Do we really need to believe that Ellen G. White’s writings are factual and inspired? Do we think she is just another good writer with excellent ideas—ideas that we can follow and prosper or that we can ignore and do just as well? We may think that in today’s economy it would be more beneficial to consult our own ideas and those of modern economists than to rely upon someone who wrote instructions over a hundred years ago.
The foregoing are thoughts that have been expressed from time to time, as well as comments regarding social ideas. We often hear that we now live in a different structure of society. With all our modern conveniences, communication skills, education, and swifter and better modes of travel, surely we have a different society than Ellen White had in her day. She could not possibly understand our way of thinking—or could she?
My personal belief is that Ellen G. White was inspired by God. With that thought in mind, it really does not make any difference in what kind of society Ellen White lived or how long ago it was that she wrote, because God knows the end from the beginning. If what she wrote was from God, the principles will apply to our society as well as to hers.
What is the Ship
Mrs. White plainly stated that the ship is going through. Now, I know of no ship on the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, or any other ocean that is going through to the end of time. So, about what ship is she talking? Can we find a description of this ship?
In one statement, she said, “The sincere believers of truth are often made sad, and their trials greatly increased, by elements among them that annoy and dishearten them in their efforts. But there is no need of doubts and fears that the work of God will not succeed. God is at the head of the work, and he will set everything in order. Let us have faith that he is going to carry the noble ship, which bears his people, safely into port.” Bible Echo and The Signs of the Times, July 15, 1892.
In another publication, she wrote, “Let us have faith that God is going to carry the noble ship which bears the people of God safely into port.” Review and Herald, September 20, 1892.
So, one description of the ship would be that it “bears the people of God.” Then we need to know who are the people of God. This could take a long description, but we will work at it from the Bible.
People of God
The children of Israel were called the Lord’s people for many generations. When the children of Israel left Egypt, they were called “the hosts of the Lord.” (Exodus 12:41.) In other words, they were called God’s people. Then, in Deuteronomy 26:18, we read, “And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that [thou] shouldest keep all his commandments.”
Throughout the Old Testament the statement is made, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people”: “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I [am] the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” “But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jeremiah 24:7; 31:33.
We can readily see that the Israelites were God’s chosen people and that He called them His people. In II Chronicles 7:14, the Bible says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
In this text, we see that God’s promises to His people were conditional. They would be fulfilled if the people would humble themselves, pray, and turn from their wicked ways.
The questions to be addressed are: Did the children of Israel keep their side of the covenant? Did they obey God’s laws? If they did not meet the requirements, were they still His people? These are very real questions, and they demand answers.
Jesus answered these questions when He said to the Jewish people, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Matthew 23:37, 38.
We are now living several centuries past the time when Jesus said, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” But since it says in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever,” what He said then is still true today. Likewise, the standard that was set for God’s people in days of old would still be the same today.
Recognize His Voice
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they know me.” John 10:27. In other words, His people can recognize Him by what He says, and He says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15.
Another requirement to be one of God’s people is to know Jesus and to recognize His voice. The best way to do that is to study His life as recorded in the New Testament, and follow the teachings. If we study His life and teachings as recorded in the sacred Scriptures, we will know what is truth and what is false—especially if we study the last book in the Bible, which is a revelation of Jesus Christ. There we find the Three Angels’ Messages. Let us see what the Spirit of Prophecy has to say about them.
Let us have faith that God is going to carry the noble ship that bears the people of God safely into port. These are the people who proclaim the first, second, and third angels’ messages: “God’s people, who in their belief and fulfillment of prophecy have acted a part in the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages, know where they stand. They have an experience that is more precious than fine gold. They are to stand firm as a rock, holding the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end.
“A transforming power attended the proclamation of the first and second angels’ messages, as it attends the message of the third angel. Lasting convictions were made upon human minds. The power of the Holy Spirit was manifested. There was diligent study of the Scriptures, point by point. Almost entire nights were devoted to earnest searching of the Word. We searched for the truth as for hidden treasures. The Lord revealed Himself to us. Light was shed on the prophecies, and we knew that we received divine instruction. …” Selected Messages, Book 2, 109.
Am I On The Ship?
The conclusion is that the ship that is going through is the ship that bears the people of God. The people who are God’s people are the people who obey His commandments—not the people who say they obey, as did the children of Israel, but the people who actually obey and do His will—and teach the Three Angels’ Messages. They are the ones to whom Jesus will say, “Blessed [are] they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.
So, the ship is going through; no worry about that! The ship that bears the people of God will reach the harbor. The question is, Am I on the ship?
A member of Steps to Life’s staff, Ruth Grosboll is a retired registered nurse. She worked for many years with her husband in the mission field. She may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.