As we saw from the outset of our study, the defining characteristic of God’s remnant people is obedience. The remnant will obey the commandments of God. They will also obey the testimony of Jesus Christ, or the inspired messages of the prophets. Specifically, the testimony of Jesus Christ as manifested among the remnant, in the last-day church is the Spirit of Prophecy writings which God gave through His messenger, Ellen G. White.
From this point forward, we will delve deeply into the writings of Ellen White, to see what God has said about how these writings apply to our lives in the twenty-first century, and then to learn some of the specific instructions God has given us regarding the choices we make from day to day.
The same God who spoke through the biblical prophets speaks to us today through the Spirit of Prophecy. “In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days He speaks to them by the testimonies of His Spirit. There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will and the course that He would have them pursue.” (4T 147, 148)
Yet it seems to be a common belief, whether spoken or unspoken, that the Spirit of Prophecy writings have less than full applicability to our day. Yet God’s inspired messages are quite to the contrary: “The instruction that was given in the early days of the message is to be held as safe instruction to follow in these its closing days….If we study carefully the second chapter of Hebrews, we shall learn how important it is that we hold steadfastly to every principle of truth that has been given.” (1SM 41)
Far from the idea that the Spirit of Prophecy teachings need not be so strictly in our day as one hundred years ago, “I have been shown that the principles that were given us in the early days of the message are as important and should be regarded just as conscientiously today as they were then.” (9T 158)
And because the Lord knew that the messages of the Spirit of Prophecy would be given less than their due attention in time to come, “The Lord calls for a renewal of the straight testimony borne in years past.” (8T 297)
The Lord had a reason for giving Seventh-day Adventists the special messages in the Spirit of Prophecy. The Bible contains all of the information we need in order to be saved, yet because so many neglect to obey the teachings of the Scriptures, God sent a prophet to call us back to strict obedience to His Word. “The word of God abounds in general principles for the formation of correct habits of living, and the testimonies, general and personal, have been calculated to call their attention more especially to these principles.” (4T 323)
In fact, if Seventh-day Adventists had been careful to obey the Bible’s teachings, God would not have given the Testimonies. Their very presence among us should serve as a reminder that as a people, we have tended to disobedience. “If you had made God’s word your study, with a desire to reach the Bible standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the Testimonies. It is because you have neglected to acquaint yourselves with God’s inspired Book that He has sought to reach you by simple, direct testimonies, calling your attention to the words of inspiration which you had neglected to obey, and urging you to fashion your lives in accordance with its pure and elevated teachings.
“The Lord designs to warn you, to reprove, to counsel, through the testimonies given, and to impress your minds with the importance of the truth of His word. The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed…. Additional truth is not brought out; but God has through the Testimonies simplified the great truths already given and in His own chosen way brought them before the people to awaken and impress the mind with them, that all may be left without excuse.” (5T 664, 665)
“If the people who now profess to be God’s peculiar treasure would obey His requirements, as specified in His word, special testimonies would not be given to awaken them to their duty and impress upon them their sinfulness and their fearful danger in neglecting to obey the word of God.” (5T 667)
The condition of many of us who hold the Testimonies in our hands is a serious one. It is not merely small aberrations from Bible principles that God seeks to correct, or minor misunderstandings of obscure teachings. Rather, some are “living in direct opposition to [the Bible’s] plainest teachings. In mercy, God gave the Testimonies as a last resort to try to awaken them from their dangerous course.
“The word of God is sufficient to enlighten the most beclouded mind and may be understood by those who have any desire to understand it. But notwithstanding all this, some who profess to make the word of God their study are found living in direct opposition to its plainest teachings. Then, to leave men and women without excuse, God gives plain and pointed testimonies, bringing them back to the word that they have neglected to follow. Yet those who serve their own lusts turn from all this light….” (2T 454, 455)