The Time of Test

Chapter 42

God’s people are only safe from the influence of false teachers and the deceptive power of spirits of darkness as long as they compare all things to the Scriptures. (See Isaiah 8:20.) Satan uses every possible way to keep men from having a knowledge of the Bible, because in it are the truths that reveal his deceptions. Soon the Antichrist will carry out his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will these miracles resemble the true work of God's Spirit that it will be impossible to recognize them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony, every statement and every miracle must be tested.

Those who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God will be opposed and ridiculed. In order to endure the test of their faith, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His Word. Only as they have a right understanding of His character, government, and purposes, and act in harmony with them will they be able to honor Him. None but those who have securely established their minds with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great struggle. To each individual will come the testing question: Shall I obey God rather than man?

The events connected with the time of trouble and the work of preparation for the close of human probation are clearly presented in God's Word, but the vast majority of the people living in the world today have no more understanding of these important truths than if they had never been given to us. Satan watches to catch away every impression that would make them wise unto salvation, and the time of trouble will find the majority unready.

When God sends to men warnings so important that they are represented as announced by holy angels flying in the midst of heaven, He requires every person who has the ability to think to listen to that message. The fearful judgments to come on those who worship the beast and his image (Revelation 14:9–11) should lead everyone to carefully study the prophecies in order to learn what his mark is and how they can avoid receiving it. The masses of the people, however, are not interested in Bible truth. In its place, Satan supplies the deceptions which they love. The time has fully come of which the apostle Paul declared: "They will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." 2 Timothy 4:3

During this time of nearly universal apostasy, God will have a people upon the earth who will maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all faith. Before accepting any doctrine or teaching, they will require a plain "Thus saith the Lord" in its support.

Satan constantly works to direct attention to man in the place of God. He leads the people to look to bishops, to pastors, to professors of theology, as their guides, instead of searching the Scriptures to learn their duty for themselves. Then, by controlling the minds of these leaders, he can influence the masses according to his will.

When Christ came to speak the words of life, the common people heard Him gladly; and many, even of the priests and rulers, believed on Him. But the chief priests and the leading men of the nation were determined to condemn and reject His teachings. These enemies of Jesus were men whom the people had been taught from infancy to reverence, whose authority they had been in the habit of accepting. It was the influence of such teachers that led the Jewish nation to reject their Redeemer.

The spirit which actuated those priests and rulers is still demonstrated by many who make a high profession of piety. They refuse to examine the testimony of the Scriptures concerning the special truths for this time. They point to their own numbers, wealth, and popularity, and look with contempt upon the supporters of truth as few, poor, and unpopular, having a faith that separates them from the world.

Christ foresaw that the unjustified taking over of authority by the scribes and Pharisees would not end with the scattering of the Jews. He saw that the elevating of human authority to rule over the conscience would be a terrible curse to the church in all ages. His fearful warnings to the people not to follow these blind leaders were placed on record as a warning to future generations.

Even though the Bible is full of warnings against false teachers, many are still ready to commit the keeping of their souls to the clergy. Thousands profess a religious faith who can give no reason for the points of belief that they hold other than that they were so instructed by their religious leaders. Others see the truth but lack the moral courage to oppose their religious leaders. Though reason and conscience are convinced, they dare not think differently from the minister; and their individual judgment is sacrificed to the unbelief, the pride, and prejudice of another.

The truth and the glory of God are inseparable; it is impossible for us, with the Bible within our reach, to honor God by wrong opinions. Many claim that it matters not what one believes, if his life is only right. The life, however, is molded by the faith. If light and truth is within our reach and we choose not to study it, we virtually reject it; we are choosing darkness rather than light.

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Proverbs 16:25. Ignorance is no excuse for error or sin when there is every opportunity to know the will of God. If a traveler comes to a place where there are several roads and a road sign indicating where each one leads, if he disregards the signs and takes whichever road seems right to him, though he may be ever so sincere, he will in all probability find himself on the wrong road.

God has given us His Word that we may learn what He requires of us. It is the first and highest duty of every thinking person to learn from the Scriptures what is truth, and then to walk in the light and encourage others to follow his example. We should day by day study the Bible tirelessly, weighing every thought and comparing scripture with scripture. With divine help, we are to form our opinions for ourselves, realizing that we are to answer for ourselves before God.

The truths most plainly revealed in the Bible have been involved in doubt and uncertainty by learned men, who, with a show of great wisdom, teach that the Scriptures have a secret spiritual meaning not apparent in the language used. These men are false teachers. It was to such a class that Jesus declared: "Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?" Mark 12:24. The language of the Bible should be explained according to its obvious meaning, unless a symbol or figure is used. Christ has given the promise: "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine." John 7:17. If men would but take the Bible as it reads, if there were no false teachers to mislead and confuse their minds, a work would be done that would bring thousands who are now wandering in error into the fold of Christ. An understanding of Bible truth depends not so much on the power of intellect brought to the search as on the singleness of purpose, the earnest longing after righteousness.

The Bible should never be studied without prayer. The Holy Spirit alone can cause us to feel the importance of those things that are easily understood, or save us from twisting truths difficult to understand. We should make the psalmist's request our own: "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law." Psalm 119:18. Temptations often appear irresistible because, through neglect of prayer and the study of the Bible, we cannot readily remember God's promises and meet Satan with the Scripture as our weapon. But angels are round about those who are willing to be taught spiritual truth; and in the time of great need, they will bring to our remembrance the very truths that are needed. Thus, "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." Isaiah 59:19

Jesus promised His disciples, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:26. But the teachings of Christ must first have been stored in the mind in order for the Spirit of God to bring them to our remembrance in the time of danger. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart," said David, "that I might not sin against Thee." Psalm 119:11

All who desire eternal life should guard their minds against the entrance of doubt. The very pillars of truth will come under attack. Satan changes his temptations to meet every class. He comes to the uneducated with ridicule or a jeer, while he meets the educated with scientific objections and philosophical reasoning, alike calculated to excite distrust or contempt of the Scriptures. All who place their confidence in human reasoning and imagine that they can explain divine mysteries and arrive at truth without the wisdom that comes only from God are Satan's captives and will accept his counterfeit of truth in the end.

We are living in the most solemn period of this world's history. The destiny of all is about to be decided. Our own future well-being and also the salvation of other souls depends upon the course which we now follow. We need to be guided by the Spirit of truth. We should now seek a deep and living experience in the things of God. Events of vital importance are taking place around us. We have not a moment to lose.

Says the psalmist: "Thy testimonies are my meditation." "Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way." Psalm 119:99, 104

When the testing time comes, it will be shown who have made God's Word their rule of life. In summer there is no noticeable difference between evergreens and other trees; but when winter's chill arrives, the evergreens remain unchanged, while other trees stand bare. So now, there may be little apparent difference among the many who claim to be Christians, but the time is nearing when the difference will be clearly seen. Let there be opposition and persecution, and those who have not made God's Word their guide in all things will give up the faith, while the true Christian will stand firm as a rock, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, than in days of ease and comfort.