For Seventh-day Adventists, the Bible is the foundation upon which all beliefs are established. The inspired words within have stood the test of time, and this great book is still changing lives today.
But when it comes to getting to know God and starting a relationship with Him, is the Bible still the best place to start?
Think about it this way. What’s the first thing you do when you want to learn about something?
You look it up.
During your search for information, you don’t stop to read just anything. You want a credible source. You want historical details. You want eyewitness testimonies. You want thorough research. You want the truth.
That’s exactly how Seventh-day Adventists regard the Bible when it comes to getting to know God. It’s the perfect place to “look Him up,” laying the important groundwork for building your relationship with Him.
Why is the Bible the best place to start? Aren’t there other ways to get to know Him?
It’s true, God can be experienced in many, many ways. As the Creator of all things, His presence is everywhere, all the time. He hears your prayers. His works can be observed in nature. He can work through other people to reach you.
Think of these other ways as different kinds of roads: scenic route, alley access, side roads, etc. But if want a convenient, direct road to knowing God, the Bible comes highly recommended by both human and the divine! Jesus said Himself of Scripture, “It is they that bear witness of Me” (John 5:39, ESV).
Later on in the New Testament, the book of James assures us:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of Godmay be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17, ESV).
So if you are committed to making the effort to get to know Him, why not start in the very place intended to reveal God to humanity?
Even if you feel like you don’t know how to pray yet, you can read the Bible. Even if you don’t know any other believers yet, you can read the Bible. It’s a tangible, accessible way God gave all of us so we can know Him. It’s the perfect starting point.
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How the Bible Reveals God’s Character
God’s character is made evident across the entire breadth and depth of the Bible narrative. However, the Bible can be divided into three sections that show different aspects of His character.
1. There’s a certain clarity you can get from the first book: Genesis. Let’s start there.
In this book we have many firsts:
- The first marriage (Adam and Eve)
- The first lie (Satan tempting Eve)
- The first doubting of God’s character, followed by an outright rebellious act (Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil)
- The first lame excuse and “blame game” (Adam blaming Eve and ultimately God for his sin)
- The first murder and attempted cover-up (Cain killing Abel)
- The first “natural disaster” (the first rain and the worldwide flood)
…And that’s only in the first six chapters!
As you read through the stories in those first six chapters of Genesis, you can see God’s love, patience, grace, and mercy toward a self-centered people who were learning the hard way about how sin works. You can see He valued freedom of choice, and He cared enough to make humanity “in His image.”
Later on in the history of God’s chosen people, we see even more aspects of God’s character when He performed miracles that helped them escape, survive, or win wars. He sent prophets to His people when they got stuck in bad habits.
You could easily say the Old Testament is a chronicle of Israel’s back-and-forth, hot-and-cold, selfish nature. But that only further demonstrates His unmatchable patience. He warned rebellious children of their sinful choices and provided ways for them to return to Him…when it would have made perfect sense to cut them off.
2. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we see the depths of God’s love for humanity
—for each one of us. He sent His own Son, Jesus,to live a regular life on earth, but to do it without sinning so He could be our example.
Here’s how God gets “in the trenches” with us.
- He sent Jesus to earth, as a baby, to a run-of-the-mill family in a small town.
- He had Jesus work with his earthly father, Joseph, as a carpenter.
- Jesus spent time with people of all walks of life, from fisherman to tax collectors.
- He experienced and overcame any and all of the temptations we face—even being confronted by the Devil himself (Matthew 4:1-11).
- We are also told in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus can “sympathize with our weaknesses” because while He was on earth, He was “tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin” (CSB).
Next, we see the perfect model of this love. Jesus died a sinner’s death for us on the cross. In this He overaome death and was resurrected to life. And in Jesus’ resurrection, God can now offer us His immortal, perfect life for our mortal, sinful life:
“…But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:12-14, ESV).
“They brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha … Then they crucified Him … Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last. Then the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing opposite him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’” (Mark 15:22, 24, 37-39, CSB).
3. To tie this all together, we see God’s character remain consistent in the last book of the Bible, Revelation.
He testifies of Himself,
“’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘the one who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8, CSB).
God tells us, through the prophet John, how much He loves us and wants us to be reconciled to Him. Upon His Son’s return, He is prepared to restore us from our sinful states and give us this wonderful, final blessing:
“Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:
‘Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.’
Then the one seated on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new … It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life’” (Revelation 21:3-6, CSB).
Next steps in getting to know God
Now that you see God’s heart of love all throughout His Word, the Bible, you may be wondering how you can get to know God better by reading it? Where would you start?
What’s most important is not where you start, because God promises that His Word, the Bible, will always be a benefit to those who interact with it. Interacting with God’s Word daily will always bring us growth.
What’s most important is that you start at all! God wants you to get into the Bible every day because if you do, the Bible also gets into you.
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11, ESV).
God, through the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah, assures us all of the potency and power of His Word:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways, declares 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.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word [the Bible] be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:8-11, ESV).
The Bible doesn’t stop revealing God to you!
One exciting thing about reading the Bible to get to know God…is that it tells you how to get to know God. And there’s always more to learn!
Yes, His character is revealed within Scripture. But Adventists also believe the Bible is the best introduction to God because you’ll read about ways to draw even closer to Him.
You’ll learn how to pray. Prayer is highlighted throughout the entire Bible, including tips and instructions from Jesus Himself (see Matthew 6:5-13).
You’ll get a new perspective from Jesus’ parables. Jesus often spoke in parables, which helped explain complex concepts by using familiar examples or stories. A few of His memorable parables were told to help people grasp who He is, and who the Father is.
One such parable is the Prodigal Son, as told in Luke 15:11-32. It’s a touching story about a loving father who allowed his younger son to choose to leave him. His son wanted to go “experience the world,” so to speak. The father was probably worried his son would not return…but he did, even though he had spent all his money and returned home in much worse shape than he left. He was ashamed and asked to work off his debt to his father. But his father was so ecstatic that his son returned that he clothed him in fine robes and threw a party for him.
What a wonderful analogy of how God loves us so much, He even allows our free will to lead us away from Him. But when anyone comes back to Him, the Bible tells us the angels in heaven celebrate over just one person who repents (Luke 15:10).
You’ll discover how you can live out God’s character. As you learn more about God and draw closer to Him, the Bible also provides direction for your life. And in following the Bible’s advice, you become a “witness” for God. Compassionate living and claiming God’s peace in your life exemplifies His character in your day-to-day life.
Clearly, the Bible is more than just another book. That was exactly the realization of early Seventh-day Adventists, who found it to be so much more than a leather-bound stack of pages a preacher would quote from in a sermon once each week. They discovered the Bible was meant to be read individually, within small groups, and in a community.
God had it written for everyone, because “everyone” is exactly who He wants to draw back to Him. And while there are countless ways to get to know God on a deeper level, the Bible is an ideal way to introduce Him into your life and continue to learn more about Him.