By Carol Zarska, author, speaker, pastoral counselor
EGW=Ellen G. White – one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist church
To all who read this, I wish to preface it with this statement which I received during prayer after questioning the Lord about some in the church who are turning publicly against the Spirit of Prophecy or EGW writings, and encouraging others to follow in their example:
“[—————] is becoming very confused in his attempt to study the topic of last day events because he is trying to use the Bible and the Bible only, and the Bible was written for all generations with light shining just for them. That is why prophets are necessary for their time to shine for that generation. If you do not listen to the prophet who is sent with light for your generation, you will not understand the Bible either, and will wander on the hills of ignorance and apostasy.”
With this principle in mind, I submit this article, written to shed some light upon the subject of the importance of prophets in general, and specifically of Ellen White as the prophet God has given us for this time in history.
Believe His Prophets
Today the Seventh-day Adventist church is facing a challenge that is serious in its implications. The work of Ellen White and the veracity of her writings is being challenged by many as a valid source of truth for God’s last generation.
The majority of the Bible is written by prophets who were chosen by God to give information, instruction, and guidance for the people of their time. But what they wrote also includes inspired gems of truth for people of all ages. Thus as the centuries go by, the Holy Spirit opens up the portions of the Bible that are prophetic utterances which apply to their own time in history. The prophet Daniel is an example of this principle:
“I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, ‘My Lord, what will the outcome of all this be?’ He replied, ‘Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless, and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand….
“As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.'” Dan. 12:8-13.
Daniel was given information in dreams and visions that opened up the things that would happen from his time in history until the end of the world. The book of Daniel was the little scroll which John saw in the hand of the angel (actually Christ), that was as sweet as honey in his mouth, but turned bitter in his stomach. Rev. 10:1, 2; 8-10.
This was an obscure text until its fulfillment on October 22, 1844, when the Millerites, who believed that Jesus would come on that date, experienced bitter disappointment when Jesus did not come. They then understood that this prophecy, written so many years before, was a prediction of their experience, and it gave them hope and purpose, for in verse 11, Jesus gives the command, “You must prophesy again.”
Then they knew that even though Jesus did not come on the date they had predicted, He would come again, and He wanted them to faithfully preach this message until it was completely fulfilled.
Prophecies in the Bible are obscure until the time comes for them to be fulfilled. Often when that time comes, God calls a person or prophet to draw attention to the fulfillment of the prophecy.
For example, when the time came for Jesus to come to this earth, John the Baptist was appointed as the prophet to announce His coming. And at His birth only those who were enlightened by angel messengers knew that the long-awaited Messiah had been born.
This is because the gems of truth concerning future events are scattered throughout the Bible and only those who are supernaturally enlightened by the Holy Spirit at the time of their fulfillment are able to understand how they apply to their generation.
For example, here is a famous passage of Messianic scripture that is buried in the middle of a chapter that seems to have no connection with it:
“I will defend my house against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war horses from Jerusalem and the battle bow will be broken.” Zech. 9:8-10.
The fulfillment of this prophecy is quoted in Matt. 21:4,5:
“This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to the daughters of Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'” Matt.21:4, 5.
God does this to ensure that only those who are connected with the Holy Spirit at the time of the fulfillment will be able to understand and apply it to themselves and their generation.
This is why He often sends a prophet at the time of the fulfillment of a prophecy to ensure that the generation to which it applies will have opportunity to understand where they are in the stream of time.
Now let’s go back to Daniel 12:9, 10:
“The words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end.
“Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.”
Here is a prophecy about the experience of the people of God at the time of the end. But Daniel did not understand it, nor has anyone else through the history of the ages understood it until the time of the end. We have now come to that period of history. It is present truth for our generation.
The cleansing or purifying and refining, takes place near the close of the antitypical day of atonement to prepare a people who will stand before God without sin in their characters when Jesus returns. Did Paul experience this special cleansing in his day? Notice what he himself says about this:
“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” 1 Cor. 4:3-5.
Paul is here referring to the antitypical day of atonement, or judgment,* spoken of by the prophet Daniel.
6 BC 682 (Bible Commentary) (Not EGW) – “Paul refers to the time appointed by God for judgment.”
“And he said unto me, ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.'” Dan. 8:14. KJV.
“He said: ‘I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end.'” Dan. 8:19. NIV.
Putting together the prophecy given to Daniel that at the time of the end there would be a cleansing of God’s people which would render them spotless and refined, and that only the wise would understand or comprehend this truth and therefore go through this experience [Dan. 12:9, 10], we now can put this together with the parable of Jesus of the wise and foolish virgins who comprise His true church just before He comes. Notice what happens in the parable:
“At that time (in the generation that will be alive when Jesus comes – see Matt. 24:30-51) the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Matt. 25:1-13.
(The lamp represents the Bible or bible truth and the oil represents the Holy Spirit. I can memorize the entire Bible but if I don’t have the Holy Spirit (or connection with Jesus), the bridegroom will not recognize me.)
Let’s dissect this parable a bit to find out what it is saying to those of us who are now waiting for the bridegroom to come.
First, these waiting ones are members of the true last-day church, because they are virgins and have not been amalgamated with the teachings and beliefs of apostate churches around them. Second, they each have a lamp, which represents the Bible, and the oil of the Holy Spirit to enable them to correctly interpret it.
But by the time the bridegroom comes, something has happened. They still have their Bibles, but not enough oil to keep their lamps trimmed and burning brightly.
At this point, I want to address the principle that when the time comes for a prophecy to be fulfilled, God sends a prophet or Spirit-inspired leader to understand and preach the truth for their time.
So it was with the prophets of old. All the prophets of the Bible gave a message for their time and also insights into the future.
Therefore, just before Jesus comes He will have a people who not only possess the personal gift of the Holy Spirit to guide them in the study of their Bibles and help them to apply it to their lives, but also the extra oil of the Holy Spirit that comes through the Holy Spirit-inspired prophet God has given us for the last days to enlighten us all the way to the coming of Jesus.
The Bible tells us plainly that the remnant church will have the gift of prophecy in their midst.
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Rev. 12:17. KJV.
“And I fell at his [the angel Gabriel] feet to worship him. And he said unto me, see thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of the brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev. 19:10. KJV.
Think of it! The mighty angel Gabriel who took Lucifer’s place in heaven after the rebellion and casting out of the evil angels, sees his calling and ministry for God as equal to the prophets on earth whom God has chosen to speak for Him.
This shows how important is the ministry of God’s chosen spokespersons in the great controversy between good and evil, and especially so in the final generation when Jesus prepares a people to be ready for His coming.
Now let’s take a second look at the ten virgins. The wise virgins not only had extra oil with them, they also, according to Daniel 12:10, had a special experience with Jesus that cleansed and purified them from all sin.
The prophet Malachi also refers to a special cleansing and judgment of God’s people sometime in the future:
“‘See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire will come,’ says the Lord Almighty.
“But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness….
“‘So I will come near to you for judgment.'” Mal. 3:1-5.
In chapter 4, Malachi specifies the day of cleansing to be just prior to the great and dreadful day when the Lord comes:
“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire, says the Lord Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings….
“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” Mal. 4:1, 2; 5, 6.
These are just a few of the messianic prophecies in the Bible that point out the necessity of a special cleansing before the coming of Jesus. Because of the importance of this cleansing message, God has called the remnant church to understand, experience, and proclaim this message which will prepare the world for the coming of Jesus.
In order to fulfil our calling, we must have sufficient light and understanding of the Bible prophecies which refer to the preparation needed before Jesus comes. We must have unanimity and power in our message. We must understand what Jesus requires of the Laodicean church in order to overcome as He overcame. Rev. 3:21.
Without the testimony of Jesus through the prophetic writings of Ellen White, the cohesiveness, understanding, and power needed to do this last day work would never be accomplished.
Near the close of the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel, God raised up men to study this prophecy, and enlightened them to preach the powerful message of Jesus’ coming around the world.
But when He did not come as they had expected, they were discouraged, bewildered, and disheartened. As they continued to study, Hiram Edson was given further light revealing that Jesus had moved from His first apartment ministry into the second apartment.
But this light alone would not have been sufficient to understand the intricate details of His work so that we each individually can cooperate with Jesus as He cleanses us and prepares us for His coming.
Therefore in His mercy and wisdom He has given us a prophet to bring further light on this subject.
Satan well knows that if God’s people do not understand how to cooperate with Jesus in this final cleansing work, there will be no finished product of the work of Jesus in giving His life for the salvation of mankind. This is why Satan’s rage is aimed at the remnant church, “which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Rev.12:17.
There is a principle in scripture that is found in both old and new testaments:
“A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Deut. 19:15.
“Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 Cor. 13:1.
Jesus Himself testified to the validity of this principle:
“When Jesus spoke again to the people He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ The Pharisees challenged him, ‘Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.’
Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going…. I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.'” John 8:12-18.
The testimony of the Holy Spirit is also important:
“This is the one who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” 1 John 5:6.
Even the law of God must have a second witness:
“Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples….To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them.” Isa. 8:16, 20. KJV.
Do you see now more clearly why Satan is desperate to take away the Spirit of Prophecy from the remnant church? Without the instructions that are contained in the inspired writings of Ellen White, Jesus would have no avenue to draw the church together as one body to face the foe who is trying to stop the work of producing the 144,000 who will stand before God without guile, representing the finished work of the gospel.
Today there is a growing concerted effort to repudiate the writings of Ellen White. Interestingly, this is exactly what she predicted would happen just before Jesus comes:
“One thing is certain: Those Seventh-day Adventists who take their stand under Satan’s banner will first give up their faith in the warnings and reproofs contained in the Testimonies of God’s Spirit.” 3 SM 84 (Selected Messages)
“Satan is…constantly pressing in the spurious–to lead away from the truth. 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.’ Prov. 29:18.
Satan will work ingeniusly, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God’s remnant people in the true testimony.
“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.” 1 SM 48.
We are now moving into this last great deception of Satan to get God’s people to either repudiate or ignore the writings of Ellen White. This fact is at the same time both sad and encouraging. Sad because it means that many people will lose their way just before Satan brings in the Sunday law issue. But encouraging because it means that the battle between good and evil is almost finished.
Dear friends, on which side of this cosmic struggle do you find yourselves today? Are you responding to the call of the Holy Spirit for total victory over sin through Jesus and the cleansing ministry He is doing in the heavenly sanctuary? If so, you are preparing to receive the seal of God in your forehead, and the refreshing of the latter rain.
May each of us be found among the wise virgins who are cleansed and ready when Jesus finishes His work in the Most Holy Place, and steps out to come and claim His waiting bride!