Behold Your God




Fred T. Wright

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Chapter Twelve

Statements and Principles




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     The problem before us is obviously one of interpretation; of determining just what the words used in Scripture are intended to say. Today, multiplied versions of what the Scriptures are supposed to say are clear proof that there are many false interpretations of God’s Word, for only one interpretation can be correct. The false are many, the true is singular.

     We depend for our understanding of God’s character, on the revelation of it as given in His Word. That Word represents the effort to reveal in the limited framework of human language, the height, the depth, the length, and the breadth of the infinite. As such, it is a masterpiece of simplification, perfectly designed for the human mind to understand.

     But, if we are to arrive at a correct, and, therefore, lifesaving knowledge of God’s character, we must firstly understand what the correct principles of Bible interpretation are. This is obviously important. To begin studying the Word of God with an incorrect principle of interpretation, is to end up far removed from the truth. In fact, the more intensely and enduringly the study is pursued, the further removed from truth one will be.

     It is a common assertion for one who teaches error to solemnly protest that he has been studying his subject directly from the Scriptures for many, many years. “Is that not convincing proof” he asks, “that what I am presenting is the truth?”

     To many, a claim of this nature is impressive, but to the true student, it is no proof at all. His mind probes with the question, “Has the person making this claim spent those years studying according to the correct principles of Bible interpretation or not?” If not, then the true child of God knows that those thirty years of study have removed that man just that much further from the truth. It would be better had he not studied at all.

     In the early 1960’s, a man [like Victor Houteff, false prophet of the Shepherd’s Rod—rb] arose in the United States who began to proclaim that the second coming of Christ would take place in October, 1964. When challenged by Scripture evidences that this would not be so, he protested with great solemnity and authority that he had studied this matter for the past thirty years, and, therefore, he knew with certainty that what he said was the truth and nothing but the truth.

     Never learning, the man simply set another date when time proved his prophecy a delusion. When the second date failed, he set a third and a fourth. Finally he disappeared into obscurity.

     How much wiser he would have been to have gone back and carefully checked his principles of Bible interpretation and methods of study.

     The fact is that few people do approach the study of God’s Word with any real system of interpretation clearly laid out. They search through the


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Word and form their own opinions of what they think the passages mean. This is a haphazard and dangerous practice.

     In our approach to the subject of God’s character, we dare not do this. We have before us a very real problem in the existence of two sets of statements which can and have been understood to say quite the opposite from each other. The only safe way to approach this difficulty is along the lines of correct Scriptural interpretation.

     To use these principles, they must firstly be understood. Our task is to set them forth and, having done so, adhere to them strictly. Every view set forth here will be in accordance with these principles of interpretation. Therefore, any who seek to disprove this book’s message must firstly show wherein the principles of interpretation upon which it is developed are wrong, or wherein the principles being correct, the conclusions drawn are not in harmony with those principles. If neither of these can be shown, then the book’s message is correct.

     It is from the Bible itself that we obtain the guidelines for its interpretation. Not only does the Bible give us the message of truth, but it also informs us how those messages are to be comprehended. Our standing in this respect is the principle laid down in 2 Peter 1:20. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.”

     Let the message of this verse be forever impressed upon the mind of every person approaching the study of God’s Word. It provides no room for private interpretation, because no prophecy of the Scripture is to be of private interpretation.

     Some might tend to limit the application of this verse to those areas of Scripture presenting foretelling of future events, because this is the most generally accepted definition of the word “prophecy.”

     In a limited sense this is what the word “prophecy” means, but in its fuller and broader sense, “prophecy” applies to any revelations which come from the prophet. When this is understood, it will be recognized that every word in the Bible is prophecy. The prophets were not only foretellers. They were forthtellers, speaking forth whatever words God gave them, whether they be counsels, admonitions, revelations of the gospel, or predictions of the future. Therefore this verse plainly lays down the rule that no prophecy—no word of the entire Scriptures—is to be of any private interpretation.

     We can now ask the question, “What is private interpretation as distinct from Scriptural interpretation?” Private interpretation is that which emanates from the mind of a man as his considered opinion of what the divine revelations are intended to say.

     He arrives at these conclusions according to the definitions of words already formed in his mind. His mind is a dictionary to which he makes reference whenever he reads a word. When he encounters a word not already stored in the limited compendium of the mind, he then turns to a


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comprehensive dictionary such as Oxford or Webster. Having obtained the meaning from there, he applies this word to the Scripture being read and develops therefrom an understanding of what the Scripture is supposed to say.

     We may well define this method of Bible study as definitions by the dictionary. It is one way of studying the Bible and we may be assured that if this method is used, then inevitably, certain views will be established.

     For instance, when men read in the Scriptures that God sent the flood upon the earth and that He destroyed men by raining fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah, they will without thought or question take the definitions of the key words, “sent,” “destroyed,” and “rained,” as those words are already defined in their minds. Such definitions can only give them the picture of God personally and directly using His mighty power to lash out and liquidate His enemies.

     It cannot be too strongly emphasized that while this method of interpretation is used, no conclusion other than this can be drawn. Inevitably, all who use this method must believe that God is a grim executioner and that He is doing things after the fall that He never did before.

     The limited, erroneous nature of this method is exposed when it is seen that it leaves its adherents with inexplicable contradictions. They are left with no explanation of the other set of statements and the great principles which undergird God’s character. They conveniently ignore those Scriptures, concentrating their study on the ones which support their chosen view. When confronted with the extracts contradicting their concepts, they find refuge in two devices. One is to try and warp the difficult declarations to fit their view. The other is to assert that their view is supported by the preponderance of evidence (as if the truths of God’s Word are determined by the weight of numbers).

     Those who learn and adopt the Scriptural method of interpretation, do not have this problem. They find that the whole of God’s Word becomes one harmonious pattern of saving truth. They find that they can take those statements of Scripture, which to others are a contradiction, and see in them only perfect consistency.

     Why then, is the method of defining by the dictionary, words describing the character and behavior of God, so certain to lead to erroneous views of Scripture? Surely, it may be argued, the very purpose of the dictionary is to make clear what words mean? If we do not use the dictionary to define our terms then to what shall we turn? How will we ever know the meaning of anything?

     These are excellent questions.

     Within the dictionary are contained the definitions of words as those words describe human behavior. This is the key point. In this field, the dictionary is the undisputed authority and is to be heeded. But the dictionary is compiled by men who do not understand or who are not even concerned


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with divine behavior. If divine and human behavior were the same, then the dictionary would serve both, but they are not the same. They are very different indeed. The Lord has unmistakably warned us of this.

     God says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8, 9.

     God’s ways are not our ways. They are different. They are as much higher than man’s ways as the heaven are above the earth. Any one who would arrive at a correct concept of God’s character must engrave this statement on his mind and continually refer to it as a guideline in his study. He should program himself to test every assertion, every concept, and every idea forming in his mind, by the words of this statement. Whenever, as he reads the words of God, he forms a picture of divine behavior as being the same as human behavior, then, in the light of this Scripture, he must know that the concept formed, is erroneous.

     While it is correct to conclude that every view of God which holds that He behaves as man does is incorrect, it is not necessarily right to assume that any view which attributes to God a different way from man is the truth.

     This necessitates having two different sets of definitions for the same key words. One set is already well known to us, being the dictionary and everyday usage of the words as they describe human behavior. What needs to be developed in human understanding is that other definition which defines the words as they are used by God to describe His own behavior. Reference is made here to such key words as “destroy,” “wrath,” “justice,” “judgment,” “punish,” and such like.

     Man destroys. We know that. We also know what man’s way of destruction is. We know how he goes about it and have no difficulty in defining this word as it applies to human behavior.

     The Bible says, “God destroys.” Therefore, it is the truth that God does destroy and no attempt will be made to deny that. But the Bible also says that God’s ways are not men’s ways. From this we can only conclude that God’s way of destroying is altogether different from man’s way. Between them, there is no similarity.

     Therefore, the conclusion is drawn that when the Word declares that God does destroy, it is to be understood that this work is done in an altogether different manner from man’s way, while, when it declares that God does not destroy, the caution is being sounded that God does not do it according to the human method.

     While this is the guideline of study offered to us in Isaiah 55:8, 9, the full confirmation of this principle will be found in the re-definition of these key words as they apply to the description of divine behavior as distinct from the human. This is the key to harmonizing the apparently contradict-


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tory statements. Therefore, while the dictionary must be retained for determining the meaning of words used to describe human activity, it is to be discarded when the knowledge of God’s procedures is being sought.

     Having determined that these alternate definitions are not written in the dictionary, the question arises as to where they can be found. The Bible is to be used as its own dictionary. Only when we have learned to use it as such can a correct comprehension of its messages be obtained.

     God understood the problems facing the human being and because He intended His Word to be an understandable message to His people, He carefully incorporated within the Scriptures, means whereby a clear definition of the words as He uses them in describing His own behavior can be found. Thus there is no excuse for anybody not obtaining the Scriptural definitions. They are there. God has provided them and it is our duty to search them out and, having found them, to apply them to the study of God’s Word.

     The great second Advent Movement was the mightiest spiritual undertaking this side of Pentecost. It was brought into existence by the revelation of truth and it was built upon a foundation of truth. That truth was arrived at by correct principles of Bible interpretation, giving us a tremendous endorsement of the system laid out in the above paragraphs. When the founding father of the Advent Movement first began the systematic study of the Bible, he did so, not according to dictionary interpretations of words, but according to Bible definitions of those words.

     We turn now to the account of that man’s method of Bible study.

     “Miller publicly professed his faith in the religion which he had despised. But his infidel associates were not slow to bring forward all those arguments which he himself had often urged against the divine authority of the Scriptures. He was not then prepared to answer them; but he reasoned that if the Bible is a revelation from God, it must be consistent with itself; and that as it was given for man’s instruction, it must be adapted to his understanding. He determined to study the Scriptures for himself, and ascertain if every apparent contradiction could not be harmonized.

     “Endeavoring to lay aside all preconceived opinions, and dispensing with commentaries, he compared Scripture with Scripture by the aid of the marginal references and the concordance. He pursued his study in a regular and methodical manner; beginning with Genesis, and reading verse by verse, he proceeded no faster than the meaning of the several passages so unfolded as to leave him free from all embarrassment. When he found anything obscure, it was his custom to compare it with every other text which seemed to have any reference to the matter under consideration. Every word was permitted to have its proper bearing upon the subject of the text, and if his view of it harmonized with every collateral passage, it ceased to be a difficulty. Thus when ever he met with a passage hard to be understood, he found an explanation in some other portion of Scrip-


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tures. As he studied with earnest prayer for divine enlightenment, that which had before appeared dark to his understanding was made clear. He experienced the truth of the psalmist’s words, ‘The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.’” The Great Controversy, 319, 320.

     Miller’s method of Bible study is strongly endorsed as being the correct one in two ways. Firstly, while the religious world of his day was using anything but this method of study, he alone, by using it, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, arrived at the great, timely, saving truth of the advent message. It is safe to say that if Miller had not used these methods of Bible study, he certainly would never have arrived at the truths he did. The second endorsement comes from the fact that here in The Great Controversy, the whole system is laid out as a guideline for all who will follow it.

     Let notice now be taken of the main points in this system. Firstly, there is the mental approach. Miller reasoned that the Bible, being a revelation from God, must be consistent with itself. The necessity on the student’s part of recognizing that there is no such thing as a contradiction in the Word of God cannot be overemphasized. When this conviction is firmly established, no effort will be made to wrench or twist Scriptures to fit in with other Scripture. Rather, the student will study with care, patience, and perseverance until the principles are so well understood that the statements are brought into perfect harmony with each other.

     Secondly, Miller recognized that inasmuch as the Bible is expressly written for man’s instruction, it must be adapted to his understanding . In other words, he was convinced that the Bible was not beyond the reach of man’s intellectual grasp. It was written for man, therefore it could be understood by man. Again, when a student has this conviction, he will not dismiss as impossible to comprehend, those aspects of Scripture which do not fit in  with his initial concepts.

     Thirdly, Miller endeavoured to lay aside all preconceived opinions, and, dispensing with commentaries, he compared Scripture with Scripture by the aid of the marginal references and the Concordance. There can hardly be a more serious barrier to arriving at saving truth than that provided by preconceived opinions and ideas. There is no person alive today who is not to a larger or lesser degree, afflicted with this problem. During the entire span of our past lives, we have been absorbing concepts, ideas and information. We have come to think along certain lines and these thought processes have mostly been erroneous so far as our concept of God’s kingdom is concerned.

     The outstanding example of this is found in the experience of Christ’s apostles. They were born into a Jewish world wherein the prevailing expectations for the coming of the Messiah was the advent of an all-conquering king. As those boys grew, they heard this conversation around them. It was


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preached to them in church and taught to them in school. The result was the building up of strong, preconceived notions of Christ’s work and ministry. When the real Saviour appeared, those ideas formed a fearful barrier which for a long time made it impossible for Christ to bring to them the truth regarding His ministry and mission. Only when He was finally able to sweep away those preconceived ideas, could He teach them the truth.

     So with us today. Every one of us should humbly recognize that we are not possessed of accurate wisdom, knowledge, concepts, and ideas and that these erroneous thought patterns are indeed a great problem.

     “The stamps of minds are different. All do not understand expressions and statements alike. Some understand the statements of the Scriptures to suit their own particular minds and cases. Prepossessions, prejudices, and passions have a strong influence to darken the understanding and confuse the mind even in reading the words of Holy Writ.” Selected Messages, 1:20.[1]

     “The Scriptures are not to be adapted to meet the prejudice and jealousy of men. They can be understood only by those who are humbly seeking for a knowledge of the truth that they may obey it.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 112.

Some may feel that earnestness and sincerity compensate for accuracy. But Jesus plainly said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32. It is the truth and not error which saves us. For this reason, God is continually seeking to send us clearer and more advanced revelations of His truth so we may correspondingly ascend into greater heights of religious experience. Many a person will fail to enter the kingdom of heaven because prejudice has barred the door to their receiving the truth.

     Notice carefully the solemn warnings laid out in this next quotation, which begins with the question, “What shall I do to be saved?” The answer provided is an unexpected and solemn one.

     “Do you ask, What shall I do to be saved? You must lay your preconceived opinions, your hereditary and cultivated ideas, at the door of investigation. If you search the Scriptures to vindicate your own opinions, you will never reach the truth. Search in order to learn what the Lord says. If conviction comes as you search, if you see that your cherished opinions are not in harmony with the truth, do not misinterpret the truth in order to suit your own belief, but accept the light given. Open mind and heart that you may behold wondrous things out of God’s Word.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 112.

     There are a number of answers which could have been given to the question “What shall I do to be saved?” Elsewhere those answers are given, but here the point is made that our salvation does depend upon laying aside preconceived opinions, hereditary and cultivated ideas. William Miller did


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this and, because he did, arrived at saving truth. If we will do the same, we likewise will arrive at saving truth.


Note by Ron Beaulieu: William Miller was first to be credited with what Ellen White later adopted as his weight of evidence formula, which summarizes Wright’s methodology, to wit:

   Weight of Evidence Formula: "1. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible 2. All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by diligent application and study 3. Nothing revealed in Scripture can or will be hid from those who ask in faith, not wavering 4. To understand doctrine, bring all the scriptures together on the subject you wish to know, then let every word have its proper influence and if you can form your theory without a contradiction, you cannot be in error 5. Scripture must be its own expositor, [interpreter] since it is a rule of itself. If I depend on a teacher to expound to me, and he should guess at its meaning, or desire to have it so on account of his sectarian creed, or to be thought wise, then his guessing, desire, creed, or wisdom is my rule, and not the Bible." E.G. White, Second Advent Review and Herald, 11-25-34, pr. 24. End note.


Pains are being taken to emphasize this thought because in the field of knowledge dealing with the character of God, wrong concepts are prolific. Any emergence into this truth must be from a background of dark error and misconception. The whole world lies in ignorance of God as He really is, and we who have lived in that world have been unconsciously influenced by this atmosphere. There is no subject, then, in which the need to lay aside preconceived ideas and opinions is more critical than this one.

     We come now to a key point in William Miller’s approach to Bible study. As he proceeded from verse to verse, he came inevitably upon a Scripture which baffled his understanding and which, in turn, appeared to contradict what he had already learned in other parts of the Word. How did he solve this problem? Discarding commentaries and dictionaries, he used the Bible as it own dictionary. “Thus whenever he met with a passage hard to be understood, he found an explanation in some other portion of the Scriptures.” The Great Controversy, 320.

     He followed “his rule of making Scripture its own interpreter.” ibid., 324. By doing this, he avoided the perilous pitfall of private or human interpretations, which can only lead astray. The one thing which cannot be permitted in the quest for truth as God sees it, is the use of private or human interpretation of God’s revelations. It would be far better not to study the Bible at all, than to search it with the wrong method. Make the Scriptures their own dictionary, their own interpreter. Do this under the blessing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the assurance is there of the certainty of arriving at an accurate, comprehensive, and harmonious knowledge of saving truth.

     This will take time so it is not to be expected that every error will be immediately swept away. While Miller arrived at tremendous concepts of saving truth, he did not live long enough to find deliverance from every preconceived error of the past. This does not deny for an instant the validity of his method of study. It only underlines the truth that it takes time, even with correct methods of study, to come to an accurate grasp of divine revelations. After all, God’s truth is the expression of the mind of the Infinite. Eternity will never exhaust it. Therefore, it is too much to expect that a person using perfect methods of study would emerge in a few short years from deep darkness to a correct understanding of the great verities. Appreciation should be felt for the tremendous progress Miller made in breaking away from the erroneous teachings of his day.

     The sound and solid foundations laid down by William Miller were continued and developed by later Adventist expositors. To establish this point we could bring as evidence, the development of such truths as the two laws, the Sabbath question, and so on. Our choice falls upon the subject of the final punishment of the wicked. It is common understanding in worldly


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churches that the fires of final purification will unceasingly burn the unrepentant wicked who will suffer unending torture and torment within those unquenchable flames. The advent message denies this concept, teaching, rather, a short consumption of the lost to render them as though they had never been.


In the early days of Adventism, the truth on this subject had not been developed. It was not developed by William Miller but by the people who came after him. As the new idea was advanced, it met with serious objection and opposition. It is a difficult subject to present because there are certain Scriptures which make it appear that the wicked do burn forever and ever. Just as it is possible in the subjects of the two laws, the Sabbath, and the character of God, to gather two completely different sets of statements, with one apparently supporting one side, and the other seeming to present an opposite view, so it is in the question of the final punishment of the wicked.

     It hardly seems necessary to quote the many statements from Scripture which tell us that the wicked will be as though they had not been, that we shall tread down their ashes, that they shall burn, leaving neither root nor branch. We know the Scriptures tell us that the dead know nothing, that their very thoughts are gone. This is one side of the question, but, on the other side are statements which clearly say that the wicked will burn forever. The most noteworthy reference of this nature is in Revelation 20:10. “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

     As an exercise in the correct principles of Bible study, let this verse be taken and interpreted according to dictionary definitions of the key words to show us the wrong way of Bible interpretation.

     The important key words in this particular verse are the words “for ever and ever.” In our minds there already exists a clear definition of this word which is in harmony with the written definition in the published dictionary reading as follows, “Forever means for a limitless time or endless ages, everlastingly, eternally, at all times, always, continually, incessantly.” If this dictionary definition of the word “forever” is taken and Revelation 20:10 understood according to it then the only possible understanding of this verse would be that the wicked suffer eternally. One could only believe that there would never come a time when their agonies would end. It is hoped that no one will miss the point that a certain method of interpretation will yield its corresponding idea of what the truth is.

Serious doubt of the validity of this method is gendered when it is seen that it brings this text into sharp contradiction with other Scriptures. Here are two examples.

     “For as ye have drunk upon My holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.” Obadiah 16.


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     “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Malachi 4:1.

     It is obviously impossible for the wicked to be as though they had not been, and to be burned up leaving neither root nor branch, and yet, at the same time, exist eternally. That is a contradiction, which will exist in our minds and will continue to exist until the understanding of the messages of these verses is changed, wherever it needs to be changed. Let it be strongly emphasized that the Scriptures themselves must not be changed. It is the understanding of the Scriptures which must be changed until there is perfect harmony.

     This is a very different approach to the problem from that employed by those who do use dictionary definitions for these words. Their procedure is to carefully collect all statements supporting their chosen side of the question, and as carefully, to ignore those which speak contrary to their accepted ideas. This is no way to study the Bible, yet it is the most commonly accepted method.

     The only safety lies in discarding dictionary definitions of words wherever those words are a problem and to seek for a revised understanding of the meaning of the statements. The only way to discover that other meaning is by making the Bible and the Bible only, its own dictionary, and therefore its own interpreter. The Advent people, in determining the message of the verse, Revelation 20:10, which speaks of the wicked burning eternally, found it necessary to discover the Bible meaning of those words. They learned that, in Bible usage, the word has a different meaning from what it has in everyday usage. We quote now from the book Answers to Objections by F.D. Nichol, 360, 361.

     “We read of ‘Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them . . . suffering the vengeance of eternal [aionios] fire.’ Jude 7. Are those cities, set ablaze long ago as a divine judgment, still burning? No; their ruins are quite submerged by the Dead Sea. The Bible itself specifically states that God turned ‘the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes.’ 2 Peter 2:6. Now the fate of these cities is declared to be a warning to all wicked men of the fate that impends for them. Therefore if the “aionios fire” of that long ago judgment turned into ashes those upon whom it preyed, and then died down of itself, we may properly conclude that the “aionios fire” of the last day will do likewise.

     “When we turn to the Old Testament we discover that ‘everlasting’ and ‘for ever’ sometimes signify a very limited time. We shall quote texts in which these two terms are translated from the Hebrew word olam, because olam is the equivalent of the Greek aion.

     “The Passover was to be kept ‘forever [olam].’ Exodus 12:24. But it ended with the cross. (See Heb. 9:24-26) Aaron and his sons were to offer in


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cense ‘for ever [olam].’ (1 Chron. 23:13), and to have an everlasting [olam] priesthood.’ Ex. 40:1, But this priesthood, with its offerings of incense, ended at the cross (See Heb. 7:11-14). A servant who desired to stay with his master, was to serve him ‘for ever [olam]’ (See Ex. 21:1-6). How could a servant serve a master to endless time? Will there be masters and servants in the world to come? Jonah, describing his watery experience, said, ‘The earth with her bars was about me for ever [olam].’ Jonah 2:6. Yet this ‘for ever’ was only ‘three days and three nights’ long. Jonah 1:7. Rather a short ‘for ever.’ Because Gehazi practiced deceit, Elisha declared, ‘The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee [Gehazi], and unto thy seed for ever [olam].’ 2 Kings 5:27. Should we conclude, therefore, that Gehazi’s family would never end, and that thus leprosy would be perpetuated for all time to come?

     “Thus by the acid test of actual usage we discover that in a number of cases aion, aionios, and olam have a very limited time value.”

     Now that you have read the above statement from Nichol, it would be helpful to answer the following questions.

1.    How much reference did F.D. Nichol make to standard dictionaries when seeking the definition of “everlasting,” and “for ever,” as those words are to be used in the Scriptures?

The answer is: No reference at all.

2.    What then did he use as his dictionary when seeking the definition of those words as used in Scripture?

The answer is: The Word of God and that alone.

3.    Did he find the words meant the same in Scripture usage as they do in every day usage?

The answer is : No! The meanings are very different indeed. That means that “everlasting” and “forever,” have one meaning when used in our everyday speech but a different meaning when used in the Scriptures.

4.    What is the meaning in everyday speech and as found in the dictionary of “everlasting” and “for ever?”

The answer is: These words mean eternally; without ever ceasing at all.

5.    What is the meaning when the same words are used in Scripture?

      Answer: It signifies time in unbroken duration so long as the nature of the subject allows. Thus in the case of the wicked, their sinful human nature does not allow a very long time in the fire before they are reduced to ashes; but be assured that the fire will go on for ever, that is, in unbroken duration, until they are consumed. On the other hand the nature of God and of the redeemed is that they go on forever as long as their immortal natures allow, and that will be eternally without ever ceasing at all.

       It should now be clear that when the words “for ever and ever” are interpreted according to dictionary definitions, a certain understanding of that verse will emerge, while if the Bible is used to uncover its usage of the words, then a very different understanding will result. In other words, ac-


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cording to the system of interpretation used will the resulting conclusions be. Set the method right and the desired objective of knowing saving truth will be naturally forthcoming.

     A sound test of the true method is that it removes impossible contradictions and replaces them with harmony and cohesion. There will be no need to ignore statements which otherwise do not fit.

     Once the correct method has been found, it is to be applied with unfailing consistency throughout the entire study of the Bible. One system cannot be used in one area and a different one used in another. It has been astonishing to see people having no trouble in believing that the wicked do not burn forever, and then rejecting the principle that God destroys only by trying to save. Yet exactly the same methods of interpretation used to arrive at the former were the only means of arriving at the latter.

     This does not mean that every word will have other than a dictionary definition when used in the Scriptures. Many will have the same meaning, but there will always be key words which do not. They are readily recognized, for whenever a word, when understood according to its common everyday usage, creates a serious problem, then it is time to search out its Scriptural meaning as against its common one.

     Throughout this book, with strict consistency, we will adhere to the Scriptural method of interpretation. When we find ourselves confronted with two statements or more, which, on the surface, stand in sharp contradiction to each other, we shall follow this procedure:

·       Faith shall retain firm hold of the truth that there is no contradiction in the Word of God.

·       Every endeavour will be made to lay aside old preconceived ideas and opinions.

·       No reference will be made to a dictionary to solve the problem.

·       The Scriptures alone will be consulted for the answer as to what these words mean when they are used in them.

     This line of approach will be continued until every disharmony of thought disappears and every statement tells the same message.

     Therefore, for anyone to deny the message of this book, he will have to prove firstly that these methods of interpretation are false. If, however, he should agree that they are true, then he will have to show wherein we have not adhered to these principles. We confidently challenge anyone to prove either or both if they can.

     We believe that we stand upon solid ground in our approach to the subject and that what is written herein is a true statement of the character of God.


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[1] For further material see Selected Messages, 1:19-22.