|LESSON 13||*March 21 - 27|
|Confidence in the Prophetic Gift|
Read for This Week's Study:
Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper (2 Chronicles 20:20, NKJV).
|Some folks were interested in joining the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They had come to accept the teachings of the church through their study of the Bible, but had questions about Ellen White. After all, with so many false prophets and false teachers out there, they wanted to be careful. Knowing their concerns, and understanding them, the minister said to them: This is something you have to come to on your own, through a personal conviction of the Holy Spirit. Take time to read her writings. Some things will resonate clearly with you right away; other things you might have questions about. But just read the books yourself and then come to your own conclusion about them. In the end, her writings are really the best and ultimate testimony regarding their origins.|
The Week at a Glance:
Why must the Bible be our final doctrinal authority? How important is Bible study in our lives today? What happens when people ignore the prophetic word? What role should miracles have in establishing our faith? Why do people rebel against the prophetic gift?
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, March 28.
What parallels do you see between the experience of the disciples after the Crucifixion and the early Advent believers after the Great Disappointment in 1844? Luke 24:1327; Acts 10:916, 4448.
The disciples experienced their great disappointment at the Crucifixion. They had hoped Jesus would redeem Israel; as they watched Him ride a donkey into Jerusalem in fulfillment of Zechariahs prophecy, they were certain that He would set Himself up as their king, drive out the Romans, and establish Gods kingdom on earth. Only after His death, when He had opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures (Luke 24:45, NKJV) did they see for the first time that He had come for a different purpose. In other words, even with all those years of Jesus being in their midst, even with His plain testimony, they made mistakes, they still didnt understand what the Scriptures had taught. Jesus pointed them to the Bible, and on that they were to base their beliefs.
Read Acts 1:6. What does this say about how even after Jesus was with them after the Resurrection, they still were carrying false ideas about what His coming meant?
The early Advent believers also experienced a great disappointment because of William Millers mistaken view that the sanctuary in Daniel 8:14 was the earth. And just as Bible study and Gods supernatural interventions had helped the disciples to shed their mistaken views, so, too, did the early Advent believers come to a new understanding of the sanctuary truth through their study of Scripture and by Gods guidance in the prophetic ministry of Ellen White.
In the end, however helpful the prophetic gift was, our pioneers were determined to base doctrines on the Bible without using the prophetic gift as a doctrinal authority.
Today, too, the strength and certainty of what we believe as Seventh-day Adventists must be based on the Word of God alone. Once we are certain of our doctrines from the Bible, and work from that firm base, we can truly have confidence in the prophetic gift.
Into the Word
Why did the Bereans study the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true? Why did they not trust his words? Acts 17:11.
Because Paul preached Christ from Scripture, showing that He was the promised Messiah, those who heard him with an open mind where driven to study the Scriptures for themselves to see if these things were indeed so. In other words, even Pauls words werent good enough. They had to be confirmed by the Bible.
What do the following texts tell us about the importance of the study of Scripture? Prov. 2:1-6, Isa. 34:16, Matt. 4:4, Rev. 1:3.
Ellen White consistently lifted up Gods Word and encouraged church members to study it. I recommend to you, dear reader, the Word of God as the rule of your faith and practice, she wrote in Early Writings (p. 78). In the introduction to The Great Controversy she wrote, In His word, God has committed to men the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience.Page, 9.
Why did the prophets throughout history admonish Gods people to read and study Gods Word? The reason is simple: God gave His word to men as a revelation of Himself. Every new truth discerned is a fresh disclosure of the character of its Author. The study of the Scriptures is the means divinely ordained to bring men into closer connection with their Creator and to give them a clearer knowledge of His will. It is the medium of communication between God and man.Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 69.
Ellen Whites writings are never to be used in place of the Bible; on the contrary, she spent her life trying to get church members to read the Bible and make it the rule of faith for their lives.
|What are ways that you can get more out of your own Bible study? How can you make your time in the Bible more profitable than it is now?|
Pointing to Jesus
Jesus said: You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me (John 5:39, NKJV). What do the following Old Testament texts tell us about Jesus? Ps. 16:9, 10; 41:9; Isa. 53:46; Mic. 5:2.
Jesus said, Abraham rejoiced to see my day (John 8:56), Moses . . . wrote about Me (John 5:46, NKJV), and David [called Me] Lord (Matt. 22:45). He began His ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth with the words of Isaiah, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor (Isa. 61:1, NKJV). Jesus then said, Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing (Luke 4:21, NKJV). Jesus knew that the Old Testament was replete with references to Him. He was the central figure in Israels hope.
The biblical authors from Moses to the apostle John directed their readers to the One who would come first to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21) and a second time to deliver them from the presence of sin (Rev. 21:4).
Following in the footsteps of the biblical prophets, Ellen White consistently pointed people to their Savior Jesus Christ. Whatever may have been your past experience, however discouraging your present circumstances, if you will come to Jesus just as you are, weak, helpless, and despairing, our compassionate Saviour will meet you a great way off, and will throw about you His arms of love and His robe of righteousness.Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 9. And she admonished ministers to make Christ the center of everything. Put Christ into every sermon. Let the preciousness, mercy, and glory of Jesus Christ be dwelt upon until Christ is formed within, the hope of glory.Evangelism, p. 186.
Repeatedly she emphasized that Jesus was very real to her. I know my Saviour loves me, and I love my Jesus. I rest in His love, notwithstanding my imperfections. Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, p. 245. Jesus was the center of her ministry. The object of all ministry, she said, is to keep self out of sight, and to let Christ appear. The exaltation of Christ is the great truth that all who labor in word and doctrine are to reveal.Selected Messages, book 1, p. 155.
|Forgetting for a moment about doctrine and theology, ask yourself this basic question: How well do I know Jesus? What does your answer tell you about yourself and your spiritual life? What changes might you need to make?|
The Blood of the Prophets
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets (Matt. 23:28-31).
What do Jesus words have to say about the attitude that many have had toward the prophets? What lesson can we draw from these words for ourselves?
Despite all the evidence for the integrity and validity of Ellen Whites ministry, even among us there are those who are, in a sense, spilling the blood of the prophets. Among us, as in ancient Israel, there are those who in various ways, subtle and sometimes not so subtle, are working to destroy confidence in the prophetic ministry of Ellen White. It has been that way from the beginning, and we can be sure it will be right up to the end, as well. Just about every charge leveled against her and her works are similar to the charges leveled against the prophets of old and against the Word of God itself.
Reasons for these attitudes vary (see Fridays lesson). Some people have elevated her writings to a level that is inappropriate, and so others have reacted to that, sometimes going too far in response. Others have a false understanding of how inspiration works, and because her writings do not fit that understanding, they have turned against them. Some speak, perhaps, out of ignorance; others, perhaps, from mean-spirited hostility. Fortunately, we arent to judge motives or hearts. We simply have to be able, as Peter wrote, to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1 Pet. 3:15). In the end, each one of us will have to make a choice, ourselves, regarding the voices we listen to and believe.
|What is your own attitude about the writings of Ellen White? Why do you hold them? Think through your reasons for those attitudes. Are you open to change, if need be?|
The Gift and Miracles
And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them (Matt. 4:24).
Think about the ministry of Christ when He was here in the flesh. Time and again, Jesus performed miracle after miracle. Whether turning water into wine (John 2:111), feeding the five thousand (Matt. 14:1421), healing the sick (Matt. 4:24), or raising the dead (John 11:145), Jesus punctuated His time here on earth with miracles, a powerful testimony to His divine power.
Read Luke 24:13-27, the story of Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. What did He point them to in order to persuade them that Jesus of Nazareth was, indeed, the Messiah? Why is that answer so important to us, particularly in the context of the prophetic gift?
Despite all the miraculous things that Christ did while here, He pointed the two disciples to the Word of God and from the Bible alone worked to teach them the truth about His death and resurrection and what it all meant.
This point shouldnt be overlooked. Over the years, there have been numerous accounts of the miraculous ways in which the Lord worked through the ministry of Ellen White. Some of these accounts are more easily verifiable than others. Either way, in the end, our belief in the manifestation of the gift should not rest on accounts of miracles and so forth. Though they might have a role, the ultimate test must always be the Word of God and how the gift harmonizes with the Bible. Miracles are fine, but they are hardly the final test and mean nothing if the teachings are unbiblical.
As with the inspiration of the Bible, questions remain about the manifestation of the prophetic gift in the life of Ellen White. Yet, the gift speaks for itself and gives the best testimony and witness regarding itself. Theres little that we, or accounts of miracles, could or should add. More than enough evidence has been given for anyone to make an informed decision regarding the gift, regardless of the unanswered questions that we who see through a glass, darkly (1 Cor. 13:12) might still have.
|Read Ellen G. White, Attitudes Toward the Testimonies, pp.
40-48 in Selected Messages, book 1.
Opposition or indifference to the writings of Ellen G. White usually is the result of: (1) a failure to read enough of her writings to recognize and understand her overall and well-balanced instructions; (2) a failure to understand the proper relationship of her writings to Scripture; (3) a failure to recognize the true nature of divine inspiration; (4) a failure to recognize the principle of time and place in connection with the counsel she has given; (5) a failure to acknowledge that her counsels are still relevant today; (6) a failure to recognize that while sufficient evidence is given to convince the honest in heart, the Lord does not remove the opportunities for doubt; (7) an unwillingness to make a personal sacrifice of some cherished habit or practice that seems out of harmony with the counsels given in the writings of Ellen G. White.
Most opposition to the Spirit of Prophecy would disappear: (1) if people would stop using some pet sentence or paragraph as a club with which to hit somebody else; (2) if everyone would apply the counsels to themselves instead of trying to apply them to someone else; (3) if we would not quote her without knowing where the quote is found (there are too many apocryphal sayings in existence); (4) if we would not discuss something she wrote without having studied everything she wrote on a particular topic (partial knowledge can be more dangerous than no knowledge at all); (5) if we would recognize that peoples failure to live up to or carry out the counsels that Ellen White has given has nothing whatsoever to do with the reliability of the visions and instructions.Based on Denton E. Rebok, Believe His Prophets (Washington, D.C.: The Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1956), pp. 309-312.
| As a class, talk about the blessings the Adventist Church
has received from the ministry of Ellen White. What are some of the favorite
quotations? How has her writing personally impacted each members spiritual
growth? At the same time, what struggles have people sometimes had with her
writings? What was the cause of those problems, and how can we help folk
work through them?
What have you learned this quarter that helps you better understand the role of the Spirit of Prophecy? What positions have you had to change? What new insights have you gained? What questions still remain?
|I N S I D E Story|
|The Drunkard and the Tailor
by FULGENCIO CHALUFOIA
I was a drunkard, and my drinking robbed me of everything. But a humble tailor helped me find my way back from the edge of hell.
I live in Mozambique. I kept my drinking a secret until I was married, hoping that I could stop. But I was powerless to stop. After we were married, my drinking only got worse. Sometimes I was so drunk I beat my wife, and she threatened to leave me.
I went to a witch doctor, but he could not help me conquer my addiction. Finally my wife had enough; she left me.
Desperate to stop drinking, 1 bought a Bible and began attending church. One Sunday on my way to church, I met a tailor working in his roadside shop. "Where are you going?" he asked.
"To church," I replied.
"Why are you going today?" he asked. "Yesterday was God's Sabbath day." Curious, I stopped. The tailor told me that God had the answer to my drinking problem and offered to teach me the Bible. The tailor could not read, but he knew the Bible. He sat down beside me, opened a notebook filled with Bible references, and pointed to one. "Look up this verse," he said. I found the Bible verses and read them. Then he explained what they meant.
We read many Bible texts, and the tailor explained each one to me. Finally he told me to read Exodus 20. I read the Ten Commandments, and suddenly I realized that the Bible was filled with new truths that I had never read before.
I asked the tailor what church he belonged to, and he told me the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He invited me to worship there the following Sabbath. I promised to be there as I continued on to my church to tell my friends what I had just learned.
The next Sabbath I found the Adventist church and worshiped there. In that church I found God's grace and the power to overcome alcohol and tobacco. It took some time, but with God's help, I never smoked or drank again.
My drinking had cost me everything-my job, my wife, my home. But God has given me my life back. I am happy in Jesus, and I have invited my friends to find Jesus as well. So far at least 15 of my friends have discovered God's truth and joined the Adventist church because I shared with them what God has done for me.
Your mission offerings help bring the gospel to thirsty souls everywhere.
FULGENCIO CHALUFOIA lives in Chimoio, Mozambique.
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