the Bible is unique; there is no other book like it on earth. It has been given not only to enlighten the mind but to educate the whole man—mind, heart, and will; to give him "instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). But to understand the Scripture we must study and continue to study. There must never be a time when we feel we have arrived. To the Hebrew Christians of the first century this warning was given, for they were "dull of hearing" (Heb. 5:11):
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb. 5:12-14).
Therefore we must continually be at work in the personal study of God's Word, constantly searching for a greater knowledge of God, as if we were seeking "for hid treasures" (Prov. 2:4).
As a people we are called individually to be students of the Word of God, and as such to move forward to receive the increased and ever-increasing light He desires to impart to us.—Problems in Bible Translation, quoted in The Ministry, January, 1962, p. 9.
The messenger of the Lord says to all of us:
We do not go deep enough in our search for truth.—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 119.
If you take upon you the sacred responsibility of teaching others, you take upon you the duty of going to the bottom of every subject you seek to teach.—Evangelism, p. 479.
Call for a Directed Study
These words apply to all the books of the Bible, especially to Daniel and the Revelation. In a certain sense these two books have greatly influenced us as a people, so we should be giving particular and advanced study to these portions of Scripture.
The mere remembrance of what we once learned ten, twenty, thirty, or more years ago will not make us ready to give an intelligent account of our faith. Stiffened views, petrified maxims, will exert no sanctifying influence. "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4: 18).
Ellen G. White states a profound truth in the following words:
There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.—Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 35.
Aid in closely investigating every jot and tittle which we think is established truth, in comparing scripture with scripture, we may discover errors in our interpretations of Scripture. Christ would have the searcher of His work sink the shaft deeper into the mines of truth. If the search is properly conducted, jewels of inestimable value will be found.—Review and Herald, July 12, 1898.
God's people should closely study unfulfilled prophecies, especially the seventh plague of Revelation 16.
We need to study the pouring out of the seventh vial. The powers of evil will not yield up the conflict without a struggle. But Providence has a part to act in the battle of Armageddon.—The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Rev. 16:14-17, p. 983.
When the books of Daniel and Revelation are better understood, believers will have art entirely different religious experience. . . . As we near the close of this world's history, the prophecies relating to the last days especially demand our study.—Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 114-116.
If our people were half awake, if they realized the nearness of the events portrayed in the Revelation, a reformation would be wrought in our churches, and many more would believe the message.—Ibid., p. 118.
Knowledge of Christ and the prophecies relating to Him will be greatly increased as they near the close of this earth's history.--E. G. White manuscript 176, 1899, quoted in L. E. Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4, p. 1143.
The Fundamental Principle of the Scriptures
Since the Bible is the Word of God, the scriptures may not be interpreted arbitrarily or privately. Clear and firm principles underlie the Holy Scriptures. Jesus considered the Scriptures as a unit, as "the scripture" that "cannot be broken" (John 10: 35).
Since the Bible is essentially a unit, bringing one great message, it is profitable "for correction" (2 Tim. 3:16) of false interpretations.
Peter states that we should know first "that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20).
Scripture, then, is its own interpreter; this is a fundamental principle. Jesus applied this principle when rebuking the devil, who falsely interpreted a text of the Bible. (See Matt. 4:6, 7.) Scripture must be compared with scripture, not merely in the same chapter or with passages in the same book. The whole Bible should give its light upon a definite text, and then it appears always that the interpretation of the text needs no speculative reasonings from outside the Bible.
Here again is inspired counsel:
The Bible is its own expositor. Scripture is to be compared with scripture. The student should learn to view the word as a whole, and to see the relation of its parts.. . . The Old Testament, no less than the New, should receive attention. . . . The Old Testament sheds light upon the New, and the New upon the Old.—Counsels to Parents and Teachers, p. 962.
Consequently we should hesitate to give an interpretation of any prophecy in the New Testament without first discovering whatever light may come from the Old Testament. This, we repeat, is a fundamental principle. Any conclusions we may reach, especially in areas of unfulfilled prophecy such as the sixth and seventh plagues, should be well thought through, allowing the light of the entire Bible to illumine the subject. These encouraging but challenging words should inspire us to deeper study of the Scriptures.
When the search is properly conducted every effort is made to keep a pure understanding and heart. When the mind is kept open and is constantly searching the field of revelation, we shall find rich deposits of truth. Old truths will be revealed in new aspects, and truths will appear which have been overlooked in the search.—Ellen G. White manuscript 75, 1897, quoted in The Ministry, June, 1953, p. 26.
Texts of Scripture will burst upon you with a new meaning, as a flash of light; you will see the relation of other truths to the work of redemption, and you will know that Christ is leading you; a divine Teacher is at your side.—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 20.
In every age there is a new development of truth, a message of God to the people of that generation. The old truths are all essential; new truth is not independent of the old, but an unfolding of it. It is only as the old truths are understood that we can comprehend the new.—Christ's Object Lessons, p. 127.