Ellen G. White Writings

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Messenger of the Lord, Page 210

Chapter 19—Evangelism, Local and Global, and Race Relations

“Your conception of the work needs to be greatly enlarged.” 1Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 289.

Sabbatarian Adventists in the 1840s were largely devoted to helping their little band understand better the meaning of the Disappointment of 1844. 2Probably the Sabbatarian Adventists numbered no more than 100 in 1849. By 1852, numbers increased to 250; by 1863, when the Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized, members numbered 3,500.—Bull and Lockhart, Seeking a Sanctuary, pp. 111, 112. Early leaders encouraged other Millerites not to deny their past Advent experience. They energetically set forth their new understanding regarding Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary and the connection of the seventh-day Sabbath within the larger context of the messages of the three angels in Revelation 14. Understandably, their sense of mission was frustrated by hostile reactions from both the general public after the “embarrassment” of October 22, 1844, and by Sunday-keeping Millerites who bitterly rejected the new Saturday-Sabbath emphasis. It seemed that an ice curtain now isolated early Sabbatarian Adventists, leading to the conviction that, in some way, the door of mercy had been closed to those who had rejected the deeper implications of the Millerite message of 1844. 3Damsteegt, Foundations, pp. 163, 164.

But the sense of mission involving Adventist responsibility to share their message with the world soon changed. The force and clarity of young Ellen White was the primary reason for the shift from the “shut door” mentality of early Sabbatarian Adventists to that of responsibility for the completion of the gospel commission. In fact, “the views of E. G. White had a profound influence on the new theological interpretations as well as the emerging missionary consciousness, making doubtful that without her influence the early Sabbatarian Adventists would have survived this period of turmoil.” 4See Chapter 44, “The Shut Door—a Case Study.”

The developing Adventist sense (theology) of mission moved on from (but not forsaking) (1) reaffirming the Advent experience of 1844, to (2) restoring certain neglected Bible doctrines that needed to be reset in “the everlasting gospel,” to (3) recognizing that this restored gospel was to be preached to all the world before Jesus returned. 5Damsteegt, Foundations, p. 295.

Coupled with Adventism’s consistent proclamation of the nearness of the Advent was its motivating and driving principle of restoration. 6Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 295. This principle involved more than a theological integration of restored Biblical teachings; it included “the context of man’s spiritual and physical restoration as necessary preparation for Christ’s return.” 7Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 296. “In this mission of restoration the concept of God’s mission was recognized while man’s function was placed in the context of a divine-human cooperation.” Ibid. Ellen White was the foremost spokesperson for the restoration principle shaping Adventist eschatology. 8Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 270.

This theological emphasis on restoration differentiates Seventh-day Adventists from other religious groups that emphasize the nearness, or even imminence, of the Second Coming. Adventist theology of the Advent continues to attract those who want “to make

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