November 24, 2007 – November 30, 2007
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:8, 11-13.
Study Help: The Great Controversy, vii-xii; Selected Messages, Book 1, 24-39.
“The word of God is sufficient to enlighten the most beclouded mind and may be understood by those who have any desire to understand it. But notwithstanding all this, some who profess to make the word of God their study are found living in direct opposition to its plainest teachings. Then, to leave men and women without excuse, God gives plain and pointed testimonies, bringing them back to the word that they have neglected to follow. The word of God abounds in general principles for the formation of correct habits of living, and the testimonies, general and personal, have been calculated to call their attention more especially to these principles.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 663, 664.
1 Of what would Paul not have the Corinthian believers to be ignorant? 1 Corinthians 12:1.
note: In his preface to Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 29, James White wrote: “The object of the gifts, as stated by Paul, was ‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith.’ [Ephesians 4:12, 13, first part.] These were Heaven’s appointed means to secure the unity of the church. Christ prayed that his people might be one, as he was one with his Father. Read John 17. Paul exhorted the Corinthians in the name of Christ to be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment. Read 1 Corinthians 1:10; Romans 15:5; Philippians 2:1, 2; 1 Peter 3:8; 5:5. The gifts were given to secure this state of unity.”
2 Enumerate the principal gifts of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:28, 8-10.
note: “The talents that Christ entrusts to His church represent especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy Spirit. [1 Corinthians 12:8-11 quoted.] All men do not receive the same gifts, but to every servant of the Master some gift of the Spirit is promised. . . .
“The gifts are already ours in Christ, but their actual possession depends upon our reception of the Spirit of God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 327.
It is important for the people of God to understand the role of the gift of prophecy in their midst. Wrote Ellen White: “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, vol. 5, 661.
3 What gift did Paul say the Corinthian believers were especially to desire? 1 Corinthians 14:1.
note: “The gift of prophecy is one of God’s choicest gifts to the human family. Indeed, it ranks next to the supreme gift of His only-begotten Son and of His Holy Spirit to a world estranged and separated by sin.” A. G. Daniells, The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, 15. < http://www.whiteestate.org/books/agp/AGPco1.html#c01> July 17, 2007.
“Some, I [Ellen White] was shown, could receive the published visions, judging of the tree by its fruits. Others are like doubting Thomas; they cannot believe the published Testimonies, nor receive evidence through the testimony of others; but must see and have the evidence for themselves. Such must not be set aside, but long patience and brotherly love should be exercised toward them until they find their position and become established for or against. If they fight against the visions, of which they have no knowledge; if they carry their opposition so far as to oppose that in which they have had no experience, and feel annoyed when those who believe that the visions are of God speak of them in meeting, and comfort themselves with the instruction given through vision, the church may know that they are not right. God’s people should not cringe and yield, and give up their liberty to such disaffected ones. God has placed the gifts in the church that the church may be benefited by them; and when professed believers in the truth oppose these gifts, and fight against the visions, souls are in danger through their influence, and it is time then to labor with them, that the weak may not be led astray by their influence.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 328, 329.
4 Where were spiritual gifts to be manifest? 1 Corinthians 12:28. For how long? 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.
note: “In the great crisis of 1844, an unbelieving world was arrayed against God’s disappointed people. Some shunned them, some ridiculed them, and many were hostile to them. They were surely a forsaken and scattered flock, knowing not what to do. Among them were some who, like Jehoshaphat and Judah, kept their eyes upon God and offered importunate prayer for divine guidance. The Lord heard their prayers, and gave them a remarkable answer through the prophetic gift. He chose for His messenger Miss Ellen Gould Harmon of Portland, Maine,—one of the truly devout and sorely disappointed believers in the coming of the Lord in 1844.” A. G. Daniells, The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, 258. <http://www.whiteestate.org/books/agp/AGPc01.html#c01> July 17, 2007.
“Those who maintain that the gifts of the Spirit, including the prophetic gift, ceased with the days of the apostles are thereby logically forced not only to turn a deaf ear to the claim of any present-day messenger for God, but to denounce such a one as an impostor.
“Those who believe in the abiding gift of prophecy must recognize the force of the Saviour’s injunction: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’ Matthew 7:15. Nor should they be unmindful of our Lord’s prediction that among the signs that were to herald the return of our Lord as imminent, is the appearance of ‘false christs, and false prophets,’ who ‘shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.’ Matthew 24:24.
“In order that one may ‘quench not the Spirit,’—the Holy Spirit, who has moved upon and inspired the prophets of all ages,—the apostle Paul enjoins the believers to ‘despise not prophesyings.’ In order to avoid deception by a subtle counterfeit, he adds the injunction: ‘Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21.” Ibid., 264.
“The welfare of the church as a whole, and of its individual members, is inseparably bound up with believing and heeding God’s prophets. These . . . are His chosen messengers, His appointed spokesmen, to His church on earth. . . . This plan of communication has been God’s chosen, uniform, and beneficent provision for revealing His will to man, ever since the separation caused by sin. Through this means, God counsels and instructs, He cautions, entreats, and warns, as need may occasion and as divine love indicates. The presence of the prophet among men is not, therefore, something new or unusual, something strange or fantastic. God is the author of this provision, and wayfaring man is its beneficiary. It is as old as the human need, and as constant as the divine love that prompted and instituted it.
“The vicissitudes of the church in all ages have been gauged by its allegiance or its disloyalty to the gift of prophecy, and its safety measured by its response to these heavenly leadings. Through the centuries spanning the patriarchal, Mosaic, and apostolic eras, we have seen this inviolable rule in operation, as revealed in the pages of Holy Writ.
“Then after the death of the apostles, the tragic march of events in the Christian era begins, is told in blood and tears, and is blotched with drift and apostasy. Steadily the nominal Christian church veers from those foundation principles—the precepts and practices, the letter and the spirit—that characterized the apostolic church. The departure centered in perversion of the law and the gospel, though it permeated every truth of Christianity.
“Tragic has been the lot of those who stood for the primitive faith. Hated and maligned, persecuted and isolated, they witnessed to the truth. But from time to time prophets—men and women—arose at the call of God, and denounced the iniquity of the disloyal. They encouraged the fidelity of the faithful, and guided and guarded the adherents of truth through the weary centuries.
“Now in these divinely denominated ‘last days,’ God’s great plan of redemption and the mad course of the human race approach their climax together. Iniquity so abounds among men, human philosophy is so defiant, man’s independence of God and of the provisions of redemption are so affronting in this supreme conflict between good and evil, that it was imperative for the gift of prophecy to be conspicuously manifest in the ranks of the remnant church.” Ibid., 370, 371.
5 What is God’s purpose in bestowing spiritual gifts in the church? Ephesians 4:11-14; 1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:22, last part.
note: The testimony of Uriah Smith, one of the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, concerning the influence of the spirit of prophecy on the lives of church members will be helpful: “Their fruit is such as to show that the source from which they spring is the opposite of evil.
“They tend to the purest morality. They discountenance every vice, and exhort to the practice of every virtue. They point out the perils through which we are to pass to the kingdom. They reveal the devices of Satan. They warn us against his snares. They have nipped in the bud scheme after scheme of fanaticism which the enemy has tried to foist into our midst. They have exposed hidden iniquity, brought to light concealed wrongs, and laid bare the evil motives of the false-hearted. They have warded off dangers from the cause of truth upon every hand. They have aroused and re-aroused us to greater consecration to God, more zealous efforts for holiness of heart, and greater diligence in the cause and service of our Master.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 469, 470.
6 How does the True Witness deal with the Laodicean church, and what counsel does He offer? Revelation 3:14, 19
note: The chastening process is accomplished by the messages of reproof and correction given through the prophets. Applying the words of this text to the testimonies she bore, Ellen White declared: “The Lord has seen fit to counsel Elder Smith, to give him words of reproof because he had erred; but is this an evidence that God has forsaken him? No. ‘As many as I love I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent’ (Revelation 3:19). The Lord reproves wrongs in His people, but is this an evidence that He has rejected them? No. There are errors in the church, and the Lord points them out by His own ordained agencies, not always through the testimonies.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 81.
7 Instead of an indication of God’s rejection, of what is the chastening of the Lord a certain evidence? Hebrews 12:6, 7. What excellent results does this chastening produce? Verse 11.
note: “The Lord can bring victory out of that which may seem to us discomfiture and defeat. We are in danger of forgetting God, of looking at the things which are seen, instead of beholding by the eye of faith the things which are unseen. When misfortune or calamity comes, we are ready to charge God with neglect or cruelty. If He sees fit to cut off our usefulness in some line, we mourn, not stopping to think that thus God may be working for our good. We need to learn that chastisement is a part of His great plan and that under the rod of affliction the Christian may sometimes do more for the Master than when engaged in active service.” The Acts of the Apostles, 481.
“It is God who has led you through strait places. He had a purpose in this, that tribulation might work in you patience, and patience experience, and experience hope. He permitted trials to come upon you, that, through them, you might experience the peaceable fruits of righteousness.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 416.
8 How did the vision of the sheet let down from heaven, given to the church through Peter, teach an important Bible principle? Acts 10:1-35. Compare 11 Chronicles 19:7.
note: As the vision given to Peter on the housetop corrected him as a Jew in his prejudicial attitude toward the Gentiles, so the visions of Ellen White correct those who err from Bible principle.
“The Lord has sent His people much instruction, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Little heed is given to the Bible, and the Lord has given a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light.” Colporteur Ministry, 125.
“Brother J would confuse the mind by seeking to make it appear that the light God has given through the Testimonies is an addition to the word of God, but in this he presents the matter in a false light. God has seen fit in this manner to bring the minds of His people to His word, to give them a clearer understanding of it.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 246.
9 How did Mrs. White indicate the relationship of her messages to the Bible?
note: “The Spirit was not given nor can it ever be bestowed to supersede the Bible; for the Scriptures explicitly state that the word of God is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.” The Great Controversy, vii.
10 What claim did Mrs. White make for herself and her work?
note: “I [Ellen White] have had no claims to make, only that I am instructed that I am the Lord’s messenger; that He called me in my youth to be His messenger, to receive His word, and to give a clear and decided message in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 32. [Author’s italics.]
11 What did Mrs. White refrain from claiming?
note: In a public address delivered October 2, 1904, in Battle Creek, Michigan, Mrs. White stated: “During the discourse, I said that I did not claim to be a prophetess. Some were surprised at this statement, and as much is being said in regard to it, I will make an explanation. Others have called me a prophetess, but I have never assumed that title. I have not felt that it was my duty thus to designate myself. Those who boldly assume that they are prophets in this our day are often a reproach to the cause of Christ.
“My work includes much more than this name signifies. I regard myself as a messenger, entrusted by the Lord with messages for His people.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 35, 36.
12 What work did God “especially” assign to Mrs. White?
note: “The work which the Lord has laid out before me [Ellen White] especially is to urge young and old, learned and unlearned, to search the Scriptures for themselves; to impress upon all that the study of God’s word will expand the mind and strengthen every faculty, fitting the intellect to wrestle with problems of truth, deep and far-reaching; to assure all that the clear knowledge of the Bible outdoes all other knowledge in making man what God designed he should be.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 686.