Understanding The Spirit of Prophecy

Very often we hear someone say, “Mrs. White says,” or “the Spirit of Prophecy says.” How should we interpret these statements?

For Seventh-day Adventists, fundamental belief # 18, The Gift of Prophecy, says that “One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White . As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.” (Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:14-21; Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 12:17; 19:10.)

This raises the question, what is the Spirit of Prophecy?
It should be noted that prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit, which implies that there are others (See 1 Cor. 12:9-11, 28). The gift of prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit, and an identifying mark of the remnant church (Rev. 12:17). Revelation 19:10 says that “the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.”

Ellen White and the Gift of Prophecy
Seventh-day Adventists believe that the gift of prophecy was manifested in the life and works of a woman by the name of Ellen White (1827 – 1915). Her prophetic ministry to the Seventh-day Adventist Church spanned over seventy years. She was a speaker and writer, and her ministry influenced the growing church in areas such as music, leadership, biblical interpretation, health, family and finance to name a few. During her lifetime she wrote over 100,000 pages of material.

The Reason for the Gift of Prophecy

The question naturally arises as to why God gave her this gift. She never called herself a prophet, but simply referred to herself as the lesser light leading to the greater light, or as the Lords messenger. Adventists believe that God entrusted her with this gift to help his struggling remnant church in the last days before Jesus returns to the earth.

Ellen White’s Authority and the church

What is the role of Ellen White in the administration and operation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Her writings are used to help in the formation of doctrine and church practice, but the operation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is governed by a church manual.

How to Interpret Ellen White

A. Read everything that she has to say on the subject: Like any document, in order to fully understand the message of the writer, you must interpret their message within the context in which it was given. Much of Ellen White’s counsel was given to specific individuals under specific circumstances. It is best to know what these circumstances were, before we apply the counsel today, under similar circumstances.

B. Read the historical context.: In p. 204, she told one brother eat eggs (which are high in cholesterol) raw, soaked in grape juice, but on p. 366 she chided a parent for placing meat, butter and eggs on the table and serving it to the children. Two different counsels based on two different situations.

Don’t use It as a Test of Faith In public, do not make prominent and quote that which Sister White has written as authority to sustain your positions. To do this will not increase faith in the testimonies. Bring your evidences, clear and plain, from the Word of God. A ‘Thus saith the Lord’ is the strongest testimony you can possibly present to the people. Let none be educated to look to Sister White, but to the mighty God, who gives instruction to Sister White.’ --Letter 11, 1894, Manuscript Releases, Volume 5 [Nos. 260–346, 1971–1973] (Ellen G. White Estate, 1993), 140.

Finally, we must spend time in the word of God, and allow the Spirit of God to change us from within. God has blessed His church with the gift of prophecy. Let us appreciate this gift, and allow the message to prepare our hearts for the soon return of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.