By Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson
We have the responsibility for nurturing and fostering the belief in and active use of the Spirit of Prophecy1.
As we face the last days of earth’s history, Satan will make a very determined effort to destroy the effectiveness of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. All around us we see the neutralization of God’s authoritative Word. For example, note how the historical-critical method applied to the Word of God reduces its effectiveness at being authoritative. It is Satan’s plan to undermine God’s plain “Thus saith the Lord.” We have seen and are seeing determined efforts on the part of individuals motivated by Satan to attack the Spirit of Prophecy and make it “of none effect.” The Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy both are products of divine inspiration and are thus accurate accounts describing the great controversy between good and evil—between Christ and Satan. This is why Satan is determined to destroy the truth found in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Thankfully, the devil will not succeed! However, in the process many will be deceived.
Against this background, God has given us a mandate to be defenders of His Word, which has been shown to be true and to change people’s lives. We are to lead people back to the true worship of God, as the first angel of Revelation 14:6–12 emphasizes. It is our privilege to affirm God’s wonderful truth through our witness and proclamation.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church accepts Ellen G. White as a modern servant of the Lord and as a prophet. This church would not be where it is without the special guidance God has given it through Ellen White in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. The counsel given will help finish God’s work on Earth through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is precisely why the devil is so intent on destroying the influence of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.
In Selected Messages, book 2, we read: “The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. . . . 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.”2
Why do I accept Ellen G. White’s prophetic ministry? Revelation 19:10 testifies that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. I believe that the writings of Ellen G. White are the testimony of our Lord. They point us back to the sacred Word of God that assures us that Christ, the Second Person of the Godhead, took on the form of a man and became the Word in flesh (John 1:1–3, 14; Phil. 2:5–11).
Seventh-day Adventists do not make the Spirit of Prophecy part of the Bible or equal to the Bible. As Ellen White herself indicated, the Spirit of Prophecy is to lead to the Bible. The Spirit of Prophecy is inspired by the same divine inspiration that inspired the Bible. Ellen White herself testifies: “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.”3
I believe that the Spirit of Prophecy is one of God’s greatest gifts to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It focuses on Christ and His Word, His all-encompassing righteousness, His plan of salvation, His grace, and His ministry in the Most Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary. The Spirit of Prophecy portrays God’s plan for His people living at this end time and points to Christ’s imminent second coming.
RELEVANCE OF THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY TODAY
The Spirit of Prophecy is as relevant today as it was when it was written. It is accurate, uplifting, instructive, and powerful as it points to Christ and the Holy Bible. It is truly the testimony of Jesus, and that’s why I believe in the prophetic ministry of Ellen White.
Revelation 12:17 portrays the Spirit of Prophecy as one of the two character of Jesus.4 The fourth commandment identifies who God is and indicates our submission to our Creator, who in a recent act of creation, in six literal, consecutive days, created the earth by His word and then rested on the seventh-day Sabbath. The Sabbath is thus God’s sign of authority and the seal of His people for eternity.
The first angel’s call in Revelation 14:7 to worship God as the Creator places upon people the responsibility to observe the seventh-day Sabbath as a memorial that honors His creative activity. A created being cannot honor the Creator while defying His command to keep holy the seventh-day Sabbath. The Sabbath will be the focal point of conflict between good and evil during the final time of trouble.
“The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty; for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not.”5 The Sabbath is a sign of our relationship with God and of our dependence on Him for creation and salvation.
If the first distinctive principle of the first angel’s message is a call to obey the commandments of God, including the fourth, the second distinctive characteristic is that God’s remnant church will have the testimony of Jesus, which is the “spirit of prophecy.” The commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus, or the Spirit of Prophecy, come from the same source: God.
The Spirit of Prophecy was given to nurture and assist God’s last-day movement with instruction from heaven. God used the Spirit of Prophecy to guide in the establishment of His remnant church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church. These people would love Him supremely and follow His commandments through His power. God is using the Spirit of Prophecy to prosper His last-day church into the growing Advent movement of millions around the world.
The threat of indifference One of the greatest threats against the Spirit of Prophecy today is not necessarily animosity but indifference. Today many members are unacquainted with it, do not read it, or just plain ignore it. In Testimonies for the Church, volume 4, we read, “The volumes of the Spirit of Prophecy (forerunner of The Conflict of the Ages series), and also the Testimonies, should be introduced into every Sabbathkeeping family, and the brethren should know their value and be urged to read them. . . . They should be in the library of every family and read again and again. Let them be kept where they can be read by many, and let them be worn out in being read by all the neighbors.”6 Similar instruction has been given that the Conflict of the Ages series “should be placed in every family in the land.”7
To accomplish this, various projects, including “Connecting With Jesus,” have been undertaken. They have circulated millions of Spirit of Prophecy books to the public and to church members around the world in printed and electronic form. We need to do much more. The rapid expansion of the Seventh-day Adventist Church demands that our members know in their own languages what Spirit of Prophecy counsel God has for His last-day church.
GROWTH AND STABILITY
The Spirit of Prophecy counsel has been instrumental in establishing publishing, health, education, humanitarian, and media institutions. It guides the pastoral, evangelistic, missionary, and administrative expansion of the church. It provides instruction in almost every aspect of life including theology, lifestyle, personal health, the family, the home, young people, interpersonal relationships, personal stewardship, and in many others. It is guiding God’s people and always will until the Lord returns. This is why I believe in Ellen G. White’s prophetic ministry.
Because of Spirit of Prophecy guidance, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is not just another denomination but a heaven-born movement with a special destiny—a mission and message to proclaim as found in Revelation 14:6–12—the three angels’ messages. Testimonies for the Church, volume 9, tells us: “In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.”8
No wonder Satan attacks the Spirit of Prophecy and its important counsel from God for His last-day remnant church. “There will be a hatred kindled against the testimonies which is satanic. The workings of Satan will be to unsettle the faith of the churches in them, for this reason: Satan cannot have so clear a track to bring in his deceptions and bind up souls in his delusions if the warnings and reproofs and counsels of the Spirit of God are heeded.”9
Christ has called us to a prominent position as the “remnant,” a unique movement of destiny, standing firm for His truth, proclaiming the Advent message, bearing the testimony of Jesus, turning people’s eyes to Jesus who is the center of all truth, and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, turning people back to the true worship of the true God.
LIFTING UP JESUS
I believe in the prophetic ministry of Ellen White because it lifts up Jesus: “Our faith increases by beholding Jesus, who is the center of all that is attractive and lovely. The more we contemplate the heavenly, the less we see desirable and attractive in the earthly. The more continually we fix the eye of faith on Christ, in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered, the more our faith grows.”10
Another powerful reason I believe in the prophetic ministry of Ellen White is its emphasis on unity. The devil knows that if he can get God’s people to look to themselves and their own opinions instead of looking to Christ that he will be able to bring in dissension, disunity, and tension. This has become one of his greatest tools against the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
God has called us to be participants in the greatest proclamation of truth in history—the culmination of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. God has entrusted us with the task of sharing Christ, who lived a sinless life, died for us, rose again, is now interceding on our behalf as our High Priest, and is soon to return to take us to heaven. We are called to share the Word of God in all its power through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In this heavenly calling, we will be confronted with people who will disagree with our message and mission. We may be tempted to become discouraged with the apathy of others within the church.
Whatever we may face, we should not be tempted to work independently and apart from the church. We are called to work within God’s last-day remnant church, not apart from it. Stay unified with your local church and with the worldwide church family. Stay close to the church regardless of its imperfections.
A compilation, Counsels for the Church, indicates, “God has a church upon the earth who are His chosen people, who keep His commandments. He is leading, not stray offshoots, not one here and one there, but a people. . . .
“. . . We are not to seek any strange, new message. We are not to think that the chosen ones of God who are trying to walk in the light compose Babylon. “Although there are evils existing in the church, and will be until the end of the world, the church in these last days is to be the light of the world that is polluted and demoralized by sin. The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon the earth upon which Christ bestows His supreme regard. . . .
“The church of God below is one with the church of God above. . . .
“. . . God has bestowed the highest power under heaven upon His church. It is the voice of God in His united people in church capacity which is to be respected.”11
The church is called to a great work—within and without. The shaking and sifting time is coming. The Lord will do His work. It is a preparation for the loud cry that Christ has called us to proclaim. Lift up Christ and His Holy Word. Believe in the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy. As we do this under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will be brought to complete humility at the foot of the cross and be involved in revival and reformation. God will do His work to fully prepare His people for the unbelievable events just ahead. This is why I believe in the prophetic ministry of Ellen White.
A more practical reason why I believe in the Spirit of Prophecy is that I grew up in a home that held the Spirit of Prophecy in great respect. My father always spoke so positively and passionately about it. My mother gave such unflinching loyalty to God’s Word and the Spirit of Prophecy. I never heard a scornful word or a disparaging remark from my parents about the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy. My wife, Nancy, grew up in a home with the same positive attitude. She loves to read daily the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy as do I. It has a tremendous influence in our home. I advanced from the early trust instilled in my heart by my parents to my own personal deep appreciation for the counsel, direction, and clarification in the Spirit of Prophecy. As I read the Spirit of Prophecy I accept its inspiration by God because it is the testimony of Jesus.
Let me share with you another practical reason why I believe in the Spirit of Prophecy. Around 1870, William immigrated to the United States from Ireland. He was of Scottish and Presbyterian background. He and his wife, Isabella, also from Ireland, lived for some time in Philadelphia, where he worked as an engineer building locomotives, and finally headed out west to the “big tree” area of northern California to do logging. He settled down near Healdsburg, becoming a fruit and cattle rancher, and ran a country store. He was not necessarily a highly religious person up to this time. William and Isabella had four sons. Isabella became a Seventh-day Adventist, but William did not. In 1905, some tents were erected north of the Russian River near Healdsburg for a Seventh-day Adventist camp meeting. Isabella went to the camp meeting and invited her husband to come as well. As William sat under the tent, the speaker began to unfold the wonderful truth about Jesus, sharing the need of all sinners to have a Savior and allow Him to change their lives. The speaker made an earnest appeal, and much to the surprise of Isabella, William stood up and went to the front, giving his heart to the Lord. He studied this precious Advent message for a year. He closed his store on Sabbath and trusted God for the future. He was baptized, joining this remnant church, and later became the first elder of the Healdsburg Seventh-day Adventist Church, the forerunner location of Pacific Union College. Christ changed his life, and he became known as a generous man, helping people in need.
William and Isabella Wilson were my great-grandparents, and the speaker who preached so earnestly about Jesus at that camp meeting was Ellen G. White. She had purchased property in Healdsburg after James White died. My grandfather remembered Ellen White coming to their ranch home when he was a boy and how she lovingly told stories to him and his brothers as they sat at her feet. The Wilson family owes its knowledge of this precious Advent message to the direct practical and prophetic evangelistic activity of Ellen White. As a result, the Spirit of Prophecy takes on an even more personal value— another reason why I believe in the Spirit of Prophecy.
The writings of the Spirit of Prophecy are believable and true because Ellen White and her prophetic ministry pass the four biblical tests of a prophet. First, her writings agree with the Bible: “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” (Isa. 8:20). Second, her life and works testify of her connection with God: “ ‘Therefore by their fruits you will know them’ ” (Matt. 7:20). Third, her prophecies have come to pass: “ ‘As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent’ ” (Jer. 28:9). Fourth, her writings lift up Christ and affirm Him as the Son of God who came to Earth to save us: “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:2). In addition, her life and work verified by physical manifestations during visions, the timeliness of her work at the end of time, the certainty and fearlessness of her pronouncements, the high spiritual plane of her work, and the practical nature of her explanations about multiple aspects of the Christian life stand out as testimony to the divine origin of her ministry.
It is, therefore, our responsibility to nurture and foster the belief in and the active use of the Spirit of Prophecy. God asks us to help people believe in the prophetic gift of the Spirit of Prophecy. Do not get discouraged by anyone deriding or mocking your belief in the inspiration of the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy. “ ‘Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper’ ” (2 Chron. 20:20).
- Adapted from a sermon preached at the Spirit of Prophecy Symposium at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in October 2015 at Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.
- Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, bk. 2 (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1958), 78.
- White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, 41.
- All Scripture passages are from the New King James Version.
- Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1907), 605.
- Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), 4:390, 391.
- Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1980), 479.
- White, Testimonies for the Church, 9:19.
- White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, 48.
- Ellen G. White, In Heavenly Places (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1967), 127.
- Ellen G. White, Counsels for the Church (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1991), 240-243.