Applying the Tests
FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION
To the Law and Testimony.
By Their Fruits.
Teaching Regarding Christ.
Sometimes it is a simple task to test the experience of one who professes to be a prophet of God. There are instances where the life of the individual is so out of harmony with Bible standards and doctrines that it is easy to decide that he is a false prophet. However, the purposes of Satan are not well served by false prophets who are brazen in their evil ways. The archdeceiver would seek to have them appear as genuine as possible. Therefore, the prophet must be placed under careful scrutiny in order to detect inconsistencies and errors. This is particularly true in the days preceding the second advent, for Christ issued a solemn warning concerning the matter. For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24.
Ellen White directed attention to her own experience, as well as to others, when she stressed the increasing need for carefulness in determining who should be accepted as a true prophet. There will be those who will claim to have visions. When God gives you clear evidence that the vision is from Him, you may accept it, but do not accept it on any other evidence; for people are going to be led more and more astray in foreign countries and in America.Ellen G. White, in Review and Herald, May 25, 1905.
The evidence God gives that a prophet's revelations are from Him is not some supernatural indication exhibited to each one who meets the prophet. The Bible has stated the procedure by which prophets are to be tested, so we should look for evidence
that the professed spokesman for God meets the Scripture tests. Each individual should apply the tests to determine to his own satisfaction that the professed prophet is false or genuine.
The purpose of this chapter is twofold: (1) to suggest ways in which the Bible tests may be applied to the life and work of Ellen White, and (2) to give some examples of their application. This cannot be covered in one chapter; therefore, additional evidence in each classification will be found as the study progresses. This chapter actually becomes the introduction of a project that will carry through the remainder of the present study. At the close of this chapter a suggestion is made as to the simple procedure by which evidence may be accumulated to form the basis for sound conclusions. If the project is started at the beginning of this phase of the study, much will be gained.
Test 1. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Isaiah 8:20.
We have abundant material to enable us to apply this major test to the teachings of Ellen White. Forty-five volumes from her pen are currently available. These books cover virtually every phase of Christian living and Bible instruction. She has included tens of thousands of quotations of Bible verses in detailed expositions, as well as for illustration and clarification. Because the writings were spread over a ministry of seventy years, we have the opportunity to check the consistency and accuracy of the Scriptural passages used and the delineation of Bible teachings set forth. On the other hand, the vast number of books she has written poses a problem to the average reader. It is possible, however, to get a cross section of their teachings by beginning with certain representative books. Our present application of the test will involve sampling from a number of the books to illustrate a method of approach.
Two factors must be considered in comparing the teachings of the Ellen White writings with the Bible. First, we must survey their general teaching regarding great Bible themes and doctrines. Then we must study the uses made of individual passages commenting on texts of Scripture and the application of these texts. The first point is of primary importance, for unless we catch the tenor of the writings as a whole, it is difficult, if not impossible, to grasp the import of any part of them.
Since it is not possible for us to investigate the relationship of Ellen White to all major Bible themes in our present introductory study, it will be most satisfactory to select two Bible truths prominent in the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, and see what Mrs. White teaches on these subjects. Is she in full harmony with the Bible truths? We will take the two doctrines represented by the name Seventh-day Adventistthe Sabbath, and the second advent of Jesus Christ. These are doctrines that most theologians either ignore or teach in a way contrary to the Bible presentation. They provide an excellent basis for testing. There is no necessity to review in detail the Bible teaching on these subjects, as we can trace the high points of the Scripture presentation well known to every Seventh-day Adventist.
The seventh day is the Sabbath. The Sabbath was introduced at the close of creation week as a memorial of God's wondrous works. On that day God rested; then He blessed the Sabbath and set it apart for a holy purpose. Genesis 2:2, 3. The law of which it is a part was in effect from Adam to Moses, though its details are not separately listed in the early Bible record. Romans 5:13, 14. After Israel left Egypt, God again made plain the obligation of the Sabbath to His people, for He spoke the complete law on Mount Sinai. Exodus 19; 20. In the centuries that followed, the Sabbath was kept before Israel through the ministry of the prophets and priests. It was because of their violation of the Sabbath that Israel and then Judah went
into captivity. Jeremiah 17:27. After the Babylonian Captivity, Sabbath reform was prominent among the needed changes as the people were established again in their homeland. Nehemiah 9:14; 10:31; 13:15-22.
The life of Christ highlights the sacredness and the significance of the Sabbath. The coming of apostasy and turning away from the Sabbath and other truths is a part of the prophetic picture. Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13. Special emphasis is placed on the commandments of God and the restoration of the Sabbath in the remnant church. Revelation 14:12. It is to be a test to God's people in the days immediately preceding the second advent of Christ. Revelation 13:17. It will be kept by God's people in the new earth. Isaiah 66:23.
Throughout the Ellen White books and articles there runs a continuous thread of emphasis on the significance of the Sabbath and the proper manner of its observance. We note a series of quotations gathered from several of her works, paralleling the high points of the Bible story summarized above.
The great Jehovah had laid the foundations of the earth; He had dressed the whole world in the garb of beauty, and had filled it with things useful to man; He had created all the wonders of the land and of the sea. In six days the great work of creation had been accomplished. And God rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.
After resting upon the seventh day, God sanctified it, or set it apart, as a day of rest for man. Following the example of the Creator, man was to rest upon this sacred day, that as he should look upon the heavens and the earth, he might reflect upon God's great work of creation; and that as he should behold the evidences of God's wisdom and goodness, his heart might be filled with love and reverence for his Maker.
In Eden, God set up the memorial of His work of creation, in placing His blessing upon the seventh day.Patriarchs and Prophets, pages 47, 48.
The Sabbath institution, which originated in Eden, is as
old as the world itself. It was observed by all the patriarchs, from creation down.Ibid., p. 336.
In consequence of continual transgression, the moral law was repeated in awful grandeur from Sinai.Ellen G. White, in Signs of the Times, April 15, 1875.
The Sabbath was embodied in the law given from Sinai; but it was not then first made known as a day of rest. The people of Israel had a knowledge of it before they came to Sinai.The Desire of Ages, page 283.
On one occasion, by command of the Lord, the prophet took his position at one of the principal entrances to the city, and there urged the importance of keeping holy the Sabbath day. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were in danger of losing sight of the sanctity of the Sabbath, and they were solemnly warned against following their secular pursuits on that day.Prophets and Kings, page 411.
Nehemiah fearlessly rebuked them for their neglect of duty. What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day? he sternly demanded. Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath. He then gave command that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, they should be shut, and not opened again till the Sabbath was past.Ibid., p. 671.
The rabbis virtually represented God as giving laws which it was impossible for men to Obey. They led the people to look upon God as a tyrant, and to think that the observance of the Sabbath, as He required it, made men hardhearted and cruel. It was the work of Christ to clear away these misconceptions. Although the rabbis followed Him with merciless hostility, He did not even appear to conform to their requirements, but went straight forward, keeping the Sabbath according to the law of God.The Desire of Ages, page 284.
The papacy has attempted to change the law of God. The
second commandment, forbidding image worship, has been dropped from the law, and the fourth commandment has been so changed as to authorize the observance of the first instead of the seventh day as the Sabbath.The Great Controversy, page 446.
Since the Reformation, there have been some in every generation to maintain its [the Sabbath's] observance. Though often in the midst of reproach and persecution, a constant testimony has been borne to the perpetuity of the law of God and the sacred obligation of the creation Sabbath.
These truths, as presented in Revelation 14 in connection with the everlasting gospel, will distinguish the church of Christ at the time of His appearing.Ibid., p. 453.
The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted.Ibid., p. 605.
God teaches that we should assemble in His house to cultivate the attributes of perfect love. This will fit the dwellers of earth for the mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for all who love Him. There they will assemble in the sanctuary from Sabbath to Sabbath, from one new moon to another, to unite in loftiest strains of song, in praise and thanksgiving to Him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 368.
A more complete list of quotations would include not only additional selections on each phase of the subject, but also increased detail. Every vital facet of the Sabbath question is presented simply and clearlyits significance, its perpetuity, and how it should be observed. The Sabbath means much to Seventh-day Adventists, and they have given the subject exhaustive Biblical study. It would not be difficult to detect a note of difference between the results of this Biblical research and the writings of other individuals. Those who have devoted such careful attention to the Bible teaching have also studied systematically what Ellen White has written on the topic. As individuals and as a church body, Adventists have concluded
that Ellen White's teachings regarding the Sabbath are strictly Scriptural. But since each individual is responsible for his own decisions, each should make a thorough study of the writings so that his decision may be an intelligent one.
I will come again. The doctrine of the second advent of Christ runs through the entire Bible. We have clear indication that at least as far back as the times of Enoch, the seventh from Adam, there was an understanding of the fact that Christ would one day return to judge the world. In the light of later predictions, even the symbolic prophecy of Genesis 3:15 points to the return of the Saviour to bring the destruction of sin. Because of a lack of spiritual insight, the time came when those who should have understood, were confused concerning the predictions of the first and second advents. However, since the first advent and the prophetic messages of the New Testament there has been no cause for confusion.
The Bible teaches that the return of Christ will be literal, physical, and visible. Acts 1:11. Christ will appear in the clouds of heaven, accompanied by all the angels. Luke 21:27; Matthew 16:27; Luke 9:26. The glory of His appearance will affect the righteous and the wicked differently. The wicked will try to hide from Him, and call for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them. Revelation 6:15-17. His voice will call the righteous dead from their graves, and with the living righteous they will be changed by His glory and caught up together to meet the Saviour in the air. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. Then Christ, the angels, and the redeemed, will return to heaven where they will remain for a thousand years while the earth is desolate, the wicked are dead, and Satan is bound. Revelation 20. At the close of the thousand years, Christ will return to this earth, followed by the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:2. He will resurrect the wicked and destroy them and their leader, Satan. Revelation 20:5, 9. Then the earth will be purified with fire and re-created to be the home of the redeemed. 2 Peter 3:10-13.
A glance at the topic Second Advent in the Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White, reveals scores of references on this topic. An acquaintance with the writings themselves makes it clear that these pages contain only a fraction of the total number of references to some phase of the second coming and its meaning. What does Ellen White teach about the return of Christ in glory? Here, briefly, is her teaching:
The promise of Christ's second coming was ever to be kept fresh in the minds of His disciples. The same Jesus whom they had seen ascending into heaven, would come again, to take to Himself those who here below give themselves to His service. The same voice that had said to them, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end, would bid them welcome to His presence in the heavenly kingdom . He will come in His own glory, and in the glory of His Father, and all the angelic host will escort Him on His way.
Thus will be fulfilled Christ's promise to His disciples, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself. Those who have loved Him and waited for Him, He will crown with glory and honor and immortality. The righteous dead will come forth from their graves, and those who are alive will be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air.The Acts of the Apostles, pages 33, 34.
Says the prophet of Patmos: Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.The Great Controversy, page 301.
Nought now is heard but the voice of prayer and the sound of weeping and lamentation. The cry bursts forth from lips so lately scoffing: The great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? The wicked pray to be buried beneath the rocks of the mountains rather than meet the face of Him whom they have despised and rejected.Ibid., p. 642.
The earth mightily shook as the voice of the Son of God called forth the sleeping saints. They responded to the call and came forth clothed with glorious immortality, crying, Victory,
victory, over death and the grave! O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?Early Writings, page 287.
On each side of the cloudy chariot were wings, and beneath it were living wheels; and as the chariot rolled upward, the wheels cried, Holy, and the wings, as they moved, cried, Holy, and the retinue of holy angels around the cloud cried, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty! And the saints in the cloud cried, Glory! Alleluia! And the chariot rolled upward to the Holy City. Before entering the city, the saints were arranged in a perfect square, with Jesus in the midst. He stood head and shoulders above the saints and above the angels. His majestic form and lovely countenance could be seen by all in the square.Ibid., pp. 287, 288.
The whole earth appears like a desolate wilderness. The ruins of cities and villages destroyed by the earthquake, uprooted trees, ragged rocks thrown out by the sea or torn out of the earth itself, are scattered over its surface, while vast caverns mark the spot where the mountains have been rent from their foundations.The Great Controversy, page 657.
At the close of the thousand years, Christ again returns to the earth. He is accompanied by the host of the redeemed and attended by a retinue of angels. As He descends in terrific majesty He bids the wicked dead arise to receive their doom. They come forth, a mighty host, numberless as the sands of the sea.Ibid., p. 662.
Fire comes down from God out of heaven. The earth is broken up. The weapons concealed in its depths are drawn forth. Devouring flames burst from every yawning chasm. The very rocks are on fire. The day has come that shall burn as an oven. The elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein are burned up.Ibid., p. 672.
The beautiful new earth, with all its glory, was the eternal inheritance of the saints. The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, was then given to the saints of the Most High, who were to possess it
forever, even for ever and ever.Early Writings, page 295.
A broader study of the presentation of the second advent in the Ellen White books will bring together the thoughts of hundreds of passages and references to form the complete picturea Biblical picture, vividly portrayed for the benefit of the remnant church. Preparation for the second coming of Christ is the keynote of the message of Seventh-day Adventists. The Bible doctrine of the advent is studied intensively. Over many years the teachings of Ellen White regarding the advent have been reviewed and compared with the Bible presentation, and Adventists have concluded that her writings are in full harmony with the Bible.
Continuing the test. In one sense, the criterion to the law and to the testimony is the most important single test of a professed messenger of God. Since prophets are human beings they can make mistakes in the conduct of their personal lives and affairs, but their teachings, when carefully and prayerfully compared with the Bible, must show a complete harmony. In dealing with the writings of Ellen White, we have made only a beginning, both in number of subjects investigated and in the coverage given. Extensive studies may be made as to her views on God, the plan of salvation, the nature of man, standards of the Christian life, the church, and every other Bible doctrine on which she has written. Only as the individual reads widely and compares carefully, will he be qualified to decide whether he believes that Ellen White meets this first Bible standard. Ellen White emphasized this need in a sentence in her book Education. The mind that depends upon the judgment of others is certain, sooner or later, to be misled.Page 231.
Test 2. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Matthew 7:20.
More than a century has passed since the ministry of Ellen White began. Decades have elapsed since her death. Therefore,
there has been abundant opportunity to study the fruit of her life and ministry. What has it been?
Her personal life. A few days after the death of Ellen White the following article appeared in the local newspaper of the California town, Saint Helena, near which she had lived for fifteen years:
By the death of Mrs. Ellen G. White, a noted religious leader has een called to her reward.
Mrs. White was probably one of the best-known women in the world. She had traveled extensively, had lectured to large audiences in many countries, and her writings had been published in various languages carrying to people of nearly all tongues the message she felt called upon by God to deliver.
The life of Mrs. White is an example worthy of emulation by all. Though of limited education, for the greater part of her long life in poor health, she never faltered, but for seventy-two years carried and preached the message of Jesus Christ, as understood by her, to the furthermost corners of the earth. She was a humble, devout disciple of Christ and ever went about doing good. Her writings have been published in books, papers and periodicals and from her prolific pen has come writings on many religious topics. She was revered by all the members of the Seventh Day Adventist church and honored and respected by all who appreciate noble womanhood consecrated to unselfish labor for the uplifting and betterment of mankind. Her death marks the calling of another noted leader of religious thought and one whose almost ninety years were full to overflowing with good deeds, kind words and earnest prayers for all mankind.
This good Samaritan will surely be greatly missed. Her reward will be commensurate with the great good she has done.Saint Helena, California, Star, July 23, 1915.
An article in the Detroit News-Tribune commented: Mrs. White was a remarkable woman in many ways. She was deeply
religious, and none who knew her intimately had any doubt as to her sincerity.July 25, 1915.
Brief statements by two men within the church who knew Mrs. White well will suffice to reveal the attitude of members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church all over the world.
Now she is at rest. Her voice is silent; her pen is laid aside. But the mighty influence of that active, positive, forceful life will continue. That life was linked with the eternal; it was wrought in God.Arthur G. Daniells, in Review and Herald, July 29, 1915.
Her Christian life was marked by deep personal piety; she had great faith in prayer, and was zealous in her spiritual devotions. Her charities were liberal beyond her means; she was ever impoverishing herself by her gifts to the cause she loved and by her care for the poor and needy.
She believed in the divine inspiration of the Bible. Of this word she was a constant student all her life; to her it was the voice of God . She exalted Christ as the sinner's only hope. She loved this Saviour, and did what she could to bring others to a knowledge of Him.I. H. Evans, in Review and Herald, July 29, 1915.
Those who knew her well had only good to speak of Mrs. White's personal life and Christian experience. Even her most severe critic, a former co-worker, attended her funeral, and, while viewing her body, said, A noble Christian woman gone.Comment of D. M. Canright. See Arthur W. Spalding, Captains of the Host, page 581.
Influence of her life and messages. Writing in 1866 of the influence of Ellen White's testimonies, Uriah Smith, the editor of the Review and Herald, testified in an editorial: Their fruit is such as to show that the source from which they spring, is the opposite of evil. They tend to the purest morality. They discountenace every vice, and exhort to the practice of every virtue. They point out the perils through which we are to
pass to the kingdom. They reveal the devices of Satan. They warn us against his snares. They have nipped in the bud, scheme after scheme of fanaticism which the enemy has tried to foist into our midst. They have exposed hidden iniquity, brought to light concealed wrongs, and laid bare the evil motives of the falsehearted. They have warded off dangers from the cause of truth upon every hand. They have aroused and rearoused us to greater consecration to God, more zealous efforts for holiness of heart, and greater diligence in the cause and service of our Master.
They lead us to Christ . They lead us to the Bible . They have brought comfort and consolation to many hearts. They have strengthened the weak, encouraged the feeble, raised up the despondent. They have brought order out of confusion, made crooked places straight, and thrown light on what was dark and obscure.Review and Herald, June 12, 1866.
The fruits of the work of Ellen White are observable in the development of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. Though the instruction may have been imperfectly followed, still, these messages are so closely entwined with the growth of the church and its continued expansion that it is not too much to say that without them the Seventh-day Adventist Church would not exist as it is today. Already, in the survey of the life of Ellen White, we have noted some of the influences she exerted, first on the unorganized bands of advent believers and later on the church body. Her influence may be classified under these eight headings: (1) assisting in developing doctrines, (2) saving members from fanaticism and false teachings, (3) developing organization, (4) guiding when problems arose, (5) guiding the plans for the future, (6) revealing future events, (7) encouraging and aiding Bible study, (8) guiding in Christian living. A detailed study involving these topics will produce a wealth of evidence of good fruit. By their fruits ye shall know them.
Test 3. When the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him. Jeremiah 28:9.
In the same way that the major portion of the Bible is devoted to matters other than prediction, so the writings of Ellen White contain a relatively small number of prophecies, other than those that pertain to the events connected with the second coming of Christ. However, her predictions should be scrutinized with the same care we give to those found in the Bible. Three examples will suffice to introduce this test.
The tempest is coming. The youth should seek God more earnestly. The tempest is coming, and we must get ready for its fury, by having repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord will arise to shake terribly the earth. We shall see troubles on all sides. Thousands of ships will be hurled into the depths of the sea. Navies will go down, and human lives will be sacrificed by millions. Fires will break out unexpectedly, and no human effort will be able to quench them. The palaces of earth will be swept away in the fury of the flames. Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent; confusion, collision, and death without a moment's warning will occur on the great lines of travel.Ellen G. White, in Signs of the Times, April 21, 1890. Quoted in Messages to Young People, pages 89, 90.
It would not require divine foresight to make a statement like that today. We see all around us the very things predicted, and most people, it appears, are persuaded that the situation will not improve. But it did require more than human foresight to make such a declaration in 1890. Those who have read the newspapers and news magazines through the years need no list of statistics to prove to them that the prediction is still in the process of fulfillment. We know that the United States, Great Britain, their allies, and the neutral nations lost 4,770 ships, totaling more than 21,000,000 tons of shipping during World
War II. These figures take no account of the loss of German, Italian, and Japanese merchant shipping and navies sunk. As for lives sacrified by millions, we need only to check casualty figures for two world wars. Combined losses of lives of military personnel in World War I were more than 8,500,000; and military and civilian losses totaled more than 22,000,000 in World War II. Fire losses in the United States alone have increased from $188,705,150 in 1909, to $815,134,000 in 1952. No comment need be added regarding disasters, confusion, and collision on the highways, railroads, and airlines,they are tragic daily occurrences. It would hardly be possible for any prediction to be more literally and specifically fulfilled.
Mysterious rapping. August 24, 1850, I saw that the mysterious rapping,* was the power of Satan; some of it was directly from him, and some indirectly, through his agents, but it all proceeded from Satan. It was his work that he accomplished in different ways; yet many in the churches and the world were so enveloped in gross darkness that they thought and held forth that it was the power of God .
I saw that soon it would be considered blasphemy to speak against the rapping, and that it would spread more and more, that Satan's power would increase and some of his devoted followers would have power to work miracles and even to bring down fire from heaven in the sight of men. I was shown that by the rapping and mesmerism these modern magicians would yet account for all the miracles wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ, and that many would believe that all the mighty works of the Son of God when on earth were accomplished by this same power.Early Writings, page 59.
The small beginnings of modern spiritism gave little evidence of the great growth and influence that lay ahead, but God had foretold its expansion and deception so that God's people
* The rappings began at the Fox home in Hydesville, N.Y., March 31, 1848. This is regarded by spiritists as the beginning of modern spiritism.
need not be misled. Without going into a lengthy presentation of the beliefs of modern spiritism, we can note the words of an official publication that show how accurate Mrs. White's predictions were concerning its growth and erroneous teachings. The year 1948 was recognized by spiritists as the one-hundredth anniversary of the rise of modern spiritism. In honor of the occasion the leading spiritist association in the United StatesThe National Spiritualist Association of United States of Americapublished the Centennial Book of Modern Spiritualism in America. The following quotations have been taken from that source. Note the parallels with the Early Writings statement.
Spiritualism now encircles the world, embracing millions of sincere adherents from every walk of life.Centennial Book of Modern Spiritualism in America, page 5.
Neither priest nor press should uncharitably speak of, or touch this holy word Spiritualism, only with clean hands and pure hearts.Ibid., p. 34.
Spiritualists are the only religionists who have used the promised gifts of the Christ, by which gifts they heal the sick, and demonstrate a future conscious and progressive existence.Ibid., p. 34.
It gives you more knowledge of the Christian Bible than all the Commentaries combined. The Bible is a book of Spiritualism.Ibid., p. 44.
A medium foretold the birth of Jesus, whose brief life on earth was filled with the performance of many so-called miracles which in reality were spiritual phenomena.Ibid., p. 68.
Born in humility and obscurity, persecuted and maligned in its infancy and youth, doubted, ridiculed and derided on every hand, it has steadily grown until it has many million adherents. It has crept silently into the pages of popular books, magazines, newspapers, as well as stage and screen, throughout the world, until unconsciously the public mind has been educated and molded into conformity therewith.Ibid., p. 69.
To the present time we have seen only a partial fulfillment
of the prediction concerning spiritism; indeed, much more remains to be accomplished. But all that we know of modern spiritism fits the picture drawn by Ellen White as she described it in her vision of 1850. The number of persons belonging to spiritist churches in no way indicates the number of spiritists in the world. Its inroads may be seen in numerous church bodies of all denominations where belief in the natural immortality of the soul is held as a cardinal doctrine.
Time-setting error. A prediction of a different nature that gave help to the advent believers and established their confidence, was given in 1845, soon after Ellen Harmon's public ministry began.
Among those who had passed through the advent disappointment in 1844 were many who had a firm conviction that Christ would return a year later. We have not been given an explanation of the basis for their expectation; but in May, 1847, James White wrote: It is well known that many were expecting the Lord to come at the 7th month, 1845. That Christ would then come we firmly believed.James White, A Word to the Little Flock, page 22.
A short time before the 1845 date, a message came from Ellen Harmon which spared those who accepted it from another acute disappointment. James White wrote further: A few days before the time passed, I was at Fairhaven, and Dart-mouth, Massachusetts, with a message on this point of time. At this time, Ellen was with the band at Carver, Massachusetts, where she saw in vision, that we should be disappointed, and that the saints must pass through the ime of Jacob's trouble, which was future. Her view of Jacob's trouble was entirely new to us, as well as herself. The results of the experience have not been preserved for us in detail, but those who believed her message to be from God avoided the disappointment.
The examples of fulfilled prophecies that have been cited are set forth in order to show the kind of statements that should
be watched for as the individual makes a broad application of the Bible test. As the years pass, there will be additional evidences of the genuineness of the prophetic declarations. Much of what has been foretold has to do with events still in the future. As we watch the prophecies reach their fulfillment our confidence will be increased. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. John 14:29.
Of course, the Bible principles governing conditional prophecy would apply in the case of a modern prophet as well as to prophets of Bible times. This matter will be considered further in a later chapter, but it would be helpful to review the texts and examples on the subject presented in chapter 6.
Test 4. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. 1 John 4:2.
Of all the Bible tests, this is perhaps the easiest one to apply to the writings of Ellen White. She has written voluminously on the life and ministry of Jesus, as well as on His pre-existence, His heavenly ministry, and His return. The books The Desire of Ages, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, Steps to Christ, and Christ's Object Lessons, as well as hundreds of pages in her other volumes, are devoted to a portrayal of the character and ministry of the Saviour. The high points of the story are told in these short statements.
From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus Christ was one with the Father.The Desire of Ages, page 19.
In it [the Bible] we may learn what our redemption has cost Him who from the beginning was equal with the Father, and who sacrificed His life that a people might stand before Him redeemed from everything earthly, renewed in the image of God.Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pages 13, 14.
The Son of God had wrought the Father's will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him, as well as to God,
their homage and allegiance were due. Christ was still to exercise divine power, in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants.Patriarchs and Prophets, page 36.
God, the Owner of the world, was His Father.Fundamentals of Christian Education, page 401.
What a contrast between this unbelief and the sweet, childlike faith of Mary, the maiden of Nazareth, whose answer to the angel's wonderful announcement was, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word!The Desire of Ages, page 98.
But the Sinless One has taken our place.The Ministry of Healing, page 71.
Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His.The Desire of Ages, page 25.
By His word and His works He declared Himself the Author of the resurrection. He who Himself was soon to die upon the cross stood with the keys of death, a conqueror of the grave, and asserted His right and power to give eternal life.Ibid., p. 530.
We should be comforted by the thought that we have a great intercessor in the heavens, presenting our petitions before God.Testimonies, vol. 4, P. 530.
The doctrine of the second advent is the very keynote of the Sacred Scriptures.The Great Controversy, page 299.
The blessed hope of the second appearing of Christ, with its solemn realities, needs to be often presented to the people.Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 406.
Additional evidences. In discussing the application of the tests of a prophet to the Bible prophets we mentioned several additional evidences of genuineness which are not specifically
enumerated in the Bible, but which appear repeatedly in the Bible record. Since a number of these added evidences form a vital part of some of the remaining chapters of this book, they will not be introduced as a group at this point. It would be well to review the types of added evidence, so that they may be kept in mind as the investigation is pursued.
No one Bible evidence is sufficient to identify conclusively a prophet as being genuine, though failure to meet any one of the tests is sufficient to disqualify him. On the basis of the application of the tests to the experience of Ellen White, as introduced here, but on a much more extensive scale, Seventh-day Adventists have concluded that her claim to divine inspiration was genuine.
1. Four major Bible tests make it possible to identify a true prophet:
2. When Bible tests are applied to the life and work of Ellen White, they give clear evidence that her messages were inspired by God.
3. Additional study and observation will bring to light more evidences that Ellen White was God's messenger.
1. In testing a professed prophet today, how far should one go in seeking to apply the tests for himself, and how much can he depend on the testimony of others to help him make his decision?
2. How would you apply the tests if next Sabbath someone professing to be a prophet should present himself to your church group? Deal with each test separately.
3. What factors would cause you to look on a professed prophet most favorably? Most skeptically?
4. Can you find additional evidences that strengthen your conviction that Ellen White was God's messenger?
5. A Project. Early in this chapter it was stated that this material was planned as an introduction to the remainder of the present book, as well as a guide for further study. Each person should bring together for himself all the evidence he can find, so that he will have sufficient material on which to make a clear-cut decision. The plan of the project is simple. Several pages of a loose-leaf notebook should be set aside for the project. Four sheets should contain the texts stating the major Bible tests, one to a sheet. More sheets may be used for other forms of evidence. As you read further in this book and others, make an entry on one of these pages whenever you learn of an incident that has a bearing on these prophetic tests. Additional pages may be inserted as they are needed, for in some instances there will be a large number of items to be recorded. If you keep a careful record, you will find that on every test you will have an abundance of evidence.
Froom, L. E., The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4, PP. 989-1019 (Testing the validity of the message).
Our Firm Foundation, vol. 1, pp. 217-242 (Four tests of a prophet).
Read, W. E., The Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Church, pp. 131-139.
Daniells, A. G., The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, pp. 277-292.
White, Ellen G., Christian Experience and Teachings, pp. 244-257.
Christian, L. H., The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, pp. 161-174 (a major part of this book is devoted to this phase of the topic).
Daniells, A. G., The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, pp. 293-307.
Loughborough, J. N., The Great Second Advent Movement, pp. 462-473.
, Rise and Progress of Seventh-day Adventists, pp. 180-195.
Spicer, W. A., The Spirit of Prophecy in the Advent Movement, pp. 37-128.
White, Ellen G., Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, P. 671.
Wilcox, F. M., The Testimony of Jesus, pp. 127-130.
Froom, L. E., The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4, PP. 995-1016.
Gilbert, F. C., Divine Predictions Fulfilled. South Lancaster, Massachusetts, Good Tidings Press, 1922.
Haynes, Carlyle B., The Gift of Prophecy, pp. 153-162.
Loughborough, J. N., The Great Second Advent Movement, pp. 442-461.
White, Ellen G., Christ's Object Lessons.
, The Desire of Ages.
, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing.
, Steps to Christ.