Chapter 23



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Section Titles
A Method of Approach
Consecutive Reading
Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 4
Adding to the Basic Books
An Approach to Topical Studies

Seventh-day Adventists believe that the messages given to the church through Ellen White are divinely inspired. Once we accept these messages as instruction from God, we are faced with the question of how to get the greatest benefit from them.

Some of the books on our bookshelves are timeless in their appeal and value; others are of import only briefly. Those of permanent significance deal with intrinsic truths and fundamental principles. Some were written centuries ago, but men still turn to them as though they had been recently penned, because they treat on themes, questions, and problems that face every generation of men.

Of all books, the Bible reveals most of this characteristic of timelessness. This is understandable because of the manner in which it was prepared. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, chosen men recorded, and frequently interpreted, the meanings of events illustrating God's dealings with men. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4. God directed these men in the selection of those incidents of enduring worth because they illustrated principles. In addition to the record of historical events, the Bible contains direct counsel, admonition, instruction, reproof, and prophecy of coming events, which is designated as “the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” 1 Peter 1:23.


The whole Book bears the impress of its omniscient Author.

Knowing the end from the beginning as He does, God could see, in the days of Cain and Abel, of Noah, of ancient Israel, of the life of the Saviour, and of the early Christian church, the lessons that would be needed by His people in all generations. For the instruction of His children He made abundant provision. Though the record tells of some practices no longer followed, such as the offering of lambs, goats, and bullocks in the sacrificial system, the fact that a narrative or instruction is preserved in the Bible record is evidence that it contains lessons of practical worth for us who live in the last days. That is why Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16. Valuable lessons may be learned from every part of the Book. Nothing is outdated, nothing to be set aside.

Our recognition of the inspiration of Ellen White's writings places them in a special relationship to the Bible. In chapter nineteen of this book, attention has been given to the nature of this relationship. The important detail to be noticed for our present purpose is that these writings are intended to be as enduring in the nature of their instruction as the Bible. “Whether or not my life is spared,” Ellen White wrote, “my writings will constantly speak, and their work will go forward as long as time shall last.”—“he Writing and Sending Out of the Testimonies,” pages 13, 14. Linked as they are with the Bible and the Bible's teachings, these inspired volumes retain their significance as the years pass. Since they introduce nothing new in principle, but simplify and apply the truths of the Bible, they are perpetually current in their usefulness.

A Method of Approach

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The careful student in any area of knowledge follows a planned approach to build up his store of information, and to


set up his guides for interpreting the facts in hand. As an undergraduate college student, a prospective history teacher enrolls first for a number of generalized courses—a survey of European history, a survey of American history, perhaps a survey of church history. As he progresses, he is guided into a concentration on, say, European history. If he continues with graduate study in the same area, he may specialize in English history, the Renaissance, the Reformation, or any one of many such fields. However, in order to gain and maintain a proper perspective, he must include the study of related fields, since nothing isolated is fully understandable.

What is true of the study of history fits also the matter of Bible study. Correct interpretations depend upon the understanding of the relationships between all parts of the Bible. One can grasp the full significance of the Sabbath only if he sees it as a memorial of creation and a sign of sanctification. When separated from these truths, the Sabbath loses most of its reason for existence. The nature of man and his condition in death must be understood in the light of the creation. Along with this must be placed the Bible teaching that man has immortality only in Christ. Use of a few texts on the subject of death and destruction, isolated from all that would contribute to a well-rounded study, has led most of the Christian world to wrong conclusions.

For one to be certain that he has a comprehension of the important lines of Bible teaching, he must know the Book as a whole. A grasp of the various subjects depends on reading the Bible through repeatedly so that the student is aware of the material in any part of the Scriptures that has a bearing on any individual topical study, and he also keeps the connections continually in mind. This is the way to rightly “divide,” or handle, the word of truth. It does not mean that verse or topical study should be avoided until the Bible has been read many times. It does mean, however, that everyone who studies the Bible should be constantly broadening his background of


understanding by wide reading at the same time that he is pursuing detailed studies.

When one turns to the study of the writings of Ellen White, the normal approach will yield the best results. Again a broad background, based on wide reading, will contribute to a clear understanding of every separate subject that may be considered. Again it should be noted that one need not exclude all topical study, waiting until much reading has been done; but consecutive reading will enrich individual studies and help to ensure a full understanding and correct representation.

Any extensive study program, such as should be pursued by every Seventh-day Adventist, must give attention both to consecutive reading and the investigation of individual topics of special interest. Each fosters the other. Attention will first be given to suggestions for a broad reading program, and then to topical studies.

Consecutive Reading

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Individual preferences will determine to a large extent the nature of one's reading program, but some suggestions help guide or inspire a person to make plans of his own. If a simple plan like the following is put into practice, it will not be long before the reader will gain a comprehensive view of the teachings of the Ellen White books. These volumes, forming a basic spirit of prophecy library, are grouped in such a way that by reading three or four pages a day a person can complete a group in one year. In each instance a brief annotation is given indicating in a general way the contents of the volume and a reason for its inclusion in this suggestive reading list.

Group 1

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Steps to Christ—Our first responsibility is to know the Son of God, whom to know is life eternal. The way to Christ is not hard to find, but is often misunderstood.


The Story of Redemption—We need to understand the conflict between Christ and Satan, and God's provision for our salvation.

The Ministry of Healing—Body and mind are closely related in the development of Christian character. Let us learn how the relationship can be mutually beneficial.

Group 2

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The Desire of Ages—The Christian life means “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We turn to this priceless story of His earthly life, His crucifixion, and His ascension to heaven to serve as our High Priest.

The Adventist Home—For the formation of the kind of home God can approve, we need inspired counsel. Here it is given simply and practically.

Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White—Knowing something of the inspirational life of the messenger helps in an understanding of the messages and their influence.

Group 3

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Testimony Treasures (3 volumes)—This specific instruction concerning everyday life and activities will help a person meet many difficult situations.

Group 4

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The Great Controversy—Few books can do as much to prepare a Christian for the difficult times of trouble ahead. The portrayal of the triumphant ending of this drama of the ages will strengthen a person's determination to be victorious.

Christ's Object Lessons—The practical applications of the teachings of Jesus will help a person live a full Christian life.

Education—The whole of life is part of the process of education. We need to learn how to make the most of our opportunities today in order to prepare for the school of the hereafter.


Adding to the Basic Books

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To round out the Bible story the remaining volumes of the Conflict of the Ages Series—Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, and The Acts of the Apostles—should be added. A complete set of the nine volumes of the Testimonies for the Church will present the full range of counsel given to the church over a period of nearly fifty-five years. It will guide and strengthen the Christian's everyday living and activity, and aid in developing character. Beyond these volumes there are about twenty-five additional titles from which to select areas of particular interest. See pages 482-485.

Students making preparation for their lifework will want to include those books that touch especially the type of work in which they plan to engage. Ministerial students should give attention to Gospel Workers, Testimonies to Ministers, and Evangelism. Prospective physicians and nurses should study The Ministry of Healing, Medical Ministry, and Counsels on Health. Future teachers should concentrate on Education, Fundamentals of Christian Education, Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, and Child Guidance. But no one of these books is intended to be used by only one group of believers or workers. Every volume contains instruction of inestimable value to every individual.

In this suggested reading program it is intended that the reader shall build a solid foundation. Nothing can help him to do this better than a broad knowledge of what is taught in the books. The greater his general knowledge, the more valid will be his conclusions when he makes topical studies such as are introduced in a later chapter.

An Approach to Topical Studies

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Study of the Ellen White books will yield much spiritual enlightenment if a few simple rules are followed in the reading program. There are three principles to be followed in topical


studies which will aid in gaining a balanced view of what the writings teach.

1. The general teaching of all the applicable counsels should be studied before conclusions are drawn.

2. The time, place, and circumstances of the giving of certain messages should be considered.

3. One should try to discover the principle involved in any specific counsel, and its applications.

Each of the three principles will be dealt with separately so that its operation may be illustrated.

Principle 1. The general teaching of all the applicable counsels should be studied before conclusions are drawn. Each relevant statement in each book should be considered in its context, and then it should make its contribution to the understanding of the whole subject.

Isolated statements, or statements taken out of their context, cannot be depended on as a basis for correct understanding. Extreme caution must be exercised lest partial statements, either alone or fitted together, be used to support ideas they were never intended to convey.

“Why will not men see and live the truth? Many study the Scriptures for the purpose of proving their own ideas to be correct. They change the meaning of God's word to suit their own opinions. And thus they do also with the testimonies that He sends. They quote half a sentence, leaving out the other half, which, if quoted, would show their reasoning to be false. God has a controversy with those who wrest the Scriptures, making them conform to their preconceived ideas.”—Ellen G. White Manuscript 22, 1890.

It is not difficult to find individual sentences or paragraphs in either the Bible, or the Ellen White writings, which may be used to support one's own ideas rather than to set forth the thought of the author. Take, for instance, the words of Revelation


14:11, “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.” Does not our understanding of the teaching of the whole Bible on the meaning of “forever,” cause us to reach a different conclusion regarding the teaching of this verse than if we considered the verse by itself and compared it with no others? Mrs. White recognized this possibility of misuse on the part of both friends and foes of her work.

“Those who are not walking in the light of the message, may gather up statements from my writings that happen to please them, and that agree with their human judgment, and, by separating these statements from their connection, and placing them beside human reasonings, make it appear that my writings uphold that which they condemn.”—Ellen G. White Letter 208, 1906.

Generally speaking, the difficulties do not arise out of willful misrepresentation. A person may be impressed by a rather striking statement which does or does not harmonize with his former thinking on the subject. If the newly discovered passage appears to confirm earlier conclusions, it is a simple matter to add it to one's exhibits to prove his point. If a recently acquired idea seems to be contrary to earlier opinions, one who has confidence in Ellen White as the messenger of the Lord may incline toward accepting what appears to be a correction of his thinking without giving the whole subject careful consideration.

Pride of personal opinion constitutes a further problem. Sometimes men reach conclusions on the basis of scanty evidence, and then they search for support for their conclusions. Scraps of evidence are assembled—parts of sentences, passages taken out of their context, phrases or sentences gathered Out and fitted together. The result appears to some minds to prove the case, but it is not a fair representation of the sentiment of the writings because all of the evidence has not been marshaled and studied. It is neither fair nor honest to use anything other than a complete picture of the instruction given. It is only fair for a


person to gather from all sources instruction pertaining to the same subject, put it all together, and draw conclusions on the basis of the total revelation.

Suppose, for the sake of a starting point, that we imagine we are dealing with a man who believes in instantaneous sanctification that when one accepts Christ, he is instantly made perfect and needs no spiritual growth beyond that point (a view that is not held by Seventh-day Adventists). If we should read him a sentence frequently quoted by Seventh-day Adventists, “Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime,” and if he would accept that sentence alone as a guide, he would have to reverse his former ideas. It is likely that he would conclude that it requires a lifetime before a person is regarded by God as sanctified. But would his changed thinking necessarily represent the whole truth in the matter? Perhaps so, and perhaps not, for this sentence tells only a part of the story. We must bring him enough information to permit him to make his decision from a cross section of many similar and related passages in her writings. Below are some of the thoughts that should be considered. Study these quotations carefully and prayerfully and see what conclusions you draw from them. They are not intended to be the complete picture of sanctification, but they lead to some conclusions regarding the time element involved. Even though only a few of the available statements are included here, they fairly represent the whole number.

1. “Every Christian may enjoy the blessing of sanctification.”—The Sanctified Life, page 61.

2. “There should be hundreds where there is now one among us, so closely allied to God, their lives in such close conformity to His will, that they would be bright and shining lights, sanctified wholly, in soul, body, and spirit.”—Ibid., pp. 30, 31.

3. “To those who keep holy the Sabbath day it is the sign of sanctification. True sanctification is harmony with God, oneness


with Him in character. It is received through obedience to those principles that are the transcript of His character.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 350.

4. “An instructive lesson may be drawn from the striking contrast between the character of John and that of Judas. John was a living illustration of sanctification. On the other hand, Judas possessed a form of godliness, while his character was more satanic than divine. He professed to be a disciple of Christ, but in words and in works denied Him.

“Judas had the same precious opportunities as had John to study and to imitate the Pattern. He listened to the lessons of Christ, and his character might have been transformed by divine grace. But while John was earnestly warring against his own faults, and seeking to assimilate to Christ, Judas was violating his conscience, yielding to temptation, and fastening upon himself habits of dishonesty that would transform him into the image of Satan.

“These two disciples represent the Christian world. All profess to be Christ's followers; but while one class walk in humility and meekness, learning of Jesus, the other show that they are not doers of the word, but hearers only. One class are sanctified through the truth; the other know nothing of the transforming power of divine grace. The former are daily dying to self, and are overcoming sin. The latter are indulging their own lusts, and becoming the servants of Satan.”—The Sanctified Life, page 44.

5. “John desired to become like Jesus, and under the transforming influence of the love of Christ, he became meek and lowly of heart. Self was hid in Jesus. He was closely united to the living Vine, and thus became a partaker of the divine nature. Such will ever be the result of communion with Christ. This is true sanctification.”—lbid., p. 41.

6. “John enjoyed the blessing of true sanctification. But mark, the apostle does not claim to be sinless; he is seeking


perfection by walking in the light of God's countenance.”—Ibid., p. 48.

7. “The followers of Christ are to become like Him—by the grace of God to form characters in harmony with the principles of His holy law. This is Bible sanctification.”—The Great Controversy, page 469.

8. “Let a living faith run like threads of gold through the performance of even the smallest duties. Then all the daily work will promote Christian growth. There will be a continual looking unto Jesus. Love for Him will give vital force to everything that is undertaken. Thus through the right use of our talents, we may link ourselves by a golden chain to the higher world. This is true sanctification; for sanctification consists in the cheerful performance of daily duties in perfect obedience to the will of God.”—Christ's Object Lessons, page 360.

9. (Speaking of the three Hebrews who went into the fiery furnace) “These three Hebrews possessed genuine sanctification.”—The Sanctified Life, page 29.

10. “The life of Daniel is an inspired illustration of what constitutes a sanctified character. It presents a lesson for all, and especially for the young.”—Ibid., p. 18.

11. “Bible sanctification does not consist in strong emotion. Here is where many are led into error. They make feelings their criterion. When they feel elated or happy, they claim that they are sanctified. Happy feelings or the absence of joy is no evidence that a person is or is not sanctified. There is no such thing as instantaneous sanctification. True sanctification is a daily work, continuing as long as life shall last.”—Ibid., p. 9.

12. “It is truth received in the heart, and practically carried out in the life…. Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, or a day. It is a continual growth in grace.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, pp. 339, 340.


13. “Sanctification is a daily work. Let none deceive themselves with the belief that God will pardon and bless them while they are trampling upon one of His requirements.”—The Sanctified Life, page 66.

14. “Sanctification is a progressive work; it is not attained to in an hour or a day, and then maintained without any special effort on our part.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 472.

15. “Sanctification is a progressive work. The successive steps are set before us in the words of Peter [2 Peter 1:5-8 quoted].”—Messages to Young People, page 116.

16. “On one occasion I spoke in reference to genuine sanctification, which is nothing less than a daily dying to self and daily conformity to the will of God.”—Life Sketches, page 237.

On the basis of these quotations the following conclusions seem to be warranted:

1. Sanctification may be a present experience and not simply a hope for the future.

2. There have been persons who have enjoyed the blessing of sanctification while they were seeking for the perfection of character.

3. Sanctification is closely related to the everyday duties and responsibilities faced by every individual.

4. Sanctification in preparation for the coming of Christ is a daily experience of self-denial and conformity to the will of God. The ultimate is never reached, but new growth must be achieved every day in order to maintain and expand the experience.

5. A young person, as well as one who is older, may be sanctified, since it is not necessary to wait until the end of life to enjoy sanctification.

Other inferences may be drawn from the quotations, but these are sufficient to demonstrate that a very different concept


may be gained from the study of a group of passages than from a single statement. There are times when one sentence may actually tell the whole story, but there is no way of knowing that until all the related passages have been considered. This is basic if our study is to bring to us an interpretation of the writings by the writings themselves. Suggestions for systematic study of the Ellen White books are made in the last section of this chapter and in chapter 24.

Principle 2. The time, place, and circumstances of the giving of certain messages should be considered. While general principles always hold, some messages have a specific application, and their instruction cannot be applied in general cases. “Regarding the testimonies, nothing is ignored; nothing is cast aside; but time and place must be considered.”—“The Writing and Sending Out of the Testimonies,” page 25.

Take a Biblical example. In Jeremiah 16:2, 3 the prophet was forbidden to take a wife and have a family. Does that mean that none of God's people are to marry? No. In fact, under inspiration, Jeremiah later wrote a letter to the captives in Babylon saying, “Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters.” Jeremiah 29:6. Jeremiah was God's prophet, and God intended to use the prophet as an object lesson to His people. He gave instruction that fit Jeremiah's situation; but it was not something that would fit every other person on every occasion. No basic principle regarding marriage was involved.

Notice another item of specific instruction. In Numbers 15:38 God told Israel to put fringes on their garments and a ribbon of blue. Does that mean that every Christian today must wear a blue ribbon on each garment? See how time and place are considered and application is made to today's circumstances.

“The children of Israel, after they were brought out of Egypt, were commanded to have a simple ribbon of blue in the border of their garments, to distinguish them from the nations around them, and to signify that they were God's peculiar people. The


people of God are not now required to have a special mark placed upon their garments. But in the New Testament we are often referred to ancient Israel for examples. If God gave such definite directions to His ancient people in regard to their dress, will not the dress of His people in this age come under His notice? Should there not be in their dress a distinction from that of the world? Should not the people of God, who are His peculiar treasure, seek even in their dress to glorify God? And should they not be examples in point of dress, and by their simple style rebuke the pride, vanity, and extravagance of worldly, pleasure-loving professors? God requires this of His people. Pride is rebuked in His word.”—Ellen G. White, in Health Reformer, Feb., 1872. (Italics supplied.)

Illustrations could be multipled to show that even though some detailed counsel may not fit every individual, or every age, there is something contained in all the instruction that is helpful to every person and every age. We must search to find the applications that fit us personally. How this may be done will be considered in the next section.

Principle 3. One should try to discover the principle involved in any specific counsel. By so doing, one may be sure that he will be able to make application to his own life and circumstances of all the instruction God has given.

“I was then directed to bring out general principles, in speaking and in writing, and at the same time specify the dangers, errors, and sins of some individuals, that all might be warned, reproved, and counseled.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 687; also vol. 5, P. 660. (Italics supplied.)

Specific applications of principles are made so that the manner of applying them may be illustrated. It is intended that all Should be warned through the instruction given to a few.

“The word of God abounds in general principles for the formation of correct habits of living, and the testimonies, general and personal, have been calculated to call their attention more


especially to these principles.”—lbid., vol. 4, P. 323; also vol. 5, pp. 663, 664.

The illustration regarding the blue ribbons, in section 2, is an excellent example of the present-day application of a principle that was applied in a specific way in ancient times. Here is the way it works:

A. In ancient times, when the mode of dress was similar among many nations, God specified that a special mark—a blue ribbon—be used to designate His people.

B. Today, by their modesty, simplicity, and lack of pride, vanity, and extravagance in dress, God's people are to glorify Him and distinguish themselves from the world.

The fact that certain details in the instruction do not apply today exactly as they did when the instruction was given, in no way invalidates the value of the instruction. The record simply shows how the principles were applied under certain circumstances. It is left with us to appropriate them to our own situation. When our attention is focused on principles and we find how to employ them in our lives, we are broadening rather than narrowing the effectiveness of the original teaching. To understand why specific counsel was given, and to be able to apply those principles generally, is of more value than to know the detailed instruction itself. The detailed instruction may be generally applicable or it may not, as illustrated by Numbers 15:38, but the principles are always applicable to every individual, time, and circumstance.

In Testimonies for the Church, volume 8, pages 50-53, is recorded a portion of a letter addressed to the Battle Creek church in 1894. It was a letter of warning and reproof sent by Ellen White from Australia. One section of the letter deals with bicycles. Reproof was being sent because some of the members of the church had purchased bicycles. On the surface it seems rather strange that such a matter should be considered important enough for a prophet to deal with, and doubly odd when we notice that the things mentioned had been specifically


revealed in vision. What was wrong with owning a bicycle? Does it mean that Seventh-day Adventists should never own bicycles? If not, why not?

The background is this: In 1894 the modern version of the bicycle was beginning to be manufactured, and there was a considerable fad to get the bicycles, not for the purpose of economical transportation, but simply to be in style, to parade about town, or to engage in bicycle races. Frank Tripp, in an article called, “When All the World Went Wheeling,” written in 1951, describes the bicycle craze of the nineties in these words:

“Toward the end of the last century the American people were swept with a consuming passion which left them with little time or money for anything else…. What was this big new distraction? For an answer the merchants had only to look out the window and watch their erstwhile customers go whizzing by. America had discovered the bicycle, and everybody was making the most of the new freedom it brought…. The bicycle began as a rich man's toy. Society and celebrity went awheel….

“The best early bicycle cost $150, an investment comparable to the cost of an automobile today. Those were the days when $100 a month was an excellent wage, when a good suit cost S15 and meals were a quarter. Every member of the family wanted a ‘wheel,’ and entire family savings often were used up in supplying the demand.”

In the light of this brief history, Ellen White's statements have real significance. “There seemed to be a bicycle craze. Money was spent to gratify an enthusiasm…. A bewitching influence seemed to be passing as a wave over our people there … to invest their time and money in gratifying supposed wants…. The example will be followed, and while hundreds are starving for bread, while famine and pestilence are seen and felt, … shall those who profess to love and serve God act as did the people in the days of Noah, following the imagination of their hearts?”—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 51.


“There were some who were striving for the mastery, each trying to excel the other in the swift running of their bicycles. There was a spirit of strife and contention among them as to which should be the greatest. The spirit was similar to that manifested in the baseball games on the college ground.”—Ibid., p. 52.

Does it seem strange that under these circumstances God would have something to say through His messenger?

This brings to view a principle instead of merely the problem of riding or not riding bicycles. Bicycles were not the real issue. Had some of the church members found it helpful to purchase bicycles because they were needed in their work, and had there been no waste of money, no spirit of contention and no strife, it is unlikely that the Lord would have found occasion to comment on this matter. Because bicycles create no comparable problem now, are we to set aside the warnings given and say, “That simply doesn't apply to us any more”?

Every message from God contains basic instruction of value in every generation. What are the principles involved in this matter? It is pointed out that there was a needless spending of money for selfish gratification. Is that any more right now than it was sixty years ago? It is an unchanging principle that it is wrong to spend money needlessly and for the selfish gratification of one's own desires. There was also a spirit of strife and contention. Are these characteristics any more proper now than they were then? Is it not always true that God's children should do nothing that will foster a spirit of strife and contention?

These are practical principles that fit into everyday life; they touch our homes, our means of transportation, our recreation, our association, our business life. We cannot get away from them wherever we go. Far from setting the specific instruction aside, when we discover the principles involved, we broaden the scope and sharpen the point of the counsel to make it fit everybody all the time.


Similarly the principle may be discovered in any portion of the writings, and applications may be made in every circumstance of life. By a careful discovery and application of principles, the significance of the instruction is made permanent so that no person may say, “This is old-fashioned, it no longer applies to me or to the church today.” None of the testimonies are to be set aside as being out-of-date. All will have lessons to teach us until the coming of the Lord. Set no instruction aside because its specific application does not fit your life. Discover the basic principle, and it will not be difficult to discover an application to be made. “The counsel that they desire can be found here, given for other cases situated similarly to themselves.”—Ibid., vol. 2, p. 605; also vol. 5, P. 665.


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1. Books vary in the permanence of their value. The most enduringly useful ones deal with intrinsic truths, fundamental principles, and basic processes of thought.

2. Of all books the Bible is most permanently applicable.

3. Because of their inspired exposition of Bible truths and the application of Bible principles, the Ellen White books possess enduring qualities similar to those of the Bible.

4. A systematic approach to investigation in any field is essential to sound conclusions.

5. General background knowledge is necessary for an understanding of details.

6. Three principles of study must be followed in order to come to sound conclusions:

  1. The general teaching of all the applicable counsels should be studied before conclusions are drawn.
  2. The time, place, and circumstances of the giving of certain messages should be considered.


  1. One should try to discover the principle involved in any specific counsel.


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1. Find several instances where using a single Bible verse or portion of a verse taken out of its setting would appear to make the Bible teach something other than it actually does.

2. Find verses or brief passages which in themselves seem to incorporate the whole theme of a Bible doctrine.

3. How do you know that the selections you found for Problem 1 do not harmonize with general Bible teaching, and that the second group does?

4. Do the same for the Ellen White writings as was suggested in Problems 1-3 for the Bible.


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Our Firm Foundation, vol. 1, pp. 260-267.

White, Ellen G., Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, PP. 654-696.

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