“Trust No One”
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How many legs does a spider have? Eight? Do you really know? I mean have you counted them? In 300 B.C. Aristotle said that spiders had six legs and was classified as an insect. All the world believed him, until finally in the 1400s somebody actually counted and saw they had not six, but eight legs. Aristotle must have been widely respected for no one to question him for 1,700 years. I am sure he was right about a lot of things, but not this time. Finally, somebody counted the legs for themselves instead of just taking Aristotle’s word for it.

Image © Erik Stenbakken from GoodSalt.com

The key thought of this week’s Sabbath School lesson is, “Every believer must be personally and individually armed as we each, personally and individually, find ourselves immersed in the great controversy.”

I am reminded of a time many years ago when I was still living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I had a friend, Anne, who was a flight instructor at the Spartan Flight School in Tulsa. One Saturday night, she and I decided to rent a small Cessna 152 and take an aerial  tour of the city. While they were fueling the plane, Anne was checking all the gauges to make sure all systems were good to go. When she got to the fuel gauge she said, “Fuel gauge reads full.”

I joked that since we just watched them fueling the plane, there was no need to check the fuel gauge. Her reply has always stuck with me. “Trust no one,” she said. She was right. As the pilot of our little aircraft, it was her personal responsibility to check all the gauges, including the fuel gauge. It was not disrespectful for her to check to make sure the “pit crew” had done their job. It was her responsibility to check things out for herself.

We all have that responsibility as Christians. Paul was not offended at all that the Bereans checked out his preaching to see if it went along with the Scriptures. “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11 NIV Everyone knew Paul was sincere, but we are all human, right? We can make sincere mistakes. I am sure Aristotle honestly thought spiders had six legs, and it was just an honest mistake on his part, involving no sinister cover-up or conspiracy.

As Seventh-day Adventists, we tell our Protestant and Catholic friends that they need to read the Bible for themselves, and not take their preacher’s word for it. But how many of us turn around and think, My pastor is an Adventist so I know he is preaching truth?

Friends, if the people searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was so, how much more should we be searching the Scriptures to see if what our pastor says is so. We are all human. We make mistakes. Making a sincere mistake does not make you  a heretic. It does not mean you are a part of a global sinister conspiracy plot. It just means we are all human. We can’t rely on man alone. Like my friend Anne, who checked out things for herself, we must, along with the Bereans, search the Scriptures for ourselves, so that we can each be individually armed for our part in the great controversy between Christ and Satan.

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“Trust No One” — 23 Comments

  1. Amen to that truth,the prophet. Of God who was sent to deliver a message God told him specically. Not. Tarry after delivering the message,in fact he told him not to even travel. The same way. He came,but there came and old. Prophet. Who told him that God said he should stop and eat with him which was a lie,and the man was killed by. A lion, so we have to test every spirit. To see if they. Are of God.

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    • You are so right. I am reminded of Isaiah 8:20. I like the New Living Translation "Look to God's instructions, if anyone speaks contrary to these, they live in the dark." William I will confirm, that when I fly through a cloud I trust only the instruments, my instructor taught me how to take senses out of the equation, Jaun scan them constantly. I can think of one of Gods instructions that applies "pray unceasingly". It keeps us straight and level, right?

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  2. Surely we must take time to read and understand the scriptures. We are in the battle field and it is our responsibility to fight the warfare through the guidance of the Bible. Without such a critical manual, we perish. We must not relax and rely on others. The battle is fought on an individual level, so each and every person is called to read immensely and prove all doctrine with The Holy Scriptures.

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  3. In my church, the scriptures are sometimes projected on the screen. I however, like to use my Bible, for then I can immediately check the context of the scripture used, by reading verses before and after. 1 Thess 5:21 says " Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."

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  4. Some denominations so trust their Leaders"PAPA" so much that any word spoken by so called PAPA is FINAL either it is in the Bible or not. God will help us because "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hos 4:6 NKJ).

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  5. Excellent point Laurie. Many people check the text but not the context. While tempting Jesus, even Satan knew the Scriptures and was able to quote them word for word. However he took the actual words out of context. Thank you everyone for stressing the importance of personal Bible study. Happy Sabbath to all!

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  6. It's an interesting point. So, just to question a few possibly minor (or maybe not so minor) points:

    1) Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute? How do you know?

    2) Was the woman caught in adultery Mary? How do you know?

    3) We know that Mary was considered a sinful woman. Do we actually know anything concerning the specific nature of her sins?

    4) Is it O.K. to say, "I am saved?" Or is that taking things just a little too far? How do you know?

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    • R.G. of course the questions you pose really has nothing directly to do with the article so I am assuming your point has to do with how we arrive at truth and do we believe all that we are told. With that in mind here is how I would proceed with the questions.

      There is a long standing text that Adventists have always used when studying scripture, "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little" (Isa. 28:10 NKJV) which has been called the "proof text method" but as long as we consider the context there should be no fear of distorting the meaning for we will have to consider all four Gospels and the book of Acts.

      If we go to a concordance and look up "Mary Magdalene" we will find 11 places within those books that mention her name. The first thing I notice is that she is one of the chief women among the disciples and apparently very dedicated to Christ. Further research in the concordance in the definition of her name reveals that it means, "a tower" and is "a name given to Mary Magdalene, identifying her as from Magdala" (strongs data on "Magdalene") which was in Galilee (Mat 15:39). There were other Marys among the disciples and it apparently was a very popular name given to females (Mat 27:55-56; Jn 19:25 etc. not including Mary the mother of Jesus).

      We also know through the Bible that Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Mk 16:9; Lk 8:2). Beyond that, information about her thins out rather rapidly. There are some things, however, that can be inferred. While Mary Magdalene is specifically mentioned 11 times In the Gospels, outside of the early years of Jesus his mother Mary is only mentioned twice in the Gospels and once in Acts and the other Marys even less, usually as part of a group such as Mk 15:40 and Lk 24:10. That simple observation puts Mary Magdalene as perhaps the most important woman among the disciples in the mind of the Gospel writers. So now we can properly ask who the other unspecified Marys in the Gospels refer to. It is as though the Bible writers assumed that the reader would know who the other Marys were.

      Even though there is no direct connection between Mary Magdalene and the Mary who had a sister named Martha and a brother named Lazarus I believe we can assume that connection. We can ask why Mary Magdalene was so devoted to Jesus that it would cause her to react the way she did at the tomb. While the other women left the tomb area Mary stayed behind in distress because her Lord meant so much to her and when Jesus appeared she grabbed on to Him as if to prevent Him from leaving again (Jn 20:17). No other disciple ever did that sort of a thing to Him - she was unique in that respect. As could be said, "for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little" (Lk. 7:47 NKJV). So how much was she forgiven?

      While we can point out that no other disciple had a sibling raised from the dead that in and of itself is probably not enough to cause the deep love that Mary had but what if you were rescued from a certain definite execution without condemnation and subsequently had seven demons cast out of you and also had your brother brought back to life as well. Would that be enough to generate the extremely deep love manifested in Mary? I think so.

      Assuming that, the question now is about any connection between her and the woman caught in adultery. While Jesus was in Bethany that was within a two hour's walk from Jerusalem where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived they had a dinner for Him (Jn 12; Lk 7). While at that dinner Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with a costly ointment (Jn 12:3; Lk 7:37-38) which Judas estimated to have been worth 300 denarii (Jn 12:5, about one year's wages for the average Jew). Coupled with a remark made by the Pharisee who invited Him, "This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner" (Lk. 7:39 NKJV) we can conclude a few things. Her lifestyle did not involve a common ordinary sin and either she inherited some wealth or what she did brought her a rather healthy income. I am inclined to think the latter and that she commuted back and forth from Jerusalem where she earned her living among the wealthier classes.

      Even though the evidence is circumstantial I think it is enough to believe that she was the woman caught in adultery. Furthermore, in this study I haven't touched what Ellen White wrote about her but rather I stuck to the Bible only. As for your fourth question I will leave that to someone else to answer.

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    • We are all sinners in need of God's saving grace. Mary Magdalene was no exception. That's why Jesus told her to go and sin no more.

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  7. Studying for ourselves is so important. We are in a body too, and need to have the fellowship of others, because we can learn from others and sometimes get set right. Both experiences are part of the Christian walk. I take comfort in the thought that if we make a mistake, we are human. It's so true...we can't know everything.
    Thanks William and Happy Sabbath too!

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  8. What a wonderful thing to know. Some of us take the priests as the ones with ultimate knowledge. I am planning to use your opinion William for the sabbth school thought. What a blessing!

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  9. I asked myself the question, am I a disciple of Christ, am I with Christ, am I a follower of Christ? I answered yes! Therefore I am humbled to answer your questions R.G..

    Lets assume that you are not a Bible scholar, you can't read, and your writing is done by one setting beside you. We boarded an Airbus 320 last week together. We had three hours together. I discovered that you had listened to FM 87.7 a few days eariler, an intreging sermon by Doug Batchlor had raised these 4 questions. What am I going to do? I reached into my carryon and pulled out a Bible, I read from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John's account of Jesus encounters with one lost soul, a wounderful story. Then we turned to Acts and read the results of Christ laboring for one soul as though Mary were the only one to save. We discussed how if you were the only soul on this earth to die for Christ would have. Your heart melted and we prayed and you gave your life to Him. I gave you the Bible for the one who sits beside you in your writing to read to you, then pulled out a book intitled 'At the Feet of Jesus' by Doug Batchlor. I read some passages to you. I explained to you how this book illuminated the Bible, and pointed you to the Bible. You accepted it, we parted with hopes of meeting in heaven some day.
    Praise the Lord and Happy Sabbath R.G.

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  10. I agree that it is critical to check things out for oneself. I must do this as a requirement. I just started a new job as a vehicle transporter. I drive walk - through trucks and Class C motorhomes throughout the USA and, in the near future, Canada. It is required by the Department of Transportation to complete a pre-trip and post-trip inspection of the vehicle. No one can do this on my behalf; I must do it. Interestingly, I have to deliver a truck to Hagerstown, MD. I hope to leave sometime today.

    The issue that I have is sharing my concerns with some pastors and high-ranking anointed ministers. Paul was not offended when the Bereans checked him out. Some SDA elders, pastors, educators, and high-ranking anointed ministers are not that way. In fact, some are offended and berate those who question or challenge them based upon the Word primarily, and the Spirit of Prophecy, secondarily. I say the Spirit of Prophecy secondarily because it is designed to lead us back to the Word, which is primary.

    Some SDA elders, pastors, educators, and high-ranking anointed ministers will never admit their teaching or preaching mistakes or oversights even when the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy passages are responsibly presented. What does one do in those situations?

    I have shared with some ministers that, in our discussions of the sanctuary and the 2300 days, in 38 years of being an Adventist, I have not heard exposition and the significance about the sacrifices that are required of the priests (bullock) and rulers (he-goat) that is found in Leviticus 4. All I have heard is the lamb offerings. These ministers become strangely quiet when I present that to them. The same attitudes hold true when I have questions about Matthew 23 and DA 67.

    I will take all of the help I can get.

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  11. Let me tell you a story: When I was in Florida about 40 miles north of Tampa, I had the privlage of using my private pilots licence. I took a few people for a ride occasionally. I had my own check list printed out on card stock. It was two fold, a witness in the form of a devotion on the back, check list on the front. I would give it to every passenger or copilot that I would take with me. One time I took a retired pastor who had been so kind as to take me on 18 holes of golfing enjoyment and instruction. As I did the walk around he said, "John I don't need this, I trust you. I remember my comment was, awe but pastor as perfect as pilots are we make mistakes too. Double checking never hurts. Especially when the passenger is sitting in the copilots seat. We sould never be affended when we are double checked.

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  12. I really like how you presented this wonderful lesson. Like they say, nobody is perfect and it is okay to make mistakes. All of us have the right to be curious and this where we actually learn and grow.

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  13. Long ago, I took private pilot lessons (flying Cessna 172s). Part of the pre-flight check was, indeed, to check the fuel level. We did this by pulling out a small step ladder, placing it behind a wing, then climbing up, unscrewing the cap on the fuel tank and LOOKING DOWN INTO THE TANK. Then doing the same for the other tank in the other wing.

    When you do this, you can SEE the fuel. It's right there. You can smell it too. For a rental plane, you have no idea whatever of its history. You do not trust the GAUGES either! ;)

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