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General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1

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    THE subject of our study will be the word of God, and we shall go to the Bible as the source of information, and we shall ask this book what it says about itself. The word “bible” does not occur in our English translation, but I will call attention first, to the various terms which it uses to speak of itself.GCB February 17, 1895, page 199.2

    In the time of Christ there were certain well known writings that were referred to by him and are mentioned in the writings of that time, as “the Scriptures.” I shall do little more than simply read the different texts where these terms are used; nothing more is necessary.GCB February 17, 1895, page 199.3

    These writings are called the “Holy Scriptures.” Romans 1:1, 2: “Paul a servant of Jesus Christ called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.)” The term “holy scriptures” was well understood by those to whom the apostle wrote this letter. This expression, “the holy scriptures” occurs in another place in the King James translation, but not in the Revised Version. The Revised Version gives another and more correct translation in 2 Timothy 3:14, 15: “But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them, and that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings.” And that is the only place where that expression occurs. So the word of God was known in that time as the “holy scriptures” and as the “sacred writings.” The “sacred writings” are also referred to as simply “the scriptures,” using the plural, as in Acts 17:2, “And Paul, as his manner was, went in with them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures.” The singular number is also used in the same way to include the whole body of the sacred writings, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” 2 Timothy 3:16. Note the way in which Christ referred to these writings: First, he speaks of them as a whole: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” Matthew 22:29. Again, “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected?” etc. Matthew 21:42. In the 12th chapter of Mark, tenth verse, this same thing is recorded, “And have ye not read this scripture, The stone which the builders rejected?” etc., where the word “scripture” is used by Christ to designate a particular part of the sacred writings. Putting these two texts together, we might say, “Have ye not read this scripture in the Scriptures? — that is, this particular part of sacred writings in that collection termed the sacred writings. So we have the “holy scriptures,” the “sacred writings,” and the “scripture,” referring to the whole collection of writings; and we have our Lord using these terms, the “scriptures” as referring to this collection of writings, and the “scripture” as a particular portion of those writings.GCB February 17, 1895, page 199.4

    We have also the expression, “the word of God;” first, referring to the whole body of writings as in Hebrews 13:7: “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God.” The same use is made of the term in 1 John 2:12, “I have written unto you young men, because ye are strong and the word of God abideth in you.” We also have this expression “the word of God” referring only to a portion of the scriptures, as in Hebrews 11:3: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” The particular words which were spoken by which the worlds were framed, we have recorded in the first chapter of Genesis. The same idea is expressed in the second epistle of Peter, third chapter, fifth verse, “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” In Hebrews 6:5, this word is spoken of as “The good word,” “have tasted the good word of God.” Just as the scripture says, “O, taste and see that the Lord is good,” so his word is the good word.GCB February 17, 1895, page 199.5

    We also have a scripture in the twenty-third chapter of Jeremiah ninth verse, “My heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness.” Or as the Revised Version renders it, “because of the Lord, and because of his holy words.” Dr. Young’s translation also renders it “his holy words.” We also have “words” used without any qualifying adjective, as in Revelation 17:17: “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and to give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”GCB February 17, 1895, page 200.1

    I have hastily read these scriptures and called attention to the different expressions used in referring to the Bible; the “holy scriptures,” the “sacred writings,” the “scriptures,” the “scripture,” the “word of God,” the “good word of God,” the “holy words,” the “words of God.” All these different expressions are found, referring sometimes to the whole collection of writings, sometimes to a particular portion. But the thought of more importance is, What is the word of God? What is the word of God as distinct from a printed, or written document? Words are simply the clothing of thoughts, and these words spoken of as the words of God are simply that in which the thought of God is expressed, in which the thought of God is brought to us. God’s purpose is to reveal himself, but God is a spirit, and he wishes to reveal himself to flesh, so he takes some form in which flesh may apprehend him, and the revelation which he would make of himself to flesh. The thought of God must come in such a way that we can grasp it and that it may be indeed to us a revelation of God. And there is more than one way in which God has made known his thought, and his thought is what he is, just as our thoughts are what we are. God has expressed his thought to us in human language; he has expressed his thought in human flesh; he has expressed his thought in his works, and it is in these three ways more especially that God has spoken to us. He has “spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began:” “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath spoken unto us by his Son.” He has spoken unto us by his Son in a larger sense than that his Son was here as a man, and spake words. Jesus Christ was himself an expression to the world of the thought of God. For this reason, he is called the Word of God, because in himself, in his life, in his character, he is an expression to us of the thought of God. He is an expression to us of what God really is.GCB February 17, 1895, page 200.2

    First, God told us in human speech what he is, so far as it is possible to present that in the human language, and so far as it is possible for the human mind to comprehend it. Then he gave us his thought in flesh. To give us his thought in language, he took our language, and in that gave his thought. Further in revealing himself to us, he took our flesh and presented his thought in our flesh. And just as he put into language, language that is used by men for sinful purposes, the expression of his own character, so he took sinful flesh, flesh that is used for sinful purposes, and in that sinful flesh, he gave his thought, he revealed himself. And as in Christ he gave a perfect revelation of himself, although it was sinful flesh in which he was revealed, so in human speech he has also given a perfect revelation of himself, although it is in language that is also used for sinful purposes. And just as Jesus Christ meant more to the world and conveyed more to the world of the thought and the character of God than any other flesh, so the word of God conveys more and has in it more than any other word. That is to say, in his words, God has expressed himself. We often speak of a man as expressing himself thus and so, but he may or may not express himself. He may speak words, but these words may not be an expression of his own real self. He may use those words in which to conceal himself, and conceal his thoughts, so that instead of being a revelation of himself, and of his thoughts, it may be a means of hiding his thoughts. But God is not a man that he can do this way. Jeremiah 10:10: “But the Lord is the true God,” or the margin reads, “the God of truth.” And Jesus Christ said of himself, “I am the truth,“ and the Holy Spirit is spoken of as the “spirit of truth,” and the word of God is truth, — “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.”GCB February 17, 1895, page 200.3

    Jesus Christ is truth. It does not say he speaks the truth, but Jesus Christ is the truth; the spirit is the spirit of truth, and more than that, we read in 1 John 5:6: “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.” And God’s word does not simply contain truth. That is not the thought. But God’s word is truth. Now God being a God of truth, Christ being the truth, the Spirit being the Spirit of truth, the word is the word of truth. It is impossible that God by his Spirit, or through his Son or in his word should speak anything that is not the truth. That is, he has put himself into his word. This thought is suggested in Hebrews 6:13-17:—GCB February 17, 1895, page 201.1

    “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swear by himself, saying, Surely in blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel [margin] interposed himself by an oath.”GCB February 17, 1895, page 201.2

    He put himself in there in that word. This thought is also suggested in 2 Timothy 2:11-13:—GCB February 17, 1895, page 201.3

    “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: If we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”GCB February 17, 1895, page 201.4

    Therefore, his word is and always will be eternally true. Whether we believe it or not, it makes no difference, he cannot deny himself, and he has put himself into his word.GCB February 17, 1895, page 201.5

    Now further. The word of God is the expression of the thought of God; that is, of the mind of God; it is the expression of God, of his thought, of his mind, and human speech is simply the clothing put upon that thought, or that mind, so that it may be apprehended by us. In Hebrews 10:5: “Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifices and offerings thou didst not desire, but a body hast thou prepared me.” The translation of the Syriac Version is: “But thou hast clothed me with a body.” The idea is suggested in the margin of this translation, “But a body thou hast fitted me.” In the fifth chapter of Hebrews 7th verse, we have the expression, “who in the days of his flesh;” the Syriac Version gives this thought, “Who when he was clothed with flesh.”GCB February 17, 1895, page 201.6

    Now God was in Christ and in order that he might be seen and heard and handled, and might in flesh perform the works assigned to him, he was fitted with a body; he was clothed with flesh. Now in order that God might make an expression of himself to us of his thought, he has clothed that thought with human speech; he has put that thought into human language so that we who are human and who understand human language may be able to apprehend God. Here we have, just as in the case of Christ, the incarnation idea. It is divine thought joined to human speech, just as in the other case it is the divine spirit joined to human flesh, because it was through the eternal spirit, that he offered himself, and it was by the agency of the spirit that Jesus was born in the flesh.GCB February 17, 1895, page 201.7

    Now the thought of God existed from eternity. But when it became necessary in his plan, that we should know his thought, he clothed it in human speech in order that we might comprehend it. He put into human language his mind, and sent it to us, just as he put his mind into Christ in the flesh and sent it here, and in both of these, we have the incarnation of God, — God in the flesh, God in language, the divine and the human united, each one of them an expression to the world of the thought of God; one addressed to the mind by human language, one addressed, we may say, to the life in human flesh, but both alike an expression to the world of God, of the mind of God.GCB February 17, 1895, page 201.8

    See this thought suggested further in these scriptures. “The mind of the spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6 R.V. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace.” Jeremiah 29:11. “The words,” said Christ, “that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63. Now put these texts together, “The mind of the spirit is life and peace.” “The words that I speak unto you, they are life,” and the words are simply an expression of the thoughts, and “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace.” Is it not clear from these scriptures that the word of God is also an expression of the mind of the spirit?GCB February 17, 1895, page 201.9

    Now whether it be spoken of as the mind of God, or the mind of Christ, or the mind of the Spirit, or the word of God, or the thought of God, in all these there is one thing to be sought, and that is always the voice of God. And this is equally true whether we are studying to learn it in Christ where God is revealed, or in nature where God is revealed, or in his word where God is revealed. The thing to be sought after, to be heard, to be obeyed is always the voice of God. And there are some rather striking expressions in the scripture concerning this idea of the voice. Suppose we read in Acts 26:14: “And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me and saying in the Hebrew tongue” (language R.V.).GCB February 17, 1895, page 202.1

    “When we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice” and that voice was speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew language. The voice was speaking, but it was speaking in the Hebrew language. I do not simply mean that the voice was using the Hebrew language, not that, but the voice was speaking, and that voice that was speaking was in the Hebrew language.GCB February 17, 1895, page 202.2

    Take another scripture: “While he yet spake, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 17:5. It does not say in what language the voice came, but the voice from heaven, the voice of God, comes to us in human language, just as God himself came to us in Christ in the flesh. The voice comes in the language, and the language is simply the dress, the form, the body, which the voice uses in order that it may come to us, and be apprehended by us.GCB February 17, 1895, page 202.3

    The use of this term is very frequent. It is used in Revelation 18:4: “And I heard another voice from heaven.” Now this is the message that is to be given at this time. The voice is from heaven, but it comes to the people in human language. Sometimes in the English language, sometimes in the German language, in the Danish language, in every language under heaven, that voice comes to the people; but that voice, whether in English, German, Danish, Swedish, in whatever language it may come, is a voice from heaven; and if we give that message as God would have us give it, we would simply be the instruments that God uses through which he would speak, and all the world will be led to recognize that it is a voice from heaven. It is a voice from heaven that comes in human language, but the voice is a voice from heaven.GCB February 17, 1895, page 202.4

    Now we are to hear a voice and we are to recognize it as a voice in human language, but a voice from heaven, and that voice is the voice of God. Then that makes the word of God, whether spoken or printed, just as much the incarnation of God to the world as was Jesus Christ. It is divinely miraculously joined to humanity and in both cases by the agency of the Spirit of God, because “The prophecy came in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” and again and again we have this expression, as in Revelation 14:13: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea saith the Spirit.” “Let him that hath an ear hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.” And so again, “The Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith,” and so in many cases. When the Spirit speaks, it speaks the mind of God, and it knows the mind of God. Read that in 1 Corinthians 2:11: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the Spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” And when the Spirit speaks, it speaks the things of God, the mind of God, the thoughts of God, and we are to listen and hear the voice from heaven all the time. The voice is from heaven just as Jesus Christ came down from heaven. And it speaks to us by the agency of the Spirit through human language.GCB February 17, 1895, page 202.5

    When Jesus Christ was here, there were many who passed by him and saw in him only the carpenter’s son; they saw nothing divine about him. He was to them simply human. There are many simply human. There are many who see this word of God, but they see in it only human language and they fail to see in it an expression of God himself. They fail to see this incarnation in it. They do not see the union of the divine and human in God’s word, just as we have the union of divinity and humanity in Jesus Christ, but to those who received him, to those who believed on him as Jesus the Messiah, as the revelation of God to the world, he was Jesus the Messiah, “declared to be son of God with power.” To those who receive this as the Word of God and listen to it as to the voice of God and treat it as it is indeed the incarnation of God to the world, it becomes the voice of God, to them it becomes the Word of God and the Word of life.GCB February 17, 1895, page 202.6


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    THE work of the Canvassers’ Convention is proceeding in a very gratifying manner. Twenty-seven State agents are now in attendance. The promptness and faithfulness in attending the meetings, and the harmony of action is making the work very pleasant. Two lines of book study are being conducted. J. J. Devereaux has charge of the study on “Great Controversy,” and Elder A. T. Jones is giving lessons on “Two Republics.”GCB February 17, 1895, page 202.7


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    The fourteenth meeting of the Convention was called at 5:50 P.M., Feb. 10. We were glad to welcome and enroll as a member of our Convention Brother E. W. Snyder, who for several years has been engaged in the canvassing work in Argentina, South America.GCB February 17, 1895, page 202.8

    The Convention at once entered upon a continued discussion of the paper presented at the previous meeting by Brother Sherrig on “The Canvasser’sGCB February 17, 1895, page 202.9

    Legitimate Work.” The question of the advisability of preaching or holding Bible readings in connection with our canvassing work was first considered. Brother Town stated that an attempt to explain Bible subjects was an injustice to the people, to the canvasser, and to the truth. Brother Snyder has learned in South America, and in other places where the canvassers are the only ones to spread the truth, that it becomes necessary, at times, to follow up an interest.GCB February 17, 1895, page 203.1

    The question of employing agents outside of our faith was briefly discussed. All agreed that we should follow the Testimonies in selecting canvassers, but some questioned whether the Testimonies exclusively apply to Seventh-day Adventists. The Chair stated that it will be well to exercise our good sense in all these things. We often differ as to what is good sense, but when we look at the work from all sides our minds will broaden. We are much like pendulums. If we are swung from one position, we swing as far in the opposite direction. Men are needed who will stick to the track and not be switched off. A motion that we adopt the paper presented by Brother Sherrig was unanimously carried.GCB February 17, 1895, page 203.2


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    The seventeenth meeting of the convention was held at 8:00 A.M., Feb. 12. The report of the committee on matter for the Home Missionary was adopted as follows:—GCB February 17, 1895, page 203.3

    We, your committee, appointed to consider what should be in the Canvassers’ Department of the Home Missionary would respectfully submit the following:—GCB February 17, 1895, page 203.4

    1. That the tabulated reports be continued.GCB February 17, 1895, page 203.5

    2. That the General Canvassing Agent give such instruction on different phases of the work as he may see fit.GCB February 17, 1895, page 203.6

    3. That the articles that have appeared and shall appear on the science of canvassing, be printed in pamphlet form; the part relating to State agents and their work to be printed separately.GCB February 17, 1895, page 203.7

    4. That space be given for brief and pointed reports from State agents, and those canvassing in other lands; these reports to be sent in at least once a quarter to be published as may be decided by the General Agent.GCB February 17, 1895, page 203.8

    5. That the General Agent give us bits of news concerning the work and workers all over the world.GCB February 17, 1895, page 203.9

    S. C. OSBORNE,
    G. A. WHEELER,


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    The nineteenth meeting of the State Agents’ Convention was called at eight o’clock A.M., Feb. 13. The hour was devoted to considering the subject of “Answering Questions and Meeting Objections.” Two papers were presented, one by J. R. Calkins, of New York, and the other by E. R. Palmer, of Oklahoma. The position was taken that any questions that are answered at all, should be answered with clearness and with absolute truthfulness. Questions on theology should be left for our books to answer, while sharp, meaningless questions which are born of satanic cunning should be carefully avoided. Objections to our books or the nature of our work may be successfully met by some cheerful remark well calculated to please, and remove any lingering prejudice. Many very interesting illustrations were given by Brother Calkins to show how this may be done. In no case should we permit ourselves to be led aside from our object by argument with any one.GCB February 17, 1895, page 203.10

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