Bible Study Guides – A Gift That Guides and Guards

December 9, 2007 – December 15, 2007

Key Text

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32:8.

Study Help: Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 24–62.


During the 70 years of her ministry (1845–1915), Ellen White was used as God’s instrument to bring prophetic guidance to His people, often in times of crisis. A review of the guiding and guarding influences of the spirit of prophecy through the years of the church’s work gives clear, convincing ground for confidence in God’s leadership. Speaking of the early days of the movement when error and fanaticism threatened the leaders, she wrote:

“Those who passed over the ground step by step in the past history of our experience, seeing the chain of truth in the prophecies, were prepared to accept and obey every ray of light. They were praying, fasting, searching, digging for the truth as for hidden treasures, and the Holy Spirit, we know, was teaching and guiding us. Many theories were advanced, bearing a semblance of truth, but so mingled with misinterpreted and misapplied scriptures, that they led to dangerous errors. Very well do we know how every point of truth was established, and the seal set upon it by the Holy Spirit of God. And all the time voices were heard, ‘Here is the truth,’ ‘I have the truth; follow me.’ But the warnings came, ‘Go not ye after them. I have not sent them, but they ran.’ (See Jeremiah 23:21.)

“The leadings of the Lord were marked, and most wonderful were His revelations of what is truth. Point after point was established by the Lord God of heaven. That which was truth then, is truth today.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 103, 104.

Ellen White was not the leader of the advent movement as Moses was of the Exodus movement. She did not serve in a kingly capacity as David did over Israel. Her work was more like the work of Samuel, who was a teacher in Israel. But as the Israel of old “from Dan to Beersheba” recognized in Samuel the work of a true prophet of God, so have Seventh-day Adventists recognized in the work of Ellen White an instrumentality of God’s Holy Spirit sent to give guidance, spiritual aid, and comfort to His people. Her messages have been a guarding, preserving influence.

1 What were the prophets in olden times frequently called? I Samuel 9:9.

Note: In one of her earliest books, Spiritual Gifts, Book 1, Ellen White described the many scenes of the great controversy vision given to her at Lovett’s Grove, Ohio, in the spring of 1858. In writing out her views, she prepared a book of 219 pages. Over 200 times she wrote, “I was shown”; “I was pointed back”; “I saw”; “I was told”; “It was presented before me”; and other such phraseology. These same phrases are repeatedly used in other of her writings. Thus she described scenes past and future as an “eyewitness.”

The prophetic work of Ellen White from the earliest days of the advent movement, offered:

  • Protection against danger from within the church. (See Testimonies, vol. 1, 113–115; 311–323; 356, 357; 409–419.)
  • Protection against danger from without the church. (See Early Writings, 59, 60; 262–266.)
  • Guidance in the understanding of basic Christian truths. (See Early Writings, 145–295.)

2 How does the prophet Isaiah describe those who publish peace and salvation? Isaiah 52:7.

Note: At a conference held in the home of Otis Nichols at Dorchester, Massachusetts, in November 1848, the pioneers sought God for special guidance. Heaven seemed near, and to Ellen White was given a vision. After the vision, she said to her husband:

“I have a message for you. You must begin to print a little paper and send it out to the people. Let it be small at first; but as the people read, they will send you means with which to print, and it will be a success from the first. From this small beginning it was shown to me to be like streams of light that went clear round the world.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 125. Thus Present Truth, the first periodical of the Advent movement, was begun.

3 What experience in the New Testament church demonstrated the value of church order and organization? Acts 6:1–6. Compare Acts 15:1–32.

Note: “I [Ellen White] saw that this door at which the enemy comes in to perplex and trouble the flock can be shut. I inquired of the angel how it could be closed. He said, ‘The church must flee to God’s Word and become established upon gospel order, which has been overlooked and neglected.’ This is indispensably necessary in order to bring the church into the unity of the faith. I saw that in the apostles’ day the church was in danger of being deceived and imposed upon by false teachers. Therefore the brethren chose men who had given good evidence that they were capable of ruling well their own house and preserving order in their own families, and who could enlighten those who were in darkness. Inquiry was made of God concerning these, and then, according to the mind of the church and the Holy Ghost, they were set apart by the laying on of hands. Having received their commission from God and having the approbation of the church, they went forth baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and administering the ordinances of the Lord’s house, often waiting upon the saints by presenting them the emblems of the broken body and spilt blood of the crucified Saviour, to keep fresh in the memory of God’s beloved children His sufferings and death.

“I [Ellen White] saw that we are no more secure from false teachers now than they were in the apostles’ days; and, if we do no more, we should take as special measures as they did to secure the peace, harmony, and union of the flock. We have their example, and should follow it.” Early Writings, 100, 101.

4 What experience came to the apostle Paul that led him to carry the gospel to Europe? Acts 16:9, 10.

Note: “From all countries the Macedonian cry is sounding: ‘Come over, . . . and help us.’ [Acts 16:9.] God has opened fields before us, and if human agencies would but co-operate with divine agencies, many, many souls would be won to the truth.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 46.

“The instruction the Lord has given me [Ellen White] is that a field should not be shunned because it has objectionable features. This world was seared and marred by the curse, but still Christ came to it.” Medical Ministry, 321.

5 In the days of Hezekiah, what remarkable instance of divine guidance and protection is recorded? 11 Chronicles 32:22. Compare Isaiah 37:1, 2, 6, 7, 33–37.

Note: As Hezekiah, the God-fearing king, and the prophet Isaiah sought the deliverance of Judah from threatened annihilation at the hand of the boastful king of Assyria, God “guided them on every side.” (11 Chronicles 32:22.)

God has also guided His present-day people “on every side” through the spirit of prophecy. For example:

  • Health reform. “The health work began with the establishment of a sanitarium in 1866.” Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years, vol. 5, 1900–1905, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C., 71. (See Testimonies, vol. 1, 485–494.)
  • Education. “Educational work was started with the opening of Battle Creek College in 1874.” Ibid.
  • Organization. “It has been a necessity to organize union conferences, that the General Conference shall not exercise dictation over all the separate conferences. The power vested in the Conference is not to be centered in one man, or two men, or six men; there is to be a council of men over the separate divisions.” Last Day Events, 55.

6 In addition to leading the nation of Israel, what other work is Moses said to have done? Hosea 12:13.

Note: God miraculously delivered Israel, by the hand of Moses, out of slavery and led them to the borders of the Promised Land. A review of God’s present-day people discloses how, by the hand of the prophetess Ellen White, they have been “preserved” by the divine instruction and protected from Satan’s many attacks.

For instance, one of the first burdens laid upon Ellen White was to erect a wall about the church and protect it from fanatics who taught extreme views such as holy flesh and instantaneous sanctification. Others attempted to set specific times for the Lord to come. (See Selected Messages, Book 2, 31–38; Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 83–89; Testimonies, vol. 1, 72.) These dangerous views were squarely met by Ellen White.

The church will face fanatics again, and the experiences of the past will be repeated. Though extreme views will be taught and practiced, Goxd’s true people will not be misled.

“The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. They have made us what we are. The lapse of time has not lessened their value. It is the constant effort of the enemy to remove these truths from their setting, and to put in their place spurious theories. He will bring in everything that he possibly can to carry out his deceptive designs. But the Lord will raise up men of keen perception, who will give these truths their proper place in the plan of God.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 201.

7 What may God’s commandment-keeping church, having the “testimony of Jesus,” expect at the hand of the dragon, Satan? Revelation 12:17.

Note: “Through deceptive means and unseen channels, Satan is working to strengthen his authority and to place obstacles in the way of God’s people, that souls may not be freed from his power and gathered under the banner of Christ. By his deceptions he is seeking to allure souls from Christ, and those who are not established upon the truth will surely be taken in his snare. And those whom he cannot lead into sin he will persecute, as the Jews did Christ.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 295.

8 For what purpose did Christ place the gifts in the church? Ephesians 4:11, 13.

Note: “I [Ellen White] have been shown that just such phases of error as I was compelled to meet among Advent believers after the passing of the time in 1844, will be repeated in these last days. In our early experience, I had to go from place to place and bear message after message to disappointed companies of believers. The evidences accompanying my messages were so great that the honest in heart received as truth the words that were spoken. The power of God was revealed in a marked manner, and men and women were freed from the baleful influence of fanaticism and disorder, and were brought into the unity of the faith.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 376.

9 What did the messages of the prophet Elisha do for Israel? 11 Kings 6:8–12.

Note: The attacks upon God’s people today may not be in the form of physical violence, yet they are no less real and perilous. One form in which the archenemy brings his attacks is from within, as misguided and overzealous souls misuse the spirit of prophecy counsels that were given to reform. Ellen White wrote:

“Although there are evils existing in the church, and will be until the end of the world, the church in these last days is to be the light of the world that is polluted and demoralized by sin. The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows His supreme regard.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 49.

10 At a time of crisis in the experience of Israel, through what means did the Lord lead to deliverance and bring about that deliverance? 11 Chronicles 20:14–20. Compare Judges 4:1–7, 14.

Note: Just as Jahaziel and Deborah proclaimed turning points for God’s people, so Ellen White gave messages that were turning points. The prophetic message she presented on a Sabbath afternoon in 1868 in Bushnell, Michigan, was the turning point in the life of the Bushnell church. The preceding Sabbath the members had decided to disband, but the providential appearance of Ellen White and her husband, Elder James White, turned the tide.

“An appointment had been made through a notice on the back page of the Review published on Tuesday, July 16. Neither [Ellen and James White] had ever been to Bushnell [Michigan], but the elder of the Greenville church, A. W. Maynard, and the elder of the Orleans church, S. H. King, had suggested a grove meeting at Bushnell, where there was a struggling group of believers. …

“As the dwindling company of discouraged Sabbathkeepers at Bushnell had met the previous Sabbath morning, July 13, only seven were present, and they had decided to hold no more meetings (The Signs of the Times, August 29, 1878). But the notice in the Review led them to get word around for at least one more meeting. …

“All the Sabbathkeepers were on the grounds Sabbath morning. After James White had spoken, Ellen, Bible in hand, began to speak from a text of Scripture and then paused. Laying her Bible aside, she began to address those who had accepted the Sabbath in that place. She was not acquainted with them and did not know their names, but she addressed a number of persons. …

“She described each peculiar case, stating that the Lord had shown her their cases two years previous [most likely in the vision at Rochester], and that, while she was just then speaking from the Bible, that view had flashed over her mind, like sudden lightning in a dark night distinctly revealing every object. …

“Sunday morning there was a baptism, and the Bushnell church was organized and officers chosen. In the years that followed, several workers in the cause came from that church.” Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years, vol. 2, 1862–1876, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C., 189–191.