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13

Where is the vision to back it up?

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Revelation through visions and dreams

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“If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.” (Numbers 12:6).

 

True Christianity boils down to a choice between Roman Catholicism which gives primacy to tradition and historic Seventh-day Adventism which gives primacy to prophecy.  It’s one or the other.  No Sunday-keeping church, for example, has any credibility outside of Roman Catholicism because there is no basis for Sunday observance except the authority of the Roman Catholic Church.  There are only eight references to the first day of the week in the New Testament and none of those references even suggest a change of the Sabbath from the Seventh day of the week to the first; neither is there any indication that the first day of the week (Sunday) has any special regard from the Divine perspective.   The Roman Catholic Church was responsible for replacing the Bible Sabbath with Sunday and Rome has openly declared Sunday Observance to be the mark of her authority:

 

“Sunday is our mark of authority. . . The church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact” (The Catholic Record, London, Ontario, Sept. 1, 1923).

 

Rome has even challenged Protestants as to their basis for keeping Sunday and they have not been able to give any rational response (Catholic Mirror, Sept. 2-23, 1893, – series of four editorials published Sept. 2, 9,16,23).

 

Historic Seventh-day Adventism, however, regards prophecy as the primary identifier of truth and the true God.  The movement was founded on an interpretation of Dan. 8:14, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed”, which, based on other supporting specifications, is understood to mean that God would raise up a movement in 1844 to restore truth.  This movement is understood to be the Seventh-day Adventist movement.   It is their understanding that God has cited the certainty of His prophetic utterances as proof that He, Yahweh, is the true God:

 

 “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand” (Isa. 46:9-10).

 

See also Num. 12:6; Isa. 41:21-23; 42:8,9.

 

They keep the Sabbath as a sign of their submission to the true God who created the world in six days and set aside the seventh day of the week as a sign and reminder that He is the Creator:

 

 “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” (Eze. 20:20).

 

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Ex. 20:8, 11.

 

Roman Catholic tradition versus Divine revelation

Roman Catholics, in keeping with the primacy that they give to tradition, have also formulated the doctrine of the Trinity.  This they regard as the central doctrine of Catholic faith even although they acknowledge that it was not obtained from the Bible. They say:

 

“The mystery of the trinity is the central doctrine of Catholic faith.  Upon it are based all the other teachings of the church” (Handbook for Today’s Catholic, p. 12).

Also:

“Our opponents sometimes claim that no belief should be held dogmatically which is not explicitly stated in the Scripture . . . . . But the Protestant Churches have themselves accepted such dogmas as the Trinity for which there is no such precise authority in the Gospels.”  (Life Magazine, Oct. 30, 1950).

 

They identify the doctrine as a mystery and one that they have developed and embraced based on their reliance on tradition.  This doctrine along with the change of the Sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first, are cited as evidence of their claim that they have the authority to make prescriptions beyond what is contained in the Bible. 

 

Historic Seventh-day Adventism, however, rejected the Trinity as being unscriptural and pagan in origin.  A sample of the view that was taken by the historic Seventh-day Adventists is seen in the following answer that was given in a Review article by J. N. Loughborough to the question, “What serious objection is there to the doctrine of the Trinity?”  The answer was:

 

“There are many objections which we might urge, but on account of our limited space we shall reduce them to the three following:  1. It is contrary to common sense.  2. It is contrary to scripture.  3. Its origin is pagan and fabulous.” (J. N. Loughborough, Review and Herald, Nov. 5, 1861).

 

The Trinity doctrine asserts that there is one God who is made up of three persons.  Some persons prefer to use the term Godhead, but in essence hold to the same concept as is held by those who use the term Trinity.  Standard definitions of Trinity are as follows:

 

Trinity n Christianity the union of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God”.  (Collins Student’s Dictionary).

 

“(the Trinity) (in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that make up God.” (Little Oxford Dictionary).

 

Trinity noun in Christianity, the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one God.” (Chambers English Dictionary).

 

In contrast, the Bible clearly teaches that there is one Supreme Being, God, the Father and that His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, is the “express image” of Him, is of the same God-nature and is similarly worshipped, though subject to Him.  There is no other Being who is of God-status.  A few scripture references below illustrate the consistent Biblical position:

 

“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Cor. 8:6).

 

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

 

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3).

 

“One God and Father of all, who is above all” (Eph. 4:6).

 

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” ( Heb. 1: 1-3).

 

“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

 

It is clear that the Son has been given all authority and power by the Father, so that the Son’s authority should be regarded as the authority of the Father Himself, notwithstanding the Father being the ultimate and supreme authority.  It is very similar to what happened in Egypt when Pharaoh exalted Joseph.  Describing it, the Bible says that Pharaoh said to Joseph:

 

“Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 41:40-44).

 

This position was held by the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist movement and confirmed by the Great Controversy vision that Ellen White received more than once and was specifically instructed to write out.  This she did in 1858 under the most forbidding circumstances of partial paralysis after Satan tried to kill her specifically to prevent her writing it.  She said:

 

“The Lord has shown me that Satan was an honored angel in heaven, next to JESUS CHRIST.  His countenance was mild, expressive of happiness like the other angels. His forehead was high and broad, and showed great intelligence.  His form was perfect.  He had a noble, majestic bearing.  And I saw that when God said to his SON, Let us make man in our image, Satan was jealous of JESUS.  He wished to be consulted concerning the formation of man.  He was filled with envy, jealousy and hatred.  He wished to be the highest in heaven, next to GOD, and receive the highest honors.  Until this time all heaven was in order, harmony and perfect subjection to the government of God.

 

It was the highest sin to rebel against the order and will of God. All heaven seemed in commotion.  The angels were marshaled in companies with a commanding angel at their head.  All the angels were astir.  Satan was insinuating against the government of God, ambitious to exalt himself, and unwilling to submit to the authority of JESUS.  Some of the angels sympathized with Satan in his rebellion, and others strongly contended for the honor and wisdom of God in giving authority to his Son.  And there was contention with the angels.  Satan and his affected ones, who were striving to reform the government of God, wished to look into his unsearchable wisdom to ascertain his purpose in exalting JESUS, and endowing him with such unlimited power and command.  They rebelled against the authority of the SON of GOD, and all the angels were summoned to appear before the FATHER, to have their cases decided.  And it was decided that Satan should be expelled from heaven, and that the angels, all who joined with Satan in the rebellion, should be turned out with him.  Then there was war in heaven.  Angels were engaged in the battle; Satan wished to conquer the SON of GOD, and those who were submissive to his will.  But the good and true angels prevailed, and Satan, with his followers, was driven from heaven.”  (E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, pp. 17, 18.

 

She also said:

 

“The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate – a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes”.
“Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God , was one with the eternal Father – one in nature , in character, in purpose – the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God.” 
(E. G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34).

 

Speaking of the creation, she said:

 

“His Son would carry out His will and His purposes, but would do nothing of Himself alone.  The Father’s will would be fulfilled in Him.”  (E. G. White, Signs of the Times, Jan. 9, 1879, pr. 2).

 

Hierarchy in heaven – a direct revelation

 

It is clear, from the report of the vision, as given by Ellen G. White that there was a hierarchy in heaven in which God, the Father was supreme and regarded as the Sovereign, His Son, Jesus Christ was next and then Lucifer was third.  Lucifer was a created being while Jesus Christ was Divine, being of the same nature as God, the Father.  One might query whether the omission of any mention of a third divine being necessarily precludes the existence of such a person.  In this case, it is more than mere omission that is evident in the report, it is a definite exclusion.  When Christ, for example is referred to as the “only being” that could enter into the counsels and purposes of God, there is a definite exclusion of any other being.

 

In other places where the same vision was reported, the idea is the same, for example, in the Story of Redemption it is reported as follows:

 

“Lucifer in heaven, before his rebellion, was a high and exalted angel, next in honor to God’s dear Son…. Christ, God’s dear Son, had the pre­eminence over all the angelic host. He was one with the Father before the angels were created.  Lucifer was envious of Christ, and gradually assumed command which devolved on Christ alone.

The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that He might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon His Son…. The Father then made known that it was ordained by Himself that Christ His Son, should be equal with Himself; so that wherever was the presence of His Son, it was as His own presence. The word of the Son was to be obeyed as readily as the word of the Father. His Son He had invested with authority to command the heavenly host.” (E.G. White, the Story of Redemption, p.13.)

The SDA church has since embraced the Trinity, citing statements by Ellen White concerning a three-person Godhead as a primary basis for doing so. The question is now being asked, where is the vision to back up the change?  Further, by what authority has a view of God, that was backed up by vision given more than once, been changed to a concept that was once labeled as pagan and unscriptural by the founders of a movement that God raised up, as attested to by prophecy (Dan. 8:14)?

 

Seventh-day Adventists must ask themselves whether they give primacy to prophecy and direct revelation from God or whether they have been converted to the Roman Catholic position of giving heavier weight to tradition.  Have the utterances of Ellen White, when not substantiated by direct revelation in visions and dreams, now become the standard measurement of truth?  The Bible clearly places direct revelation through visions and dreams on a different plain from ordinary human utterances, even if such utterances are from persons who have themselves received visions and dreams otherwise.  In relation to direct revelations that were given to him, the apostle Paul said:

 

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed”.
“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ”

Gal. 1:8, 12.

 

The apostle Paul said: “though we, or an angel from heaven . . .”, thus including even himself.  Not even the apostle Paul himself had the authority to speak anything contrary to what was directly revealed to him.  Ellen G. White has openly declared that at one point, when not in vision, she could not even understand basic Bible discussions that her brethren were having, and they fully saw a difference between her personal views and the things that were specifically revealed to her in visions.  She said:

“My mind was locked, as it were, and I could not comprehend the meaning of the scriptures we were studying. This was one of the greatest sorrows of my life. I was in this condition of mind until all the principal points of our faith were made clear to our minds, in harmony with the Word of God. The brethren knew that when not in vision, I could not understand these matters, and they accepted as light direct from heaven the revelations given.” 1 SM 207.

 

The thoughts expressed by both the apostle Paul and Ellen G. White accord fully with a pronouncement that was made by God Himself.  God said:

 

“If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.” (Num. 12:6).

 

The big question

So, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has now embraced the Trinity (some  persons say, three-person Godhead – semantics aside, it’s the same thing), which was once rejected by the founders of the movement as pagan and unscriptural.   They have now embraced a position that is at variance with the great controversy vision given to Ellen G. White that excludes all possibility of a third God-being.  So, the big question is: where is the vision to back up the change?  Where is the vision to back it up?

Heavenly hierarchy backed up again by direct revelation

Another vision that also excludes all possibility of a third God-being was given to John the Revelator.  The vision is given in Revelation chapters 4 and 5.  In describing what he saw, John said that “one sat on the throne” (Rev. 4:2).   Of this Person seated on the throne, John said that the living creatures in heaven “rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev. 4:8).   And “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:11).  Clearly, this Person is the Supreme Being – the Creator.   Further, John said that He had a book in His hand that no one in heaven or earth was found worthy to open or look upon except Christ, the Lamb.  He said:

 

“And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?  And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.  And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.  And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.  And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.  And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.  And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;  And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.  And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;  Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.  And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.  And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever”. (Rev. 5:2-14).

 

Apart from the one Supreme Being who sat on the throne who is called the Almighty and is clearly described as the one that “liveth for ever and ever” and who “created all things”,  no other being “in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon” except Christ, the Lamb of whom it was said: “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”  Who else in the entire universe is worthy?  The angel said that there was nobody else.  So, the heavenly host ascribe blessing and honour and glory and power unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Rev. 5:13) and to nobody else, because they only are worthy.  Who else in the entire universe is worthy and what is their claim to such worth-ship?  Let anyone who has the answer speak.

Where is the vision?

Ellen G. White saw in vision that there was an angel in heaven who was “next in honor to God’s dear Son” (Ellen G. White, The Story of Redemption, p. 13).  This angel envied Christ’s position and wanted to be worshipped.  Isaiah, speaking of this angel said that he wanted to be “like the most high” (Isa. 14:14).   John, the Revelator saw in vision that he will get the entire world to worship him except for those whose names are “written in the book of life of the Lamb slain”  (Rev. 13:4, 8).  Through visions and dreams, God has made himself known, so that none should be deceived.  So, the question remains, for those who want to include someone else as being worthy of worship apart from “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” (Rev. 21:22): Where is the vision to back it up?

Persons might try to make an argument that the Holy Spirit is a person, and use that as a basis for denying the obvious implications of what was directly revealed.   However, in keeping with the direct revelations, it could be that God’s holy spirits are angels – personal beings who represent God but are not of worshipful status.  The word ‘pneuma’ translated ‘Spirit’ or ‘Ghost’ is just as properly translated ‘spirits’, of which angels are “ministering spirits” (Heb. 1:7, 14).  Further, the Holy Spirit or Comforter is someone who is sent by Jesus, of whom Jesus said: “he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak” (John 16:13). This does not suggest that the person being referred to is a God-being.  The historic Seventh-day Adventist pioneers referred to the Holy Spirit, in their Statements of Faith as God’s “Representative” – not as God (Signs of the Times, June 4, 1874).

 

Now, let me make it clear that regardless of whether or not one accepts the suggestion that the third person is an angel or a general reference to the ministry of angels, that should in no way affect one’s acceptance of the clear revelation that the Father was first, Christ was next and Lucifer was third in the line of heavenly authority.  This framework allows for an understanding of all aspects of the story of redemption and the controversy between good and evil.  It also safeguards against persons giving worship to the devil unwittingly and opening up themselves to be possessed by the spirits of devils.  For those who insist that there is a third God-being, the question still stands, where is the vision to back it up?

 

“If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.” (Numbers 12:6).

 

 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed” (2 Pet. 1:16-19).