Taken from a Talk by Brother W.N. Woodworth
Bowling Green KY in 1972

Our Infallible Guidebook

BECAUSE we call ourselves Bible students, it is appropriate that we consider the subject of our infallible guidebook—the Bible. All the truly good things we possess, all the fundamental truths we treasure, and which in their sum total we describe as the Divine plan of the ages, are found in the Bible. It is a light unto our feet, and a lamp unto our pathway. (Ps. 119:105) The entrance of God’s Word gives light! (vs. 130) And indeed, it has considerable to say about itself.

Our theme text is from the Bible. It is II Timothy 3:16,17. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Where else could we get a theme text like this one, except from the Bible! Notice how many details pertaining to our service to God and our relationship to him are given in this wonderful text. And those not mentioned are covered by the expression that we are thoroughly furnished by God’s Word to all good works. This is the purpose which the inspired Word of God, the infallible guidebook, accomplishes for all who earnestly search its pages.

When we speak of the inspiration of the Scriptures, we are referring to our confident belief that the words recorded by the Old Testament writers were brought to their minds by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Those holy men of old seldom understood clearly what they were prophesying concerning; except, of course, as it reflected the strictly local circumstances in Israel and surrounding nations of their day. But regarding long-range prophecies, although they sought diligently to know, it was not revealed to them “what time, or manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify.”—I Pet. 1:11

And as we consider the inspiration of the New Testament, we recall that Jesus received prophetic information from the Holy Spirit when the heavens were opened to him at the time of his Baptism at Jordan. This enabled him to understand the meaning of what the Old Testament writers had put down in the Book, and these things he then taught his disciples. Knowing their limited capacity to understand spiritual things before receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, he did not delve too deeply into explanations. He said, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when the Spirit of Truth has come it will guide you into all truth, … and show you things to come.”—John 16:12,13

This promise of the Master was fulfilled at Pentecost when the Spirit of God came upon the waiting disciples gathered in the upper room. It sat upon the eleven particularly, like tongues of fire, in an inspirational manner—similar to the way it had come upon Jesus when the heavens were opened to him and a dove lighted upon him. “There appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”—Acts 2:2,3

Later the Apostle Paul, who replaced unfaithful Judas, was inspired by the Spirit to experience various visions and revelations given to him by Jesus Christ, and his words were then added to our infallible guidebook. And finally, Jesus himself gave the church his prophetic revelations through the Apostle John, thus completing the New Testament. There is no indication that this work of inspired writing—this work which incorporates the idea of infallibility—would go beyond the apostles. No, the prophetic utterance of God’s Word guided by the Holy Spirit, were complete with their writings.

What do we find in this inspired guidebook? Briefly we have what we term the Divine plan of the ages. Its theme is the sending of Messiah by God—one who would deliver mankind from the curse of sin and death. In it is also revealed that this Messiah would be composed of more than just one individual. Although Christ alone is the Redeemer, Ransomer, and Savior of mankind, in connection with actually accomplishing the work of deliverance he has 144,000 associates, who are the members of his body. “As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” (I Cor. 12:13; 11:3) Christ is the Head of the body.

This work of deliverance is described in many beautiful ways. It is the work of resurrection; it is the work of restitution; it is the work of release from the captivity of death; it is the returning of the ransomed of the Lord. These are all Biblical expressions and are part and parcel of the fundamental doctrines of the Bible. There is the heavenly hope for the church, those who will live and reign with Christ. There is the hope of restoration to the earth for those who will, in the Millennial Age, qualify for the wonderful position of becoming the perfect kings of earth, when they are delivered and have learned to obey the laws of the kingdom. All of these great truths and the associated doctrines that go with them—including the true penalty of death—all these, and of course, particularly the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the center of this beautiful galaxy of doctrines—these we call the Divine plan of the ages!

Satan, from the very beginning, has always been on the alert for opportunities to set aside the authenticity of the Word of God. He caused Mother Eve to question the accuracy of what God imparted to Adam concerning obedience, and the penalty for sin. Much later in history, when the Word of God had been written down and collected into the Pentateuch so that it could be handed down unchanged from one generation to another, Satan adopted more subtle methods. It was not long after the Law was given to Moses that there gradually was developed a set of sayings which the Israelites called Great Truths. The Bible was not set aside, nor was its inspiration questioned, but the religious leaders decided that more was needed. Finally these sayings were incorporated into a book called the Talmud, which had as its purpose the explanation of the hard sayings of the Bible.

This method of distracting worshipers away from the true Word of God worked well for Satan. The subtle deception was used again after the apostles fell asleep when the infallibility of the Bible was not questioned, but the writings of those who interpreted the meaning of the Bible began to be accepted as equally infallible. The Adversary has found this method so successful that it continues right on down to our day. Some find their infallible interpreters of the Bible in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and others in Salt Lake City, Utah; still others look for infallibility from additional sources.

And so it would have gone with us except for the grace of God. In his own due time and way, the Lord raised up a wise and faithful servant to supply the special need which the church would have at this end of the age. One of the exhibitions of his wisdom and of his faithfulness was that he warned Christians not to accept the words of men, including his own, as having any authority except if they can be proved by the Holy Word of God.

It is not that we do not need each other’s help to understand the Word of God more and more clearly. The assistance and stimulation of the minds and hearts of all God’s people is very necessary as they study the Bible together. In fact, the Lord made special and important provisions for his people, as we are told by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:11,12: “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” We realize that the apostles and prophets were the only ones who taught through inspiration; since their death, other faithful servants help to guide us. But although led by the Holy Spirit, their words are not given to us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

How thankful we are that even today we have these servants of God among us. As we have said, we were given a faithful and wise servant as our pastor. And another evidence of his faithfulness and wisdom is that he warned us against the method of deception used by the Adversary to diminish the authority of the Word of God. We remember how time and time again our pastor warned against accepting the words of men over and above the words of the Bible. He urged us to prove all things, even his own teachings and writings, by the Word of God. “Prove all things. Hold fast to that which is good.”—I Thess. 5:21

Even some who accept the pastor provided by the Lord as a faithful servant may fall into the entrapment of the Adversary by making the acceptance of his every written word mandatory. However, on the contrary, here are some questions which show clearly the pastor’s attitude toward the supreme authority of the Scriptures: “Have you read thoroughly and carefully the six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures, and have you derived much enlightenment and benefit therefrom? Do you believe you have a substantial and permanent knowledge of the Bible which will render you more efficient as a servant of the Lord through the remainder of your life?”

No doubt we could all say, “Amen, Hallelujah,” in answer to the questions. Great truths that mean so much to us are clearly presented in the six volumes. They have been, and always will be, and we rejoice in them. We can truly say, “Yes, we have derived much enlightenment from the volumes of Studies in the Scriptures. We certainly have received a substantial knowledge of the Bible in order to render us more efficient as servants of the Lord throughout the remainder of our lives!” But to claim that his writings are on a par with the Bible is to dishonor our pastor, who was a great man of God. He was an index forger to point us to the Word of God!

Our infallible guidebook is the Bible. And no matter how beautiful or inspiring words and philosophies may be, they are no more than fantasies if they are not supported by Scriptures. For example, we quote these poetic words of our pastor: “Close your eyes for a moment to the scenes of misery and woe, degradation and sorrow that yet prevail on account of sin, and picture before your mental vision the glory of a perfect earth. Not a stain of sin mars the harmony and peace of a perfect society; not a bitter thought, not an unkind look or word; love welling up in every heart meets a kindred response in every other heart, and benevolence marks every act. Think of all the pictures of comparative health and beauty of human form and feature that you have ever seen, and know that perfect humanity will be of still surpassing loveliness. Not an ache nor a pain, nor any evidence of decay. Such will human society be when thus they realize the resurrection work complete.”

How beautiful! No one could be blamed for wanting to use this quotation rather than their own clumsy words. But as inspiring and significant as this passage is, it would be meaningless but for the fact that at the end of this concise essay on the kingdom, Revelation 21:4 is cited as authority for the thoughts: “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow or sighing. Neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.” Unless our understanding of the fundamental truths is based on the plain teachings of the Bible, they are nothing but unsubstantiated thoughts! The only time we benefit from studying man’s works is when we insist that what we accept as rock-bottom truth is substantiated by our infallible guidebook.

What do we mean by fundamental truths? Generally speaking, fundamental truths are well substantiated in the Word of God. Other, less fundamental doctrines may be more difficult to prove directly by the Bible, and we must reason upon several scriptures to come to proper conclusions. Many times our pastor warned us, even though we may not recognize it as a warning, by introducing a thought with the words, ‘seemingly this is a reasonable conclusion’. When our understanding of a particular aspect of truth has no bearing on how we conduct our lives we immediately know that it is not a fundamental truth. On the other hand, for instance, the doctrine that we are living in the harvest time of the Gospel Age has a distinct bearing on how we live our consecrated lives. The harvest is the end of the age, and Jesus is the chief reaper. Therefore we wish to cooperate in the work he is doing as the chief reaper, we want to be among those who are involved in doing the reaping work.

As we rejoice in the great fundamental truths which have been revealed to us, let us go on to find continually more proofs of what we believe in the Bible. Let us search out those new gems of truth we sing about:

“Blessed Bible, precious Word!
Boon most sacred from the Lord;
Glory to his name be given
For this choicest gift from Heaven.

‘Tis a ray of purest light,
Beaming through the depths of night;
Brighter than ten thousand gems
Of the costliest diadems.

‘Tis a fountain pouring forth
Streams of life to gladden earth;
Whence eternal blessings flow,
Antidote for human woe.

‘Tis a mine, aye deeper too,
Than can mortal ever go;
Search we may for many years,
Still some new rich gem appears.”

Truly, this has been our experience throughout the years of our lives as we live up to our Christian privileges more fully. And as our understanding of the Bible continues to grow, as we learn more and more to sketch in the background of ideas—which do not affect the picture of our fundamental doctrines at all, other than to make them more beautiful and more clear—we will appreciate God’s plan in its entirety. Let us rejoice indeed that the Lord has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light! The fundamentals of the truth cannot be changed, but they do shine with increasing luster as we study and use them in presenting the Gospel of the kingdom.

One thing we should keep in mind is that Satan would like to have us give up these fundamentals! He would like to have us become so engrossed and entangled in non-fundamentals that we would be liable to consider the basic doctrines “milk of the Word.” To cause the people of God to lose sight of the glorious Divine plan of the ages, and therefore cease to proclaim it, is the ultimate object of the Adversary’s deceptions. His goal is to keep the truth hidden under a basket—a basket of philosophy, or whatever else hides the truth—it is all the same to Satan. And although Satan does not want the glorious doctrines of the Divine plan to be proclaimed, WE want to actively send forth the message!

“Tell the whole world these blessed tidings!
    Speak of the time of rest that nears;
Tell the oppressed of every nation,
    Jubilee lasts a thousand years!”

Let us continue to rejoice in the great hope of the kingdom, and to present it as faithfully as we can, that we may be among those of whom John said, “I saw the souls of them that were beheaded f o r the witness of Jesus and f o r the Word of God, … and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years!”—Rev. 20:4

Dawn Bible Students Association
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