The Versatility of Bible Readings
We feel assured that our Bible instructors will appreciate reading a very stimulating article published by Elder_ Little John in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald in 1801. The article furnishes ideas and suggestions as well as interesting background for our denominational Bible-reading plan, A few of the methods might appear to be somewhat juvenile, but the point of simplicity rather than profundity in the giving of a Bible study may well be noted. Brother Little- John's enthusiasm over some of these simple plans for conducting an animated Bible reading can be readily appreciated by our Bible instructors.—L. c. K.
The advent of Bible readings among Sabbath- keepers, marked a new era in their history. Bible readings did not originate with them. They were in vogue for many years before being adopted by our people. Especially were they popular with that class of preachers usually styled Evangelists. When introduced among us, they were favorably received at once, because they met a long-felt necessity. Our isolated churches needed something of the kind to give variety and interest to the usual Sabbath meetings which, in the absence of preaching, had in many instances been devoted to a more or less formal round of stereotyped and prosy individual testimonies. Not alone, however, in the Sab bath meetings were the readings needed. They furnished a vehicle for conveying our peculiar doctrines to those unacquainted with them.
Our faith is so largely based upon the Scriptures, that it can be read out of them more readily, perhaps, than that of any other people in existence. Such a mode of presenting the truth to those unacquainted with it, furnishes some very marked advantages even over the conversational method. First, it disarms an opponent at once; for he feels that in the texts quoted, God is speaking and not man. Secondly, if the practice is followed of asking questions and then reading answers from the Bible itself, without allowing discussion, both the questioner and the reader of the text, are saved from the danger of becoming heated, as they would be almost certain to do in a debate. Thirdly, the Bible readings multiply tenfold the number of those who can engage actively in building up and spreading the truth; for there are very few who are competent to present our views from the desk, whereas there are hundreds who could do so through the Bible readings, who lack nearly every quality peculiar to a public speaker. Fourthly, the conductor of Bible readings needs neither a church nor a congregation; since he can hold his readings in a private house where there may be only one or two present.
It has been said, that "nothing succeeds like success." Judged by this rule, the Bible readings among us have certainly been a success. Probably no book ever published by the REVIEW AND HERALD Office has ever attained in so brief a period, a circulation so great as that reached by the volume entitled "Bible Readings." We learn from one who is thoroughly informed as to the fact, that "Bible Readings" has been issued in the different languages, to the number of 375,000 copies.
Recently having had occasion to test the practicability of conducting Bible readings to advantage at our own home, and having ascertained that the methods employed by some others varied from those in use with us, I have decided to write a few words descriptive of our plan. A great drawback in conducting Bible readings often arises from the fact that most persons require considerable time in order to find the text that they are to read. To obviate this difficulty, we employ slips of paper, bearing on one side the number of the question, and on the other, the texts that are to be read in re plying to that question. These slips are handed to those who are to take part in the reading, before the exercises begin. This enables them to look up their texts and mark them, before they are called upon to read them, thus avoiding all delay and embarrassment. With this plan there is no hesitating or hindrance, and nearly all present can be induced to participate in the reading. If the plan is adopted of giving out the texts at the moment they are to be read, those not familiar with the location of the books of the Bible will become confused and annoyed to that degree that they will not be willing to re peat the experiment.
The result is that the class is suddenly reduced in numbers and interest; to avoid this trouble some have adopted the practice of having two or three do all the reading. While this avoids one difficulty, it creates another. There is nothing that people enjoy more than active personal participation in anything in which they engage. Let two or three do all the reading, and the balance soon come to regard the whole thing as the peculiar institution of those two or three. Let all share in the reading so far as they are qualified to do so, and all will come to feel that they have a personal interest in it, and that they are individually responsible for its success. No one, however, should be pressed beyond measure to read. Some are distrustful of their abilities in that direction, and will absent themselves from the class, if over-urged to take a part. Such should be made to feel that their presence is desired even though they come merely as spectators. . . .
In conducting the readings, the leader should first give the number of the question, then read the question itself distinctly, and announce the location of the text that will furnish the answer desired. Such a course enables the person holding the slip answering to the number called for, to turn to the text in question and read it without delay. Where there are more questions than there are members in the class, to each member there can be given at the outset as many slips as he will be expected to answer questions.
It is a very good plan to have an assortment of our small tracts on hand, so that at the close of each reading, one bearing upon the subject that has been under consideration, can be given to each one present not familiar with our views. It is not best to give too many tracts at once. If this be done, they will be less likely to be read, than they would be if fewer were used. Ordinarily one or two tracts of eight or sixteen pages is about as many as it would be advisable to give to each one at a time.
Of course the remarks made above are simply advisory. The plan mapped out works well with us. It might not prove to be practicable in all places and at all times. The leader of a class should have sagacity enough to adapt his meth ods to the changing conditions and moods of those with whom he has to do.
--W. H. LITTLEJOHN, Review and Herald, Nov. 24, 1891, p. 724.
The Spirit of Prophecy
By MRS. ESTA A. WYRICK, Bible Instructor, "The Quiet Hour," Oakland, California
I. PROPHECY IN OLD TESTAMENT TIMES.
1. Adam spoke face to face with God before sin. Gen. 1:28.
2. After sin he only heard His voice. Gen. 3:8.
3. Later God spoke by prophets. Amos 3:7; 2 Sam. 23:2.
4. Prophet is called a Seer, i Sam. 9:9.
5. Holy men spake as moved by Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:21.
6. God spoke to the prophets in visions and dreams. Num. 12:6.
7. When law is neglected God restrains prophetic visions. Lam. 2:8, 9."Where there is no vision, the people perish." Prov. 29 :18,
8. Divine prophecy is threefold: Explains the past. Counsels for the present. Foretells the future.
II. PROPHECY IN THE EARLY CHURCH.
1. God has set prophets in the church. i Cor. 12:28.
2. Apostles, prophets, and teachers are to be in the church. Eph. 4:11.
3. Prophetic gift is to edify and perfect the saints. Verses 12-15.
4. Paul's prophecy reveals Antichrist's coming. 2 Thess. 2:3, 4.
5. Antichrist's attack on God's law fore told by Daniel. Dan. 7:25.
III. DECLINE OF PROPHETIC GIFTS FOR CEN TURIES.
1. When law was forsaken, prophetic gift ceased in church. Ps. 74:7-10.
2. Prophetic gift will be restored to church in last days, i Cor. 1:4-7.
IV. REMNANT CHURCH IDENTIFIED BY PRO PHETIC GIFT.
1. Remnant are known by commandment keeping and testimony of Jesus. Rev. 12:17.
2. "Testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Rev. 19:10.
3. Keeping commandments develops faith of Jesus. Rev. 14:12.
4. Three messages are given by remnant church. Verses 6-12.
5. Three angels' messages continue to close of probation.
6. Remnant church appears in 1844 at close of 2300 days' prophecy. Dan. 8:14.
7. Identifying true church: Keep commandments of God. Have Spirit of prophecy. Arise in 1844. Give judgment-hour message.
V. APPEAL: How definitely remnant church meets specifications of God's true church in last days! Prophetic gift, associated with obedience to God's law, identifies His true believers. How grateful we should be for guidance of Spirit of prophecy. We will continue to study how this special gift was revealed in our time, and through whom.