Ellen G. White® Estate
Sharing the Vision
Verse 1:‘Tis almost time for the Lord to come,I hear the people say;The stars of heaven are growing dim,It must be the breaking of the day.
Refrain:O it must be the breaking of the day!O it must be the breaking of the day!The night is almost gone,The day is coming on;O it must be the breaking of the day!
Verse 2:The signs fore-told in the sun and moon,In earth and sea and sky,Aloud proclaim to all mankind,The coming of the Master draweth nigh.
Verse 3:It must be time for the waiting churchTo cast her pride away,With girded loins and burning lamps,To look for the breaking of the day.
Verse 4:Go quickly out in the streets and lanesAnd in the broad highway,And call the maimed, the halt and blind,To be ready for the breaking of the day.
The secret things belong to theLord our God, but those things which arerevealed belong to us and to our'children forever, that we may do allthe words of this law.We also have the prophetic word made more sure,which you do well to heed as a light that shinesin a dark place, until the day dawnsand the morning star rises in your hearts;knowing this first,that no prophecy of Scriptureis of any private interpretation,for prophecy never came by the will of man,but holy men of God spoke as theywere moved by the Holy Spirit.From childhood you have knownthe Holy Scriptures,which are able to make you wisefor salvation through faithwhich is in Christ Jesus.All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,and is profitable for doctrine,for reproof, for correction,for instruction in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete,thoroughly equipped for every good work."You search the Scriptures,for in them you think you have eternal life;and these are they which testify of Me."The word of God is living and powerful,and sharper than any two-edged sword,piercing even to the divisionof soul and spirit,and of joints and marrow,and is a discerner of the thoughtsand intents of the heart.Your words were found, and I ate them,And Your word was to methe joy and rejoicing of my heart.
In November 1890, something very unusual happened. Ellen White had a vision. Actually, that was not too unusual as Ellen White had had many special messages from God since 1844 but this one was different.
The next morning when she started to tell others about what she had seen in vision she paused and ended up talking about other things.
Four months later in March of 1891 the General Conference meetings were held for the church and Ellen White was asked to speak on Sabbath afternoon. Two or three times during the meeting she started to tell of the vision she had had in November, but each time she hesitated and began to speak about a different topic.
That very night, after the meeting, a small group of men locked themselves in one of the offices in the Review and Herald building to talk about how to make a church paper sell better and reach important people. The meeting went on until after one o’clock in the morning. Then they unlocked the door, and the men all went back to their rooms to sleep.
At about the same time God sent his angel to Ellen White’s room to tell her to go to the early morning meeting and tell the vision that she had seen in November. She got up and dressed, went to her desk and started to write out what she had seen.
The next morning Ellen White was at the early morning meeting and this time she
spoke for an hour, describing what she had been shown to her in vision months before. In her vision, she had seemed to be watching and listening in on a meeting where some church leaders were trying to work out a way to make a church paper more popular by not writing anything about the Bible Sabbath so that important people would buy the magazine. She described what different people said and how one man waved the paper over his head as he spoke. Then she sat down.
For a moment, there was puzzled silence. Most of the people listening had no idea what meeting she was talking about. But they did not have to wait very long for an explanation. A man stood up in the back of the room and began to speak: “I was in that meeting last night.”
“Last night!” Ellen White asked, “Last night? I thought that meeting took place months ago, when it was shown to me in vision.”
“I was in that meeting last night,” he said, “and I am the man who made the remarks about the articles in the paper, holding it high over my head.” The man went on to say that he was sorry for the things he had said in the meeting.
Others spoke that day. Every man who was in the meeting the night before said that Ellen White had accurately described the meeting and the attitude of those in the room. And that very day all those who had been in the secret meeting the night before reversed the decision they had made about the paper and everyone went home thinking about a great God who knows the past and the future.
Seventh-day Adventists have always claimed to accept the Bible as their only self-sufficient creed and as interpreter of itself. As early as 1847, James White stated that “the [B]ible is a perfect, and complete revelation” and “our only rule of faith and practice.” And in 1884, Ellen White added that God’s faithful end-time remnant people would “maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms.” Many other similar statements could be mentioned, but these two are representative of the Adventist position on the topic.
But can we remain faithful to the Bible while we also accept the writings of Ellen White as prophetically inspired? According to James White,
The [B]ible is a perfect, and complete revelation. It is our only rule of faith and practice. But this is no reason, why God may not show the past, present, and future fulfilment of his word, in these last days, by dreams and visions; according to Peter's testimony [Acts 2:17-20]. True visions are given to lead us to God, and his written word; but those that are given for a new rule of faith and practice, separate from the [B]ible, cannot be from God, and should be rejected.
As pointed out by James White, a false prophet replaces and distorts the Bible; while a true prophet leads us “to God, and his word.” The wonderful way in which Ellen White exalts Christ and His Word is one of the most compelling reasons why Adventists accept her as a true prophet.
In Ephesians 4:11-14 (NKJV), the apostle Paul highlights the purpose of the various church ministries, including “prophets.” The passage reads, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 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 and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. . . .”
So, in what sense do the writings of Ellen White fulfill the roles mentioned by Paul in this passage? Much could be said in this regard. But today we will reflect on her multifaced role by means of five helpful analogies.
1. Prophetic Lighthouse: safeguarding our journey through these last days
In 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul speaks of the last days as “difficult times” (Greek kairoi chalepoi), which can be translated as “distressing times” (NRSV), “perilous times” (NKJV), and “terrible times” (NIV). Paul foresaw that in the last days people would become increasingly rebellious and arrogant (see 2 Tim 3:1-5). Then “every wind of [false] doctrine” would be blowing (Eph 4:14), and many would not “endure sound doctrine” (2 Tim 4:3, 4). No wonder that Christ warned His followers about false preachers who would perform “great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24; Mark 13:22). Are these not accurate characteristics of our own times?
Today, many Christians disregard the Bible and even distort its teachings. Our wonderful God has given us a modern manifestation of the gift of prophecy in the writings of Ellen White, not to replace the Bible but rather to exalt it and to lead us to its wonderful teachings. Those writings are intended to safeguard us in our journey through these challenging last days. Remember the well-known words of Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
2. Prophetic Telescope: highlighting the great themes of the Bible
In early 1898, The Gospel of Health (an early Adventist periodical on health reform) carried an article entitled “My Telescope,” by Sarepta M. I. Henry (1839-1900). In her insightful testimony, Mrs. Henry speaks of her own experience with the writings of Ellen White. As she started reading them, they seemed like a simple lens to understand the truth. But as she continued reading, they became to her a powerful telescope directed toward the field of heaven, the Bible. Mrs. Henry explains that the writings of Ellen White “are not the heavens, palpitating with countless orbs of truth, but they do lead the eye and give it power to penetrate into the glories of the mysterious living word of God.”
Throughout her writings, Ellen White unfolds many significant Bible themes. These include, for instances, the marvelous person of Jesus Christ, as well as God’s unconditional love for sinners, His saving grace, His unchangeable moral law, and many other relevant subjects. But one of her most remarkable contributions is the way she unfolds the great cosmic-historical controversy between Christ and Satan (Isa 14:12-15; Ezek 28:12-19; Rev 12:7-12). Glimpses of that controversy permeated all her writings, but especially the five volumes of the Conflict of the Ages Series, entitled respectively Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, The Desire of Ages, The Acts of the Apostles, and The Great Controversy. Currently, the EGWWritings.org website has available Ellen White books for free downloading in more than 130 languages.
As already stated, her writings are a powerful prophetic telescope, highlighting the great themes of the Bible.
3. Prophetic Microscope: unfolding the precious gems of the Bible
In addition to safeguarding our journey through these last days and highlighting the great themes of the Bible, the writings of Ellen White also help us to unfold many precious details of the Bible. Richard M. Davidson, professor of Old Testament at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, identified several places in which Ellen White, without knowing the original biblical languages, grasped the original meaning of some key Bible passages. For example, the creation story tells us that God created Adam and Eve in His own “image” and “likeness” (Gen 1:26, 27). Ellen White explains that “man was to bear God’s image, both in outward resemblance and in character,” which is precisely the meaning of the original text. Thus, “when Adam came from the Creator’s hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker.”
The Ten Commandments are introduced with a reminder of the saving acts of God (Exod 20:1-17; Deut 5:6-21), which are the basis of obedience. So, Ellen White could say properly that the Ten Commandments are “ten promises” and that “there is not a negative in that law, although it may appear thus.” Just one more example: Exodus 25:8, 40 says that God showed to Moses a “type” or “pattern” (Hebrew tabnit) of the sanctuary to be built. What “type” or “pattern” was it? Ellen White insightfully explains that “God presented before Moses a miniature model of the heavenly sanctuary, and commanded him to make all things according to the pattern shown him in the mount.” Indeed, Moses did not only receive oral instructions, but also saw a model which he could actually reproduce.
If you have access to The Desire of Ages, by Ellen White, you could enrich your personal spiritual experience by reading the four canonical Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—together with that wonderful book. To begin with, you could read the gospel narratives about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-56; Mark 14:32-50; Luke 22:39-53; John 18:1-12) and then Chapter 74 – “Gethsemane” of The Desire of Ages. Undoubtedly, the writings of Ellen White are a useful prophetic microscope helping us to unfold many precious gems of the Bible.
4. Prophetic Filter: eliminating false interpretations of the Bible
The renowned German Lutheran theologian Gerhard Ebeling (1912-2001) suggests that the history of the Christian Church is “the history of the exposition of Scripture.” This is indeed a very profound and meaningful concept! The history of the Christian Church is the history of the interpretations and misinterpretations of the Bible. No wonder that in a time when Christianity is divided into more than 45,000 different denominations, all kinds of false interpretations are being proposed as biblically based.
Since the very beginning of human history, Satan has always tempted people to disregard or at least to distort God’s Word. This happened, for instance, with Eve in the garden of Eden (Gen 2:16, 17; 3:1-24); with the people of Israel throughout their history (2 Chron 36:14-16); even with Jesus in the wilderness (Matt 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13); and also with us in these challenging last days. In the world in which we live, people claim that what really matters is no longer what the biblical text actually says, but rather how we read it and how we understand it. So, private reason and personal experiences are replacing the authority of God’s infallible Word.
In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul warns us, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
In these extremely challenging days, the writings of Ellen White function as a prophetic filter eliminating false interpretations of the Bible and confirming right ones. Remember, a filter does not produce water; it only purifies the water that already exists. In regard to the Bible, the problem is not with the Bible itself, but with the biased way we often read it. The writings of Ellen White help to remove the human biases, allowing the Bible to interpret itself, so that its saving message can flow crystal-clear to each one of us today.
5. Prophetic GPS: keeping us faithful to the Bible
Have you ever driven through a very complex highway exchange or on a narrow and steep mountain road? Some of the most complex intertwined road interchanges are nicknamed “spaghetti junctions,” because they resemble a plate of spaghetti. If you do not know the place well, and the traffic is moving very fast, you may easily go in the wrong direction and face serious difficulties finding your way back to the road you should have taken. But technology has improved significantly, and today we have the much reliable GPS (Global Positioning System) which makes our travels much easier.
With so many religious and spiritual road options available today, it is very easy to be lead astray and never arrive at our destiny. But we are not left alone to find the right way we should take. In Isaiah 30:21 (NIV) we have this wonderful promise, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” In biblical times, the Holy Spirit used many prophets to keep God’s people walking safely according to His Word. In more recent times, He sent us another prophetic voice with the same purpose.
Ellen White explained her own function by saying, “If you had made God’s word your study, with a desire to reach the Bible standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the Testimonies. It is because you have neglected to acquaint yourselves with God’s inspired Book that He has sought to reach you by simple, direct testimonies, calling your attention to the words of inspiration which you had neglected to obey, and urging you to fashion your lives in accordance with its pure and elevated teachings.” Her writings are indeed a reliable prophetic GPS keeping us safe on the road of His Word.
As already mentioned, the writings of Ellen White are not intended to replace or overrule the Bible, but rather to uplift it and to keep us faithful to its teachings. Those writings can be considered (1) a prophetic lighthouse safeguarding our journey through these last days; (2) a prophetic telescope highlighting the great themes of the Bible; (3) a prophetic microscope unfolding the precious gems of the Bible; (4) a prophetic filter eliminating false interpretations of the Bible; and (5) a prophetic GPS keeping us faithful to the Bible.
But those writings can exercise these specific functions only if we read and study them with humbleness and a receptive spirit. If you are already doing so, praise the Lord for it! If not yet, why not start a personal reading plan from now on. A good option would be the read one of her books regularly with your family and/or with your friends. You could also choose a specific book to be your companion, reading from it with whoever you can and whenever you have a chance. For sure, if you do so, your life will be richly blessed.
God’s final words for us today are found in 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”
Verse 1:Give me the Bible, star of gladness gleaming,To cheer the wanderer lone and tempest tossed,No storm can hide that peaceful radiance beamingSince Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
Refrain:Give me the Bible-holy message shining,Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way.Precept and promise, law and love combining,‘Til night shall vanish in eternal day.
Verse 2:Give me the Bible when my heart is broken,When sin and grief have filled my soul with fear,Give me the precious words by Jesus spoken,Hold up faith’s lamp to show my Savior near.
Verse 3:Give me the Bible, all my steps enlighten,Teach me the danger of these realms below,That lamp of safety, o’er the gloom shall brighten,That light alone the path of peace can show.
Thought for the Day
Jesus knows the circumstances of every soul. You may say, I am sinful, very sinful. You may be; but the worse you are, the more you need Jesus. - AG 118