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The “One Sentence” Principle

By Pastor Hal Mayer

The “One Sentence” Principle [1]

One of the most important principles you need in your life to prepare for the coming of Jesus is the One Sentence Principle. Thousands will be lost because they have ignored or missed this principle. You will see what I mean in a few minutes. But before we begin, we need to ask the blessing of God on our study this month.

Our loving heavenly father. Thank you for your counsel and wonderful guidance. Thank you that you have not left us in darkness concerning how to be saved and our spiritual priorities. Thank you for our savior Jesus Christ, and that He is working His wonderful change in our lives at this very moment. Now please send us your Holy Spirit as we study today and as we think about the One Sentence Principle. In Jesus name, Amen.

There is a very powerful one-liner in the Spirit of Prophecy that has caught my attention. It is found in the 7 th volume of the Testimonies for the Church. It goes like this.

“One sentence of Scripture is of more value than ten thousand of man’s ideas or arguments.” (7T 71) This incredible statement directly addresses the key principle that every Seventh-day Adventist must face. You should copy it and attach it to the flyleaf of your Bible, or put it on your refrigerator. You should memorize it and repeat it often. Have your family memorize it too. Bible heroes were loyal to the one sentence principle. Jesus Himself promoted it.

Let’s say it again. See if you can say it with me. “One sentence of Scripture is of more value than ten thousand of man’s ideas or arguments.” (7T 71)

And one more time… “One sentence of Scripture is of more value than ten thousand of man’s ideas or arguments.” (7T 71)

Moses and Aaron had different ideas about the “One Sentence” Principle.

Turn with me in your bibles to Exodus 32. After God gave Israel the Ten Commandments; the sacred oracles, Moses went up the Mountain to commune with God. But as Moses delayed to come down, the people came to Aaron, and in verse 1 we read, “Up make us God’s that shall go before us. For as for this Moses the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” (Exodus 32:1)

Aaron did not seem to value the sacred oracles as he should have. Look at vs. 2. Aaron told them; “break off the golden earrings that are in the ears of your wives, and of your sons and of your daughters and bring them to me.” (vs. 2). Here in this one sentence of scripture, we learn that jewelry comes from Egypt. When Israel left Egypt, the Egyptians loaded them down with all kinds of things. But backsliding always leads us to use the things we carried with us out of Egypt to adorn or gratify self. Israel often backslid and reverted to acting like Egyptians didn’t they? They returned to looking like the Egyptians, eating like Egyptians, and worshipping like Egyptians. You can always tell when someone is struggling spiritually. On comes the makeup, rings and earrings (and not just in the ears either). Out comes worldly music, TV, video games, and other amusements that consume the time, etc.

Aaron made them a golden calf and they began to worship this golden calf as if it were the god that had parted the red sea.

But God said to Moses in vs. 7, “go get thee down, for thy people, which thou brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.” (vs.7) Note that God now disowns them! God is trying to impress upon Moses that the people had forgotten God. “They had turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made them a molten calf…” (vs. 8)

Have you ever wondered what God would say to Moses if he were the General Conference President? He might put it a little differently. “They have made them a molten BMW or a molten Mercedes.” “They have made them a molten entertainment system with a big screen TV, and they have subscribed to a molten cable company so they can watch all those molten movies from Hollywood.” “They have made them molten clothing to wear; molten food to eat; of the things that they still have from the Egypt.” Vs.25 tells us that they were even naked.

So in vs. 10 God says, “Now therefore let me alone that my wrath may wax hot against them and that I may consume them and I will make of thee a great nation.” (vs. 10) Why do you think God said it that way to Moses? “Now therefore let me alone” as if Moses can prevent God from doing this.

Indeed he can. God provokes Moses to intercessory prayer, because over the next forty years he was going to need to use intercessory prayer – a lot. Do you think we need to do some intercessory prayer ourselves over all the molten calves in our homes? We may also have spiritual brothers and sisters that believe not the truth, yet they call themselves Seventh-day Adventists. They are spiritually naked. We need to pray for them, intercede for them, that God will awaken them and deliver them from the Day of Judgment.

PP gives us an interesting description of what happened when Moses came upon the people. Pg 320. “As [Moses and Joshua] drew near the encampment, they beheld the people shouting and dancing around their idol. It was a scene of heathen riot…” Moses had come from the presence of the Holy One of Israel. Imagine what it must have been like to come upon this heathen riot? But now imagine how the angels feel when they come from the presence of God to some churches on Sabbath morning and witness the heathen riots going on in them. They must be as astonished as Moses was when he came upon this Egyptian orgy carried on by the people of God. Many churches today use the same kind of dance beat in their music, the same kind of swinging and swaying with drums and dancing. What difference is there really? The people come to church to hear the word of God, to learn about His law. Yet they are being told that they can dance and swing and sway just like they did when they were in the nightclubs, dance halls and bar rooms of the Egyptian world from which they came. And they call it Gospel! They sing words about God. But the sensual beat just shows how naked they are spiritually.

Now we come to vs. 19. “He cast the tables out of his hands and break them beneath the Mount.” (vs. 19) Moses was so horrified by the unholy and shameful festival that He was moved by the spirit of God to break the tables of stone as a symbol of what the people had done to their covenant with God. He also took action and destroyed the calf.

But when Moses asked Aaron about this sin, Aaron said, vs 22, “let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people that they are set on mischief.” (vs. 22) In other words; “Go easy Moses, have a little tact, you are too rough on the people; they are not ready for these reforms. Go more slowly.” Have you ever heard those things before?

You can hear similar things today. “Oh, its ok, we’ll baptize them, then we’ll teach them about jewelry and other standards. They don’t need to know these things until later.” Then what happens? Do they ever learn about the wonderful principles and standards that God has given to His people to protect them from going back to Egypt and to make them His peculiar people? Of course not. Do we have a few Aarons around us today? Do we have some who preach smooth things and say to the people that these things are not so important. I’ve even heard ministers tell me and others that standards are not so important. They are somehow peripheral, and that it is rigid people who have high dress standards, carry themselves with Christian reserve, and who follow the plain principles in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy. Have you heard these things today? Of course you have.

PP also tells us that “Aaron endeavored to shield himself by relating the clamors of the people: that if he had not complied with their wishes, he would have been put to death.” Imagine that. He tried to excuse himself on the basis that he would have been killed if he did not disobey God’s express commandment. Do you think Aaron would have had the angels of God to stand by him had he stood firmly on the “one sentence” principle? Where was his faith? The people may have threatened to kill him. They might have put terrible pressure on him, but he did not have to buckle to their rebellious demands. One sentence of Scripture is enough to call all the mighty hosts of heaven to your defense and outweigh all the arguments of even perverse mobs.

Likewise today, no pastor or church leader has to buckle to the demands of the people to bring the Egyptian practices into our churches. If he live by the one sentence principle, God’s holy angels will stand by the minister’s side, and will provide for him, even if he loses his job.

You see, the people came to Aaron with arguments and ideas. “We don’t know what has happened to Moses [vs 23], so make us gods.” “We need something to lead us through this desert, so up make us God’s so that we can have something to lead us.” They could have presented ten thousand ideas or arguments to Aaron, but if Aaron had understood the “one sentence” principle he could have withstood them all. Have you ever heard church members make excuses, or “arguments” for their televisions, extravagant homes, the flesh they eat, the immodest clothes they wear, and all those things from Egypt, to which they manage to hang on?

Aaron tried to lie. “And then I cast it into the fire and there came out this calf,” (vs. 23) as if it was some great miracle of Providence. You can hear them in modern parlance. “Oh, I just put in my credit card and out fell these earrings.” Or “I just went into the bank, and miracle of miracles, they loaned me the money to buy this oversized expensive house, and my Mercedes.” Or “This outfit is not so immodest; after all, it was on sale.”

Moses didn’t hesitate to solve the serious problem. The people needed to understand that one sentence of scripture was truly of more value than ten thousand of man’s ideas or arguments.

Now we turn our attention to Joseph. Joseph got the One Sentence Principle right. Turn in your Bibles to Genesis 39.

When Joseph was approached by Potiphar’s wife to do something God had forbidden, Joseph just said “no.” Notice vs. 8. “How than can I do this great wickedness and sin against God.” (Gen: 39:8) One sentence of scripture was of more value to Joseph than ten thousand of Mrs. Potiphar’s ideas or arguments. Though in the time of Joseph the oracles of God were transmitted verbally, he remained loyal to them regardless of the consequences.

Have you ever been pressured by someone who wants you to join them in sin? Sometimes temptation tries to grab you and hold you like Mrs. Potiphar did with Joseph (vs. 11). But like Joseph, you must do the right thing and flee in order to be loyal to scripture, even if you have to leave something behind.

To Joseph one sentence of scripture was of more value than avoiding prison or death. God rewarded His loyalty, and He will reward the loyalty of anyone who adopts this principle. Has the “one sentence” principle become the driving force in your life motivating your decisions, thoughts and choices?
Daniel Demonstrates the Principle

Turn to Daniel chapter 6 vs. 5. “Then said these men, we shall not find any occasion against Daniel except we find it against him concerning the law of his God (God’s Oracles).” (Dan 6:5) So they conspired to create a law that they knew Daniel would break. Did Daniel change his pattern when put under that strength of pressure? What’s going to happen to you when a law is made that you are going to have to break if you are going to be loyal to God, like the Sunday law? Like Daniel, you will have to have settled the question of this principle in your life long before. If one sentence of Scripture is of more value to you than ten thousand of man’s ideas or arguments, you will be able to stand by the power of God in you. Angels will stand by your side like they did with Daniel in the Lion’s den. Was it difficult for Daniel? Yes, but did the Lions hurt Daniel? No. Was God glorified? Yes. The “one sentence” principle always glorifies God.
Now we come to Jesus Our Perfect Example

Jesus never attended a conference school. He was a home-schooler. He learned at the foot of His mother that “one sentence of Scripture is of more value than ten thousand of man’s ideas or arguments.” At twelve He was in the temple baffling the teachers of Israel with His knowledge. Jesus had mastered the Bible, the Torah; not the theologians.

I have a German Adventist friend who often studies Luther. Everything he believes revolves around Luther’s theology. Whenever we discuss the Bible, he always references what Luther believed. But Luther only went so far in his thinking. His theology was limited. He certainly didn’t understand many things that we now know more fully today, especially the special message that God entrusted to God’s remnant church in these last days.

Luther was God’s man at that time. He did what God wanted him to do, but time has gone on. There is much more that we understand now that Luther could have never understood. Luther’s time has passed and those that follow Jesus know that there is much more light now.

But there is a deeper problem with studying the theologians. Theology is the study of what men have said about the Bible. It is not the study of the Bible itself. Many among us want to know what Luther, Calvin and even Augustine said. But what the Bible says is not so important. We quote Calvin, Bucher, F. F. Bruce, and other famous theologians. We send our teachers off to Oxford, Fuller and other Babylonish seminaries to get “advanced” degrees, and then bring them back to teach in our schools the ideas and arguments of the fallen churches. They do not have the “one sentence” principle in their hearts. They think that man’s ideas about God are more important than the Bible itself. Do you know where this leads? It leads to more reliance on the authority of the theologians than on the authority of God. It leads to more reliance on the authority of the church instead of the authority of the Bible. It leads to more reliance on the authority of the church manual rather than the word to guide us in matters of faith and witness.

Jesus did not study the Mishna and the Ghemara, which were the church manuals of his day. You see, the theologians of the day were studying the Mishna more than the Bible, which was called the Torah. They were studying to find out what one can do, and what one cannot do to be loyal to the church structure and the leaders. And they were teaching the people to be more loyal to them than to the scriptures. There where so many rabbinical restrictions and laws that they had forgotten the law of God. They were so busy making certain that they understood all the secondary details, that they missed out on the primary principle of “one sentence of scripture.”

In Desire of Ages we read the following, “At a very early age Jesus had begun to act for Himself in the formation of His character. And not even respect and love for His parents could turn Him from obedience to God’s Word… It is written was the reason for every act that varied from the family customs… [Jesus’ brothers] insisted that the traditions must be heeded as if they were the requirements of God . They even regarded the precepts of man more highly than the Word of God.”

“…His strict obedience to the law of God they condemned as stubbornness…” Have you ever had someone tell you that you were stubborn or narrow minded because you opposed some unbiblical practice? Many have you know. I’ll read on. “He had given special offense to the Pharisees by departing in this respect from their rigid rules.” Now, who were the rigid ones? God says they were the Pharisees who required obedience to their rules. Reading on “He found the domain of religion fenced in by high walls of seclusion as too sacred a matter for everyday life. These walls of partition He overthrew .” (DA 86) Notice that Jesus’ life was lived to overthrow the rigid rules and walls of partition. Like Jesus, we must work to overthrow wrong principles in God’s church no matter what the people do to us. If you see some sin or wrongful practice or teaching, you must follow biblical principles to correct the error. If the people will not hear you, then so be it. Leave that with God. But you must do what you can. You must raise your voice.

Do you know what God considers those to be who stand by and do nothing? I’ll quote it to you from inspiration. “If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in case of an emergency. Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God.” {3T 280}

Jesus spent a lot of his ministry overthrowing the Mishna church manual. His own brothers didn’t practice the “one sentence” principle. They had gone to the schools of the rabbis and valued man’s ideas and arguments more than God’s words.

Jesus was an offense, especially to the devil in the wilderness. Jesus first principle with every temptation was “It is written!” “One sentence of scripture is of more value than ten thousand of man’s ideas or arguments.” And the devil came with lots of ideas and arguments. Notice Matthew 4:3, “If thou be the Son of God command these stones to be made bread.” (Matt 4:3) “You’re hungry, you have the power, go ahead, why not?” But Jesus answered; “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (vs. 4)

If only ONE sentence of scripture is of more valuable than ten thousand of man’s ideas or arguments, imagine the power of the whole Bible and Spirit of Prophecy. Remember, the Spirit of Prophecy is part of the sacred oracles that God has entrusted to the Remnant church, and which some want to overthrow. How many arguments and ideas does that cover? Millions of them . Every idea or argument of which you could possibly think, that is contrary to God’s word, is refuted in Holy Writ. You just have to find it. It is there for you.

Jesus was constantly drawing the attention of the people away from the false sayings of men, whether they were ministers, church leaders, theologians, or popular myths and placing their attention onto the eternal word of truth. Even in the blessed Sermon on the Mount, He begins to unravel the loyalty of the people to the traditions of the rabbis. He pulls them down, overthrows them, and then builds and restores their loyalty to the oracles of God.

Listen to some of Jesus’ words. Turn with me to Matt 5. Vs. 21. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not kill…” (Matt 5:21) These teachings had been around a long time, and this is one of the Ten Commandments. Now what did Jesus say? “But I say unto you, whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause is in danger of the judgment.” Why would Jesus use one of the sacred oracles like this? The rabbis had re-interpreted the commandments to be limited to physical killing, but you could hate your brother. You could assassinate his reputation, and there would be no problem. You could do all sorts of unkind things to him. You could make his life miserable. So long as you didn’t physically kill him, you would not be guilty of breaking this commandment. Jesus confronted this popular teaching of the leaders.

Now vs. 27-28. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time thou shalt not commit adultery.” Another commandment. But they had found ways to get around it so that they could do what they really wanted to do. Remember the woman taken in adultery. She was the only one they brought to Jesus. Where was the man? They had ignored one party to the crime and yet claimed that they were being obedient to God. Again Jesus undermined the prevailing teaching, “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her in his heart already.”

Now vs. 33-34. “Again ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, thou shalt not forswear thyself. But shall perform unto the Lord thine oaths. But I say unto you, swear not at all…”

Notice how many times Jesus said “but I say unto you.” Jesus was really saying, “I have a higher authority than the rabbis.” The rabbis didn’t appreciate that, because they were teaching that man’s rules were more important than God’s word. Their church manual was more value to them then 10,000 scriptures. Jesus, by contrast, was constantly drawing attention away from man’s ideas, away from false teaching and putting them back on the Word of God.

Now turn to Matthew 23. Here’s another example, vs 2-3. “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat (That’s the seat of spiritual authority): All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” This chapter is all about “woes” on the Pharisees as Jesus openly opposed their teachings that were in conflict with scripture. He reproved their money scandals, their politicking, their excuses for sin, their hypocrisy, all of it. And you can understand why they hated Him.

Now turn to John chapter 5. This is the story about the man at the pool of Bethesda. When Jesus healed that man, scripture says; “and on the same day was the Sabbath,” vs. 9. Why did Jesus do it on the Sabbath? Healing this man on the Sabbath, we are told in DA 206, “would open the way for Him to denounce the restrictions of the Jews in regard to the Lord’s day.” Jesus deliberately did things the rabbis forbade on the Sabbath, in order to break down their traditions, to denounce their false teachings and practices and uphold the true importance of Scripture. Notice Jesus’ deliberately set Himself against church leaders who were unfaithful, to create an opportunity to show the people their inconsistencies and re-establish their hold upon God’s word. No doubt they accused Him of not being loyal to the church, but what else could He do? They were not being loyal to God.

Now turn over the John chapter 9. After Jesus healed the blind man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees disfellowshipped the man who had been born blind. Jesus found him and accepted his worship independently of them. Notice vs. 35-38. “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” Jesus, in essence, asserts that even the disfellowshipped can still be part of His church, and that their worship is acceptable to Him. This was the ultimate statement of His authority over the dictums of the rabbis. Jesus was so loyal to scripture, that the church rulers eventually had Him crucified.

Jesus is our example. If we are going to have the “one sentence” principle in our lives, we may have some of the same problems Jesus had. But that doesn’t change the fact that “one sentence of Scripture is of more value than ten thousand of man ideas or arguments.”

But my friend, you and I will never have the same powerful effect if our own lives are not hid with God in Christ Jesus. You cannot rebuke sin in others unless you have reproved sin in your own life. But if you have, you have no reason to fear the wrath of man. So many of us today want to have a life of ease. We want a life that has no conflict. But that is not what we are here for. Peter says in 1 Peter 2:21-24. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

We need Jesus to teach us how to live by the one sentence principle. We need Jesus to give us the power to put the one sentence principle in place in our hearts and lives. We need Jesus to show us how to share the one sentence principle with others. We can not do this in our own strength. We cannot do it in our own might. It will come by the Holy Spirit only.

Will you let Him make you loyal to the one sentence principle?

Let’s repeat it together again. “One sentence of Scripture is of more value than ten thousand of man’s ideas or arguments.” (7T 71) Have you memorized it yet? Copy it down and put in your Bible.

Here it is again. Say it with me. “One sentence of Scripture is of more value than ten thousand of man’s ideas or arguments.” (7T 71)

Our father in heaven. Thank you for the one sentence principle. Thank you for the fact that we can face all the arguments of Satan and his agents by “It is written.” Thank you that there is power in your word, and that angels will stand by our sides when we are under pressure to compromise, to protect and overshadow us with their presence. Thank you that the Holy Spirit is working to make us loyal to the one sentence principle. Give us your peace. Help us recognize that in the world of chaos in which we live, we can still have a sure foundation in the Word of God. That it does not change. And that it will guide us safely to the kingdom of heaven, in Jesus name, amen.