July 31, 2020

​The Path of Discovery

Not everything we believe came perfectly formed on stone tablets. We may have more to learn.

Ellen G. White

Adventists have been blessed by the guidance and counsel of Ellen White. While her writings have been used to amplify our understanding of the Bible, some have used them as weapons to silence opposition or win arguments. The following excerpts indicate that Ellen White understood that searching for truth will always be a useful vocation.—Editors.

1889

Whenever the people of God are growing in grace, they will be constantly obtaining a clearer understanding of His Word. They will discern new light and beauty in its sacred truths. This has been true in the history of the church in all ages, and thus it will continue to the end. But as real spiritual life declines, it has ever been the tendency to cease to advance in the knowledge of the truth. Men rest satisfied with the light already received from God’s Word and discourage any further investigation of the Scriptures. They become conservative and seek to avoid discussion.

The fact that there is no controversy or agitation among God’s people should not be regarded as conclusive evidence that they are holding fast to sound doctrine. . . . When no new questions are started by investigation of the Scriptures, when no difference of opinion arises which will set men to searching the Bible for themselves to make sure that they have the truth, there will be many now, as in ancient times, who will hold to tradition and worship they know not what. . . .

When God’s people are at ease and satisfied with their present enlightenment, we may be sure that He will not favor them. It is His will that they should be ever moving forward to receive the increased and ever-increasing light which is shining on them. The present attitude of the church is not pleasing to God. There has come in a self-confidence that has led them to feel no necessity for more truth and greater light. . . . God wills that a voice shall be heard arousing His people to action.1

1890

We do not claim that in the doctrines sought out by those who have studied the word of truth, there may not be some error, for no man that lives is infallible; but if God has sent light, we want it; and God has sent light, and let every man be careful how he treats it.2

1890

The truth of God is progressive; it is always onward, going from strength to a greater strength, from light to a greater light. We have every reason to believe that the Lord will send us increased truth, for a great work is yet to be done. . . .

Much has been lost because our ministers and people have concluded that we have had all the truth essential for us as a people; but such a conclusion is erroneous and in harmony with the deceptions of Satan; for truth will be constantly unfolding.3

1892

Let no one come to the conclusion that there is no more truth to be revealed. The diligent, prayerful seeker for truth will find precious rays of light yet to shine forth from the Word of God. Many gems are yet scattered that are to be gathered together to become the property of the remnant people of God.4

Long-cherished opinions must not be regarded as infallible. . . . However long men may have entertained certain views, if they are not clearly sustained by the written Word, they should be discarded. Those who sincerely desire truth will not be reluctant to lay open their positions for investigation and criticism, and will not be annoyed if their opinions and ideas are crossed. . . .

We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed.5

There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.6

We must not for a moment think that there is no more light, no more truth, to be given us. We are in danger of becoming careless, by our indifference losing the sanctifying power of truth, and composing ourselves with the thought, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.’ [Rev. 3:17.] While we must hold fast to the truths which we have already received, we must not look with suspicion upon any new light that God may send.7

1900

In every age there is a new development of truth, a message of God to the people of that generation. The old truths are all essential; new truth is not independent of the old, but an unfolding of it. It is only as the old truths are understood that we can comprehend the new. When Christ desired to open to His disciples the truth of His resurrection, He began “at Moses and all the prophets” and “expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:27. But it is the light which shines in the fresh unfolding of truth that glorifies the old. He who rejects or neglects the new does not really possess the old. For him it loses its vital power and becomes but a lifeless form.8

1903

If it were possible for us to attain to a full understanding of God and His Word, there would be for us no further discovery of truth, no greater knowledge, no further development. God would cease to be supreme, and man would cease to advance. Thank God, it is not so. Since God is infinite, and in Him are all the treasures of wisdom, we may to all eternity be ever searching, ever learning, yet never exhaust the riches of His wisdom, His goodness, or His power.9


  1. Ellen G. White, “The Mysteries of the Bible a Proof of Its Inspiration” (1889), Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 5, pp. 706-709.
  2. Ellen G. White, “Open the Heart to Light,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Mar. 25, 1890.
  3. Ellen G. White, “Candid Investigation Necessary to an Understanding of the Truth,” Signs of the Times, May 26, 1890.
  4. Ellen G. White, “A Promise of Increasing Light,” Counsels on Sabbath School Work (Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1892), p. 34.
  5. Ellen G. White, “Search the Scriptures,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, July 26, 1892.
  6. Ellen G. White, “Christ Our Hope,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Dec. 20, 1892.
  7. Ellen G. White, “The Missionary: Fragments,” Gospel Workers (Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1892), p. 390.
  8. Ellen G. White, “Things New and Old,” Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1900, 1941), pp. 127, 128.
  9. Ellen G. White, “Mysteries of the Bible,” Education (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1903, 1952), p. 172.

Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.

Ellen G. White
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