Prophetic calling of EGW and her role in defining the Adventist pillars of faith

The seminar presented at Basingstoke SDA Church, UK, on May 2, 2020. This page contains all quotations from the seminar as well as the video recording.

The Soldier’s Faith

Uriah Smith, Review & Herald, October 4, 1864

The following story is told of a soldier in the army of Napoleon I. One day, when the Emperor was reviewing his troops in Paris, he thoughtlessly let fall the reins of his horse from his hands upon the animal’s neck, whereupon the startled and proud charger galloped away; and before the rider could recover the bridle while clinging to the saddle, a common soldier ran out from the ranks, caught the reins, stopped the horse, and placed the bridle again in the hands of the Emperor.

“Much obliged to you, Captain.” said Napoleon. The man immediately believed the Chief, and said, “Of what regiment, Sire.”

Napoleon, delighted with his quick perception and ready trust in his word, replied, “Of my guards!” and rode away.

Now, what will the soldier do? Will he wait awhile, and talk about it, and try to reason himself into the conviction that he is to be Captain, or that he may really set out at once upon that office? Or will he believe fully and act immediately? He might have said, “I have no captain’s uniform, I am not conducted to the superior officers, nor am I introduced to them. I must wait for further evidence or demonstrations before I really believe that I am captain, or at least before I act upon any such supposition.”

But, no! he was not so faithless. As soon as the Emperor left, he laid down his gun, saying, “He may take it who will,” and instead of returning to the ranks whence he so suddenly issued, he started for the company of staff officers. They were amazed at his apparent rudeness and disobedience of orders, and one of the Generals contemptuously said, “What does this fellow want here?

“This fellow,” replied the soldier proudly, “is Captain of the guard.”

“You, my poor friend, you are mad to say so,” was the answer of the superior officer.

“He said it” replied the soldier, pointing to the Emperor, still in sight.

“I ask your pardon, sir,” said the General, respectfully; “I was not aware of it.” And so the soldier came duly to his post as a Captain of Napoleon’s guard.

The soldier had faith in the Emperor’s word. It was that which brought him his promotion. Oh, for all men to have as much faith in God as they have in men! The Lord says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Sinner, why not then immediately believe and be baptized? Why do you wait? Ah! you look at the subject from your own weak and worldly and selfishly biased reason, and not from faith. Why not stop and believe and act with no delay? It is the way for you to be saved.

What better way will you find, if you do not believe? Who has ever found a better way? “Their rock is not as our rock.” Do not wait for the slow and unsatisfactory and unsaving process of self-persuasion. Your heart is too wicked to be saved in that way. You will perish while you stay to reason. You know enough of the Bible and the way of salvation to believe immediately.

Christians, there is a practical truth here for you. See to it that you repent toward God; that you surrender your all to Him; that you take up every cross, then immediately believe that you are what the Lord declares you are if you thus comply with His Word. Believe and feel the comfort and strength of believing. Live not on self-persuasion, but on faith, then the life that you live will be by faith on the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Dr. Malan, in commenting on the foregoing anecdote, says, “As he (the soldier) believed himself to be a captain before wearing his uniform; so, on the word and promise of God, one believes himself to be a child of Jesus before being sanctified by his Spirit.

Yes, thank God, we are not to wait to see ourselves perfectly sanctified before believing that we are justified by faith. We are accepted and justified if only we believe with the heart unto righteousness-unto the love and thirsting after righteousness-and then we may pray that we may be wholly sanctified; and that the body, soul and spirit, may be preserved blameless unto the coming of the day of the Lord Jesus. “Neither be ye of doubtful mind” any more. {October 4, 1864 UrSe, ARSH 150-151}

Two Millerites claimed to have had visions prior to Ellen White – William Ellis Foy (1818–1893), and Hazen Foss (1818?–1893), Ellen White’s brother-in-law. Adventists believe the gift offered to these two men was instead passed on to White. This was because the men kept their visions to themselves but when Ellen White revealed hers, it was the same as theirs.

Adventists believe Hiram Edson received a vision about the heavenly sanctuary or investigative judgment on October 23, 1844 – the day following the “Great Disappointment”. He wrote, “…while passing through a large field I was stopped about midway of the field. Heaven seemed open to my view, and I saw distinctly and clearly…” Jesus as High Priest.

Narrow path – In December 1844, Ellen Harmon experienced her first vision during a prayer meeting at the home of Mrs. Haines on Ocean Street in South Portland, Maine.: “At this time I visited one of our Advent sisters, and in the morning we bowed around the family altar. It was not an exciting occasion, and there were but five of us present, all females. While praying, the power of God came upon me as I never had felt it before, and I was wrapt up in a vision of God’s glory, and seemed to be rising higher and higher from the earth and was shown something of the travels of the Advent people to the Holy City”.

     Personal – In my second vision, about a week after the first, the Lord gave me a view of the trials through which I must pass, and told me that I must go and relate to others what He had revealed to me. It was shown me that my labors would meet with great opposition, and that my heart would be rent with anguish; but that the grace of God would be sufficient to sustain me through all.  {LS 69.1} 

     After I came out of this vision I was exceedingly troubled, for it pointed out my duty to go out among the people and present the truth. My health was so poor that I was in constant bodily suffering, and to all appearance had but a short time to live. I was only seventeen years of age, small and frail, unused to society, and naturally so timid and retiring that it was painful for me to meet strangers.  {LS 69.2} 

     For several days, and far into the night, I prayed that this burden might be removed from me, and laid upon some one more capable of bearing it. But the light of duty did not change, and the words of the angel sounded continually in my ears, “Make known to others what I have revealed to you.”  {LS 69.3} 

     Hitherto when the Spirit of God had urged me to duty, I had risen above myself, forgetting all fear and timidity in the thought of Jesus’ love and the wonderful work He had done for me.  {LS 69.4} 

     But it seemed impossible for me to perform this work that was presented before me; to attempt it seemed certain failure. The trials attending it appeared more than I could endure. How could I, a child in years, go forth from place to place, unfolding to the people the holy truths of God? My heart shrank in terror from the thought. My brother Robert, but two years older than myself, could not accompany me, for he was feeble in health, and his timidity was greater than mine; nothing could have induced him to take such a step. My father had a family to support, and could not leave his business; but he repeatedly assured me that if God had called me to labor in other places, He would not fail to open the way for me. But these words of encouragement brought little comfort to my desponding heart; the path before me seemed hedged in with difficulties that I was unable to overcome.  {LS 69.5} 

     I coveted death as a release from the responsibilities that were crowding upon me. At length the sweet peace I had so long enjoyed left me, and despair again pressed upon my soul.  {LS 70.1}

          Encouragement from the Brethren

     The company of believers in Portland were ignorant concerning the exercises of my mind that had brought me into this state of despondency; but they knew that for some reason my mind had become depressed, and they felt that this was sinful on my part, considering the gracious manner in which the Lord had manifested Himself to me. Meetings were held at my father’s house, but my distress of mind was so great that I did not attend them for some time. My burden grew heavier until the agony of my spirit seemed more than I could bear.  {LS 70.2} 

     At length I was induced to be present at one of the meetings in my own home. The church made my case a special subject of prayer. Father Pearson, who in my earlier experience had opposed the manifestations of the power of God upon me, now prayed earnestly for me, and counseled me to surrender my will to the will of the Lord. Like a tender father he tried to encourage and comfort me, bidding me believe I was not forsaken by the Friend of sinners.  {LS 70.3} 

     I felt too weak and despondent to make any special effort for myself, but my heart united with the petitions of my friends. I cared little now for the opposition of the world, and felt willing to make every sacrifice if only the favor of God might be restored to me.  {LS 71.1} 

     While prayer was offered for me, that the Lord would give me strength and courage to bear the message, the thick darkness that had encompassed me rolled back, and a sudden light came upon me. Something that seemed to me like a ball of fire struck me right over the heart. My strength was taken away, and I fell to the floor. I seemed to be in the presence of the angels. One of these holy beings again repeated the words, “Make known to others what I have revealed to you.”  {LS 71.2} 

     Father Pearson, who could not kneel on account of his rheumatism, witnessed this occurrence. When I revived sufficiently to see and hear, he rose from his chair, and said: “I have seen a sight such as I never expected to see. A ball of fire came down from heaven, and struck Sister Ellen Harmon right on the heart. I saw it! I saw it! I can never forget it. It has changed my whole being. Sister Ellen, have courage in the Lord. After this night I will never doubt again. We will help you henceforth, and not discourage you.”  {LS 71.3}

Sanctuary – In February 1845, White experienced her second vision in Exeter, Maine known as the “Bridegroom” vision. Together with the third vision about the new earth, the visions “gave continued meaning to the October 1844 experience and supported the developing sanctuary rationale. Additionally they played an important role in countering the spiritualizing views of many fanatical Adventists by portraying the Father and Jesus as literal beings and heaven as a physical place.”

Relation to doctrines:

  1. To confirm Biblically-correct conclusions arrived at through prayer, diligent study of the Word, and fasting.
  2. To correct, when they were wrong.
  3. To suggest new initiatives, new directions, for further fruitful discovery, when at an impasse.

“In Minneapolis God gave precious gems of truth to His people in new settings. This light from heaven by some was rejected with all the stubbornness the Jews manifested in rejecting Christ, and there was much talk about standing by the old landmarks. But there was evidence they knew not what the old landmarks were. There was evidence and there was reasoning from the word that commended itself to the conscience; but the minds of men were fixed, sealed against the entrance of light, because they had decided it was a dangerous error removing the “old landmarks” when it was not moving a peg of the old landmarks, but they had perverted ideas of what constituted the old landmarks.”

“The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The nonimmortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks. All this cry about changing the old landmarks is all imaginary.” (Mss 13, 1889 in CW 30-31)

a. The Second Coming of Christ.

b. The Heavenly Sanctuary (including Christ’s high-priestly ministry therein).

c. “Soul Sleep” (conditional immortality; the non-immortality of the wicked).

d. The Seventh-day Sabbath, and the immutabiblity of the Ten Commandments.

e. The Three Angels’ Messages. (see CW 28-32).

In old Battle Creek on a Tuesday morning in April hundreds had gathered at the tabernacle for the opening meeting of a General Conference session. After the usual formalities, the president closed his opening address, surrendered the office that he had held for two years, and declared:  {1BIO 15.1}

“The conference is now formally opened. What is your pleasure?”  {1BIO 15.2}

A little woman in advancing years arose from one of the seats on the floor, pressed to the front, mounted the steps to the platform, and moved to the desk to speak to the large audience. She had something to say, and she felt that now was the time to say it. After describing the great privilege of the Advent people to stand high above the world, sanctified by the truth and having a close connection with heaven, she came quickly to the burden of her heart—the quality and fitness of those who serve in the cause of God, and especially those who lead. She declared:  {1BIO 15.3}

Every soul in every conference, in every part of the Lord’ svineyard, has the privilege of knowing the truth. But truth is not truth to those who do not practice it. Truth is only truth to you when you live it in daily life, showing the world what those people must be who are at last saved. [QUOTATIONS IN THIS INTRODUCTORY ACCOUNT ARE FROM GCB 1901, PP. 23-26, 460-464.]  {1BIO 15.4}

Then addressing particularly the leaders of the General Conference, she pointed out the damaging impact on a rapidly growing church of restrictive policies imposed by a very small group of men struggling to manage a work that had grown far beyond their ability to handle. “You have no right to manage,” she declared, “unless you manage in God’s order.” She then cried out:  {1BIO 15.5}

What we want now is a reorganization. We want to begin at the foundation, and to build upon a different principle. . . . There are to be more than one or two or three men to consider the whole vast field. The work is great, and there is no one human mind that can plan for the work which needs to be done.  {1BIO 16.1}

The speaker hastened to say:
According to the light that has been given me—and just how it is to be accomplished I cannot say—greater strength must be brought into the managing force of the conference. . . . There must be a renovation, a reorganization; a power and strength must be brought into the committees that are necessary.  {1BIO 16.2}

It was a solemn and breathtaking address. The delegates, representing a world church of seventy-five thousand members, sat spellbound for a full hour. The response was immediate: That very hour steps were taken for the session to turn from usual procedures and address itself to accomplish what the words of the speaker plainly called for—reorganization.  {1BIO 16.3}

Who was this little woman who spoke so earnestly and so plainly at the opening of a great congress of the church with words of reproof and counsel and then hope, words that burned within the hearts of church leaders and all present that day?  {1BIO 16.4}

The voice was that of the messenger of the Lord, Ellen G. White, who for nearly a decade had resided overseas, and who for half a century and more had been bringing messages from the God of heaven to encourage, guide, and guard His remnant people on earth.  {1BIO 16.5}

Just three weeks later the reorganization was fully accomplished. Responsibilities in church management had been shifted from just a few men at the General Conference headquarters to a large number carrying responsibilities in the various portions of the gospel field. The way was now open for the work of God in its many ramifications throughout the world to forge ahead. At the farewell meeting many joined J. N. Loughborough, who was present during the organization of the General Conference thirty-eight years before, in the expression “I thank God for what I have seen here in this work of reorganization during this conference.”  {1BIO 16.6}

In her closing remarks Ellen White asked the question “Who do you suppose has been among us since this conference began? . . . Who has walked up and down the aisles of this tabernacle?” She answered, “The God of heaven and His angels,” and added:  {1BIO 17.1}

We have been trying to organize the work on right lines. The Lord has sent His angels to minister unto us who are heirs of salvation, telling us how to carry the work forward. . . . Press together, press together. Let us be united in Christ.  {1BIO 17.2}

In the prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction Christ said, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” This prophecy will again be fulfilled. The abounding iniquity of that day finds its counterpart in this generation. So with the prediction in regard to the preaching of the gospel. Before the fall of Jerusalem, Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, declared that the gospel was preached to “every creature which is under heaven.” Colossians 1:23. So now, before the coming of the Son of man, the everlasting gospel is to be preached “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” Revelation 14:6, 14. God “hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world.” Acts 17:31. Christ tells us when that day shall be ushered in. He does not say that all the world will be converted, but that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” By giving the gospel to the world it is in our power to hasten our Lord’s return. We are not only to look for but to hasten the coming of the day of God. 2 Peter 3:12, margin. Had the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world would before this have been warned, and the Lord Jesus would have come to our earth in power and great glory.  {DA 633.3} 

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.– Letter 12, 1890. = 1SM 48

From the light given me of the Lord, men will arise speaking perverse things. Yea, already they have been working and speaking things which God has never revealed, bringing sacred truth upon a level with common things. Issues have been and will continue to be made of men’s conceited fallacies, not of truth. The devisings of men’s minds will invent tests that are no tests at all, that when the true test shall be made prominent, it shall be considered on a par with the man-made tests that have been of no value. We may expect that everything will be brought in and mingled with sound doctrine, but by clear, spiritual discernment, by the heavenly anointing, we must distinguish the sacred from the common which is being brought in to confuse faith and sound judgment and demerit the great, grand, testing truth for this time. . . . {6BC 1064.5}

Never, never was there a time when the truth will suffer more from being misrepresented, belittled, demerited through the perverse disputings of men than in these last days. Men have brought themselves in with their heterogeneous mass of heresies which they represent as oracles for the people. The people are charmed with some strange, new thing, and are not wise in experience to discern the character of ideas that men may frame up as something. But to call it something of great consequence and tie it to the oracles of God does not make it truth. Oh, how this rebukes the low standard of piety in the churches. Men who want to present something original will conjure up things new and strange, and without consideration will step forward on these unstable theories that have been woven together as a precious theory. And present it as a life and death question. . . . {6BC 1064.6} (Letter 136a, 1898)

The cause needs the help of the old hands, the aged workers, who have had so many years’ experience in the cause of God, who have seen many going into fanaticism, cherishing the delusion of false theories, and raising all the efforts made to let the true light shine forth in the darkness to reveal the superstitions that were coming in to confuse judgment, and to make of none effect the message of truth that in these last days must be given in its purity to the remnant people of God. {20MR 219.3}

P.S.: – This is second seminar on Spirit of Prophecy presented at this church. The first seminar presented Biblical origin for Prophecy among adventists.
Also a seminar on Sanctuary, Festivals, and Salvation.