Ellen G. White -
How to Use Her Writings
Ellen G. White wrote much wonderful commentary on the Bible and many people have greatly appreciated the insights provided in her writings also popularly known as the Spirit of Prophecy writings.
However, we must take care that the Spirit of Prophecy takes its right place in relation to Holy Scripture. Ellen G. White herself frequently referred to it as a lesser light to help us understand a greater light. I like to think of it as a magnifying glass that helps us to spot the finer details of what we are looking at. Once you are familiar with the details the magnifying glass is no longer needed.
Certainly, as we explain scripture to the world, where there is no regard for the Spirit of Prophecy or even a bias against it, the basis of our understanding must be from scripture alone. While the Spirit of Prophecy may help us reach that understanding it should form no part of our case in presenting it to the world.
Following is what I see as a legitimate use of the Spirit of Prophecy that helped me arrive at an understanding of the scene in Revelation chapters 4 and 5.
Reading the quote below from The Desire of Ages page 834 gave me the following ideas:
- that the setting (in Revelation 5) is the return of Jesus to heaven after His resurrection.
- that the sons of God are representatives of other worlds
Here is the Ellen G. White quotation:
"There is the throne, and around it the rainbow of promise [Rev 3:4]. There are cherubim and seraphim. The commanders of the angel hosts, the sons of God, the representatives of the unfallen worlds, are assembled. The heavenly council before which Lucifer had accused God and His Son, the representatives of those sinless realms over which Satan had thought to establish his dominion, - all are there to welcome the Redeemer. They are eager to celebrate His triumph and to glorify their King.
But He waves them back. Not yet; He cannot now receive the coronet of glory and the royal robe. He enters into the presence of His Father. He points to His wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet; He lifts His hands, bearing the print of nails. He points to the tokens of His triumph; He presents to God the wave sheaf, those raised with Him as representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming. He approaches the Father, with whom there is joy over one sinner that repents; who rejoices over one with singing. Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Father and the Son had united in a covenant to redeem man if he should be overcome by Satan. They had clasped Their hands in a solemn pledge that Christ should become the surety for the human race. This pledge Christ has fulfilled. When upon the cross He cried out, "It is finished," He addressed the Father. The compact had been fully carried out. Now He declares: Father, it is finished. I have done Thy will, O My God. I have completed the work of redemption. If Thy justice is satisfied, "I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am." John 19:30; 17:24.
The voice of God is heard proclaiming that justice is satisfied. Satan is vanquished. Christ's toiling, struggling ones on earth are "accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6. Before the heavenly angels and the representatives of unfallen worlds, they are declared justified. Where He is, there His church shall be. "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Psalm 85:10. The Father's arms encircle His Son, and the word is given, "Let all the angels of God worship Him." Hebrews 1:6.
With joy unutterable, rulers and principalities and powers acknowledge the supremacy of the Prince of life. The angel host prostrate themselves before Him, while the glad shout fills all the courts of heaven, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." Revelation 5:12. (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p.834; emphasis mine)
The quote above certainly shed light on what was happening in scripture but I can't be showing that to people who have no confidence in or familiarity with the Spirit of Prophecy; perhaps they have never heard of Ellen G. White. So how did I come to my understanding of this scene in Revelation? This is explained in a series of webpages that I started when I investigated the identity of the 24 elders.
On page one, I looked at the different groups mentioned in the scene and especially the
to help determine who they were.
On page two, I looked at the
sons of God
and found some reasoning that they could be the representatives of other worlds.
Page three focused on evidence that there could be
other inhabited worlds
in the universe and that those planets could be sending representatives to heavenly councils.
Page four looked at evidence within the
throne of God
scene in Revelation 5 that could link it directly to Jesus return just after His death and resurrection.
Having looked at all this material, I can certainly say that, in my understanding, Revelation 5 is describing Jesus return to heaven with the wave sheaf and their reception there by all the heavenly beings including the 24 elders who are representatives of other worlds in this vast universe. I believe these pages put forward a strong case for this without resorting to the Spirit of Prophecy.
I see this as a good example of the correct use of the Spirit of Prophecy. These writings can act like a magnifying glass to help us to see the finer points of what scripture is saying. Then, once we are familiar with the situation, we can trace it out using scripture only and present a case for that understanding from scripture alone. Now, on that point, I don't require what Ellen G. White wrote to understand scripture or share it with others but it did help me to arrive at that understanding.
We do not use the Ellen G. White/Spirit of Prophecy writings to prove a position. It is a lesser light (and a very useful one) to point us to and help us understand the greater light - the Word of God.
"Little heed is given to the Bible, and the Lord has given a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light." (3SM p30)