cannot be exhausted. The oftener the mind is called to this study, the stronger and clearer it will become. In the daily life will be revealed the mysteries of godliness, which may be experienced, but cannot be explained. Throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity the redeemed will study these subjects, ever gaining from them a deeper and clearer knowledge of God and of Christ.—B. G. White in Signs of the Times, April 26, 1905.

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By MILTON E. KERN, General Field Secretary of the General Conference

December 1944

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