Commentary on "The Inspiration of the Prophets"
Day 4: Tuesday, January 27, 2009
This lesson focuses primarily on anecdotes from Ellen White's life regarding visions. There is a clear agenda: to encourage people to believe that Ellen White was a true prophet of God by comparing her experience to the experience of Biblical prophets.
The questions given at the bottom (and their answers) are far more important than the anecdotes given above:
The answer to the first question is because the Bible is clear that physical manifestations (and even miracles and great signs) never necessarily imply truth. The Bible refers to false prophets who saw false visions, and it warns the church about false prophets who will perform great miracles with the intent to deceive. Consider the following passages:
Then the LORD said to me, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds” (Jeremiah 14:14).
They see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, “The LORD declares,” when the LORD has not sent them; yet they hope for the fulfillment of their word. (Ezekiel 13:6-9)
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)
False prophets throughout scripture perform miraculous signs and have various physical phenomena, but these things are not an authoritative indication of truth or falsehood. Rather, the New Testament gives us stern warnings to watch out for false prophets.
Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. (Matthew 24:23-25)
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. (1 Peter 2:1)
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
There are many tests we can apply – and if Ellen White or any other modern prophet fails any of them, then we must surrender to Jesus and renounce our belief in the prophet. Scripture gives several tests for false prophets; here are some of the more prominent examples
Paul rebuked Peter publicly for not acting in line with the true gospel. How much more should we hold accountable anyone who teaches a false gospel!
But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. (Galatians 2:14-16)
Ellen White can only be accepted as a true prophet if she does not fit any of the Scriptural tests for a false prophet. Considering the frequency and earnestness of the warnings about false prophets and teachers in the New Testament, she carries the burden of proof. We must require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not simply a preponderence of evidence.
In fact, considering that “All scripture is inspired by God... so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (1 Timothy 3:16-17), we would do quite well to never accept any extra-Biblical authority – if indeed we do trust in the adequacy of Scripture alone.
Finally, let us remember Christ's unfailing promise to us, given when he named Peter:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18)
Let's pull some relevant observations out of this:
Let us trust, then, in the Lord of the church, being “having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (Colossians 2:7). May he deliver us from deception as we love the truth.
Copyright 2009 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised January 26, 2009. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Glendale, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE Æ, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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