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Inspiration/Revelation: What It Is and How It Works - Contents
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    Chapter 2—The “Greater Light” / “Lesser Light” Analogy

    In an “open letter” to her fellow church members, written December 6, 1902, and published in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald of January 20, 1903, Mrs. White was looking ahead to the new year and was especially burdened about the colporteur work, which was languishing at the time. “I have been instructed that the canvassing work [door-to-door sales of Seventh-day Adventist literature] is to be revived, and that it is to be carried forward with increasing success.” 23“An Open Letter From Mrs. E. G. White to All Who Love the Blessed Hope,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 20, 1903, p. 15. Hereafter shortened to Review and Herald.IRWHW 75.15

    She expresses appreciation for the united efforts of the laity and literature evangelists in promoting Christ’s Object Lessons (the royalties from which she dedicated toward lifting the indebtedness of Battle Creek College), and urges giving greater attention to the circulation of her other works. Highlighting the importance of this missionary endeavor, she adds:IRWHW 75.16

    Sister White is not the originator of these books. They contain the instruction that during her life-work God has been giving her. They contain the precious, comforting light that God has graciously given his servant to be given to the world. From their pages this light is to shine into the hearts of men and women, leading them to the Saviour. The Lord has declared that these books are to be scattered throughout the world. 24Ibid.

    Then, by way of amplifying this idea that “light is to shine” from her writings, and to demonstrate the relationship between those books and the writings of Scripture, she employed an oft-quoted metaphor:IRWHW 76.1

    The Lord has sent his people much instruction, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Little heed is given to the Bible, and the Lord has given a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light. 25Ibid. Italics supplied.

    Here Mrs. White makes incidental reference to Genesis 1:16: “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.” By analogy she is saying that the Bible is the “greater light,” and her writings are the “lesser light.”IRWHW 76.2

    Before examining this analogy in detail to determine what Mrs. White intended to teach by it (and, of equal importance, what she did not intend to convey), let us first examine the question of how Mrs. White herself viewed this “greater light” of Holy Scripture.IRWHW 76.3

    Synthesizing a helpful list provided by Denton E. Rebok 26Denton Edward Rebok, Believe His Prophets (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1956), pp. 165, 166. and some remarks in three paragraphs from the introduction to The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, 27Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), p. vii. we note Mrs. White’s position on Scripture, and then how she saw her writings vis-à-vis the Bible:IRWHW 76.4

    a. Nature of the Bible

    1. The entire Bible is the inspired word of God.

    2. The “truth of God is found in His word.” No one need “seek elsewhere for present truth.”

    b. Purpose of the Bible

    1. The Bible sets the pattern for Christian living.

    2. It contains “comfort, guidance, counsel, and the plan of salvation as clear as a sunbeam.”

    3. It is fitted for the needs of all—rich and poor, learned and illiterate, “all ages and all classes.”

    4. It contains all the knowledge that is “necessary for salvation.” Therefore, men should “cling” to their Bibles, believe and obey them; and then “not one” of them would be lost.

    c. Primacy of the Bible

    1. It is to be accepted “as an authoritative, infallible revelation” of God’s will.

    2. As such, it is “the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience.”

    d. Role of Spiritual Gifts (Prophecy):

    1. The existence of the Bible “has not rendered needless the continual presence and guiding of the Holy Spirit.”

    2. Rather, Jesus promised His followers the gift of the Holy Spirit to “open the word to His servants” and “to illumine and apply its teachings.”

    3. Since consistency is an attribute of Deity, and since it was the Holy Spirit who originally inspired the Bible, it is impossible that the teaching of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Spirit would be contrary to what the Bible says.

    4. The Holy Spirit was not, is not, and never will be given “to supercede the Bible” because “the word of God is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.”

    5. The Testimonies were given only because man has neglected his Bible; and these are given to direct him back to the Bible.

    (a) They are not given as an addition to the Word of God.

    (b) They are not to take the place of the Word of God.

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