One of the things we notice when we read the Bible is how God interacted with His people, Israel. We sometimes criticize how God’s people behaved and some of the resulting misfortunes they experienced. They often endured trials because they refused to do God’s will as it was revealed to them by His servants, the prophets.
God was continually sending prophets to guide His people. They were God’s gift to His people, as Israel was God’s gift to humanity. The nation had an important mission: to preserve His Word and tell others about Him. The book we call the Bible is a collection of the writings inspired by God. It’s a precious gift to humanity.
Often the people of Israel didn’t do well; they had their ups and downs. When they did well, it was because God succeeded in guiding them to listen to His prophets. Paul observed that with the help of His people God preserved His Word (see Rom. 3:2, 3).
The Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.
It’s important that God’s Word, and all that He revealed to His prophets, continue to do its work of making Him known by revealing His character. But human history has not always been kind to God’s Word. Not only has it been obscured and often misinterpreted, but also, for many centuries, individuals and institutions have tried to destroy its influence.
God, however, has always had people who gave their lives to save God’s revelation. Still, many years of ignoring the Word of God has had its effect. Men and women didn’t study God’s Word, or make the Bible their standard to be transformed into the image of God. So God sent messages to another prophet, another gift to His people.
God was pleased to give His people another gift, another prophet, Ellen Harmon White.1 Of course, the counsels and writings He gave her were only to impress the truth in our hearts about what God had already revealed to the prophets of the Bible. Her counsels were not to replace the words God gave, but to confirm and help us to understand them again—and better.2
Like other prophets, Ellen White comforted, guided, instructed, and corrected mistakes with her writings. Above all, she made clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.
God loves humanity, and continues to work with people to spread His Word. As with His people in Bible times, God continues to support people who maintain the “Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms.”3 The Seventh-day Adventist Church is committed to that standard, to the biblical hallmarks that identify God’s true last-day church. Like Israel in the past, we have had ups and downs, but God declares that we, His church, are the “supreme object of His regard in this world.”4
Ellen White firmly declared: “Satan is constantly endeavoring to attract attention to man in the place of God. He leads the people to look to bishops, to pastors, to professors of theology, as their guides, instead of searching the Scriptures to learn their duty for themselves. Then, by controlling the minds of these leaders, he can influence multitudes according to his will.”5
She highlighted the importance of reading and understanding the Bible and God’s will for ourselves.
Why does God continue to send prophets to guide His people? Will He ever abandon His efforts? God is committed to saving and restoring humankind to His very presence. To do this, He sent His Spirit: not to supersede the Bible, because it is the standard by which all teaching and experience have to be tested; but to guide men and women to the Word of God,6 and prepare them for the final days of earth’s history.
Christ urged His people to be ready for His return (see Matt. 24:36–25:46; Rev. 22:20). Concerning the solemn events preceding that climax, Ellen White has said that “none but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict.”7
Ellen White’s last public words, as she held the Bible in her uplifted hand, were: “Brethren and sisters, I commend unto you this Book.”8
Jesus is coming soon, and He wants everyone to know and be ready to go with Him to heaven. The messages of His prophet help prepare us, and we have access to them, even ready access online. Her books, letters, and articles are searchable by subject at egwwritings.org/. They will guide us to accept and understand the Bible as we read her writings carefully to know God’s will for us.
God’s Word transforms its readers into His image. A great blessing is promised to those who read it (Rev. 1:3). When we accept its truths given through God’s gift of prophecy, we are part of the people He is preparing for the great day when Christ will appear in heaven to rescue His people forever.
Silvia C. Scholtus de Roscher teaches at River Plate Adventist University in Argentina.