Monday, September 24, 2012

Lesser Light

The Bible indicates that one of the characteristics of God's church in the last days is the presence of the gift of prophecy (Joel 2:28; Revelation 12:17; 19:10). Seventh-day Adventists believe that gift was manifested in the 70-year ministry of Ellen G. White.

The idea of having a modern prophet causes us to think about the nature of the gift of prophecy. Would the gift of prophecy in a modern person be the same as was experienced by ancient prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah? I say that it would.

Prophecy is mentioned in all three major New Testament listings of spiritual gifts, Romans chapter 12, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, and Ephesians chapter 4. The gift is described in passages such as Numbers 12:6; 1 Peter 1:10, 11; 2 Peter 1:21; and Revelation 1:1, 2. Whether in the Old Testament or in the New, the gift of prophecy was the same. A prophet is one to whom God speaks directly through a heavenly vision or supernatural dream. The message received does not come from the prophet's own mind, but is transmitted to the prophet by heavenly beings. We call this process divine inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16). That's how the Bible, written by such prophets, is actually the word of God.

There is no such thing as a half-inspired prophet whose message is only partially from God. Either a person is a prophet inspired by God or he is not. If a modern prophet was not just as much inspired as the ancient prophets, he would not be a prophet at all. We can't invent some new form of prophecy that is different from the kind the Bible describes, for it would have no biblical basis.

Certainly all claims to the prophetic gift must be tested by the Bible (Isaiah 8:20; 1 Corinthians 14:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). A message from God to a modern prophet will not contradict His previously written word. But once proven to be of God, the message bears the same divine authority.

Some people have been led to believe that Ellen White claimed to have a "lesser" quality of inspiration than the Bible writers had. That opinion is based on an incorrect understanding of a statement she made about greater and lesser light. But a more careful reading of her statement clears up the matter nicely. Here it is:  Greater and Lesser Light

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