Advindication Part 3: Understanding Ellen White's Role

Scripture: Joel 2:28-29, 1 Corinthians 12:28, Exodus 15:20
Date: 12/12/1998 
This is part 3 in a series on vindicating the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It deals with common misunderstandings about Adventism and its teachings. This sermon discusses the issue of whether Adventists "use" Ellen White to prove doctrine.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Now we are going to have a message that deals with the subject of Advindication, Part 3. You know, I’ve been doing this series. I’m going to little vacations from this series. We did during Thanksgiving. We’ll be taking another one in a week or two. But I’m presenting a very deliberate series of meetings on some of the most common misunderstandings, and even accusations people make against the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I am a Seventh Day Adventist. I try not to brag about it, but I’m certainly not ashamed. I believe that we are not simply another denomination.

I believe that the Seventh Day Adventist Church is a movement of God that is prophesied in the Bible. I believe that we are modern Israel, if you will. And that’s not to detract at all from literal Israel. But I believe that we are a movement of God and that’s also not to say there are no spirit filled, godly, heaven bound people in many other denominations. You see, I believe there are other people on their way to heaven in other denominations. That’s one of the things that attracted me to the Seventh Day Adventist Church is as I studied with many different churches before I put my roots down, some churches would say, “We’re the only ones. This is the secret society. If you’re not a member of this church you’re out.” And I could start naming names, but they’re, in their teachings there’s quite a few churches that teach that. We don’t. And my mind would not allow me to believe that as I read the Bible and Jesus made it very clear that many will come from the east and the west and sit down in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus said God not only healed lepers like Marion(?) He healed Syrian lepers. The prophet Elijah went to stay with a Gentile during the famine and God has His people everywhere. The Bible is very clear.

Well, we talked a little bit about the common misunderstanding of Seventh-day Adventists being legalistic. Then we talked in our last presentation about the Sabbath truth. Now as people look at the prominent objections that they make against the Adventist teaching, inevitably someone’s going to say, “Well, the Seventh-day Adventists are a cult because they base their teachings on Ellen White who is a woman who got hit in the head with a brick and had visions.” Have you heard this, or something that resembles that? I was listening one night to another Bible answer program on the radio and someone said, they were asking about the seventh day Sabbath and somehow the word Seventh-day Adventist came up. And this fellow who fancies himself a scholar, he said, “Well, the Seventh-day Adventists believe the seventh day is the Sabbath because their prophet Ellen White had a vision and saw a special halo around the seventh day and that’s why they believe it’s the Sabbath.” I wished I could reach right through my radio speaker and take him by the tie and get his attention. Because nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve been teaching this message for years now and I have never ever even remotely attempted to prove the seventh day Sabbath from Ellen White’s writings. It’s the Bible truth. And that’s why she believed it. And so there’s a lot of very gross misunderstandings. You know, in summary; I’m going to begin with a summary. In summary, I would say people are down on that which they are not up on. People are against what they do not know about. And it’s very easy to be afraid of what you don’t understand. People are down on what they’re not up on. And I’ve had a lot of people lecture me about Ellen White and I’ll say, “Have you ever read anything?” “Well, no. Our church doesn’t allow it,” or “I wouldn’t do that. I might be hypnotized like you.” And you know, people are afraid. They’re down on what they’re not up on. And so I’m going to hit this head on and I’m going to bring out, not all because that’s impossible, but what I thought were some of the most common objections that I’ve run into. And you know what? I want to thank the Lord for the opportunity to do this study because in studying, and you realize that I have had to study and read the most common criticisms that people have made. I’ve gone on the Internet. I’ve picked up books where people say Seventh Day Adventists are a cult. And I’ve read a whole spectrum of accusations against our church in preparing these messages for you. And you know, it’s been great because it has really grounded my faith. Because the accusations are so weak. And I think, “Man, we must be doing something right.” People would be so scared to come up with these flimsy arguments. All right.

First of all let’s establish something here. Before the Lord ever does anything great or significant in history he works through people. Spirit filled people. Before the Lord destroyed the world with a flood He had a prophet. What was his name? Noah was a prophet. He foretold the future. He said, “A flood is coming. God told me.” He was a prophet. Before the Lord brought the children of Israel out of Egypt He rose up an individual who served as one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament to lead them. What was his name? Moses. Before the Lord carried the children of Israel away captive to Babylon and the city was destroyed He sent a prophet to warn them, before that calamity. Sent several, actually, but what was one of the prominent ones? Jeremiah, who warned them. Isaiah, who also had warned them in advance. And I could go down through the Bible. Whenever the Lord does anything significant with and through and for His people He sends messengers to prepare, to warn, to lead. And there are several different facets and spectrums of prophets that you find in the Bible. They’re not all the same. They don’t all have the same job description. Before Jesus came the first time did God pave the way with a human who was a prophet? What was his name? John the Baptist. OK, now friends, I think I’ve established a precedent here.

Jesus’ climax for the whole plan of salvation is the second coming. The world is plunged right now into a terrible time of confusion and distraction. We’re on the verge of a great time of trouble and the second coming of the Creator of all the universe; do you think that the Lord is going to be silent at this time? That on the verge of eternity God is not going to speak through people? What does the Bible say? Look with me, Joel chapter 2, verse 28 and 29. And this is also repeated in Acts chapter 2, Peter quotes it. “And it shall come to pass afterward,” in Acts it says, “It shall come to pass in the last days,” Joel chapter 2, verse 28 and 29, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions: And also on my menservants and my maidservants I will pour out my spirit in those days says the Lord.” God pours out His spirit on individuals and He gives them these gifts. And one of the gifts is the gift of prophecy.

I Corinthians chapter 12, verse 28. Are there still prophets in the church? Is this one of the gifts? Let me read this to you. Paul says, New Testament, got that? Some people say the prophets ended in the Old Testament. That’s unbiblical. New Testament. “And God has appointed these in the church,” now the context here is it’s, are we still in the days and the age of the church? These are offices that are in the church. “First apostles,” incidentally, some are saying, “What do you mean, Doug? We don’t have 12 apostles anymore.” The office of apostle were spiritual administrators and leaders is still in the church. Because we always associate that word with Peter, James, and John we’re always afraid to say so-and-so is an apostle. Because; the same way, you know, Biblically, technically you and I are to be saints, right? Am I right? How do you feel if I call you Saint Bailey? We feel awkward, right, because, you know, we think about the Catholics who have canonized saints and we’re not supposed to do that. But Biblically we’re to be holy, aren’t’ we? We’re to be saints. That’s very Biblical. Biblically they’re still apostles. Let’s be Biblical. There’s still apostles and there are still, what else does it say? “secondarily prophets.” It’s one of the prominent gifts in the church. “Teachers.” We still have them. “Workers of miracles, gifts of healings, helps, administrations, variety tongues.” I believe all of the gifts of the spirit are still available to the church today.

Now, when you study the church you’ll see there are phases and waves and cycles in church history, even in the Old Testament, where the gifts come in different strengths and they disappear for a while. I get a big kick when I read the story of Gideon in Judges. An angel appears to Gideon and the angel says, “The Lord is with you, O man of God.” And Gideon says, “How can you say the Lord is with us? Whatever happened to all the miracles and signs and wonders and things that we saw in the old days, back when you led the children of Israel out of Egypt? That hasn’t happened for hundreds of years. What happened?” And if you think way back there, Gideon was saying the age of miracles and wonders is gone. And Jesus wasn’t even born yet, right? The sun was getting ready to backwards again for Hezekiah. So, the Lord does it in waves and because you and I are living in the generation of comparative wavelessness doesn’t mean it’s not coming again. But the Lord still does His miracles and prophets are still one of the people.

All right, here’s accusation number one. And I’m starting out here with what I think are some of the very; ones we can quickly sweep aside. Ellen White could not be a prophet because the Bible says, “Suffer not a woman to teach.” OK? Have you heard that one before? Women aren’t supposed to teach. Well, wait a second. Are there women prophets in the Bible? Let’s name just a few. We’ve got Miriam in the Old Testament, Deborah, Holga(?), Anna, Isaiah’s wife, she’s not named. She’s called a prophetess. Isaiah’s wife. In the New Testament you’ve got Philip’s daughters. And then it says here, “sons and daughters” will receive the spirit in that prophecy we just read there in Joel and in Acts chapter 2. So it’s very clear that the gifts of prophecy are not restricted to men. There are men and women prophets in the Bible. OK? Got that out of the way.

Secondarily, some misunderstand. Oh, and let me say something. I need to concede that every church has people who are cultic in their nature. There are people who have a tendency to deify others and to put them on a pedestal and worship them. And no church can control individuals in that church that might be given to cultic behavior. I think it’s just, you know, some people want folks to dictate everything they’re supposed to do. There are Seventh Day Adventists that are cultic in their adoration of Ellen White. I apologize for that. I can’t help that. I’ll never be able to control that. It’s not Biblical, but I’m not alone. Every church has that. I also should add, every single church, especially Protestant churches, have inspired leaders. You get a man like John Westley, spirit filled. I believe he was inspired by God. Maybe not to the same extent as Ellen White, but inspired nonetheless. Led by God, led a great movement. Methodist Church grew out of his leadership. You’ve got Luther. Stood up against the whole political, religious world at that time. Was he inspired? I believe he was inspired by God. So, every great movement, God has used men and women to lead. God uses people. The Lord has never yet used an angel to start a religious movement. Are you aware of that? He uses individuals. And there are people who worship Westley. And there are people who worship Luther. They say, “If Luther didn’t say it I don’t believe it.” And there are Seventh Day Adventists who have done that with Ellen White. That’s embarrassing because Biblically here’s the misunderstanding. Prophets were people and we sometimes forget that. Some people think that prophets are infallible.

Let me read some examples from the Bible. When a prophet said, “The Lord has shown me,” that is an utterance of God. But if the prophet is not getting a vision or a message from God, well it’s not an infallible statement. Why do you think; let me read you, for instance, Miriam. All right, lets’ look at her. She’s a woman prophet. Was Miriam a prophetess? Just in case you think I’m speculating it says in Exodus 15:20, “Then Miriam the prophetess.” Is that clear? Say amen. OK. Now you go to Numbers 12, Miriam was a prophetess of God and God spoke to her. “Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman he had married:” Well, they weren’t supposed to do that. They were speaking out of line. And how do I know that? Because God smote Miriam with leprosy for speaking out of line. Does that mean she wasn’t a prophetess earlier? No, she was. And she was still a prophetess. But prophets and prophetess were people that sometimes thought and spoke on their own volition.

Was Nathan a prophet? If you read in II Chronicles chapter 17 it says, “And Nathan the prophet came to David,” OK? David is sitting in his house. You’ve heard me allude to this before. David is sitting in his house. He’s thinking, “Here I’ve got this beautiful house of cedar.” The King of Tyre had brought all this beautiful cedar from Lebanon. He built this palace and now the ark of God is in this dilapidated tent they had built in the wilderness hundreds of years earlier. He says, “It’s not fair that here I’m dwelling in a palace and the ark is in a curtain. I’m going to build a temple for God.” And he began to gather resources for that. He’s thinking these things and Nathan the prophet comes to him. And it says in I Chronicles 17, verse 2-4, “Then Nathan the prophet said, Do all that is in your heart; for God is with you.” Now Nathan and David were friends. David says, “You know, it’s not fair that I live in a palace and the ark of the covenant’s in a tent. I want to build a temple for God’s glory.” Nathan says, “Go for it David, God is with you. Do it.” Now that was Nathan speaking like you and I speak based on his judgment. But it goes on to say, “But it happened that night, the word of the LORD came to Nathan the prophet, saying, Go and tell my servant David, Thus says the LORD, You shall not build me a house.” “Nathan, you spoke too soon.” See Nathan was a prophet, but prophets were people. Some people think when Ellen White sat at the dinner table and she said, “Could you please pass the salt?” they were to write that down. “Wonder what the prophetic meaning; there’s a spiritual application in passing the salt here. What could that mean?” Do you realize prophets were people that had to talk during the day. They had conversations, they wrote letters. And there are people who think that every time Ellen White opened her mouth it was a divine utterance. That’s not Biblical. Let me give you more. Once you understand; I believe she was a prophet. Don’t misunderstand me. I think she was inspired, but we’ve got some people who tweak things and get it out of order.

Was Samuel a prophet of God? One of the greatest. Was everything he thought or saw a prophecy or divine utterance? No. I Samuel 16, verse 6 and 7. He gathered the sons of Jesse before him. “So it was, when they come, he looked at Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.” He thought, “Hey, this has got to be the one. Look at him, beaming, handsome, tall.” “And the LORD said to Samuel, Don’t look on his appearance, or the height of his stature; because I have refused him:” Well, based on Samuel’s limited judgment he thought this was the Lord’s anointed. God said, “You’re wrong, Samuel. Until I reveal it to you.” Now, are you getting a trend here? Prophets were people like you and me who had opinions. When the Lord revealed something to them, when He gave them a dream or a vision or a divine utterance or an angel spoke that was the word of God. But other times when prophets were shopping at K-Mart and they said, “I’d like to find a cheaper model,” that’s not a divine utterance. You understand?

New Testament, Paul illustrates this very clearly in several places. I Corinthians 7:6. Was Paul a prophet? Did Paul have visions? Yes, he did. Did he have dreams? Jesus appeared to him. He had dreams. He was a prophet in every respect. Paul in writing would say, for instance, I Corinthians 7, verse 6, “But I speak this by permission, and not by commandment.” What do you think that means? Paul is saying, “I’m telling you, based on my judgment, I think this is what you ought to do. I have no divine revelation on this issue.” He says it again, I Corinthians 7:25, “Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment.” Now do you see Paul drawing the distinction between a prophetic utterance and his personal judgment as a man of God? And he goes on to say, “I’ve got pretty good judgment, too.” And I think you should listen to that. You go down here to II Corinthians 11:17, “That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it was foolishly.” He says, “Now, it’s not the Lord telling me to say this because I’m going to boast like a fool. Bear with me.” And so, all through the Bible you can see a pattern that prophets are people like you and me. Well, Elijah got discouraged and ran from Jezebel. Was that the Lord sending him? No. So, some people have taken this idea that whenever a prophet said anything that it was a divine message and they’ve tried to use that very flawed reasoning to discredit Ellen White. Let me give you an example. Something I know on a first hand basis.

A very close friend of ours knew Ellen White. Her name was Dr. Lolita Simpson. Now, she died a couple of years ago. Her father was a contemporary of Ellen White, an evangelist named W. W. Simpson. A very successful man, very creative. Dr. Simpson said, “I used to remind her of her dad because I was always thinking of these crazy things to do to get people’s attention while I’m preaching.” Her dad made these beasts out of papier mache based on the ones you see in Daniel and Revelation. And while he was preaching he had these trap doors in the platform and as he was preaching he’d have someone pull the trap doors and the pulleys of the rope and these beasts would come up out of the floor. And people wrote a bunch of letters to him and said, “Oh, this is terrible. It’s sensational. You’re not supposed to do that.” And Ellen White wrote back and said, “No, he’s working for God. We need to think of creative means to keep the attention of the people and to help them visualize the messages.” She said, “Leave him alone. It’s great.” I understand they found those beasts and they’re now in a museum at Andrews University right now. Papier mache beasts. W. W. Simpson, Dr. Simpson’s father, became sick. Ellen White, who knew him well, he lived in California, she wrote a letter to Dr. Simpson’s mother, W. W. Simpson’s wife, and said, “Your husband’s doing a great work. Do everything you can for him because the Lord has a great work for him to do.” Well, she did everything she could and he died. Well, Mrs. Simpson, the wife and mother, felt like she had not done everything because God had spoken and said that God had a great work for him to do and she must not have done everything. And Ellen White wrote back and said, “No, I was just speaking like anyone else would talk saying he’s doing a great work. I was just sharing my sympathy and saying do what you can for him. I was endorsing his work. It’s not a divine utterance. You did everything you could and the Lord saw fit that he pass away.” So people sometimes took things she said and twisted them, forgetting that not everything she said was a divine utterance. She was speaking by permission or commandment just like other prophets in the Bible did. Do you understand the distinction there?

Now, I know some of what I’m saying now is a little cerebral for you. I’m appealing to your intelligence. This is an education. You and I need to understand how a prophetic gift works. Some people don’t know that and that’s why they’ve gotten into trouble. OK. Here’s the very popular accusation. Plagiarism. Have you heard that? Ellen White was a plagiarist. And a gentleman wrote a book called The White Lie. And the interesting thing was this fellow was a Seventh Day Adventist minister who was an avid, tenacious Ellen White supporter. He believed everything she wrote was a divine utterance, you know, on equal basis with the Bible. And one day he found in his readings a statement in another writer who was a contemporary on the life of Christ or something that was parallel to something she wrote. And it was so close that he said, “She copied this from this one.” And he was shattered. She’s taking divine credit for something that someone else wrote. Plagiarism. All right. You’ve got to be real careful about this accusation of plagiarism. The idea of plagiarism, let me see if I can define it, is that you are stealing information from another author, their creative material. You’re publishing it, putting your name on it and you’re saying, “I got this. I wrote it; it’s mine,” and you’re profiting from that. That’s one of the definitions for plagiarism. There is something else called literary borrowing that happens all the time. Are you aware that all the Bible writers were involved in literary borrowing without giving credit to one another? How many of you have read the gospel of Mark? Then you read the gospel of Matthew, which was written after the gospel of Mark and you realize that 90% of Matthew parallels Mark word for word. Well, are we going to accuse Matthew of being a plagiarist? 90%! When you consider that Ellen White wrote, oh, I forget, it’s over 100,000 pages. It may have been 300,000. Philip, do you know what it is? How many pages? She wrote hundreds and; matter of fact, somebody told me she wrote more than any other woman in American history. [The] Only man who wrote more than Ellen White was Ben Franklin. Did you know that? And they just find a handful of things that appear to be in some other books. And you know what, I would concede to that. Are you aware that John Bunyen was accused of plagiarism for Pilgrim’s Progress? And Westley was accused of plagiarism. Are you aware that 10% of what Jesus said He quotes the Old Testament without giving credit? Is Jesus a plagiarist?

Let me tell you something about the 1800’s that are very different from our day. We’re living in a day where everybody is sue happy. Everybody wants credit. They want to copyright, they want the royalties, they want the benefits for everything they do. Back in the 1800’s there was still the lingering vestige of a spiritual revolution taking place. A lot of spiritual greats lived back then. They believed that inspired information belonged to everybody. And that if God gave you something and someone else wanted to use what God gave you for the benefit of good, for you to say, “Give me credit,” was a despicable thing because that smacks of pride. And it would be an insult to say, “Well, I’m going to give them credit because they want credit,” because that’s like saying they’re a proud person and they want the credit for what they said and it came from them and not from the Lord. You understand the mind set? So back in the 1800’s a lot of these people would read one anther’s writings and they would maybe employ portions of these things in their writings and they wouldn’t say, “Hey, by the way, I got this from so-and-so, he gets credit for it.” That’d be a smack in the face. “He’s proud and he wants credit and it isn’t really from God, it’s from him.” They believed that Biblical truth and principles of truth were universal and incidentally, I think it was Solomon who said, “Is there anything new under the sun?” Very few of us have original thoughts. Are you aware of that?

Mark Twain said every writer’s a plagiarist because there is no new thought. I don’t know how much to tell you, but when I stand before you and preach from week to week do you think that everything I say is original? I’ll admit, some of it is. And you already knew that. But I read all week long and I try and gather information everywhere I can. And to be honest with you, I don’t always remember where it was I got what I read. I have a good memory. I don’t know if you know that. A pretty good memory. I’ll read things on the airplane. I’ll read Reader’s Digest and then a year later I’ll think, “You know, I remember this statement, this adage, this phrase,” and I’ll incorporate it not only in my sermons, I might incorporate it in an article and never give credit because I don’t know who said it. And you can sound like a ninny; if I stopped every time that I wanted to give credit for where I got something during the sermon, my sermon would sound like a bibliography. The idea of conveying messages of truth is knowing what to select. And the incredible thing; you know, I brought some papers, you saw me fiddling with here. Are you aware that a Catholic attorney in a legal firm in Washington investigated the accusations that Ellen White was a plagiarist? And their summary is that there is nothing, there’s no ground for it. Are you aware that in spite of all these people who say Ellen White was a plagiarist, nobody ever has filed a claim against her as a plagiarist? If they thought they’ve got a case, some of these things, families still own copyrights to certain things. No one has ever filed a case against her. So, if she’s such a plagiarist how come it’s just accusations and no one’s ever presented a case? This attorney, not only did he say, “In all of my research,” and he spent 300 hours reading her writings, this Catholic attorney said his favorite book was Great Controversy. His name is Vincent L. Ramick. He is with the firm of Dillar, Ramick & Wright, Ltd. in Washington, DC. Want to make sure and give the reference here. He was asked, you know, “What did you think after you read her writings?” He said, “The shocking thing was Mrs. White moved me. In all candor, she moved me. I’m a Roman Catholic. But Catholic, Protestant, whatever she moved me. And I think her writings should move anyone unless he is permanently biased.”

You know, when I hear people accusing Ellen White of being a false prophet or some of the other wild accusations I think, “They haven’t been reading it,” or “They’ve got a strong motivation.” You know, I’ll tell you one thing that I’ve discovered. Ellen White’s writings were of such a high caliber, and she called people to turn from sin to righteousness, that a lot of people have become very uncomfortable with her writings. Because they say, “Well, it sounds like righteousness by works.” And in order for them to feel comfortable in their sin they’ve got to get rid of Ellen White. Because she had such a; and you know, the other thing is, you know what, there are certain standards by which you judge if a person is a prophet. And one of those standards is a godly life. And everybody who knew her, even her enemies that were contemporaries from other churches, said, “We would never, ever question her sincerity and Christian commitment. She is a godly woman.” Spent all of her time feeding others and helping others and healing others and traveling to all different corners of the earth and ministering. And was not too proud to milk the cow herself and take it to the neighbors. You know, you can fool a lot of people, but you can’t fool your kids. And her children that survived, two of them died in youth, but her children that survived stayed in the church and, indeed, worked with her. Some of these other so called prophets from other denominations, they ended up living in palaces and hoarding all the money from the books. She committed the money from her books to Christian ministry. Died in a simple home in Elmshaven, California. You can just look at the lady’s life, 87 years of ministry and 70 years of prophecy. I always thought that was kind of interesting. From 17 to 87 she had dreams and visions and; about 2,000 of them. And some of you have maybe heard the endorsements that Paul Harvey has made on the radio on the incredible prophecies of Ellen White. And I could go down the list, but I’m trying not to slip into this biased form. I’m looking objectively at the criticisms.

Plagiarism. Well, like I said, you have to accuse Matthew and Luke of being a plagiarist because they copied Mark freely. Jesus would be a plagiarist. Notice, Psalm 22, verse 1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Spoken by King David. Jesus on the cross said, word for word, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and then He didn’t pause and give His reference. Plagiarism. It’s really ridiculous some of these charges. I forget who it was that said, “If Ellen White did borrow she was inspired in knowing what to borrow.” She knew what to, you know, there’s an old expression, “You’ve got to eat the fish and spit out the bones.” And she knew where the bones were. She never borrowed the wrong thing. If she borrowed. OK, let’s go to another accusation against Ellen White and her inspiration.

How could she be a prophet of God? How could she be all that people claim that she is? She wrote on education and agriculture and health and medicine and just you name it. She wrote in virtually every major category and way ahead of her time. How could she do that with basically a third grade education? Her formal education ended at age nine. And I’ll get to that in just a minute. How could people believe her? How could she be the leader of a movement? She was ignorant. A lot of people have attacked her for her ignorance. Uneducated. Be careful. Acts 4, verse 13. First of all, if you’ll notice in the Bible, not always, sometimes God uses people who have formal education, but not always. Matter of fact, more times than not it seems like God does something great through people who do not have thorough, formal education. Now, I believe education’s very important. I think everybody God uses is educated. When Jesus chose fishermen did He educate them? Absolutely. You’ve got to be educated. I’m all for education. I’m just saying that formal, worldly education is not always a criteria for greatness in God’s estimate. Acts 4, verse 13. Peter and John are making their defense before the Sanhedrin(?), the intelligencia of Israel. It says, “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained,” unlettered men is what this means. They didn’t have their degrees. “They marveled; and realized they had been with Jesus.” Because Jesus had no letters and He was brilliant. Christ, 12 years old, confounded the wise men in the temple. So, the idea that you’ve got to have formal education in order to be a leader in God’s cause almost works against you. Jesus turned the world around with people like John the Baptist and fishermen, amen? Shepherds like David and Joseph, great administrators. And so God looks for sincerity and brilliance which sometimes finds its way into humble folk.

Another common accusation. Seventh Day Adventists use Ellen White’s writings like a second Bible. Have you heard this one? Or it’s on an equal plane or above. Now, one of the things that turned me off when I was studying with Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, I told you I studied the whole gamut before I decided where the Lord was leading me. When I studied with the Latter Day Saints and I would find something in the Bible that did not match with their teachings they then would go to the Pearl of Great Price or one of Joseph Smith’s books and they would say, “Yes, but this says...” I said, “Well, what do you go by? The Bible or this?” And they said, “Well, this is new light. And we always take the new light, it’s fresh, over the old light,” meaning the Bible was old light. “We don’t need to go by the old letter, we use the new spirit,” they would say. And I said, “No, no, no, the Bible’s got to be the foundation for everything.” Those of you who have been baptized as Seventh Day Adventists, you could take a look at your baptismal vows and in the vows there it says, “The Bible is the only rule of faith and practice for the Christian.” Ellen White’s name appears no where in that statement. And so, officially and even in her statement. Let me read; she never told people to put her writings on an equal plane or above the Bible. “I recommend to you, dear reader, the word of God as the rule of your faith and practice. By that word we’re to be judged. God has in the word promised to give visions in the last days, not for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people and to correct those who err from Bible truth.” So she said the word of God does make a provision that God will still speak, but it is not to preclude or to have preeminence over the Bible, the word of God, the complete cannon of scripture. Another statement, “Little heed is given to the Bible and the Lord has given a lesser light,” speaking of her writings, “to lead men and women to the greater light of God’s word.” That’s Review and Herald, January 20, 1903. I don’t want to be accused of plagiarism. “We are to regard the Bible as God’s disclosure to us of eternal things, the things of most consequence for us to know. By the world is thrown aside as if the persual of it were finished, but a thousand years of research would not exhaust the hidden treasures the Bible contains. Eternity alone will disclose the wisdom of this book, for it is the wisdom of an infinite mind. Shall we then cultivate a deep hunger for the productions of human authors and disregard the word of God?” This counsel’s on Parent’s and Teachers. You notice, she sets aside human authors. She says it’s the word of God that should fill our mind. Uriah Smith, who is one of the leaders and editors for many years of Signs of the Times, said, “We stand on the great Protestant platform that the Bible and the Bible alone is our rule of faith and practice.” Matter of fact, I found a statement here somewhere by her husband, James White. “The Bible is a perfect and complete revelation. It is our only rule of faith and practice.” And so these people who say that Seventh Day Adventists are taught to put the writings of Ellen White on an equal or a higher plane than the Bible; I told you, I apologize because there’s probably kooks out there that do that. Have you met them before? They come to church, they’ve got a big old bag of books, but they don’t bring their Bible. And I apologize, you can’t help that, you know. And incidentally, let me ask you something else. Was Jesus accused of being crazy? Was He accused of having a devil? And everything else under the sun. If God does have a prophet, if God does work through a movement, wouldn’t it stand to reason that if that church is the object of the Lord’s supreme regard that it would also be the object of the devil’s rage? The devil would have a very sophisticated, bad PR plan for that movement. And so I would stand surprised and amazed if you weren’t hearing negative press, so to speak. You should expect it. Jesus said, “If they’ve done it to me, they’ll do it to you.” And so, you know, it can be understandable that people would accuse Seventh Day Adventists of doing that.

Number six. Point number six. What about prophecies that didn’t come true. Well, some prophecies that Ellen White made haven’t come true because they haven’t’ happened yet. I mean there’s some about the second coming. She did make a few prophecies out of the thousands of visions that she had (when you consider the percentage, it’s really not even worth consideration) that were conditional. That if God’s people had the relationship with the Lord they were supposed to have and doing the work they were supposed to do there was; Peter says that you and I can hasten the Lord’s coming. And when the Lord didn’t come, for some people who lived back then, they said, “Ah, she prophesied the Lord was going to come.” And she said, “No, these were conditional on our doing certain things.” Can you find examples in the Bible where conditional prophecies were made by other prophets? Jonah. God told Jonah, God told Jonah, told him in no uncertain terms, to get into Nineveh and to tell them in 40 days the city would be destroyed. God in the prophecy never said in 40 days the city might be destroyed. He said in 40 days the city will be destroyed. Well the people repented. People and the animals repented. That’s what the Bible says, sackcloth and ashes on the man and beast, fasting, repenting. And then God relented of His disaster He was going to send. “I’ve changed my mind.” Why? Because their behavior’s changed. God’s not out to kill people. The Lord told Moses, “You’re going to lead these people into the Promise Land.” He told that group that first left Egypt, “I’m taking you into a land flowing with milk and honey.” It was a promise, a prophecy. But then because they did not trust the Lord, they did not believe, they did not follow Him, God said, “I’m not going to take you in, but this generation’s going to die in the wilderness. I’ll take your children in.” A lot of examples in the Bible where prophecies were made by prophets of God that were conditional in their nature. Can you see that? And so some people have taken these few inconsistencies; these were conditional prophecies. OK.

Medical condition. Now I’m going to read from a history record here. “Ellen White was a cheerful,” she wasn’t Ellen White, she was Ellen Gould when she was a little girl, “was a cheerful, buoyant, active child. At the age of nine, while returning home one afternoon from school she was injured by a stone,” a large stone, “thrown by a classmate.” I understand the classmate was not even trying to hit her, trying to throw it at someone else, but she was struck in the face. “She suffered a broken nose and in all probability a concussion for the injury was followed by three weeks of unconsciousness. The experience left her ill and debilitated. For two years she was unable to even breathe through her nose and could attend school but little. She was nervous and unable to hold her hand sufficiently steady to write and the effort to read made her dizzy. She made a brief, last attempt at school at the age of 12 and again suffered failing health. Physicians gave little hope of recovery. Thus her formal education might be said to have closed when she was nine. However, her wise and frugal parents did not allow her to grow up in useless ignorance. From her mother she received a thorough, practical training and as she was able she assisted her father in hat making.” Now, I can relate to Ellen White a little bit. I did not have a long formal education, but I learned to read. I used to tell all my kids, “Learn to read, learn to read well because you can then educate yourself.” Ellen White learned to read and she learned to read well. And she was a prolific reader. She had a vast library. And an incredibly captive mind. She was able to retain things. Matter of fact, one of the reasons she was accused of plagiarism is because she had all these books at Elmshaven, in California. She read volumes and volumes on the life of Christ and the history of the Jews and Dobone’s(?) History of the Reformation and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and all these things. Then she goes to Australia and she writes, was it Desire of Ages she wrote in Australia? Is that right? And while she’s there she incorporates some of the things she had read at her library back in California. She has no reference, she’s doing it from memory, inspired statements. A great reader. Well, though she didn’t have a lot of formal education she kept reading.

Now, some people say; incidentally, her dad taught her to work as a hat maker. I thought that was cute. Some people say she got hit in the head with a rock when she was nine years old and that’s why she started having visions eight years later when she was 17. First of all, a broken nose doesn’t usually cause brain damage. I’ve had my nose broken. Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have told you that. “That explains everything, Doug!” The thinking part of your brain is back here, it’s not up here. And so, the idea that she had her nose broken when she was nine and the visions were due to that when she was 17, when the first vision came, is really ridiculous. And then, you think about it, the visions that inspired her to write to change millions of lives around the world and encourage people on to godliness and helped her to live a godly, dedicate, Christian life; if that comes from a brick flying through the air then I beg you to stone me. So the idea that this is a nervous condition; anyone that knew her, Dr. Kellogg, who was a close friend, and even disagreed with her on many things, said she was inspired and he believed the visions were of God. He knew her closely, lived in her home, knew her physical state, never said anything about her having a physical condition that caused this. It’s people on the fringe who don’t know what they’re talking about that know she got hit by a rock when she was nine and said that’s why she was having visions when she was 86. It’s really, you can’t substantiate that.

Last one, shut door. How many of you have heard shut door? Let me see your hands. Just a handful of you. Maybe I ought to not even mention this. But I think I ought to. You’re going to run into it. In Walter Martin’s book he makes a point of this, and a few other people. Back in 1844 when they thought Jesus was going to come; there was no such thing as a Seventh Day Adventist church back then. [Are] You all aware of that? Ellen White had her first vision then, when she was 17. She was one of the advent believers. They were Sunday keepers back then. They were largely Baptists and Methodists and all different churches. They believed that the Protestants who had not accepted the message that the bridegroom was coming and the wedding was opened and you need to enter in and the door is shut, they could not be converted. Those who had heard the message of the soon coming of Jesus that did not accept it, probation had closed for them, the door had shut. They believed that back then. She admits that she believed it. And it was a few years after her first vision she still did not believe any differently. Her visions never had anything to do with the shut door. Matter of fact, let me read what she says about this. Some people say, “How could she be inspired and still think that these Protestants who rejected that message, their probation had closed?” “With my brethren and sisters, after the time passed in 1844 I did believe no more sinners would be converted, but I never had a vision that no more sinners would be converted and I am clear and free to state that no one has ever heard me say or ever read from my pen statements which justify these charges that they’ve made against me on this point. She simply says, “I didn’t have all knowledge when I had my first vision. First vision had nothing to do with that.” Now, Biblically is there a parallel? Are you aware that after Jesus rose from the dead and poured out His Holy Spirit that the Jews, His disciples, thought that only Jews were to be saved? Did you know that? On Pentecost when 3,000 were baptized, what were they? Jews and only Jews. Later 5,000 were baptized, what were they? Jews and only Jews. Matter of fact, it was up to 10 years after the crucifixion and resurrection, Peter has this vision of the sheet and he goes to Cornelius’ house and he said, “Hey, you know guys, God’s shown me we’re supposed to take the gospel to the Gentiles.” And it was after the conversion of Paul and these things started happening. Slowly they began to realize that it was not exclusive because they preached the gospel to all the Jews. They realized there were others to be converted. So, here they were prophets of God, spirit filled, preaching the gospel with still some misunderstandings. Did the apostles go out preaching for Jesus before Jesus died? Come on, boy I like to get involved. I’m getting excited. Wish it was contagious. They were preaching for Jesus. Did they have misconceptions about the nature of Christ’s ministry even while they were out there preaching about Jesus? Sure, they thought He was going to establish an earthly kingdom right up to the cross. Yet He had them out there preaching, casting out devils and raising the dead and healing the sick. They said, “The demons are subject unto us.” Spirit filled, prophets, working for Jesus, didn’t have their theology all straight yet. They didn’t know everything. You know why? Because they’re people. And God does not give a prophet the gift of omniscience where you are all knowing when you become a prophet. The only one who had that was Christ. And so, yeah, Ellen White maybe didn’t understand what the relationship of the church was with the world and the whole scope of chronology and prophecy back when she was 17 when she had her first vision. God did correct it a few years later. And she admitted she didn’t know all things back then. Some people say, “Oh, here she was, claiming to be a prophet of God, and she didn’t understand the fact that others were still to be converted who had rejected the earlier message.” Well, there’s a Bible example for that. Are you going to reject the writings of Peter, James and John and Matthew and Luke? No.

So, I’ve just gone through the major accusations people make against the writings of Ellen White. Those are the major ones. I’d hate to build a house on that sand, friends. You know what the bottom line is for me? Jesus said, speaking of prophets true and false, “You’ll know them by their fruits.” What’s the fruit? Someone said, “Well, the fruit of Ellen White’s writings is that people become legalists.” Have you heard that before? Oh, it’s not true. Let me show you something here. I’m just going to take my time until I find this. Here it is. All right. Late in the 1980’s a professional survey was conducted which enabled researchers to discover, among other things, the difficulties between Christian attitudes and behaviors of Seventh Day Adventists who regularly read Ellen White’s books and those who do not. The results were very revealing. Notice this. Speaking of Seventh Day Adventists, some who do read and believe her books and some who do not, notice this here. Do they make you more legalistic? “Eighty-five percent of those who read Mrs. White’s books indicated they had an intimate relationship with Jesus, while only 59% of the non-readers did. Eighty-two percent of the E.G. White readers had the assurance that they were right with God.” Assurance of salvation, so to speak. “While only 59% of the non-readers did. Daily personal Bible study was the habit of 82% of those who read Ellen White’s writings regularly, while only 47% of those who did not read Ellen White’s studied their Bible regularly.” And so it went in category after category. Those who regularly spent time not only reading the Bible, but using Ellen White’s writings as a divine or inspired commentary felt better prepared for Christian witnessing, engaged witnessing more often, felt more at home with fellow church members, prayed more, gave more to support local soul winning, were more willing to help their neighbors. In short, their religious experience was stronger, more active, more positive. So this false accusation that reading her writings is going to make you legalistic, because she does lay down a pretty clear concept of holiness, is unfounded. “You’ll know them by their fruits.”

Well friends, when I first read Ellen White’s writings; let me give you a little personal testimony. Never heard of Seventh Day Adventists. You cannot say I went to an Adventist church and they said, “Here, read this. She’s inspired.” I was in a cave. I was going to church on Sunday. I was praying that God would show me the truth. Someone brought me the book Great Controversy. It’s a miracle I read it because it was the biggest book I’d ever read. While I was reading it, never been to a Seventh Day Adventist church, I said, “Wow, the whole Bible’s making sense. This is inspired.” And it began to change me. And when I first started reading her books I was drinking and smoking and stealing. Yeah, I’d accepted Jesus, but I hadn’t changed yet. I told you these things; well, I’d given up the stealing, but I was still drinking and smoking, using drugs, cursing, living immorally. And as I read her books I became convicted of my sins. And I read Steps to Christ, that’s a great book. And I started changing. I felt convicted that I could be changed by God’s grace. I was reading my Bible more than I had ever read it before. And He started making me a new individual. That Conflict of the Ages series, I don’t think there should ever be a pastor who hasn’t read that. It starts with patriarchs and prophets and then it goes to prophets and kings. Desire of Ages, Acts of the Apostles, and Great Controversy. Did I leave one out? No, that’s all of them. First words in the first book say “God is love.” You get to the end of that series that she wrote at the end of her life and it ends by saying, “God is love.” The idea that she was a legalist is absurd. She believed in a high standard because so does the Bible, teach a high standard.

Friends, I would appeal to you, if you have not done it yet, that you discover the blessing that has been missing. You know, the Bible says, “Believe as prophets and you’ll prosper.” Who here wants to prosper? God, in the last days, wants to open our eyes so we can see what’s coming. We need all the instruction and help we can get, amen? And those of you who have read these books I invite you to read them more and read them again. I’ve been blessed just as I’ve studied and I’ve been looking at the criticisms. I’m more convinced than I’ve ever been that she was a messenger of God. And incidentally, I don’t think we’ve seen our last one. I think God is still going to raise up men and women that He is going to speak through in the last days. So we need to have our thinking clear that God does still use prophets, amen? Or you and I might find ourselves rejecting His messages. If you’re willing to see what the Lord wants you to see, if you’d like to pray, “Lord, open my eyes and open my ears and let me be willing to hear what you’re saying,” then why don’t you stand with me. We’ll sing together 326 Open My Eyes.

You know I really love this song. One thing I like about it is it talks about opening our eyes and our ears, receiving from God and it closes by saying, “Open my mouth and help me share what He gives me.” You know, I’d like to make an appeal as I close. Some of you, first of all, may have some special needs you’d like to bring to the cross today as we sing this last verse. We invite you to come to the front for special prayer. Some of you might be saying, “Lord, I have not been listening. I have not been looking and I have not been sharing. And by your grace I want to be a channel through which you communicate truth to the world.” You know, in doing that you are kept alive. You stay fresh when you allow yourself to have the spirit flow through you like living water. It keeps you clean. It keeps you fresh. And if, in closing, you realize “Lord, I’ve not been available, I want to be.” Then you come. We’ll pray for you and you can reconsecrate your life to the Lord.

I believe we are, as you heard me say, living in the last days. And God has given us tremendous resources because there are more people in the world today, iniquity abounds and you and I need to be armed to the teeth. We need to be loaded for bear in this world we live for. Friends, please don’t let those books gather dust on your shelves. It’s brought such a blessing into my life. I know; how many of you could testify that have read Ellen White’s writings that it’s drawn you closer to God, pointed you to Jesus and encouraged you to read your Bibles? That’s what she does. So please, friends, take advantage of the inspired counsel that God gives us.

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