Reading 1 – Friday, December 4, 2015

The Gift of Prophecy

By Ellen G. White

“… This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:16-21.

We are living in the last days, in a time when we may expect much from the Lord. These words should bring us to the throne of grace to claim great things of Him. Here the promise is given that on the men and women and on our sons and daughters the Holy Spirit is to come; and “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21. This brings to view a wonderful work to be done, for which we need the converting power of God in our hearts every day. It is our privilege to experience this. –Review and Herald, April 1, 1909.

We have the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, which is the Spirit of prophecy. Priceless gems are to be found in the word of God. Those who search this word should keep the mind clear. –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 114.

From the beginning

From the beginning the church of God has had the gift of prophecy in her midst as a living voice to counsel, admonish, and instruct. We have now come to the last days of the work of the third angel’s message, when Satan will work with increasing power because he knows that his time is short. At the same time there will come to us through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, diversities of operations in the outpouring of the Spirit. This is the time of the latter rain. –Manuscript  Releases, vol. 9, p. 278.

“It was not long after the passing of the time in 1844 that my first vision was given me. I was visiting a dear sister in Christ, whose heart was knit with mine; five of us, all women, were kneeling quietly at the family altar. While we were praying, the power of God came upon me as I had never felt it before. I seemed to be surrounded with light, and to be rising higher and higher from the earth.”

[Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 58.] At this time I had a view of the experience of the advent believers, the coming of Christ, and the reward to be given to the faithful. –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 654, 655.

God still speaks

In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days He speaks to them by the testimonies of His Spirit. There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will, and the course that He would have them pursue. –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 661 (1889); Evangelism, 255, 256.

We must follow the directions given through the Spirit of prophecy. We must love and obey the truth for this  time. This will save us from accepting strong delusions. God has spoken to us through His word. He has spoken to us through the testimonies to the church, and through the books that have helped to make plain our present duty and the position that we should now occupy. –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 298 (1904); Evangelism, p. 260.

Before sending that testimony my mind was so impressed by the Spirit of God that I had no rest day or night until I wrote to you. It was not a work that I would have chosen for myself…. I had little hope that my words would be understood; but when the Lord moved upon me so decidedly, I could not resist His Spirit. Knowing that you were involving yourselves in the snares of Satan, I felt that the danger was too great for me to keep silent….

I was told to gather up the light that had been given me and let its rays shine forth to God’s people. I have been doing this in articles in the papers. I arose at three o’clock nearly every morning for months and gathered the different items written after the last two testimonies were given me in Battle Creek. I wrote out these matters and hurried them on to you; but I had neglected to take proper care of myself, and the result was that I sank under the burden; my writings were not all finished to reach you at the General Conference. – Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 62, 63, 68.

Not mere opinion–past, present, and future revealed

Yet now when I send you a testimony of warning and reproof, many of you declare it to be merely the opinion of Sister White. You have thereby insulted the Spirit of God. You know how the Lord has manifested Himself through the Spirit of prophecy. Past, present, and future have passed before me. I have been shown faces that I had never seen, and years afterward I knew them when I saw them. I have been aroused from my sleep with a vivid sense of subjects previously presented to my mind and I have written, at midnight, letters that have gone across the continent, and arriving at a crisis, have saved great disaster to the cause of God. This has been my work for many years. A power has impelled me to reprove and rebuke wrongs that I had not thought of. Is this work of the last thirty-six years from above or from beneath? –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 27; Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 64.

My husband, with Elders Joseph Bates, Stephen Pierce, Hiram Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, was among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure.

We would come together burdened in soul, praying that we might be one in faith and doctrine; for we knew that Christ is not divided. One point at a time was made the subject of investigation. The Scriptures were opened with a sense of awe. Often we fasted, that we might be better fitted to understand the truth. After earnest prayer, if any point was not understood, it was discussed, and each one expressed his opinion freely; then we would again bow in prayer, and earnest supplications went up to heaven that God would help us to see eye to eye, that we might be one as Christ and the Father are one. Many tears were shed.

We spent many hours in this way. Sometimes the entire night was spent in solemn investigation of the Scriptures, that we might understand the truth for our time. On some occasions the Spirit of God would come upon me, and difficult portions were made clear through God’s appointed way, and then there was perfect harmony. We were all of one mind and one spirit. –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 24, 25.

Guiding to and confirming Biblical truth

The word of God is sufficient to enlighten the most beclouded mind, and may be understood by those who have any desire to understand it. But notwithstanding all this, some who profess to make the word of God their study are found living in direct opposition to its plainest teachings. Then, to leave men and women without excuse, God gives plain and pointed testimonies, bringing them back to the word that they have neglected to follow. The word of God abounds in general principles for the formation of correct habits of living, and the testimonies, general and personal, have been calculated to call their attention more especially to these principles. –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 663, 664 (1889); Evangelism, pp. 256, 257.

Through His Holy Spirit the voice of God has come to us continually in warning and instruction, to confirm the faith of the believers in the Spirit of prophecy. Repeatedly the word has come, Write the things that I have given you to confirm the faith of My people in the position they have taken. Time and trial have not made void the instruction given, but through years of suffering and self-sacrifice have established the truth of the testimony given.  The instruction that was given in the early days of the message is to be held as safe instruction to follow in these its closing days. –Review and Herald, July 18, 1907; Selected Messages, book 1, p. 41.

Clarifying our current position, need, and danger

God has spoken to us through His word. He has spoken to us through the testimonies to the church and through the books that have helped to make plain our present duty and the position that we should now occupy. The warnings that have been given, line upon line, precept upon precept, should be heeded. If we disregard them, what excuse can we offer? –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 298.

The Lord has seen fit to give me a view of the needs and errors of His people. Painful though it has been to me, I have faithfully set before the offenders their faults and the means of remedying them…. Thus has the Spirit of God pronounced warnings and judgments, withholding not, however, the sweet promise of mercy.… –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 661.

The word of God abounds in general principles for the formation of correct habits of living, and the testimonies, general and personal, have been calculated to call their attention more especially to these principles….

Thus are revealed the snares and devices of Satan, the importance of perfecting Christian character, and the means by which this result may be obtained. Thus God indicates what is necessary to secure His blessing. There is a disposition on the part of many to let rebellious feelings arise if their peculiar  sins are reproved. The spirit of this generation is: “Speak unto us smooth things.” But the Spirit of prophecy speaks only the truth. –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 323, 13.

No substitute for the holy word

The testimonies of Sister White should not be carried to the front. God’s word is the unerring standard. The testimonies are not to take the place of the word. Great care should be exercised by all believers to advance these questions carefully, and always stop when you have said enough. Let all prove their positions from the Scriptures and substantiate every point they claim as truth from the revealed word of God. –(Letter 12, 1890.)

The more we look at the promises of the word of God, the brighter they grow. The more we practice them, the deeper will be our understanding of them. Our position and faith is in the Bible. And never do we want any soul to bring in the testimonies ahead of the Bible. –(Manuscript 7, 1894) Evangelism, p. 256.

The Lord designs to warn you, to reprove, to counsel, through the testimonies given, and to impress your minds with the importance of the truth of His word. The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed. Man’s duty to God and to his fellow man has been distinctly specified in God’s word, yet but few of you are obedient to the light given. Additional truth is not brought out; but God has through the testimonies simplified the great truths already given and in His own chosen way brought them before the people to awaken and impress the mind with them, that all may be left without excuse. –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 665.

Not personal opinion but for spiritual benefit

When I went to Colorado I was so burdened for you that, in my weakness, I wrote many pages to be read at your camp meeting. Weak and trembling, I arose at three o’clock in the morning to write to you. God was speaking through clay. You might say that this communication was only a letter.  Yes, it was a letter, but prompted by the Spirit of God, to bring before your minds things that had been shown me. In these letters which I write, in the testimonies I bear, I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper, expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision–the precious rays of light shining from the throne…. –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 27.

Let the Testimonies be judged by their fruits. What is the spirit of their teaching? What has been the result of their influence? “All who desire to do so can acquaint themselves with the fruits of these visions” [Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 330]….

God is either teaching His church, reproving their wrongs, and strengthening their faith, or He is not. This work is of God, or it is not. God does nothing in partnership with Satan. My work … bears the stamp of God, or the stamp of the enemy. There is no halfway work in the matter. The  Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil. –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 671 (1889); Evangelism, p. 260.

God has shown me much in regard to the work of Satan in Texas and the unchristian conduct of some who have moved there from Michigan. I was shown that the Brethren B have not in heart accepted the testimony which has been given them. They have more confidence in themselves than in the Spirit of prophecy. –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 330.

To be used carefully

Some who are not willing to receive the light, but who prefer to walk in ways of their own choosing, will search the testimonies to find something in them to encourage the spirit of unbelief and disobedience. Thus a spirit of disunion will be brought in; for the spirit which leads them to criticize the testimonies will also lead them to watch their brethren to find in them something to condemn. –(Manuscript 73, 1908) Selected Messages, book 1, p. 48.

The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18. Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God’s remnant people in the true testimony. He will bring in spurious visions to mislead, and will mingle the false with the true, and so disgust people that they will regard everything that bears the name of visions as a species of fanaticism; but honest souls, by contrasting false and true, will be enabled to distinguish between them…. –Selected Messages, book 2, p. 78.

The apostle cautioned the Thessalonians not to despise the gift of prophecy, and in the words, “Quench not the Spirit; Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21), he enjoined a careful discrimination in distinguishing the false from the true. –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 263.

Its importance and influence

As the end draws near, and the work of giving the last warning to the world extends, it becomes more important for those who accept present truth to have a clear understanding of the nature and influence of the Testimonies, which God in His providence has linked with the work of the third angel’s message from its very rise….

The Lord requires us to obey the voice of duty, when there are other voices all around us urging us to pursue  an opposite course. It requires earnest attention from us to distinguish the voice which speaks from God. We must resist and conquer inclination, and obey the voice of conscience without parleying or compromise, lest its promptings cease and will and impulse control. The word of the Lord comes to us all who have not resisted His Spirit by determining not to hear and obey. This voice is heard in warnings, in counsels, in reproof. It is the Lord’s message of light to His people. If we wait for louder calls or better opportunities, the light may be withdrawn, and we left in darkness. –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 654, 68.

I am authorized from God to tell you that not another ray of light through the Testimonies will shine upon your pathway until you make a practical use of the light already given. The Lord has walled you about with light; but you have not appreciated the light; you have trampled upon it. While some have despised the light, others have neglected it, or followed it but indifferently. A few have set their hearts to obey the light which God has been pleased to give them. –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 606.

The Lord has sent His people much instruction, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Little heed is given to the Bible, and the Lord has given a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light. Oh, how much good would be accomplished if the books containing this light were read with a determination to carry out the principles they contain! There would be a thousandfold greater vigilance, a thousandfold more self-denial and resolute effort. And many more would now be rejoicing in the light of present truth. –Colporteur Ministry, pp. 125, 126.