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The Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Church

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    Chapter 8—The Relationships of the Spirit of Prophecy to the Bible

    What is the relationship of the Spirit of prophecy to the Bible? This is an important question. It is asked by many honest inquirers. Believing as we do that the Bible is an all-sufficient guide in matters of faith and doctrine, we naturally query, Why do we need the Spirit of prophecy? If it is God’s plan that this gift be manifested in the church, what then is the relationship between the gift of prophecy and the Holy Scriptures? The purpose of this chapter is to study this relationship.BSPC 113.5

    In the first place consideration will be given to the supreme authority of the word of God. It is a good thing at times to remind ourselves of some of the things most surely believed among us. It is encouraging at all times to be put in remembrance of these things, though we know them, that we might be established in the present truth. (2 Peter 1:12.)BSPC 113.6

    1. The Testimony of the Scripture Concerning Itself

    This aspect of the question has been fully covered in the first section of this book, but reference will be made to a few passages from the word of God in this connection. One cannot ponder the sacred pages of God’s Holy Word without being made conscious of the finality of that word. It speaks with authority; it recognizes no competitor in its field. It is unique in that it is the word of the everlasting God, the word spoken by God, and given to men through His servants the prophets.BSPC 114.1

    It is so full and complete that it is “able to make us wise unto salvation.” 2 Timothy 3:15. It will do this so fully that if a man yield’s to its authority, “the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Verse 17. This is the word that is the final test of what is true doctrine. As far back as the days of Isaiah this was emphasized by the Lord.BSPC 114.2

    “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.BSPC 115.1

    The Bereans followed this excellent counsel; we find in connection with the message of the apostle Paul that “they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11.BSPC 115.2

    This is the word that Jesus endorsed, and that He used effectively in His conflict with the evil one in the wilderness of temptation. Several times He fell back on the Eternal Word of His Father, with the expression, “It is written.” Consequently, so far as the Scriptures are concerned, they bear unequivocal testimony to the veracity and to the ultimate authority of the word of Jehovah as the highest and the only standard of faith, of doctrine, and of conduct.BSPC 115.3

    2. The Testimony of the Reformation

    The testimony of the German princes at the Diet of Spires is worthy of the most careful and thoughtful study. They made a bold statement, and doing so required a courage born of Heaven. These men were intrepid warriors of the cross; they “loved not their lives unto the death.” It meant something to take the stand they did, faced as they were with all the power of church and state arrayed against them. But God blessed their noble witness, and their fearless protest has become a mighty battle cry, which needs to be more strongly emphasized in these days when true religion seems to be on the decline. Part of this testimony reads as follows:BSPC 115.4

    “There is no sure doctrine but such as is conformable to the Word of God. That the Lord forbids the teaching of any other doctrine; that each text of the Holy Scriptures ought to be explained by other and clearer texts; and that this holy book is in all things necessary for the Christian, easy of understanding, and calculated to scatter the darkness. We are resolved, with the grace of God, to maintain the pure and exclusive preaching of his only Word, such as it is contained in the biblical books of the Old and New Testament, without adding any thing thereto that may be contrary to it. This Word is the only truth; it is the sure rule of all doctrine and of all life, and can never fail or deceive us. He who builds on this foundation shall stand against all the powers of hell, whilst all the human vanities that are set up against it shall fall before the face of God.”—D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation, pp. 520, 521.BSPC 115.5

    3. The Testimony of the Messenger of the Lord

    Many are the expressions to be found in the writings of Mrs. E. G. White extolling the Scriptures of truth. Over and over again the servant of the Lord pointed to the Divine Word as the only standard of doctrine and as the only sure guide in matters of faith. Note the following:BSPC 116.1

    “I recommend to you, dear reader, the word of God as the rule of your faith and practice. By the word we are to be judged. God has, in that word, promised to give visions in the ‘LAST DAYS’: not for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people, and to correct those who err from Bible truth.”—Early Writings, 78.BSPC 116.2

    “The Bible should ever have been made the great, grand book of study, which has come down to us from heaven, and is the word of life.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, 384.BSPC 116.3

    “We are to receive God’s word as supreme authority. We must accept its truths for ourselves. And we can appreciate these truths only as we search them out by personal study. Then, as we make God’s word the guide of our lives, for us is answered the prayer of Christ: ‘Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.’ John 17:17. The acknowledgment of the truth in word and deed is our confession of faith. Only thus can others know that we believe the Bible.”Testimonies for the Church 6:402, 403.BSPC 116.4

    4. The Testimony of the Advent Church

    The quotations that follow not only express the confidence of the church in the Holy Scriptures but also indicate something of what it believes concerning the relationship that the Spirit of prophecy bears to God’s revelation in His Holy Word.BSPC 116.5

    The following quotation is from one of the earliest publications in the Advent cause, published in 1847.BSPC 116.6

    “The Bible is a perfect, and complete revelation. It is our only rule of faith and practice. But this is no reason, why God may not show the past, present, and future fulfillment of His word, in these last days by dreams and visions; according to Peter’s testimony. True visions are given to lead us to God, and His written word; but those that are given for a new rule of faith and practice, separate from the Bible, cannot be from God, and should be rejected.”—A Word to the Little Flock, 13.BSPC 116.7

    James White, at that time the recognized leader of Seventh-day Adventists, wrote in the December issue, no. 5, of the Present Truth, in 1849:BSPC 116.8

    “The Bible is our lamp, our guide. It is our rule of faith and practice: still there is no reason why God may not give special revelations to lead the erring to God, and His living word.”—page 40.BSPC 117.1

    Another article from his pen appeared in the The Review and Herald, April 21, 1851, part of which reads as follows:BSPC 117.2

    “Every Christian is therefore in duty bound to take the Bible as a perfect rule of faith and duty. He should pray fervently to be aided by the Holy Spirit in searching the Scriptures for the whole truth, and for his whole duty. He is not at liberty to turn from them to learn his duty through any of the gifts. We say that the very moment he does, he places the gifts in a wrong place, and takes an extremely dangerous position. The word should be in front, and the eye of the church should be placed upon it, as the rule to walk by, and the fountain of wisdom, from which to learn duty in ‘all good works.’ But if a portion of the church err from the truths of the Bible, and become weak, and sickly, and the flock become scattered, so that it seems necessary for God to employ the gifts of the Spirit to correct, revive and heal the erring, we should let him work. Yea more, we should pray for him to work and plead earnestly that he would work by the Spirit’s power, and bring the scattered sheep to his fold. Praise the Lord, he will work. Amen.”BSPC 117.3

    George I. Butler, president of the General Conference in 1883, wrote:BSPC 117.4

    “The majority of our people believe these visions to he a genuine manifestation of spiritual gifts, and as such to be entitled to respect. We do not hold them to he superior to the Bible, or in one sense equal to it. The Scriptures are our rule to test everything by, the visions as well as all other things. That rule, therefore, is of the highest authority; the standard is higher than the thing tested by it. If the Bible should show the visions were not in harmony with it, the Bible would stand, and the visions would be given up. This shows plainly that we hold the Bible the highest, our enemies to the contrary, notwithstanding.”—Review and Herald, Supplement, Aug. 14, 1883.BSPC 117.5

    The revised Church Manual adopted by the General Conference in 1950 contains the following in its statement of fundamental beliefs:BSPC 117.6

    “That the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament were given by inspiration of God, contain an all-sufficient revelation of His will to men, and are the only unerring rule of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:15-17).”—page 29.BSPC 117.7

    These excerpts have been quoted from articles that appeared mainly in the early years of the Advent Movement, so that the reader might see that from the very beginning of this cause the Bible has been given not only an honored place but the first place in the teachings of the church. Also the latest pronouncement made in 1950 has been quoted. In the literature of intervening years references to the same standard of truth are abundant, but further quoting will be omitted in view of the clear, concise expressions given above.BSPC 117.8

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