Let us look at some of the ingenious ways the devil has used to unsettle the faith of the remnant. One, of course, is just plain saying that Ellen White was not a true prophet. We are going to look at the ways in which the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy is undermined by those who claim to believe.
First, those who profess to believe will say, “Well, yes, but the Bible is the greater light and Ellen White is the lesser light.” Have you heard that? We have all heard it, I am afraid. Let us take a look at that statement, and see what it means and what it does not mean.
Who is He that Gave Thee This Authority?
The real question, actually the bottom line question we are examining in this whole study, is the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy. Is it a greater authority? Is it a lesser authority? Is the Bible infallible, but the Spirit of Prophecy has some mistakes and contradictions in it? Is the Bible true, but something is false in the Spirit of Prophecy? Is it the Bible we need to obey, but we do not need to obey the Spirit of Prophecy? Is this true, or are all of these things false? Are the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy equal in terms of authority, accuracy, reliability and infalibility so that we need to obey all of it? This is the bottom line question.
The first thing we need to question is what would make the Spirit of Prophecy a lesser light? There is not a greater Holy Spirit and a lesser Holy Spirit. No, the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy are both inspired by the same Holy Spirit. “The Holy Ghost is the author of the Scriptures and of the Spirit of Prophecy.” Selected Messages, book 3, 30.
Hebrews 6:18 and Titus 1:2 say that it is impossible for God to lie. So is anything a lie that has been inspired by the Holy Ghost? No. Well, that answers the question of whether there is anything in the Spirit of Prophecy that is untrue.
With this consideration, why would the Spirit of Prophecy be a lesser light? “. . . Through the Testimonies . . .God has seen fit. . . to bring the minds of His people to His Word, to give them a clearer understanding of it.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 31.
So the Testimonies are to give us a clearer understanding of the Word of God, the Bible. “The Lord has given me much light. . . .it has been given to correct specious errors and to specify what is truth.” Ibid., 32. I do not know if that could be any clearer. “God has. . . promised to give visions in the ‘last days;’ not for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people. [Have you ever been comforted by the Spirit of Prophecy? Amen! But it does not stop at that.], “and to correct those who err from Bible truth.” Ibid., 29.
“. . . the Lord has given special testimonies to His people, not as a new revelation, but. . . that errors may be corrected . . . that every soul may be without excuse.” Ibid., 31.
Well, according to that quote, is the lesser light excuse valid? No, the Spirit of Prophecy was given so we would be without excuse. Earlier we read that God said to Ellen White, “Dedicate yourself to the highest work ever committed to mortals.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 39. So in mission and message her work is as important as any of the Bible prophets, equal in grace and authority.
The next argument we hear to undermine the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy is, “I go by the Bible and the Bible alone. Sola Scriptura.” Have you ever heard that one? Some even quote Mrs. White’s statement that if we study the Bible appropriately, we would not need the Spirit of Prophecy. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 665.) Maybe you have read that.
Before the flood the people did not have books; they did not even have the Bible. Ellen White says that they were so intelligent, they could remember everything and transmit it to their posterity unimpaired. (See Patriarchs and Prophets, 83.) As mankind’s physical and mental abilities declined, God began to give inspiration through written form. The Bible was given because there was a need, and it was because there was a need that the Spirit of Prophecy was given.
“It is Satan’s special object to prevent this light [of the Spirit of Prophecy] from coming to the people of God, who so greatly need it amid the perils of these last days.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 667. There is a similar quote in Selected Messages, book 3, 84: “. . . all who believe that the Lord has spoken through Sister White, and has given her a message, will be safe from the many delusions that will come in these last days.”
There are many delusions going around, but those who have implicit faith in the Spirit of Prophecy are not being deceived. It is those who are undermining the authority of the Spirit of Prophecy who are being misled. We need to pray for these people; we need to love them; but we need to share with them the seriousness of this subject.
Sola Scriptura was a very good thing during the Protestant Reformation, but the Spirit of Prophecy had not been given then. The contrast was between the Bible and traditions, the traditions of man and the Papacy. So in this day and age the principle applies Sola Inspirationa. We go by the inspiration, and inspiration alone, rather than the traditions of man.
Some professed believers quote: “Lay Sister White to one side. Do not quote my words again as long as you live until you can obey the Bible.” Selected Messages, book 3, 33. This quote is referring to obeying the Bible, not referring to understanding or interpreting the Bible. It does not say anything against using the Spirit of Prophecy to correct misunderstandings of the Bible. It is talking about those who are not obeying the Bible, those who are clearly breaking God’s Biblical Law but who are trying to hammer people over the head with the Spirit of Prophecy.
Infallible Message or Infallible Prophet?
Was Ellen White infallible? She says, “I have never claimed it.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 37.
Do not say that there are mistakes in the Spirit of Prophecy merely because she says she was not infallible. There is a big, big difference between a prophet being fallible and a prophetic message being fallible. Ellen White was fallible. She was a human being. She made mistakes just like every other human being, just like every other prophet.
“Enoch, Noah, Moses, Daniel and the long roll of patriarchs and prophets…were not infallible.” Gospel Workers, 1915 edition, 13. Ellen White stated she was not infallible. “In regard to infallibility, I have never claimed it.” Selected Messages, book 1, 37. She is stating the difference between herself and the message that God has given through her.
Other people ask, “Why do you put Ellen White above the Bible?” Well, you could ask them, “Why does the Bible put the Spirit of Prophecy and all true prophets above your interpretation of the Bible?” That is really what it is; they are putting their interpretation of the Bible above the Spirit of Prophecy. Neither one is above or below each other in terms of accuracy.
There are no errors in either one. How could one be above the other in terms of accuracy or reliability? They are both equal in that sense. You could also say, “I do not put Ellen White above the Bible; I put Ellen White above you.”
Some may say, “Well some things she wrote were inspired, and some things she wrote were not inspired.” Let us examine several aspects of that statement.
Read in context the section titled “The Nature and Influence of the Testimonies” in Testimonies, vol. 5, 654-691. Some pull out the sentence: “If the Testimonies speak not according to the Word of God, reject them.” Ibid., 691. They say, “See, if you read something in the Testimonies, and it contradicts something in the Bible, throw it out.”
This Work is of God, or it is Not!
But if you read this sentence in context, she is saying exactly the opposite. She is talking about the entire writings of the Spirit of Prophecy, all of her testimonies, everything that God gave to her. They are either of God, or they are of the devil. They are either in harmony with the Bible, or they are not. If they are not in harmony with the Word of God, if they are of the devil, then reject them—all of them. If they are of God, then accept all of them. That is what it means in context.
Notice this: “This work is of God, or it is not. God does nothing in partnership with Satan. . . .There is no halfway work in the matter. The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil.” Ibid., 671. That is putting it in context. Also in context, it says, “If you lose confidence in the Testimonies you will drift away from Bible truth.” Ibid., 674. “In many cases the Testimonies are fully received. In other instances . . .the Testimonies are rejected, and many excuses which are untrue are offered to others as the reason for refusing to receive them.” Ibid., 675.
Many excuses, that is exactly what we are looking at. Every one of the excuses we are covering are untrue, but they are offered to people as reasons for not believing the Spirit of Prophecy.
“If the Testimonies speak not according to the Word of God, reject them.” Ibid., 691. Do not by your criticisms take out all the force, all the point and power, from the Testimonies. Do not feel that you can dissect them to suit your own ideas, claiming that God has given you the ability to discern what is light from heaven and what is the expression of mere human wisdom. “If the Testimonies speak not according to the Word of God, reject them. Christ and Belial cannot be united. For Christ’s sake do not confuse the minds of the people with human sophistry and skepticism, and make of none effect the work that the Lord would do.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 691. The last great deception will be to make of none effect the Spirit of Prophecy. “The Bible must be your counselor. Study it and the testimonies God has given; for they never contradict His Word.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 32. Nothing in the Spirit of Prophecy ever contradicts the Bible. Isaiah 8:20.
One of the tests of a true prophet says, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” They are either a true prophet or a false prophet. There is nothing in between.
The Arguments Continue from Unsanctified Minds
Another argument you will hear is, “I believe that what she saw in vision was inspired, but the other things are uninspired.” As with the other fallacies, you could do the same thing with the Bible. The majority of the Bible was not given specifically in vision, so we could throw much of the Bible out on that same basic premise.
“They said: ‘We believe Sister White’s testimonies; but when she tells us things that she has not directly seen in vision, her words are of no more account to us than the words of any other person.’” Testimonies, vol. 5, 687.
Now notice the response: “The Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I arose and rebuked them in the name of the Lord.” Ibid.
Another excuse you hear is that Ellen White was influenced, or some of what she wrote was influenced, by others. “There are those who say, ‘Someone manipulates her writings.’ I acknowledge the charge. It is One who is mighty in counsel, One who presents before me the condition of things.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 64. God is the one who influenced her writings. “What you have said, Sister D, influenced me not at all. My opinion has nothing to do with what God has shown me in vision.” Ibid., 63.
And that leads to, “Well, you know, that was just her own opinion.” That is just another way to say that it was not inspired. “This over here was inspired, but that was her opinion.”
“In no case have I given my own judgment or opinion. I have enough to write of what has been shown me, without falling back on my own opinions.” Ibid., 70. “Many times in my experience I have been called upon to meet an attitude of a certain class, who acknowledged that the testimonies were from God, but took the position that this matter and that matter were Sister White’s opinion and judgment. This suits those who do not love reproof and correction, and who, if their ideas are crossed, have occasion to explain the difference between the human and the divine. . . . Everything that sustains their cherished ideas is divine, and the testimonies to correct their errors are human—Sister White’s opinions.” Ibid., 68.
How convenient, I might add. Is it not strange how the things that agree with what they believe are inspired, and things with which they do not agree, just happen to be what was uninspired, or her opinions. She goes on to say, “They make of none effect the counsel of God by their tradition.” Ibid. Another way to make of none effect the Spirit of Prophecy.
Still others say that the things she wrote in personal letters to other people, were not inspired.
“You might say that this communication was only a letter. Yes, it was a letter, but prompted by the Spirit of God. . . . In these letters which I write, . . . I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 67.
Once again, what do we have in the Bible, the New Testament? Letters to different people. Are these letters from God? Yes, they are! Please note, “. . . there are times when . . . common letters must be written. Such are not given under the special inspiration of the Spirit of God.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 39. (Read pages 38 and 39 for a clearer understanding of this subject.) It is true that Ellen White wrote common letters which were not inspired by the Holy Spirit.
But even this quote has been misused. I have seen people reject things based on this quote. They say, “Well that was just a common letter.” But Mrs. White defines what is a common letter and what is not a common letter in the very next sentence. It says, “Questions are asked at times that are not upon religious subjects at all, and these questions must be answered. We converse about houses and lands. . . ” Ibid. That would be a common letter; one that was not inspired, but anything that is on a religious subject is just as inspired as is the Bible.
Those Who Criticize the “Word” of God Need Fear and Tremble!
“In the very same way that they treat the writings in my published articles and in my books, so do skeptics and infidels treat the Bible.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 19. The very same principle we have been covering, that can be used to undermine the Spirit of Prophecy, skeptics and infidels use on the Bible.
“When men venture to criticize the Word of God, they venture on sacred, holy ground, and had better fear and tremble and hide their wisdom as foolishness. God sets no man to pronounce judgment on His word, selecting some things as inspired and discrediting others as uninspired. The testimonies have been treated in the same way; but God is not in this.” Ibid., 23.
“I would have both my arms taken off at my shoulders before I would ever make the statement or set my judgment upon the Word of God as to what is inspired and what is not inspired. . . . Never let mortal man sit in judgment upon the Word of God or pass sentence as to how much of this is inspired and how much is not inspired, and that this is more inspired than some other portions. God warns him off that ground. God has not given him any such work to do.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 919.
So, from now on, if anybody comes to you with any of these ideas, you do not have to read all the quotes we have printed here, just read them this one in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary. Tell them, “I will be glad to hear all you have to say on this subject as soon as you come back to me with both your arms amputated.” I do not believe you will have many who wish to pursue the subject.
For further study: Who is He That Gave Thee This Authority? [See Luke 20:2] by Paul Rahoi. You may write:
P.O. Box 212,
Cedarpoint, IL 61316.