A Prophet Among You


Chapter 20—The Place Of The Prophetic Gift

In Chapter 3, “The Prophets and Their Function,” description was given of some of the ways God used prophets in Bible times. It was pointed out that theirs was a broad work and that they filled an important place in the history of God’s people. They spoke for God, revealed His purposes, strengthened and guided rulers, encouraged the people to faithfulness, protested against evils, directed a variety of activities, taught, and served as consultants and counselors regarding every phase of individual and national life. A survey of the prophetic ministry of Ellen White makes clear that God used her to fulfill a function in the remnant church similar to that of the Bible prophets in ancient times. APAY 375.1

The situation in the world and in the church just before the second advent of Christ was anticipated by God, and He has made provision to meet all the needs of His people. The world must hear the everlasting gospel. The church must give that gospel message, and at the same time make preparation for the test that will come when most of the world rejects the gospel invitation and turns against the church. Both of these tasks must be performed at the most difficult time in all history—a time when man’s weaknesses and tendencies toward sin are greatest, a time when the sin and degradation of the world outstrip that of any previous period, a time when Satan will be permitted to work his most subtle deceptions and offer his most powerful inducements to sin. To meet the situation, the Lord provided a special messenger to give guidance in harmony with the principles of His word. Notice some of the parallels between the function of the Bible prophets and that of Ellen White in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. APAY 375.2

1. Speaks for God. “In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days He speaks to them by the Testimonies of His Spirit. There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will and the course that He would have them pursue.”Testimonies for the Church 4:147, 148; also Testimonies for the Church 5:661. Repeatedly Mrs. White emphasized that the messages she brought were not her own, but were God’s instruction for His people. Her only authority was that she was speaking for God and not for herself. “I have no special wisdom in myself; I am only an instrument in the Lord’s hands to do the work He has set for me to do. The instructions that I have given by pen or voice have been an expression of the light that God has given me.” Testimonies for the Church 5:691. APAY 376.1

2. Reveals God’s purposes. Near the end of her stay in Australia, Ellen White talked to those present at the Australasian Union Conference session on the subject of the Avondale School and its work. In her talk she gave emphasis to God’s purpose for the school and the missionary character of the work to be done there. “God designs that this place shall be a center, an object lesson. Our school is not to pattern after any school that has been established in America, or after any school that has been established in this country. We are looking to the Sun of Righteousness, trying to catch every beam of light that we can.... APAY 376.2

“From this center we are to send forth missionaries. Here they are to be educated and trained, and sent to the islands of the sea and other countries. The Lord wants us to be preparing for missionary work.... APAY 376.3

“There is a great and grand work to be done. Some who are here may feel that they must go to China or other places to proclaim the message. These should first place themselves in the position of learners, and thus be tested and tried.” Ellen G. White, in (Australasian) Union Conference Record, July 28, 1899, pp. 8, 9. APAY 376.4

3. Strengthens and guides leaders. During a period of crisis over certain theological problems, Mrs. White wrote many letters to the denomination’s leaders giving detailed instruction as to how they should deal with the problems, To strengthen them to act in harmony with the counsel given, she declared: “After taking your position firmly, wisely, cautiously, make not one concession on any point concerning which God has plainly spoken. Be as calm as a summer evening; but as fixed as the everlasting hills. By conceding, you would be selling our whole cause into the hands of the enemy.” Ellen G. White Letter 216, 1903. Printed in A. G. Daniells, The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, page 338. APAY 377.1

A. G. Daniells, then president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, wrote about one of this series of letters in particular, and made this comment: “Your message came on just the right day—a day earlier would have been too soon. I read it to the council yesterday, and it produced a most profound impression.... These messages you are sending are so clear, so pointed, so applicable, that everyone can see that God has revealed the situation clearly to your mind. Great confidence is being established in the hearts of our workers in the Spirit of prophecy.”—Letter from A. G. Daniells to Ellen G. White, Oct. 20, 1903, in files of Ellen G. White Publications Office. APAY 377.2

4. Encourages people to faithfulness. “The importance of the little things is often underrated because they are small; but they supply much of the actual discipline of life. There are really no nonessentials in the Christian’s life. Our character building will be full of peril while we underrate the importance of the little things.... Only by faithfulness in the little things can the soul be trained to act with fidelity under larger responsibilities.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 356. APAY 377.3

“Glorious will be the reward bestowed when the faithful workers gather about the throne of God and of the Lamb.... They will stand before the throne, accepted in the Beloved. All their sins have been blotted out, all their transgressions borne away. Now they can look upon the undimmed glory of the throne of God. They have been partakers with Christ in His sufferings, they have been workers together with Him in the plan of redemption, and they are partakers with Him in the joy of seeing souls saved in the kingdom of God, there to praise God through all eternity. APAY 378.1

“My brother, my sister, I urge you to prepare for the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven.” Testimonies for the Church 9:285. APAY 378.2

Encouraging the church members to be faithful in personal matters, in the work of God, and in spiritual experience, is a prominent part of the Ellen White writings. The prophet’s divinely given foreknowledge of serious times ahead causes the writings to ring with an urgency rarely heard elsewhere among men. APAY 378.3

5. Protests against evils. It is not difficult to see the fulfillment of Christ’s prediction that wheat and tares would grow together in the church until the time of the harvest. But God has never allowed evil to continue without raising vigorous protests through His appointed servants. Ellen White was used repeatedly in this way. APAY 378.4

“In His providence the Lord has seen fit to teach and warn His people in various ways. By direct command, by the sacred writings, and by the spirit of prophecy has He made known unto them His will. My work has been to speak plainly of the faults and errors of God’s people. Because the sins of certain individuals have been brought to light, it is no evidence that they are worse in the sight of the Lord than many whose failings are unrecorded. But I have been shown that it is not mine to choose my work, but humbly to obey the will of God. The errors and wrongdoings in the lives of professed Christians are recorded for the instruction of those who are liable to fall into the same temptations. The experience of one serves as a beacon light to warn others off the rocks of danger.” Testimonies for the Church 4:12, 13. APAY 378.5

6. Directs activities. On the night of February 18, 1902, the main building of the Battle Creek Sanitarium burned. On December 30 of the same year the main building of the Review and Herald Publishing Association was destroyed by fire. The two fires within one year led to a study of the advisability of removing the publishing house and the denominational headquarters to some other place. The problem was carefully considered at the 1903 General Conference session. During the session Mrs. White commented: APAY 379.1

“In reply to the question that has been asked in regard to settling somewhere else, I answer, Yes. Let the General Conference offices and the publishing work be moved from Battle Creek. I know not where the place will be, whether on the Atlantic coast or elsewhere; but this I will say: Never lay a stone or a brick in Battle Creek to rebuild the Review Office there. God has a better place for it.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 389. APAY 379.2

In response to later inquires the word was given: “Decided efforts should be made in Washington, D.C.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 390. APAY 379.3

Still later, the message was given: “I am sure that the advantages of Washington, D.C., should be closely investigated.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 392. APAY 379.4

Finally, definite guidance was given: “From the light given me, I know that, for the present, the headquarters of the Review and Herald should be near Washington.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 394. APAY 379.5

God gave guidance for the development of every major phase of the activities of Seventh-day Adventists through the agency of this messenger to the remnant church. APAY 379.6

7. Teaches. Most prominent of all the functions of the messenger was that of teaching the principles of the kingdom of heaven. As has been seen previously, new principles were not added, but simple down-to-earth applications of the principles of life came daily from the pen and the lips of the prophet. The books and articles are filled with practical instruction, particularly adapted to the needs of the church near the end of time. APAY 380.1

As in the case of the Bible prophets, there was no matter too large or too small to warrant the attention of the messenger. Ellen White served where she was needed, and the counsels sent through her were suited to the situation and circumstances. It seems to have been the Lord’s plan that the influence of the prophet should be felt everywhere in the expanding church, so that it might serve as a leavening agent and a unifying factor. Thus the whole movement would be bound together by the influence of the Holy Spirit. APAY 380.2