February 1, 2024 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Hello, friends. In last week’s message, we talked about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and specifically the Gift of Prophecy as manifested through the writings of Ellen G. White.
Today, we will be returning to one of the most powerful books that came from the pen of Ellen White—The Great Controversy. Knowing the vitally important messages contained there, she wrote, “I am more anxious to see a wide circulation for this book than for any others . . . for in The Great Controversy, the last message of warning to the world is given more distinctly than in any of my other books” (Colporteur Ministry, p. 127).
Realizing the timeliness of its message, this amazing book was voted by Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders as the Missionary Book of the Year for 2023 and 2024, with the intention of placing it into the hands of millions of people through The Great Controversy Project 2.0. You can learn more about this project and download a free copy of the book in multiple languages at greatcontroversyproject.org.
In the very important introduction, the author explains the nature of inspiration and unfolds how the Bible was written. She writes, “The Bible points to God as its author, yet it was written by human hands. . . The truths revealed are all ‘given by inspiration of God’ (2 Timothy 3:16); yet they are expressed in the words of men. The Infinite One by His Holy Spirit has shed light into the minds and hearts of His servants. He has given dreams and visions, symbols and figures; and those to whom the truth was thus revealed have themselves embodied the thought in human language” (GC, p. x).
She speaks of a special manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the last days, citing Joel 2:28—”And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions,” and explains the insights she was given while writing the book The Great Controversy.
“Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit,” she wrote, “the scenes of the long-continued conflict between good and evil have been opened to the writer of these pages. From time to time I have been permitted to behold the working, in different ages, of the great controversy between Christ, the Prince of life, the Author of our salvation, and Satan, the prince of evil, the author of sin, the first transgressor of God’s holy law (GC p. xi).
Friends, as you can see, this is no ordinary book. Although written by human hands, it was inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit. The purpose, wrote Ellen White, is to “unfold the scenes of the great controversy between truth and error; to reveal the wiles of Satan, and the means by which he may be successfully resisted; to present a satisfactory solution of the great problem of evil, shedding such a light upon the origin and the final disposition of sin, as to make fully manifest the justice and benevolence of God in all His dealings with His creatures; and to show the holy, unchanging nature of His law” (GC, p. xii).
In the year 2023, we went through the first half of the book, beginning in Chapter 1 with the destruction of Jerusalem, then tracing down through history—noting the persecution of Christians in the first centuries after Christ, going into the mountains of the Waldenses, following in the footsteps of John Wycliffe, Huss and Jerome, and Martin Luther. We saw how the Protestant Reformation spread across Europe, despite opposition and persecution.
We read with horror the atrocities that took place during the French Revolution and the lasting results of that terrible time. We followed the Pilgrims as they fled Europe to a land where they could find freedom to worship God as they chose, although even there some faced challenges. We saw how God raised up an American Reformer by the name of William Miller, who through faithful study of Scripture came to the conclusion that the return of Christ was imminent.
Although Miller was at first a reluctant preacher, God used him to lead a Great Religious Awakening, calling people to a deeper study of Scripture and commitment to Christ’s soon return.
Together, we felt the sorrow as the early Adventists grieved the dashing of their dearest hope of Christ’s return on October 22, 1844. But God did not leave them hopeless. Their experience was outlined in John’s vision recorded in Revelation 10:9-10 where the angel instructed the apostle John to take “the little book,” meaning the prophecies of Daniel, “and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter,” indicating the great disappointment the Millerites would experience, “but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.”
After this disappointment, the angel said, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”
As the early Adventists studied the Scriptures further, they realized that the earthly sanctuary was a miniature of the Heavenly Sanctuary. And as they studied the sanctuary services, they realized the importance of what happened on that day—rather than returning to earth to “cleanse the sanctuary,” Jesus Christ, our Heavenly High Priest, entered the Most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary to begin the work of cleansing.
And this, my friends, is where we will continue our journey through the amazing book The Great Controversy. Next week we will pick up in Chapter 25, titled, “God’s Law Immutable.”
Since we will only be looking at highlights from each chapter, I encourage you to obtain a hard copy of the book, or download a free copy, available in multiple languages, at greatcontroversyproject.org. You may also want to invite a friend to join you as we go through this timely book together.
I am sure God will bless as we continue to study this incredible book that He has provided for us through the gift of prophecy.
Let’s pray together just now.
Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of prophecy that you have given to Your church. Thank you for the marvelous book, The Great Controversy. Bless as we study its pages, as we understand how Your hand has worked down through history to guide Your church. Keeping biblical truth in the forefront and helping Your people to proclaim it. Now, bless, as we understand fully our role in these last days, to lift up Christ, His righteousness, His Holy Word, and the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 that point to Christ and His righteousness. Help us to understand the times in which we are living in this great controversy between Christ and Satan. We are so grateful that Christ is victorious and we thank You in the name of Jesus. Amen.