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The Great Visions of Ellen G. White

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    “Independent Ministries”

    One cannot help wondering what counsel might come from the prophet’s pen were she alive today to behold the proliferation of the so-called “independent ministries” within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, particularly within North America.GVEGW 145.3

    Unquestionably some are doing a tremendous amount of good, and are deserving of our offerings (if not our tithe); 75See especially “Faithful Stewardship,” Testimonies for the Church 9:245-252, and “The Spirit of Independence,” pp. 257-261. but some of these, unfortunately, focus upon the sins and shortcomings in the church—especially those of its leadership—and forget that there never has been a time in the history of the church when it had perfect, infallible leaders. 76Especially helpful is Joel Engelkemier’s four-part series “Independent Ministries: Should We Support Them?” in Adventist Review, Dec. 7, 14, 21, and 28, 1989.GVEGW 145.4

    As long as Peter kept his eyes upon Jesus alone, he could even walk on water! But when he took them off Jesus, and placed them instead upon the other 11 members of the “General Conference Committee” of that day, he not only sank like the stone for which he was named; he very nearly lost his life (Matthew 14:28-32). 77The Desire of Ages, 381; 382.GVEGW 145.5

    As a matter of fact, there never was a time in the entire history of the Christian church when it had perfect leaders—including now. Indeed, when a church elects a man or woman to office, it gives that person the right to make a mistake!GVEGW 145.6

    The first “General Conference Committee” of the apostolic church gave Paul atrociously bad counsel (Acts 21:23, 24)—and it resulted in the church being prematurely separated from his immediate presence and guidance which it so badly needed. 78The Acts of the Apostles, 404, 405, 417.GVEGW 145.7

    Leaders do make mistakes (including the “leading” critics of church leadership today). They always have; they always will. The church rightly demands accountability of its leaders. But those leaders need your prayers and constructive criticism—offered in a spirit of brotherly love and concern—far more than mean, spiteful, destructive criticism, which in the end accomplishes nothing positive and serves only to discourage the leader and to bring loss of confidence in leadership among the church membership at large.GVEGW 145.8

    And one somehow suspects that were she confronted with elements of this late-twentieth-century phenomenon in the midst of Adventism, Mrs. White might repeat the words she wrote in 1901:GVEGW 146.1

    “It is not according to God’s order for His people to break up into separate parties. His ministers are not to follow their own impulses and feelings, doing as the human impulse dictates, as though they were not under God’s authority. Every minister of God is to live in the strictest obedience to His Word, following the example of Christ. In his dealing with his fellow men he is to put on Christ.” 79Letter 19, 1901, pp. 8, 9.GVEGW 146.2

    Good advice for laymen, as well as ministers, too!GVEGW 146.3

    To a layman in 1888 Ellen White wrote this urgent appeal:GVEGW 146.4

    “I call upon you, my brother, in the name of the Lord to unite with us, to close every door through which Satan would enter to cause strife and alienation among brethren.... There has been altogether too much moving in one’s own independent judgment....GVEGW 146.5

    “My brother, God’s people are one body. God has a people whom He is leading, teaching, and guiding, that they may teach, and lead, and guide others. There will be among the remnant of these last days, as there was with ancient Israel, those who wish to move independently of the body, who are not willing to be subject to the body of the church, who are not willing to submit to advice or counsel, but ever bear in mind that God has a church upon the earth, and to that church God has delegated power....GVEGW 146.6

    “Men will rise up against reproof; men will despise counsel; men will depart from the faith; men will apostatize; they will want to follow independent judgment. Just as surely as they do this, disaster and ruin of souls will be the result. In short, Satan will become their leader, and will work constantly to tear down the things which God is building up, and follow their own finite judgment and plans.”GVEGW 146.7

    Speaking of “discordant elements” within the church who “feel fully capable to grasp in their arms large responsibilities, and to be an independent body under no control,” Mrs. White warned, in language as strong as that which she had ever employed anywhere:GVEGW 146.8

    “It is a delusion of the enemy for anyone to feel that he can disconnect from the body, and work on an independent scale of his own, and think he is doing God’s work. We are one body, and every member is to be united to the body. Not one is to be shut up to himself and live for himself. Men must be like-minded with God, pure, holy, sincere.” 80Letter 33, 1888, pp. 8-10; CF. Testimonies for the Church 1:207, 417; Testimonies for the Church 5:291.GVEGW 147.1

    In the “train of cars” vision dealing with modern spiritualism, which we considered in chapter 4, it seemed to Ellen White “that the whole world was on board” the train headed “with lightning speed” for destruction and “perdition.”GVEGW 147.2

    “I asked the angel if there were none left. He had me look in an opposite direction, and I saw a little company traveling a narrow pathway. All seemed to be firmly united, and bound together by the truth.GVEGW 147.3

    “This little company looked care-worn, as though they had passed through severe trials and conflicts. And it seemed as if the sun had just appeared from behind the cloud, and shone upon their countenances, and caused them to look triumphant, as though their victories were nearly won.” 81Spiritual Gifts 1:174, 175. (Italics supplied.)GVEGW 147.4

    And in her last message to the General Conference session in 1913, Ellen White looked down to the very end of time, and encouragingly reported, I saw God’s people “moving into line.”GVEGW 147.5

    There is hope, at last, for God’s remnant church!GVEGW 147.6

    Many critics of the remnant church today declare confidently that the SDA Church has become spiritual Babylon. Indeed, the message of many can be summarized in three points: 1. The church has become spiritual Babylon. 2. “Come out of her, my people,” and come, join my offshoot movement. 3. And when you come, be sure you bring your money along with you!GVEGW 147.7

    Somehow the critics seem to have forgotten that it is the sinners who are sifted out of the remnant church—not the righteous!GVEGW 147.8

    “The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat.” 82Letter 55, 1886, cited in The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 7:911. (Italics supplied.) For Ellen White’s counsel to Dudley M. Canright, who contemplated leaving the SDA Church for another “ship” that seemed safer and more trustworthy, see Testimonies for the Church 5:571-573.GVEGW 147.9

    The righteous remnant stay with the ship, which in the end will sail triumphantly into the harbor with those who loyally have remained on board. The righteous do not jump ship; it is the sinners who will be sifted out as we near the end of the journey.GVEGW 147.10

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