The Bible as the foundation for a Christian lifestyle
It was a pivotal time in my life. After graduating from Takoma Academy in Maryland, United States, I decided to continue my studies at La Sierra College (now University) in California, more than 4,100 kilometers (2,600 miles) away. After I embarked on this new and important phase of life, my father sent me a notecard in a letter with the following quotation, penned in his own handwriting:
“Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, ‘Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.’ This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.”¹
Not only did I appreciate the time and care my father showed in sharing this with me, but it also meant so much to receive such powerful spiritual instruction from the Spirit of Prophecy. This has endeared the writings of Ellen White to me from that time on.
I kept that handwritten quotation in my Bible for years until that precious Bible was lost. I asked my father to rewrite the same quotation some years ago, and I still have that second version in my Bible. It’s such a meaningful quotation, and a reminder of my father’s spiritual concern for me. Never dismiss as unessential your spiritual focus and invested time directed toward your children. It will pay spiritual dividends through the influence and power of the Holy Spirit.
THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD
As we consecrate ourselves to God and surrender our plans to Him each day, how important it is to take time to listen to Him speak through the Bible. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105).
In today’s world many humanistic philosophies vying for our attention ultimately lead us down a very dark path. But the trustworthiness of God’s Word is proven. It lights our way and gives us reliable, divine direction. It provides the very foundation for developing and maintaining a relationship with Jesus Christ, and for learning what it means to live the life He intends for us. It’s Christ’s living word— timeless truth that transcends all human cultures and points us to the culture of heaven.
When confronted by Satan, Jesus boldly stated, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). This tells us that every part of Scripture is important. And while we don’t claim God dictated the Bible word for word, we accept it as fully inspired by His Spirit. Peter made this very clear: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place . . . ; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19-21).
While praying for His disciples (and for us), Christ indicated the power of the Word when He stated, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
In a world in which truth is considered relative, based upon one’s own lived experience, Christ boldly proclaims that His Word— the Bible—is solid, unchangeable truth. Through the power of His Holy Spirit, His truth works on our hearts, changing and sanctifying us.
This is why the Bible is foundational to a Christian lifestyle. It defines for us what it means to be a follower of Christ (see Matt. 5). It gives us godly role models and reveals that “the way of the unfaithful is hard” (Prov. 13:15). It provides timeless wisdom, making us “wise for salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15), yet it’s simple enough that even a child can understand. Through history and prophecy we see how God has led in the past, and are assured that what is yet to be will come to pass (Joshua 21:45; 2 Cor. 1:20). Through the pages of Scripture we learn of our origin and of our destiny (Gen. 1:1; Rev. 21:1, 7; Rev. 22:17).
It’s through Scripture and prayer that we come to know God. “If you would become acquainted with the Saviour, study the Holy Scriptures,” we are told in Steps to Christ. “Fill the whole heart with the words of God. They are the living water, quenching your burning thirst. They are the living bread from heaven.”²
Ellen White explains, “The Bible was not written for the scholar alone; on the contrary, it was designed for the common people. The great truths necessary for salvation are made as clear as noonday; and none will mistake and lose their way except those who follow their own judgment instead of the plainly revealed will of God.”³
She then warns, “We should not take the testimony of any man as to what the Scriptures teach, but should study the words of God for ourselves.”⁴
ITS OWN INTERPRETER
This method is supported by the biblical-historical (or the biblical-grammatical) approach to reading the Word of God, as described in the “Methods of Bible Study” document voted by the world church.⁵ This carefully reviewed method of Bible study allows the Bible to be its own interpreter, not the individual or culture, as critical methods of Bible study encourage readers to do. This method is further explained in the book The Great Controversy:
“The language of the Bible should be explained according to its obvious meaning, unless a symbol or figure is employed. . . . If men would but take the Bible as it reads, if there were no false teachers to mislead and confuse their minds, a work would be accomplished that would make angels glad and that would bring into the fold of Christ thousands upon thousands who are now wandering in error.”⁶
For centuries, faithful men and women have taken great risks in accepting the Bible as it reads. Some even gave their lives for their faithfulness to Scripture. Today the book itself is readily available. Each year more than 100 million Bibles are printed, and YouVersion, a downloadable Bible app, has more than 100 million total downloads.⁷ This is in addition to the many other online versions available.
BELIEVING GOD’S WORD
Clearly, many people believe it’s important to have a Bible, but how many believe it’s important to read it, meditate upon it, and follow its counsel?
The Jews in Berea definitely thought so. “These were more fairminded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
And so can we. Daily Bible reading coupled with prayer is the foundation of our spiritual experience. If we are not connecting with heaven, it’s impossible for us to grow spiritually (see 2 Peter 3:18). But what a privilege is ours to reach out to God every day, knowing that He longs to commune with us.
I try to start each day by dropping to my knees as I get out of bed. I place myself in God’s hands, asking for wisdom and the Holy Spirit in my life. The Lord is never-failing in His provisions for us. I try to read from the Bible in a systematic manner following the Believe His Prophets⁸ reading plan, and from other sections of the Bible, followed by the Spirit of Prophecy. I have found it’s also helpful to study the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide and other forms of study resources that strengthen one’s walk with the Lord.
I always pray before reading God’s Word, since studying the Bible should never be done without prayer, asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I’m so grateful for the “Written Word,” which is the inscribed embodiment of the “Living Word,” Jesus Christ.
As a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, never allow anyone to dissuade you from the importance of studying daily God’s inspired written Word. Drink in the deep truths of Scripture and the instruction found in the Spirit of Prophecy. Your spiritual life will be enriched beyond measure. As we commune with God, He will transform us, as He did with Enoch, when we daily walk with Him.
“In the midst of a life of active labor, Enoch steadfastly maintained his communion with God. The greater and more pressing his labors, the more constant and earnest were his prayers. . . . He would withdraw, to spend a season in solitude, hungering and thirsting for that divine knowledge which God alone can impart. Communing thus with God, Enoch came more and more to reflect the divine image. . . .”
“We, too, are to walk with God. When we do this, our faces will be lighted up by the brightness of His presence, . . . we shall speak of His power, saying, Praise God. Good is the Lord, and good is the word of the Lord. . . . And those who will be translated at the close of time will be those who commune with God on earth.”⁹
What an amazing privilege we have—to commune with God every day through the ways He has given. And what a joy to know that one day soon He will come to take us home.
Questions for Reflection
- How can we make personal Bible study more engaging? Think of five creative ways of studying God’s Word.
- How do we deal with difficult passages in Scripture? What would be Jesus’ approach?
- How can we transmit the importance of connecting to God’s Word to the next generation of Adventists?
¹ Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1892), p. 70.
² Ibid., p. 88.
³ Ibid., p. 89.
⁵ “Methods of Bible Study” document, www.adventist.org/articles/methods-of-bible-study/.
⁶ Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1892), p. 598.
⁷ “29 Good Bible Sales Statistics,” BrandonGaille Small Business
& Marketing Advice, https://brandongaille.com/27-good-bible-sales-statistics/.
⁸ This Bible reading plan can be accessed at www.believehisprophets.org.
⁹ Ellen G. White, Sons and Daughters of God (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1955), p. 20.