Editorial

Prophets and Prosperity

Would our lives be any poorer if Handel's Messiah, Michelangelo's Moses, and Milton's Paradise Lost had never existed?

-editor of Minsitry at the time this article was written

Would our lives be any poorer if Handel's Messiah, Michelangelo's Moses, and Milton's Paradise Lost had never existed?

I can't remember when, where, or what magazine I read it in. The author, whoever he was, impellingly described what losses we would endure if the influence of the Scriptures on our world were suddenly canceled. Some of the world's greatest works of art, literature, music, poetry, and science would disappear. Respect for law and life would be severely diminished if the Bible and its long history of motivational and inspirational power were removed.

The concept I am about to present was stimulated by that article. What would happen if we abruptly removed the Spirit of Prophecy writings and their influence from our movement? A few critics among us would rejoice, or would they? The devastating effect on our movement, if this should happen, would forever seal their lips.

We were but a disorganized handful of Advent believers when Ellen White had her first prophetic vision in December, 1844. The fact that she was a teen-age girl of 17 years with only a few years of formal education and yet claimed to have direct revelations from the Lord didn't help the image of the movement in its in fancy. (It would be interesting to know how many of our present membership would have maintained any connection with this group had we all lived then.)

When you add to the above the stigma of belonging to a penniless group, plus such other unpopular ingredients as the seventh-day Sabbath and the influence of a few fanatical individuals, you can understand why our chances of survival were not too encouraging. F. D. Nichol, in his work Ellen G. White and Her Critics, eloquently stated the case: "On lookers in the late 1840's, and for some time beyond, dismissed this little Sabbath-keeping Adventist group as a ragtag end of a raveledout movement that would soon be nothing more than a curious paragraph in the history books." Page 22.

Back to our theme. In our imagination let us try to visualize where we would be if all traces of the Spirit of Prophecy were removed from among us. Shall we begin with unity? Love is the only quality that outranks unity in importance. The two are quite inseparate. Whether it be civil or church government, unity is absolutely indispensable. The extent of success achieved by the individual, family, business, nation, or church is in direct relationship to the degree of unity experienced.

Study Ephesians 4:11. Note the list of gifts: Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Which one of these contributes most to a spirit of unity? Without the authority of the gift of prophecy in our midst, we would have been severely weakened through fragmentation. Doctrinal divisions among us would be rampant. This gift has kept the church from going down many a doctrinal blind alley.

Our concepts of last-day events, based on the Scriptures, have been amplified and strengthened through the supporting role of the Spirit of Prophecy. We will see clearly how Cod has graciously spared us from ruin and defeat when that segment of history covering A.D. 1844 to the end will be opened for scrutiny in the final judgment.

Consider our world mission. Do you suppose we would have been working in 189 countries with only 32 unentered? Would we have a world membership of 2.5 million plus? Never! Our early poverty-stricken leaders were appalled by the thought of this little church trying to reach every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. Some interpreted the first angel's message to mean the baptism of representatives from all nations who reside within the borders of North America. If it were not for the constant prodding and encouragement of the Spirit of Prophecy we in all probability would be com parable in membership to another segment of the Advent movement who have a few churches scattered across America with less than 30,000 members.

Imagine, if you can, Adventists with no mission pageant at General Conference time, no Miller, Stahl, or Andrews, no medical launches on the Amazon, no air strips in Borneo's jungles, no dental clinic on Guam, no crash church-building program in India!

What would be the extent of our educational and medical work? Probably we would have one junior college, a couple of church schools, and perhaps a clinic or two. It is ridiculous to conceive of our establishing a vast network of educational and medical facilities belting the globe without the persuasive influence of the Spirit of Prophecy.

Had the Lord not given this church an inspired messenger our main center of influence might still be in Battle Creek. I doubt that the Lord would have bothered to burn us out had this gift not been restored to modern Israel.

Try to imagine the spiritual vacuum that would be ours had books such as Steps to Christ, Thoughts From The Mount of Blessing, The Sanctified Life, The Desire of Ages, The Ministry of Healing, and Christ's Object Lessons never existed. The convicting power of the Testimonies to the Church has brought the thinking and actions of many of us back into line more than once. O blessed experience! If those who are critical of these works would spend time reading them for personal help, what a change they would experience.

We owe an incalculable debt to our Lord for the gift of prophecy. That some should undermine or downgrade it by subtle questionings is beyond this writer's comprehension.

It is heartbreaking to understand that "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' (Prov. 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.

"There will be a hatred kindled against the testimonies which is satanic. The workings of Satan will be to unsettle the faith of the churches in them, for this reason: Satan cannot have so clear a track to bring in his deceptions and bind up souls in his delusions if the warnings and reproofs and counsels of the Spirit of God are heeded." --Selected Messages, book 1, p. 48.

Since we know this will happen, and is in fact already happening, do not be dismayed. Rather, thank God for this gift and study it along with the Scriptures. Saturate your minds with its instructions and order your lives accordingly. Above all, remember that the Seventh-day Adventist Church would have been terribly crippled with out its influence.

A pastor of one of the branches of Adventism once asked F. D. Nichol to explain our remarkable membership growth. " 'Why, you people have grown from a handful of believers a hundred years ago to a worldwide denomination. You have a tithing system,' he continued, 'that is the miracle of modern church financing. Your missions are found all over the earth. You must have had outstanding leaders, with great vision.' "

Nichol smiled; "then his face grew serious. 'Yes, we have had good leaders excellent leaders,' he said. 'But that is not all that we have had.'

" 'What do you mean by that?' asked the pastor.

" 'I mean this,' Nichol continued. 'We have had in our midst from the very beginning of the church a humble handmaiden of the Lord by the name of Ellen G. White, who believed God enlightened her mind with prophetic visions. The church leaders from the first have accepted this heavenly light that God has caused to shine upon their pathway. One reason we have prospered is that we have had this divine guidance, which we have tried to follow faithfully.' " D. A. Delafield, Ellen G. White and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, pp. 1, 2.

"Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper" (2 Chron. 20:20).


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus
-editor of Minsitry at the time this article was written

August 1975

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Australasian Diary, 1891-1900

LATE IN September, 1900 seventy-five years ago Ellen White returned to the United States after a fruitful nine-year sojourn in Australia. Hers was a busy, itinerant ministry during that near-decade of her life full of preaching appointments, council sessions with the brethren, and endless writing assignments. . .

Ellen White and Public Evangelism in Australia

THE influence of the Spirit of Prophecy upon evangelism in Australia is as difficult to assess as the love of Cod. Who can measure it? On January 3, 1875, before a distinguished congregation of Adventists in the United States, Ellen White was given a vision that proved in later years to be of tremendous interest to our people in Australia. It was the vision of the lights. In this she beheld an ever-enlarging work of evangelism depicted by jets of light shining like stars in the darkness, ever increasing until the whole world was illumined with their glory. . .

Wonderful Beginnings

HOW much the Australasian Di vision owes to the personal counsels and inspired guidance of Ellen G. White, eternity alone will reveal. When the Lord's messenger arrived in Australia in 1891, a small but sturdy beginning had already been made by such forth right leaders as S. N. Haskell, J. O. Corliss, M. C. Israel, A. C. Daniells, and others. But -the coming of Sister White and her small group of associates meant much to that growing field. . .

A Memorial of Divine Guidance

THE ESTABLISHMENT of Avondale College was a significant development in the rapidly expanding work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia in the final decade of the past century. It was raised up under the direct guidance of Ellen G. White, and from the first reflected very largely the ideals of Christian education that are today acknowledged as the norm of the church's educational philosophy. . .

"Hold Fast What Is Good"

JUST HOW extensive and sound is the Biblical foundation for the Seventh-day Adventist belief that the writings of Ellen G. White are the product of a genuine manifestation of the gift of prophecy in contemporary times?

Entropy (Part 2)

AS DISCUSSED in last month's article, entropy is qualitatively equated to probability. This concept better explains the localized phenomenon referred to in the last article in the area of the refinery engine that produces gasoline, where the conditions have been contrived to make gasoline most probable, and the second law holds, allowing gasoline to form. . .

The Melody Lingers On. . . Seventy-five Years Later

IT IS Sunday afternoon. Outside, the summer sun is gently toasting the landscape a golden brown. It is not an oppressive day, but rather cooler than you could reasonably expect for this time of the year. . .

Medical Missionary in Australia

WHEN Ellen White began her work as the Lord's special messenger to the remnant she under stood that her divine commission included "much more than the word 'prophet' signifies" (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 32). . .

How the "Mustard Seed" Grew

EIGHTY YEARS have passed since the messenger of the Lord laid the foundation of our health food work in the year 1895. It was at a public address, in a powerful message, on the first Sunday afternoon of the Victorian camp meeting that Ellen White called the attention of God's people to the necessity for reform and to the great need of warning the world of the intemperance that would prevail to an alarming extent. . .

The Sydney Adventist Hospital

THAT SO GREAT a work is conducted by so "small" a people is a cause for wonder, frequently expressed, by visitors to the Sydney Adventist Hospital. . .

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - SermonView - WideSkyscraper (160x600)