LandMarks Magazine  

July 1998 Table of Contents


The Holy Spirit
By Lawrence Nelson

The Holy Spirit

God in His divine wisdom foresaw that in the end time Satan would cause every wind of doctrine to blow upon His chosen people, to unsettle their faith. Today we are encircled by the lies of Satan, and some of these are even being taught by men whom we once trusted to be the servants of the Most High God. Thousands are bewildered, uncertain and deceived. We desperately need the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us heavenly discernment to see the difference between truth and error.

We need to be aware of Satan’s delusions and stand firmly on the pillars of truth. "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie." 2 Thessalonians 2:7–11.

Now we learn that Satan will carry out his activities with all power and signs and lying wonders and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, to warp and twist and distort the truth so that many will believe a lie.

God foresaw that Satan would work to confound and bewilder even the very elect in the last days. He saw that His people would need the clear testimony of the Holy Spirit to pierce through this theological confusion, or they would flounder and be misled. This is why God gave the Holy Spirit in the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy that the church might prepare the way of the Lord.

While the Holy Spirit is being given to the faithful, it is being withdrawn from the wicked that have turned from the truth. No other spiritual gift could guard God’s people from this onslaught of satanic evil. Never in all past history has the Holy Spirit been so needed as it is in our day. "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." Testimonies, vol. 4, 147.

When the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, God called Moses to lead them to the Promised Land. Of him we read, "And by a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved." Hosea 12:13. The exodus serves as a type of the final gathering of God’s people when they are gathering from the four-corners of the earth. For Isaiah said, "And there shall be an highway for the remnant of His people." Isaiah 11:16.

In order to accomplish this, God has placed the gift of prophecy amid His remnant, just as He foretold in Revelation 12:17: "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." And, "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Revelation 19:10.

Throughout history, God’s spokesmen often suffered mockery and derision and many have been reluctant to answer the call. When God called Moses to the prophetic office, he hesitated saying, "I am slow of speech." Exodus 4:10. But God overruled. When God called Jeremiah, he said, "Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child." Jeremiah 1:6. But God countered, "Thou shalt be as My mouth." Jeremiah 15:19.

A reluctant Ellen Harmon, one of the weakest of the weak, pleaded her inadequacies. But God instructed her: "Exhort from the word. I will make My word open to you. It shall not be as a strange language. In the true eloquence of simplicity, with voice and pen, the messages that I give shall be heard from one who never learned in the schools. My spirit and My power shall be with you." Review and Herald, July 26, 1906.

The Holy Spirit brings the gift of the Spirit. There can be no misunderstanding about this vital truth. Nehemiah stated "Thou testifiedst . . . by Thy spirit in Thy prophets." Nehemiah 9:30.

And Peter explains, "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently . . .searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." 1 Peter 1:10–12.

He added in 2 Peter 1:21: "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Somehow the majority of our ministers today have failed to teach the remnant that the Spirit of Prophecy writings of Ellen White are indeed the breath of the Spirit.

Before Ellen White’s writings became available so that the source of their inspiration could be judged from Scripture, God provided open visions. These visions were tested by the Biblical precedent given in Daniel 10:16, 17, which shows that when Daniel was in vision he did not breathe. Careful examination of Ellen White on a number of occasions revealed that while she was in vision she did not breathe. But the brethren went much further than this. After checking to see if she breathed in vision, they followed Paul’s counsel found in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21. "Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." And so they examined the contents of her messages to see if in any way they conflicted with the Bible. The brethren dared not accept or reject the visions without ascertaining their source. Some held that it was too good to be true, others found that the Bible provided guidelines which made it possible to distinguish between true and false prophets.

Let’s take a look at some of these Biblical tests of a prophet.

1) False prophets led away from the Bible. "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him." Deuteronomy 13:1–4.

2) False prophets make false predictions. "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." Deuteronomy 18:22.

3) False prophets teach things that are contrary to God’s law. "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.

4) False prophets fail to turn sinners from evil. "In the latter days, . . . I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings." Jeremiah 23:20–22.

True prophets are known because, 1) They speak the truth without fear or favor. Consider the Prophet John who reproved King Herod. "But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him [John] for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done." Luke 3:19. This prophet of God dared to reprove a king and he lost his life for it.

2) True prophets declare that Jesus came in the flesh. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." 1 John 4:1–3.

3) True prophets edify the church. "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." 1 Corinthians 14:3.

4) True prophets preach the gospel "with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." 1 Peter 1:10–12.

Ellen White’s Testimonies about Herself

Ellen White rarely spoke of her role as a prophet. Once a denominational leader became unsure of the need of this gift. She gave him a Bible study asking why the books of Nathan, Gad, Ahijah and Ido mentioned in first and second Chronicles and other inspired writings mentioned in the Bible, were not included in the sacred cannon?

She explained that the books of Scripture that had been preserved contain truths needed in every succeeding generation, but the books omitted from sacred cannon contained instructions for a particular time, needed then but not needed later. Then referring to her writings, she said that they could not have benefited any previous age, but were for the present end-time needs. As a result of the study, this leader rejoiced in the light and became a defender of the prophetic gift.

Ellen White always made it clear that her writings were not to take the place of the Bible. "I commend to you . . . the word of God as the rule of your faith and practice. God has, in that word, promised to give visions in the ‘last days’; not for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people, and to correct those who err." Early Writings, 78. (See also Experiences and Views, of 1851.)

She stated in Evangelism, 257: "The Lord has given a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light." Ellen White insisted in her introduction to The Great Controversy that, "The spirit was not given—nor can it ever be bestowed—to supercede the Bible." The Great Controversy, vii. She exalts the Bible as the standard by which we must test all teachings: "The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as the authoritative, infallible revelation of His will." Ibid. It is impossible that the teachings of the Spirit should ever be contrary to the Word.

Ellen White presents a full explanation of the nature of her work and the influence of the Testimonies in Testimonies, vol. 5, 654–672. She says that as the end draws near, it becomes most important for God’s people to understand the writings which are "linked with the Third Angel’s Message from its very rise." Testimonies, vol. 5, 654. Then she lists steps leading to apostasy: "It is Satan’s plan to weaken the faith of God’s people in the Testimonies. Satan knows how to make his attacks. He works upon minds to excite jealousy and dissatisfaction, toward those at the head of the work. The gifts are next questioned; then, of course, they have but little weight, and instruction given through vision is disregarded. Next follows skepticism in regard to the vital points of our faith, the pillars of our position, then doubt as to the Holy Scriptures, and then the downward march to perdition. When the Testimonies, which were once believed, are doubted and given up, Satan knows the deceived ones will not stop at this, and he redoubles his efforts until he launches them into open rebellion, which becomes incurable and ends in destruction." Testimonies, vol. 5, 672.

This is happening today. God purposed that His last day mouthpiece preach end time distinctive truths, as a watchman on the walls of Zion. Sensing such dangers ahead, she stated: "Satan is working with everyone who is not under the control of the spirit of God. There is constant danger of allowing something to come into our midst that we may regard as the workings of the Holy Spirit, but in reality is the fruit of the spirit of fanaticism. The Holy Spirit always comes in a way that commends itself to the judgments of the people. Holiness of heart will never lead to impure actions. The Holy Spirit’s movings upon the human agent will keep the mind well balanced. If we are constantly looking unto Jesus and receiving His Spirit, we shall have clear eyesight." Selected Messages, vol. 2, 60. (See also pages 51, 43 and 29.)

The Functions of the Spirit of Prophecy

Ellen White’s writings restate truths emphasized by Bible prophets in modern language that speaks to us today. She leaves no error untouched in the spectrum of human relations. She reveals the issues raised at Lucifer’s defection and exposes the depth of Satan’s malice in contrast to Christ’s amazing love. The sacrifice on the cross becomes so meaningful in her writings. Hearts are moved to visualize Christ dying in our place. I can personally testify that no other book has ever opened up my soul to salvation’s wonders as The Desire of Ages did when I read it.

The Spirit of Prophecy gives the remnant church an understanding of the work of Christ as our High Priest in the sanctuary above. This unique doctrine is not understood by any of the other churches in our world.

Her writings open up spiritual details of Christ’s Second Coming and what takes place following the millennial reign in heaven. She tells of the destruction of the wicked and pictures the earth made new as a place for the redeemed of all ages. She lets us, in anticipation, enjoy the delights of heaven here and now, as we read her works.

God led Ellen White to give invaluable counsel in establishing publishing, medical and educational institutions, guiding the brethren in opening up work in the great cities of the earth.

But more than any other gift, the Spirit of Prophecy brought a unity of faith to our church. "The Christ in us will meet the Christ in our brethren, and the Holy Spirit will give that union of heart and action which testifies to the world that we are children of God." Testimonies, vol. 9, 188.

God’s messenger offers specific direction for the finishing of the work. She tells us that kindness, courtesy and tenderheartedness will produce hundreds of conversions where now only one occurs. (See Testimonies, vol. 9, 189.)

Our Need Today

Our great sin as a people today "is that they do not open the heart to receive the Holy Spirit." Selected Messages, vol. 2, 57. We have many noted preachers of prophecy, but Ellen White tells us that we would understand the prophecies even better if we granted the Spirit more freedom. This messenger of God declared, "The rebuke of God is upon us . . .His blessings have been withdrawn because the testimonies He has given have not been heeded . . . The means that God has devised to awaken the church to a sense of its spiritual destitution have not been regarded. The voice of the True Witness has been heard . . . but has not been obeyed." Testimonies, vol. 5, 719.

Disobedience always brings tragic results. God said, regarding our medical work, that we should build small institutions in a country environment and shun debt! But today we owe more than a billion dollars and are being forced to join other medical facilities.

Porter Hospital in Denver has joined hands with a Catholic Hospital. We are no longer free to operate our hospital according to Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. We are joined with Catholicism both financially and in management. This is but a preview of what will come to our other medical institutions.

Likewise we were instructed concerning how our educational systems should function. Worldly government agencies have marveled at the divine blue print as laid down in the book, Education. But again, the leadership decided to become like the worldly institutions by seeking accreditation for our schools.

The first statement made by the accreditation board, when we applied, went something like this: You do not want to do this because you will lose your identity and eventually discover it is impossible to teach your doctrine. But the leadership convinced themselves that they knew better and that this would never happen.

God said, "Be ye separate." But the educational leaders said, "Join." (I was there and heard that with my own ears when I was in the General Conference.) And so the sad results have revealed that God is always right.

Since we have received accreditation, we no longer have the right to dismiss a professor who teaches false doctrines, such as evolution or any other science contrary to God’s Word and to our beliefs. (One of our universities, even, no longer teaches that the world was created in seven days. This is not God’s institution!)

Many of our youth are led in the wrong direction. I tremble at the thought of what God soon will do when He takes the reigns into His own hands and separates the tares from the wheat.

King Jehoshaphat proclaimed the secret of how God keeps His church pure, when he admonished Judah, "Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper." 2 Chronicles 22:20.

As the division becomes more pronounced within Adventism, between the liberals and those who choose the standards and instructions given by God’s mouthpiece, I see a major drive to turn the remnant from the writings of Ellen White to the New Theology of love and unity. New books are being written which teach that "the little old lady" was good for the church in its younger years, but now with all our doctors of divinity we no longer need to adhere to the Spirit of Prophecy.

This is exactly what Ellen White predicted. "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.’ Proverbs 29:18. Satan will work ingeniously, 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." Selected Messages, vol. 1, 48.

"There are men among us in responsible positions who hold that the opinion of a few conceited philosophers, so called, are more to be trusted than the truth of the Bible, or the testimonies of the Holy Spirit. Such a faith as that of Paul, Peter, and John is considered old fashioned . . .at the present day. It is pronounced absurd, mystical, and unworthy of an intelligent mind.

"God has shown me that these men are Hazaels to prove a scourge to our people. They are wise above what is written. "God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel.

"The days are fast approaching when there will be great perplexity and confusion. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will deceive, if possible, the very elect. There will be gods many and lords many. Every wind of doctrine will be blowing. Those who have rendered supreme homage to ‘science, falsely so called’ will not be the leaders then. Those who have trusted in intellect, genius, or talent will not then stand at the head of rank and file. They did not keep pace with the light. Those who have proved themselves unfaithful will not then be trusted with the flock. In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged. They are self-sufficient, independent of God, and He cannot use them. The Lord has faithful servants who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view. There are precious ones now hidden who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

"The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness.

"The church cannot measure herself by the world, nor by the opinion of men nor by what she once was. Her faith and her position in the world as they now are must be compared with what they would have been if her course had been continually onward and upward. The church will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary." Testimonies, vol. 5, 79–84.

But, lest we forget, the gift of prophecy promotes the means for the loud cry and constitutes a vital part of the loud cry message. Seventh-day Adventists need make no apology for Ellen White, but rather we need to apologize publicly because we have not given her works greater publicity.

Let us remember often the words of Holy Scripture, "Here is the patience of the saints. Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." And may we remember Ellen White’s comments in Special Testimonies to Battle Creek, 6. "This is the message given by God to be sounded forth in the loud cry of the third angel. The faith of Jesus and the testimony of Jesus are blended. They are to be clearly presented to the world." May we never forget how wonderfully God has blessed this people in giving us the Spirit of Prophecy.

July 1998 Table of Contents



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