God’s Word is our Authority
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Occasionally, at church or the Adventist school where I teach Bible and evangelism, someone will ask me, “What do we believe about such and such?” My response has always been, “I don’t know what you believe, but here is what I, and many Seventh-day Adventists believe,” and I show them in the Bible what I believe and why. I am not going to tell someone what they believe. That is not teaching. It is brainwashing. 

During the Dark Ages, when people did not have access to the Bible, people trusted their priests to tell them what they believed, and because of that there was a lot of brainwashing going on.

Even before the Dark Ages, priests abused their authority, and tried to brainwash people into believing whatever they believed. This happened in Jesus’ day when those in “authority” were trying to capture Jesus. 

When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded. “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? John 7:45-48 NLT

The guards experienced and heard the Word of God speaking to them, and believed. Since the Pharisees did not want to believe, they mocked at this. In John 7 the Pharisees misconstrued Scripture to try and prove their point, but amazingly, instead of hanging their hat on Scripture, they hung it on the fact that none of the rulers or leaders believed.

So if someone in “authority” believes something it is automatically right, and if they don’t then it is automatically wrong? The Pharisees seemed to think so. Do some think that way today? 

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11 NLT

Black man holding Bible in front of church.

Image © Erik Stenbakken from GoodSalt.com

Like the temple guards, the Bereans were interested in new ideas as long as they were found in Scripture. They didn’t believe something because Paul and Silas believed it or because a ruler did. On their own they searched the Scriptures daily to find truth. 

I have heard Seventh-day Adventists telling their Baptist and Methodist friends to search the Bible for themselves because their pastors could be wrong. I have watched some of the same Seventh-day Adventists listening to their own favorite Adventist preachers, without bothering to search the Scriptures, because, after all, their pastor is Adventist, so he is automatically right, right? Wrong! We all make mistakes, as we all continue to learn and grow. 

Let’s not be like the foolish Pharisees in John 7, who hang their hats on whether or not the rulers or those in authority believed something or not. Let’s be like the temple guards and hang our hat on the Word of God. 

Amen!(48)
Posted in 2017b Feed My Sheep, Feature Tagged , , , permalink

About William Earnhardt

William Earnhardt has been a Bible Worker, literature evangelist and lay pastor in Oklahoma and Texas, before coming to the Tampa Bay area, where he has been a Bible instructor and lay pastor for the past 12 years. He has also held revivals and evangelism seminars, as well as soul winning workshops from Peru to Connecticut. You can find William's study guides and devotionals at williamdearnhardt.com

Comments

God’s Word is our Authority — 11 Comments

  1. If Paul and Silas' teachings were subjected to the test of Scripture, shouldn't Sis White's writings or teachings be similarly subjected to Scripture confirmation?

    Amen!(13)
  2. Great Post William! Thank you!

    Yes, we do need to search the scriptures for ourselves and we also need to study together. Some people think they just need to study at home, by themselves. I think we need both. I just spent time this morning studying my Bible, but I really like studying the scriptures with others to learn even more and to help the scriptures come alive in a special way. Sharing scriptures seems to bring life into the word, "for where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, I am there". It seems the Holy Spirit can work in a special way when we share scriptures.

    You are so correct! There are times when our Adventist pastors make mistakes just like we make mistakes. Only because we study can we even see mistakes others make and I don't point out the pastor's mistakes to others unless it is something very important. And even when I do have to point out something that wasn't correct, I am always respectful about the pastor. I've made mistakes teaching the Sabbath school and preaching and when I do, I try to explain things the next week.

    So I agree that we need to study the scriptures for ourselves but God has a church and I agree with you that we need each other to learn and grow.

    Amen!(14)
  3. I go one step further. I take what I read to the throne to be sure what I think it means is correct. Too many people misunderstand scriptures or take scripture out of context. The Holy Spirit can communicate freely with me and we meet every morning. I love how he guides me throughout the day. Watchman Nee explains how God works through our intuition to guide us. Very good book! His writings in The Spiritual Man have helped me to better understand how to hear God. Nothing tops knowing God's voice.

    God's communication with me doesn't end with spiritual matters. He also guides me so that the day goes smoothly, and things that need to be done get done. One lesson He taught was to look at the whole picture. For instance, when it's dinner time, I cook and eat; however the whole picture shows that I am not done until the kitchen is back to the place it was before I started preparing the meal. When I go into the bathroom to get ready for the day, I'm not finished until the sink and mirror are clean and everything I used put away. Sure, this is common sense, but I don't see many people following through; and before God showed me this principle, neither did I. Now this is imbedded into my character, and has become second nature. There are many good characteristics we lack because our Parents didn't have it, so they couldn't teach it. The Father now takes their place and teaches us characteristics that we need for life to manifest itself.

    Amen!(8)
    • True I did not think of it this way ! It's like you have exposed me to new knowlage , it's funny how the lord works through these comments!

      Amen!(4)
    • Human intuition is a dangerous guide. The Holy Spirit does speak to us. But so do other spirits. Therefore, we are to "Test the Spirits." "If they speak not according to the Law and the Prophets, there is no light in them." This is why studying scripture only by yourself is not wise. Yes were are to study for ourselves, but we are not to neglect the gathering of ourselves with others. Christ often gives guidance through others as well as his Word and shows us where we have erred.

      Amen!(2)
  4. I feel the problem at hand is the fact that when it comes to proving scripture, we are so lazy we would rather listen to others preach. In-fact, the eloquence and presentation skills of the preacher/teacher take center stage in today's study of scripture. Much worse, if one can deliver well, then there is no bother in trying to test if the delivery is in line with right interpretation of the scripture. Then the other problem is the search aimed at just DISAPPROVING rather than being led by the spirit to understand what scripture really says. In some instances, our backgrounds and cultures determine the means of understanding the scripture. All these do not conform to what is expected of us. We need to borrow such a big leaf from the Bereans, seeking to be taught by the Spirit and accepting as the spirit leads.

    Amen!(6)
    • The issue for me is that we sometime become so intent on "proving scripture" that we forget to live it. I have heard a lot of "proving" delivered in a spirit of judgement, criticism, one-upmanship, or arrogance. What is the point of being right if we cannot live in the humility of Christ.

      Perhaps one of the greatest heresies that we can be guilty of is verbally interpreting the scripture without it making a scrap of difference in our lives.

      Amen!(11)
  5. It may be that since “we have the truth” and that we are the “true Church”, we might be the most sensitive *saints* to criticism of our doctrines, often judging the character of such critics. It is so refreshing to note that Sis White was so open to questions regarding our doctrines:
    “We have many lessons to learn, and many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed.” CW 37.1
    “The fact that there is no controversy or agitation among God’s people, should not be regarded as conclusive evidence that they are holding fast to sound doctrine. There is reason to fear that they may not be clearly discriminating between truth and error. When no new questions are started by investigation of the Scriptures, when no difference of opinion arises which will set men to searching the Bible for themselves, to make sure that they have the truth, there will be many now, as in ancient times, who will hold to tradition, and worship they know not what.” CW 39.1
    “Truth is eternal, and conflict with error will only make manifest its strength. We should never refuse to examine the Scriptures with those who, we have reason to believe, desire to know what is truth as much as we do. Suppose a brother held a view that differed from yours, and he should come to you, proposing that you sit down with him and make an investigation of that point in the Scriptures; should you rise up, filled with prejudice, and condemn his ideas, while refusing to give him a candid hearing? CW 44.1
    The only right way would be to sit down as Christians and investigate the position presented, in the light of God’s word, which will reveal truth and unmask error. To ridicule his ideas would not weaken his position in the least if it were false, or strengthen your position if it were true. If the pillars of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it. There must be no spirit of pharisaism cherished among us. When Christ came to His own, His own received Him not; and it is a matter of solemn interest to us that we should not pursue a similar course in refusing light from heaven.” CW 44.2
    “We must study the truth for ourselves. No living man should be relied upon to think for us. No matter who it is, or in what position he may be placed, we are not to look upon any man as a perfect criterion for us. We are to counsel together, and to be subject to one another; but at the same time we are to exercise the ability God has given us to learn what is truth. Each one of us must look to God for divine enlightenment. We must individually develop a character that will stand the test in the day of God. We must not become set in our ideas, and think that no one should interfere with our opinions.” - The Review and Herald, June 18, 1889. CW 45.1

    Amen!(8)
  6. Thank you Kenny, and everyone for your thoughtful comments. Along the same lines, here is a quote that may surprise some.

    "We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed." -Ellen White, Testimonies to Ministers, Page 30

    Amen!(9)
  7. There is now and I suspect always will be differences of opinion. God gave us this ability for a reason. Criticism can be destructive or constructive. Support or endorsement is usually applied to what is believed to be the last authentic word. Our denomination is well acquainted with diversity, different times and levels. Embellishment is not easy to omit when trying to prove a point. I use sola scriptura as authenticity.

    Amen!(2)

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