Yesterday, I talked about the supreme importance of “not being a fool before God by making sure your mouth is full of the Word of God”. See that message here.
I am reminded of an email I recently received from a Watermark member about some verses in Revelation regarding the “Spirit of prophecy” (Rev 12:7; 19:10) and how that relates to the claims of some that they have the ability to speak authoritatively on par with Scripture. What is especially helpful about the answer that my good friend Bobby Crotty put together below is his excellent description (see bolded portion especially) of what I seek to do every time I teach/share God’s word with others. Here’s praying that this entry is useful to you and that every time you speak you are exalting to Christ and therefore useful to others and pleasing to your Savior.
From: Xxxxxxx Xxxxx
Sent: Monday, September 03, 2012 5:49 PM
Subject: Spirit of Prophecy / Testimony of Jesus
I have a question concerning core doctrine in the 7th Day Adventist denomination surrounding the “spirit of prophecy” and the “testimony of Jesus” noted in Revelation 12:17 and 19:10. Could you shed light on what Watermark’s stance on this topic / scripture is?
I have a few very close friends in that denomination, and I want to know where my church, Watermark, stands in reference to this take on scripture.
I would greatly appreciate any clarity you have to offer.
From: Bobby Crotty
Sent: Friday, September 07, 2012 5:13 PM
To: Xxxxxxx Xxxxx
Subject: Re: Spirit of Prophecy / Testimony of Jesus
Thanks for your email to Todd about beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church concerning Rev 12:17 and 19:10. He has asked me to follow up with you.
Watermark itself has not taken a position on this topic, but I wanted to share some thoughts and resources that may help you as you study this issue further so that you can engage effectively with your friends. A great starting point for any question of this type is the website gotquestions.org. Its articles and answers to questions are generally very solid and dependable. You can check its article on Seventh-Day Adventist Church at http://www.gotquestions.org/Seventh-Day-Adventism.html.
Now to your specific question. Wikipedia describes one of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church as:
18. The Gift of Prophecy:
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:14-21; Heb 1:1-3; Rev 12:17, 19:10).
Wikipedia continues: “Seventh-day Adventists believe church co-founder Ellen G. White (1827–1915) was inspired by God as a prophet, today understood as a manifestation of the New Testament “gift of prophecy,” as described in the official beliefs of the church.”
I personally would challenge that assertion. One of the marks of prophets in the Bible was the standard of their accuracy. If it was less than 100%, you could trust that they were NOT prophets of God. See Deuteronomy 18:20-22. It is my understanding that she made predictions that did not come true, such as one in 1856 that some then alive would remain alive until the Lord’s return. That obviously did not happen.
The phrases “spirit of prophecy” and “testimony of Jesus” appear together only in Rev 19:10. That verse closes with the following admonition to John when he falls down before the angel speaking to him: “I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Dr. Tom Constable explains:
“To emphasize the centrality of Jesus Christ in our testimony and to encourage worship of God, the angel said that the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. The last clause of the verse (‘for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’) is capable of various interpretations. Some take the genitive ‘of Jesus’ as objective, which yields two possible understandings. Perhaps the angel meant that testimony about Jesus is the common substance of all prophecy, that all prophecy ultimately reveals Him. Alternatively the angel could have meant that the true spirit of prophecy always manifests itself in bearing witness to Jesus; prophecy that does not bear witness to Him is false prophecy. If the genitive is subjective, the angel meant that the testimony that Jesus has given is the essence of prophetic proclamation. This last view seems preferable since it affords the best explanation of why John should not worship the angel: Jesus is the source of revelation, and angels just communicate it. Moreover the phrase ‘of Jesus’ in the preceding clause also seems to be subjective.” http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/revelation.pdf at Rev 19:10.
I think what Dr. Constable is saying is that the passage can be understood as proclaiming that either all prophecy is about revealing Jesus or prophecy is explaining the testimony Jesus has given. I agree with Constable’s choice of the latter view. Pastors today are essentially exercising a prophetic role as they explain the testimony that Jesus has given, which is recorded in the words of the Bible. Thus, the pastor under the filling of the Holy Spirit exercises a prophetic gift as both a pastor and teacher to explain the testimony of Jesus as recorded in the Bible, rather than to predict the future as biblical prophets often did. Todd does not predict the future, but he does explain Scripture in a way that is understandable, convicting, and inspiring to those in the audience. In doing so, he is exercising a prophetic role to explain the testimony of Jesus. But he does not say that his teaching on Sunday is authoritative on a par with Scripture. He explains Scripture in his messages, but he makes it clear that it is the Scripture itself that is the authoritative source of truth. Does that help you with the difference between the Adventist view and the view I am sharing?
In sum, the Seventh-Day Adventist views seem to ascribe to the writings of Ellen G. White an authority that properly belongs only to the Bible. I would differ with Belief #18 above by saying that only Scripture is the authoritative source of truth, and, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 points out, it is what is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Both Mormonism and Seventh-Day Adventism seem to elevate people and their writings to places of authority that should be reserved alone for the words of Scripture.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions. There are a bunch of other thoughts we could pursue, so I would be happy to get together with you if you would like to visit further.
Praying that God will give you boldness and clarity from His Word to share Truth with your friends.
Men’s Equipping Director
Watermark Community Church