A severely tested relationship
When Adam and Eve came from the hand of their Creator, they saw and spoke face to face with Him “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). In this open and loving relationship, with direct access to the knowledge of God, no wanted or needed information was held back.
When our first parents disobeyed God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they cut the connection with their Maker, and thus with life. Had God not anticipated Adam’s fall and made provision for his restoration, the separation would have been final. Meanwhile, until restoration is complete, He graciously promised to stay …
1. Who had a profound interest in and love for the human family?
My “rejoicing [was] in His inhabited world, and My delight was with the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:31). Jesus Christ created the earth and its inhabitants. When man fell, Jesus approached the Father about the emergency. They confirmed the plan they had earlier designed, to give the human family a second chance at life (1 Peter 1:18-20; John 15:13).
2. All through Old Testament times, who communicated with man, and how?
“Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). After personally promising the fallen pair to send a Redeemer, and then expelling them from paradise, the Son of God kept in close touch with the human family through prophets. These reiterated God’s promise, assuring people that believing God will always bring great reward (2 Chronicles 20:20).
3. What is a prophet? And what is prophecy?
“Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: ‘Come, let us go to the seer’; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer” (1 Samuel 9:9). “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” (Psalm 32:8). “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21 KJV). A prophet is the eye of the church in the sense that God gives him special insight into heavenly things. A prophet is a person especially chosen by God to receive messages from Him for people. He receives instruction, warning, reproof, correction, and revelations of present and future events and makes explicit the will of God. The Bible is full of examples of such guidance.
4. After 4,000 years of communicating through His prophets, how did God keep His promise?
“Behold, a virgin … shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel,… God with us” (Matthew 1:23 KJV). “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4). “God, who … spoke in time past … by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus covered His divinity with mortal, vulnerable humanity to join the fallen race on earth so He could again speak directly with us. No prophet could adequately express the powerful message that Jesus conveyed of God’s paternal love, most graphically demonstrated by Christ’s submission to the humiliation and agony carrying the sins of the world to the cross to save man.
5. How would Jesus continue to keep in touch after He returned to His heavenly home?
“The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:26 KJV). “The Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge,… to another prophecy” (1 Corinthians 12:7-8, 10). Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to instruct His prophets, who would in turn guide the church.
6. To whom especially are the messages of the prophets directed?
“God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets” (1 Corinthians 12:28). “He who prophesies edifies the church.” “Prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe” (1 Corinthians 14:4, 22). Prophecy supports the people of God in their battle of faith and empowers the church to carry out its mission in and to the world.
7. What happens if there is no such guidance?
“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18). Without continued communication from Heaven, the people of God are severely tempted to lose sight of His holy purpose for them, lose courage, and give up the battle of faith. Notice that God provides prophecy when the church recognizes the claims of God’s law (Lamentations 2:9).
8. Was prophecy limited to the time of the apostles? What about the last days?
The Lord promised: “I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit,… before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2:28-29, 31 KJV). This prophecy speaks of a spiritual refreshing in the last days. Notice that the Lord chooses His prophets regardless of gender, age, or status.
9. What characteristics distinguish God’s church in the last days?
“The dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). God’s last church, because it upholds all God’s commandments, will be honored with the gift of prophecy.
10. Now, in the last days, has the prophetic gift been revived?
“Therefore know that the Lord your God,… is … the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy … with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9). In the decade leading up to 1844, a mighty revival had moved people in different parts of the world as they recognized the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies concerning the second coming of Jesus. People earnestly tried to obey God’s law the best they knew how as they waited for His advent. When He didn’t come as expected, the “advent people” scattered, with a variety of opinions as to what went wrong. Most of them returned to their former churches. These people declared that they had been misled. But in the United States, between fifty and one hundred believers who had earnestly studied the prophecies determined to know what had gone wrong. God responded to these people’s faithfulness and comforted them in their disappointment by restoring the gift of prophecy.
11. What kind of person was called by the Lord to give a special and timely message?
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets … for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:11-13). In December 1844, Ellen Gould Harmon of Portland, Maine–a frail, barely educated but praying seventeen-year-old girl who expected to die of tuberculosis at any time–received her first vision from the Lord at the home of a friend while praying with several other women. Recounting what she saw gave courage to the remaining Advent believers.
12. Did Ellen Harmon, later married to James White, receive a new message for people?
We are warned, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). True prophets constantly fix people’s attention on the Scriptures. The prophets’ instructions consistently harmonize with the principles found there. Ellen White was well versed in the Scriptures and stated implicitly, “If the Testimonies speak not according to the Word of God, reject them.” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 691.)
13. What are some of the things that God accomplished through Ellen Gould White?
“You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). Instead of dying at age seventeen, this dear lady lived to be eighty-seven. In her seventy years of public service, she taught and confirmed the faith of the believers on three continents. Though for all practical purposes Ellen White was uneducated, she lectured and wrote about such diverse subjects as theology, administration, medicine and diet, astronomy, and psychology. Under her guidance, Adventists established prosperous health retreats, schools, colleges, and publishing houses. She was the most productive female religious writer of all time and a renowned speaker, speaking to audiences of tens of thousands of people. Her books continue to lead millions to Christ worldwide.
14. How does the Bible confirm the genuineness of the activities and writings of Ellen G. White?
“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). Ellen White’s writings exalt Jesus Christ. She taught and practiced genuine love, faith, and obedience to all of God’s law. She also had all of the physical manifestations (these earmarks cannot be counterfeited; God does not permit Satan to imitate them) of a true prophet: While in vision (during her lifetime, she had about 2,000 visions, lasting from a few minutes to four hours) she did not breathe (Daniel 10:15-17), her eyes were always open (Numbers 24:16), her natural strength failed but then was supernaturally restored (Daniel 10:8-10, 18), she was totally oblivious to her surroundings, and no human influence could bring her out of vision (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). These supernatural phenomena were attested to by hundreds of witnesses in written form. (These are available upon request.)
“Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20).
What about … THE VERIFICATION OF ELLEN WHITE AS A TRUE PROPHET?
• Doesn’t Revelation 22:18 exclude true prophets in post-biblical times?
“For I testify … if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book.” “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city” (verses 18 NKJV, 19 KJV). When this passage was written, there was, as yet, no Bible. Eventually, individual writings were collected and bound together in the Bible. And we know that Revelation 22:18 applies to the whole Bible, for the same warning is given at the beginning of that book (Deuteronomy 4:2) and in the middle of it (Proverbs 30:6) as well. To add to and/or subtract from Scripture means to tamper with what was written under inspiration. Also, since the apostle John wrote his gospel after writing the Book of Revelation, we know that the above warning does not apply to future prophets or prophetic manifestation meeting the criteria of divine inspiration.
• Are there any examples of science confirming Ellen White’s statements?
Almost a century after she died, many of her statements have been confirmed; others are in the process. Her most astonishing insights were in the fields of medicine and biology. For example, she wrote about the electrical currents in the brain and warned against hypnosis.
At a time when the ignorance of medical professionals was so great that doctors were telling patients to smoke to relieve respiratory disease, and actually giving morphine to children for coughs, she warned against the use of tobacco and other stimulants as well as about the use of drug medications. Even today, although medical science has become very sophisticated, many people die from the indiscriminate use of medication. She wrote that eating flesh is harmful and causes cancer. Today we know that meat causes all kinds of health problems, including colon cancer. But cancer is still being researched; there is more to come.
She wrote about the importance of prenatal influences. Today we know that drinking and smoking adversely affect unborn children. We know that a mother’s anger affects her unborn child and that children can hear their parents from inside the womb!
Ellen White taught that ninety percent of illnesses originate in the mind. Modern research confirms that stress causes ulcers, sleeping disorders, mental illnesses, arthritis, type 1 diabetes, allergies, fibromyalgia, heart disease, eating disorders, immune deficiency, and muscle problems, to name a few. For such insights, she consistently gave God all the credit.
• How did she describe her mission?
“I have had no claims to make, only that I am instructed that I am the Lord’s messenger….
“Why have I not claimed to be a prophet? Because in these days many who boldly claim that they are prophets are a reproach to the cause of Christ; and because my work includes much more than the word ‘prophet’ signifies” (The Review and Herald, July 26, 1906).
• Will others besides Ellen White exercise the prophetic gift before Jesus comes?
When His people live up to the “light” they already have, God will bestow more. But the prophet Joel promises that God will close His work on earth with a powerful outpouring of His Spirit. Meanwhile, by means of His own choosing, God will continue to stay “in touch” with His children until Jesus returns.
Spurred on by prophets of old as well as modern-day prophecy, and encouraged to unite with God’s faithful people, what should we do about “The Open Door” in front of us?*