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Gifts of the Spirit - prophecy

Posted by Walt Thompson on Wednesday, 04 March 2015 in Health Smart 0 Comments

Gifts of the Spirit

Prophecy

All through Biblical history God has been faithful in keeping His family of followers informed. That He is serious about His desire to rescue human kind from disaster and destruction by evil has been amply demonstrated on a hill called, Calvary, two thousand years ago.

Furthermore, Jesus, as He made final preparation to return to heaven after His resurrection, commissioned the Holy Spirit to fulfill a role that He could not in human form perform (John 14:16, 17; 16:7). Fifty days later, the Holy Spirit entered into the midst of the waiting yet to be organized church with power that could not be hidden or contained. It was called, Pentecost (Acts 2:1-10).

The prophet, Joel (Joel:28-32), had foretold this unprecedented demonstration of divine, Holy Spirit power hundreds of years before Pentecost while clearly indicating an end-time application to its fulfillment as well.

By all indications, we are now living during that designated end-time.

How should we judge Joel today? Was (is) his prophecy true—or false?

Now, at what must certainly be one of the most critical times in the history of Planet Earth, it would seem strange if God should see fit to limit or curtail the potential power of the Spirit. Yet, where is the evidence? Some might ask.

In answer to this question, please permit me to share a few personal experiences.

It was October, 1987. I was in Gdansk, Poland with Evangelist Mark Finley. We were there to help people stop smoking, to help free them of alcohol, to instruct them regarding health-promoting life style change, and to preach the everlasting Gospel to a people that had been deprived of the Bible for far too long. Each day at the Fisherman’s house we held clinics and small group meetings to help people quit smoking, deal with alcohol abuse, and to learn improved health practices. Twice each evening for 3 weeks the people filled the Cine’ to overflowing as we shared the gospel with them. Their rush to receive the Bible offered to them only served to confirm the working of the Holy Spirit on their thirsty hearts. There was no question in our minds but that we were experiencing a repeat of Pentecost.

A few years later we had the privilege of witnessing a similar, even more spectacular response to the gospel in Moscow, Russia. Before our very eyes, a gathering of Communists determined to capture the beautiful Kremlin Hall and prevent our scheduled meetings fizzled, just in time to make way for thousands of eager gospel-hungry Russians searching for a better, more meaningful life to enter the hall to attend our meetings, undisturbed. Our hearts thrilled, again, as following the first session, Pastor Kulakov, president of the Russian Adventist Church, came back stage accompanied by two other gentlemen, one, Professor Sotz, an educator and an aide to Mr. Gorbachev, and a former military officer present during the invasion into Afghanistan a few years earlier. The professor spoke first, saying something to this effect. “I have sat in this hall and listened to all of the great ideologists of this country describe their plans for success. Tonight I have witnessed the victory they only talked about.” The officer agreed.

I might mention similar miraculous, Spirit-filled experiences in Ghana, West Africa; Papua New Guinea; Karachi, Pakistan; and many other challenging places around the world--all overwhelming evidence indicating to me that, yes, indeed, the Spirit of God is working with Pentecostal power in our world today, preparing a people for the final battle between Christ and Satan preceding the return of Jesus and the end of this present world.

As I have considered these personal experiences and have been witnessing the rapid spread of Biblical truth around the world in recent years, I have realized that none of this would have been possible without the work and witness of one, Ellen White, an end-time prophetess of the highest order--passing all of the tests described in the Holy Bible for determining the authenticity of spiritual gifts.

Truly, there can be no other explanation for the phenomenal spread of the Everlasting Gospel around the world today except for the foundation laid by visions and dreams given to this modern prophet of God beginning at the very time foretold by the prophet, Daniel (Daniel chapters 8 and 9) nearly 500 years before Christ.

Some might question my sanity, first, for describing Ellen White as a prophet (prophetess), and, second for making such an all-encompassing statement about the import of her role in the end-time ministry of the Holy Spirit--for, indeed, White has not added to the truths already present in the Bible, the Holy Word of God. Rather, what she has done under the influence of the Spirit has been to bring Bible truths to relevance in preparation for the fulfilment of end-time events as we are witnessing them today. Please permit me to explain.

One hundred and fifty years ago life expectancy was hardly a fraction of what it is today. We now recognize that the primary reason for that shortened life span was related to the high mortality of mothers and babies at or near the time of child birth, and to the rampant spread of contagious, infectious, diseases (including tuberculosis). Diet, intemperance, and other unhealthy life-style practices added to the high burden of disease and premature death.  

Under such conditions, it was virtually impossible to take the gospel to the ends of the earth in keeping with the gospel commission in preparation for the return of Jesus, as promised. It should not seem strange, therefore that some of the very first visions given to White detailed life-style practices especially designed to improve the health of the gospel workers responsible for the transmission of the gospel--as well as for the benefit of all men.

Anyone familiar with the health ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church today will recognize the influence and impact those visions have had on, not only on length and quality of life in our world today, but upon their import in taking the gospel to the ends of the world.

But, of course, the health messages in and of themselves would have been of little or no value had there not also been a clear understanding of the gospel and its role in resolving the war between good and evil (God and Satan) as so carefully portrayed throughout the pages of the entire Bible. Nor was this need overlooked in the many revelations of the Spirit given to Ellen White.

The timing of her calling is most interesting, coming very shortly after the terrible disappointment brought about by the failure of William Miller’s (and others) prediction of the end of the world and the return of Jesus in 1844 in keeping with his understanding of the prophecies of the book of Daniel in the Bible.

Was this timing by accident? Had God been taken by surprise? Or is it all a hoax, or, mistake, as most of the Christian Church believed?

I find it most interesting that God began to act during the middle of the 19th century, at a time when the important truths of the Holy Bible (many of which had been recovered by the Protestant reformers at great cost) were being largely overlooked or forgotten. In their absence or distortion, other ideas, teachings and philosophies arose to take their place. We might consider, for example, the names of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud; Charles Darwin, and, yes, Christian theologian, Jonathan Edwards, among others. Indeed, the world was crying out for truth.   

It is in this setting that Ellen White, a mere teenager at the time, began to receive visions and dreams redirecting thought to the true importance and beauty of Biblical principles and concepts relating to the conflict between God and Satan (as first revealed to Adam and Eve following their fall, Genesis 3:15).

The Bible quotes Jesus’ words recorded in John 13:19, indicating that one of the primary purposes of prophecy is to confirm in the minds of believers the truths of the Bible.

In the case of Ellen White, as with the prophets all through the ages, most people rejected her, her visions and her writings, and disparaged the Seventh-day Adventist Church that arose out of the revelations she described.

Time has now passed, and it is getting more and more difficult to ignore those messages and to deny the validity of her Source. Her descriptions of the controversy between good and evil, her writings describing the symbolic representations of the ancient Sanctuary system including the various stages of judgment leading up to the eventual dividing of the faithful followers of God and those joining the devil’s rebellion, are all finding fulfillment in the events of the world all around us just as revealed to her. It is difficult for an honest person to look at her writings and fault them anymore—despite her most determined critics.

The Bible tells us to “Despise not prophesying,” but warns us to “test the spirits for many false prophets are gone into the world” (2 Thessalonians 5:19-21) (1 John 4:1). It also instructs us how to conduct the tests (Deuteronomy 13:1-6; 18:21, 22; Isaiah 8:20; Jeremiah 28:9; Matthew 7:20). But how much easier it is to accept the critical opinions of Satan’s agents than to follow the Biblical counsel and check the alleged prophet for ourselves! And what could be more effective in destroying the message and influence of a messenger of God at a time of crucial need than the ire of Satan expressed through the negative voice of leaders of the religious world?

Who is the loser but he/she that fails to receive the truths God seeks to convey to His people through His messengers! Who is the loser except the one that refuses to hear words of counsel drawing us back to the truths of the Holy Scriptures; words of instruction regarding safeguarding our homes and families from evil influences; words of warning of the judgments to come and the need for sincere repentance and words of encouragement, health and strength so as to better endure the attacks of the adversary upon us and our entire society?

If God has indeed spoken through such a messenger, wouldn’t we be fools to ignore His/her voice—or at least put serious effort into checking it out by the standards He has established?

Though like John the Baptist who was not afraid to call sin by its right name, and as Jesus held His generation guilty for Israel’s past history as noted in the following passage, so Ellen White has reported the faults and failures of the Christian Church through the centuries, but not with evil intent. For we who take the name, Christian, whatever our separate “tribe” are all part of this Church from the beginning until now and must all accept responsibility for its foibles along with its expressions of deep faith.

Jesus said it this way as He spoke to the rulers of the “Church” of His day, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your father’s guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)

 

Yes, we are as guilty for our history as were the Jewish leaders, but fortunately Jesus died to take away our guilt and cast it into the depths of the sea. Yet, He can only do this if we acknowledge our fault, come to Him in honest repentance and submit to His transforming power in our lives. May every reader of this reading find room in his/her heart to take these steps and choose Him Who has chosen them!

The following passage from Ellen White’s book, The Great Controversy, describes the final separation for the true followers of God from those that remain bound to Satan and the world’s ways. Watch to see if it matches with what we see happening around us today.

“The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord, Satan will work ‘with all power and signs and lying wonders and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness;’ and they that ‘received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,’ will be left to receive ‘strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.’" 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11. Not until this condition shall be reached, and the union of the church with the world shall be fully accomplished throughout Christendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change is a progressive one, and the perfect fulfillment of Revelation 14:8 is yet future. Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness and alienation from God that exist in the churches which constitute Babylon, the great body of Christ's true followers are still to be found in their communion. There are many of these who have never seen the special truths for this time. Not a few are dissatisfied with their present condition and are longing for clearer light. They look in vain for the image of Christ in the churches with which they are connected. As these bodies depart further and further from the truth, and ally themselves more closely with the world, the difference between the two classes will widen, and it will finally result in separation. The time will come when those who love God supremely can no longer remain in connection with such as are ‘lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.’"

“Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejecting the threefold warning of Revelation 14:6-12, the church will have fully reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from her communion. This message is the last that will ever be given to the world; and it will accomplish its work. When those that ‘believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (2 Thessalonians 2:12), shall be left to receive strong delusion and to believe a lie, then the light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open to receive it, and all the children of the Lord that remain in Babylon will heed the call: ‘Come out of her, My people’" (Revelation 18:4). (White, E.G., Great Controversy, 389, 90.)

We are engaged in a war between good and evil that will eventually lead to victory for God and good over Satan and evil. Those of us living on the planet will be among one of these two groups (good or evil) when the victory is complete. It is our choice which that will be. The Bible indicates that the final battles in this war will be increasingly intense as God gradually releases His restraints upon Satan and permits him to make his final statement of who he is and what he stands for (Revelation 7:1; 8:1, 2). Only then when the full and final consequences of sin and rebellion from God have been fully revealed will the universe be eternally guaranteed secure from any similar occurrence.

We are now entering into those final battles. The Bible warns us that those days will be most difficult and trying, stretching the faith of each of His followers to the limits as the true and faithful are separated from all others.

Just prior to the return of Jesus the final generation of the Family of God will experience a short period of time when the Holy Spirit will be finally and completely withdrawn from a world that has resisted and rejected its influence one too many times and is no longer able to respond to its pleas, (Revelation 16:9).

As the people before the flood (Genesis 6:11-13), the Canaanites before Israel (Genesis 15:16; Numbers 14:9), the Jewish nation that rejected Christ (Matthew 23:37, 38; 27:25) and other peoples of other times have filled their cup of iniquity completely separating themselves from any and all attempts of God to reach them and save them (Isaiah 59:2; Jeremiah 51:7-9), so is the time we are entering into (Revelation 18:2-5).

“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,” Revelation 12:17. In this text we are given a brief overview of where we stand in history. The devil is angry. He will leave no stones unturned in these, his final battles against God and those who choose to follow Him.

In the following Bible texts we are given a little picture of what to expect in the days ahead—indeed are already occurring among us.

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken,” Luke 21:25, 26.

“For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be,” Mark 13:19. (See also Jeremiah 25; Isaiah 13; Revelation 16 & 18.)

And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”

Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost,” Luke 21:8-18.

It is well to consider that these prophecies are not limited to disasters of nature and wars and political upheaval, but to trouble in all areas of life, not the least of which will be to affect one’s faith.

As John the Baptist was raised up by God to call the world to repentance and a return to the principles of the Law of God’s love (Matthew 3:1-12) so Seventh day Adventists believe they have been raised up—again, to call the world to repentance and a return to the principles of the Law as exemplified by Jesus and fulfilled by the ultimate expression of Love when he yielded His life to the Cross at our hands for our sake.

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