A research paper on the history of the trinity doctrine within the early Christian Church and within Seventh-day Adventism
Ellen White and the Holy Spirit
(Part 1 of 2)
With regards to Ellen White’s beliefs concerning the Holy Spirit, there are literally hundreds of quotations that came from her pen but because space here is very limited, we can only quote some of them. There will be enough though to give us a balanced view as to what she really did believe about this ‘mysterious’ divine personality.
As we shall see as we go through this study, as far as Ellen White was concerned, the most important aspect of the Holy Spirit was that when He dwelt within a person, it was as the presence of our Lord within, thus it could be said that those who receive this presence (the Holy Spirit) were partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
The Holy Spirit – as the personal presence of Christ
In 1892, Ellen White penned these words
“The work of the holy Spirit is immeasurably great. It is from this source that power and efficiency come to the worker for God; and the holy Spirit is the comforter, as the personal presence of Christ to the soul.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald 29th November 1892, ‘The perils and privileges of the last days (concluded)’)
How much different was this than what the pioneers believed concerning the Holy Spirit (see section thirty-one and section thirty-two)? According to Ellen White, the presence of the Holy Spirit is “as the personal presence of Christ to the soul”. This was exactly the same as said by our pioneers.
She then added
“He who looks to Christ in simple, childlike faith, is made a partaker of the divine nature through the agency of the holy Spirit.” (Ibid)
We are told here that when the Holy Spirit dwells within, we are then the partakers of the divine nature (see 2 Peter 1:4)
Over a decade later in 1903, Ellen White also said (this was after she emphasised that the Holy Spirit is a personality)
“Shall we not wrestle with God in prayer, asking for the Holy Spirit to come into every heart? (Ellen G. White, 8th Vol. Testimonies page 46 ‘Present opportunities’ 1904, see also Review and Herald 26th November 1903 ‘A view of the conflict)
She then added
“The presence of Christ, manifest among us, would cure the leprosy of unbelief that has made our service so weak and inefficient. We need the breath of the divine life breathed into us.” (Ibid)
Note again we are told that this indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the very “presence of Christ”. Notice too that this is said to be “the breath of the divine life”. This is very important to us in both our theological and historical studies.
We also need to remember that this was said by Ellen White after saying that the Holy Spirit is a personality. She is therefore saying that as a personality, the Holy Spirit dwells within millions of different people at the same time (those who have experienced conversion). Does this depict the Holy Spirit as being a ‘person’ just like God and Christ are persons? Notice here that the Father and Son do not dwell in Christians other than by reason of the indwelling Spirit. In other words, if the Holy Spirit does not dwell within, then the Father and Son do not dwell within.
Ellen White also said in respect of the creation of Adam
“When God had made man in His image, the human form was perfect in all its arrangements, but it was without life.”(Ellen G. White, 8th Volume testimonies page 264, ‘The essential knowledge’, 1904)
She then added
“Then a personal, self-existing God breathed into that form the breath of life, and man became a living, breathing, intelligent being.” (Ibid)
She also said three years later in 1908
“The religion of Christ means much more than the forgiveness of sin. It means taking away our sins, and filling the vacuum with the Holy Spirit. It means divine illumination, rejoicing in God. It means a heart emptied of self, and blessed with the abiding presence of Christ.” (Ellen G. White, Bible Training School, 1st October 1908, ‘True Worship, see also Review and Herald 10th June 1902, ‘The promise of the Spirit and Review and Herald, 12th November 1914, Preparing for Christ’s return)
Again we see Ellen White saying, as did the pioneers (see section thirty-one and section thirty-two) that the Holy Spirit is “the abiding presence of Christ”. Note this was now 1908, many years after she first said that the Holy Spirit is a personality. It was also 10 years after the publication of ‘The Desire of Ages’.
This was no different than what she had always been saying.
In 1894 she wrote regarding the parable of the labourers (Matthew 20:1-16) and the final judgment scene
righteous are represented as wondering what they have done for which they are
to be so liberally rewarded. They had had the abiding presence of Christ
in their hearts; they had been imbued with his Spirit, and without
conscious effort on their part; they had been serving Christ in the person of
his saints, and had thereby gained the sure reward.” (Ellen G. White. Review and Herald,
Again we see Ellen White saying that the Holy Spirit is “the abiding presence of Christ”.
Here is a very interesting quote from Ellen White’s writings. It is an immense help in understanding how she regarded the Holy Spirit. This is with reference to the time when God raises the unrighteous to life after the thousand years in Heaven are ended (meaning after the millennium).
“The presence of Christ having been removed, Satan works wonders to support his claims.” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 1911 Edition page 663 ‘The Controversy ended’)
Note here what is removed? It is the “presence of Christ”.
This cannot mean the bodily presence of Christ because this would have been withdrawn from the earth at the ascension over 3000 years previously. It can only be concluded that this “presence” is the Holy Spirit. Allow me to explain.
This final and total withdrawal of Christ’s presence (the Holy Spirit) from this earth happens immediately prior to the return of Jesus. This is why at that time there will be a time of trouble like there never was before (see Daniel 12:1). In other words, there will be no Holy Spirit to hold in check the unrighteous. This is followed by the return of Jesus, also the taking of God’s people to heaven for a thousand years (see Revelation 20:1-6).
In the above quote therefore, Ellen White is saying that after the thousand years is finished (when the unsaved are raised to life) there is still no “presence of Christ” to hold them in check.
This “presence of Christ” removed therefore, as in the Ellen White quote above, is obviously the withdrawal of both the Holy Spirit and His controlling influence. To put this in another way, remove the Holy Spirit and you remove the presence of Christ. It is one and the same thing. The Holy Spirit is the “presence of Christ”.
This same “presence of Christ” (the Holy Spirit) is also that which gives God’s people their power
As Ellen White said in 1903
“God calls upon His people, many of whom are but half awake, to arouse, and engage in earnest labor, praying for strength for service. Workers are needed. Receive the Holy Spirit, and your efforts will be successful. Christ's presence is what gives power.” (Ellen G. White, The Central Advance, February 25th 1903)
Here Ellen White equates the presence of the Holy Spirit with the presence of Christ. She said this 5 years after the publication of ‘The Desire of Ages’.
This was no different than what she
had always believed. Take for example here remarks in an address
delivered at the close of the
“The best recommendation you can carry with you of this school and its influence is a well-ordered life and a godly conversation. Wherever you may be, maintain the principles that you have been studying here. Wherever you go, carry on the good work of searching the Scriptures, and the Lord Jesus will always be at your right hand to help you.” (Ellen G. White, Bible Echo 15th January 1893)
She then added concerning Jesus
“He is a merciful high priest pleading in your behalf. He will send his representative, the Holy Spirit; for He says, "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." (Ibid)
Ellen White is quoting here from John 14:18. Note whom Jesus said (and Ellen White is emphasising) would be coming as the comforter (the Holy Spirit). It was the “Lord Jesus” Himself. This is why she said “the Lord Jesus will always be at your right hand to help you”.
The same author then concluded about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (this time with reference to John )
“By the Spirit the Father and the Son will come and make their abode with you.” (Ibid)
Here we are told (just as the Bible says) that when the Holy Spirit dwells within it is the presence within of both “the Father and the Son” (see John 14:18, 23). This was obviously not bodily because they are both still in the sanctuary in Heaven.
Very interesting is the way that she put it when she wrote to Uriah Smith (this was when he had need of counselling)
“The voice of God calls you as it did Elijah. Come out of the cave and stand with God and hear what He will say unto you. When you will come under the divine guidance, the Comforter will lead you into all truth. The office of the Holy Spirit is to take the things of Christ as they fall from His lips, and infuse them as living principles into the hearts opened to receive them. Then we will know both the Father and the Son.” (Manuscript releases volume 14 No. 1106, Letter 40, To Uriah Smith, December 31st 1890, pp. 10-11.see also the Ellen G. White 1888 materials Chapter 102 To U. Smith)
Notice here that Ellen White did not say to Uriah Smith that he would ‘know the Holy Spirit’ but that he would know “both the Father and the Son”. This should tell us a great deal as to how Ellen White regarded the Holy Spirit.
In ‘The Desire of Ages’ Ellen White wrote
“The Saviour has not promised His followers the luxuries of the world; their fare may be plain, and even scanty; their lot may be shut in by poverty; but His word is pledged that their need shall be supplied, and He has promised that which is far better than worldly good, -- the abiding comfort of His own presence.” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages’, page 367, ‘Give Ye Then to Eat’)
The Holy Spirit – Christ omnipresent
In 1891, Ellen White wrote in a letter to a brother in Christ called Chapman
“It is not essential for you to know and be able to define just what the Holy Spirit is. Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and the Comforter is the Holy Ghost, "the Spirit of truth, which the Father shall send in My name." (Ellen G. White, letter to Brother Chapman June 11th 1891, Manuscript Release volume 14, No. 1107)
Take careful note of her words. She said that it was not essential for us to define “just what” the Holy Spirit is.
After quoting the words of Jesus when He spoke of the coming of the comforter as found in John 14:16 and 17 she then said
"This refers to the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ, called the Comforter. Again Jesus says, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth" [John , 13].” (Ibid)
Here Ellen White is referring to the Holy Spirit (“the Comforter”) as “the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ”. If there are those who attempt to reason how this is at all possible, then they would do well to heed the words that Ellen White next wrote to Chapman.
This is when she said to him
“There are many mysteries which I do not seek to understand or to explain; they are too high for me, and too high for you. On some of these points, silence is golden. Piety, devotion, sanctification of soul, body, and spirit--this is essential for us all. "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" [John 17:3]”. (Ibid)
What is life eternal? Is it to know the Holy Spirit? Obviously not! As Ellen White quotes Jesus as saying, it is to know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ”. Jesus said absolutely nothing about knowing the Holy Spirit.
Ellen White is saying here that even she did not understand how the comforter is Christ omnipresent. She said that these things were beyond the comprehension of both her and Chapman therefore on some of these points “silence is golden”.
As we shall see in section forty-four, Ellen White’s beliefs concerning the Holy Spirit were rather complex, not even being fully understood by her own son W. C. White and he probably understood her beliefs better than anyone else. Certainly her belief was not as easy as saying that the Holy Spirit was just another personal being like God and Christ.
These same sentiments that Ellen White expressed to Chapman were transposed into her book the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ (1911).
This is where it says
“It is not essential for us to be able to define just what the Holy Spirit is. Christ tells us that the Spirit is the Comforter, "the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father." It is plainly declared regarding the Holy Spirit that, in His work of guiding men into all truth, "He shall not speak of Himself." John , , 52.” (Ellen G. White, ‘Acts of the Apostles’ pages 51-52, 1911)
Note again she is still saying, even in 1911, that it is not essential for us to define “just what” the Holy Spirit is. This was now 13 years after the publication of ‘The Desire of Ages’.
Notice particularly that Ellen White quotes the Bible as saying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father whilst the Son, as we have seen her say in section fifteen, is begotten of the Father. She also makes the point of quoting Scripture where it says that the Holy Spirit does not “speak of Himself”.
She then went on to say about the nature of the Holy Spirit
“The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. Men cannot explain it, because the Lord has not revealed it to them. Men having fanciful views may bring together passages of Scripture and put a human construction on them, but the acceptance of these views will not strengthen the church. Regarding such mysteries, which are too deep for human understanding, silence is golden.” (Ibid)
This was even though in ‘The Desire of Ages’ (published 13 years previously) she had written
“Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the third person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power.” (Ellen G. White, ‘The Desire of Ages’ page 671 chapter ‘Let not your heart be troubled’ 1898)
Even though Ellen White said that the Holy Spirit is a “person”, she says 13 years later that to us as human beings, His nature is a mystery. This is a rather obvious realisation, at least it does become so when it is realised that ‘He’ dwells within perhaps millions of different people at the same time.
Even before this in 1896, Ellen White had said much the same
in a letter that she sent from
This is when she said to the brethren in
“Evil had been accumulating for centuries, and could only be
restrained and resisted by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy,
but in the fulness of divine power. Another spirit must be met; for the essence
of evil was working in all ways, and the submission of man to this satanic
captivity was amazing.” (Ellen White,
letter to the brethren in
Ellen White did make it clear though that
“The Bible shows us God in His high and holy place, not in a state of inactivity, not in silence and solitude, but surrounded by ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of holy beings, all waiting to do His will. Through these messengers He is in active communication with every part of His dominion. By His Spirit He is everywhere present. Through the agency of His Spirit and His angels He ministers to the children of men.” (Ministry of Healing, page 417 ‘A true Knowledge of God’)
Here we are told that God Himself, by His Spirit, is “everywhere present” yet at the very same time He is still in Heaven in “His High and Holy place”. Obviously, this ‘Spirit’ belongs to God and is Himself in a form that is totally beyond both our human (finite) comprehension.
As Ellen White in ‘The Desire of Ages’ said concerning Jesus
“After His ascension He [Jesus] was to be absent in person; but through the Comforter He would still be with them, and they were not to spend their time in mourning. This was what Satan wanted. He desired them to give the world the impression that they had been deceived and disappointed; but by faith they were to look to the sanctuary above, where Jesus was ministering for them; they were to open their hearts to the Holy Spirit, His representative, and to rejoice in the light of His presence.” (Ellen G. White, ‘The Desire of Ages’, page 277, ‘Levi – Matthew’)
Again we see Ellen White saying that whilst Jesus was “absent in person” (whilst He was in the sanctuary in Heaven) He would “still be with them” here on earth. Now how can this be? Obviously it is only if the Holy Spirit, in one sense, is the same ‘person’ as Christ. Notice that Ellen White said that the Holy Spirit was the “light of His [Christ’s] presence”. The Holy Spirit therefore is as the presence of Christ.
Amid the early 1900’s crisis regarding the Godhead (this is when John Harvey Kellogg in attempting to justify what he had written his book ‘The Living Temple’ said that he had come to believe in the trinity), we were told this through the spirit of prophecy
“The Son is all the fulness of the Godhead manifested. The Word of God declares Him to be "the express image of His person." "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Here is shown the personality of the Father.” (Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies Series B No. 7 page 63)
Ellen White then added concerning the Holy Spirit
“The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fulness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour.” (Ibid)
“There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit-- those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ. . . . (Ibid)
Understandably, the trinitarians amongst us use the above statement in support of their reasoning (that God is three-in-one) but as we have already noted in section twenty-seven, in this same testimony, Ellen White condemned all illustrations that depict God as being such. In fact she said that all these types of illustrations are untrue.
The Holy Spirit – Christ Himself
Now note something else that Ellen White said about the Holy Spirit. This is really important to our understanding of what she understood was the truth about Him.
As we have already noted in section sixteen and various other sections, Ellen White did say that Christ is the “eternal presence”.
This is when she said after saying that ‘I AM’ means ‘eternal presence’
“Then said the Jews unto Him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM. Then took they up stones to cast at Him" because of that saying [verses 57-59]. Christ was using the great name of God that was given to Moses to express the idea of the eternal presence.” (Ellen G. White, Manuscript No. 1084, February 18, 19th, 1895, page 21)
As we reasoned this through considerably in section sixteen (see also section nine of the ‘Begotten Series’), we will not do so again here but I will point out that just two pages later we find these words
“Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them, go to His father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth.” (Ibid)
She then added
“The Holy Spirit is Himself divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit, as the Omnipresent.” (Ibid)
First note the final remark of Ellen White. This is where she says that Christ is “the Omnipresent”. This can only be making reference to deity. We can also see here that she is making it very clear, just like she said in her letter to Chapman (see above) that the Holy Spirit is the “omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ”.
Now note that she said that this divine personality (the Holy Spirit) was Christ Himself not “cumbered with” but “divested of the personality of humanity”.
Cumbered means troubled, restricted, hindered, or obstructed by etc., therefore Ellen White is saying that the Holy Spirit is the person of Christ unrestricted and unhindered etc by humanity.
When we remember that she also said that Christ was claiming to be “the eternal presence” (this is when Christ claimed the name ‘I AM’ John 8:58), it is hardly surprising that she said that the Holy Spirit is Christ Himself not hindered by humanity.
Note too that she says that the Holy Spirit is “independent” of the humanity of Christ. This cannot mean that the Holy Spirit can do whatever He wishes but that he can operate outside (independently) of Christ’s humanity.
This we can see because Ellen White also says
“The Holy Spirit is a free, working, independent agency.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald. 5th May 1896 ‘Operation of the Holy Spirit made manifest in the life’)
She then added
“The God of heaven uses his Spirit as it pleases him, and human minds and human judgment and human methods can no more set boundaries to its working, or prescribe as to the channel through which it shall operate, than they can say to the wind, "I bid you to blow in a certain direction, and to conduct yourself in such and such a manner." (Ibid)
Here we can see clearly that by “independent”, Ellen White does not mean that the Holy Spirit Himself chooses what to do, but rather is used by God “as it pleases him”. This independency therefore is an independence from God the Father and Christ’s bodily presence. As she said, God “uses” his Spirit. Note that God here is spoken of as a personal being.
The very same thoughts in the penultimate statement of Ellen White were also transposed into her book ‘The Desire of Ages’.
This is when she wrote
“The Holy Spirit is Christ's representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof.” (Ellen G. White, ‘The Desire of Ages’, page 669, ‘Let not your heart be troubled’)
She then added
“Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth. No one could then have any advantage because of his location or his personal contact with Christ. By the Spirit the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense He would be nearer to them than if He had not ascended on high.” (Ibid)
By the indwelling Spirit said Ellen White, Christ would be nearer to His disciples than when He was on earth. Note she also says that in this way, no one would “have any advantage because of his (Christ’s) location”. She also said that by the Spirit “the Saviour would be accessible to all”. If Christ was nearer to them by the means of His Spirit then it must mean that the Holy Spirit is Christ Himself in another way other than in a bodily form (as are God the Father and Christ). Obviously, in bodily form, neither Father nor Son could actually dwell within the believer but in the form of the Holy Spirit (whose nature we cannot understand because it has not been revealed to us) they are both able to do so.
Ellen White also said in 1909
“Those who believe the truth should remember that they are God's little children, that they are under His training. Let them be thankful to God for His manifold mercies and be kind to one another. They have one God and one Saviour; and one Spirit -- the Spirit of Christ -- is to bring unity into their ranks.” (Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies, Series B No. 4 page 23, ‘The publishing work at College View’, see also testimonies Volume 9, page 189, ‘The spirit of unity’)
Note whom or what Ellen White says is the “one Spirit”. She says it is “the Spirit of Christ”.
In ‘The Great Controversy Ellen White wrote
“When on His resurrection day these disciples met the Saviour, and their hearts burned within them as they listened to His words; when they looked upon the head and hands and feet that had been bruised for them; when, before His ascension, Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands in blessing, bade them, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel," adding, "Lo, I am with you alway" (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:20); when on the Day of Pentecost the promised Comforter descended and the power from on high was given and the souls of the believers thrilled with the conscious presence of their ascended Lord -- then, even though, like His, their pathway led through sacrifice and martyrdom, would they have exchanged the ministry of the gospel of His grace, with the "crown of righteousness" to be received at His coming, for the glory of an earthly throne, which had been the hope of their earlier discipleship? “(Ellen G. White, Great Controversy, page 350, ‘Light Through Darkness’)
Notice whom it was that Ellen White said the believers recognized the Holy Spirit to be. It was “the conscious presence of their ascended Lord” – none other than Jesus Himself.
In 1897, Ellen White wrote a letter to a Mrs. Wessels. Her husband had turned away from God which had placed a very large burden upon her.
Ellen White wrote to her in encouragement
“Keep cheerful. Do not forget that you have a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, which Christ has appointed. You are never alone. If you will listen to the voice that now speaks to you, if you will respond without delay to the knocking at the door of your heart, "Come in, Lord Jesus, that I may sup with Thee, and Thee with me," the heavenly Guest will enter. When this element, which is all divine, abides with you, there is peace and rest. It is the kingdom of heaven come nigh unto you.” (Ellen G. White to Mrs. Wessels, Letter 124, March 7th 1897)
She also said later
“What saith our Saviour? "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." When trials overshadow the soul, remember the words of Christ, remember that He is as an unseen presence in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He will be the peace and comfort given you, manifesting to you that He is with you, the Sun of Righteousness, chasing away your darkness.” (Ibid)
Notice very carefully Ellen White’s words. She said that Christ is as an “unseen presence in the person of the Holy Spirit”.
She also added
"If a man love me," Christ said, "he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." Be of good cheer; light will come, and your soul will rejoice greatly in the Lord.” (Ibid)
Here we can see that the Scriptures tell us that when the Holy Spirit dwells within, it is the same as having the Father and the Son dwelling within.
We can see therefore that it would be impossible to have the indwelling of the Son (or the Father) without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In other words, it would be impossible for Christ or the Father to dwell within a person if the Holy Spirit was not within. He is both of them omnipresent.
In ‘The Desire of Ages’ Ellen White wrote (this was after the resurrection)
"And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained."” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 805, ‘Peace be unto you’)
She then adds
“The Holy Spirit was not yet fully manifested; for Christ had not yet been glorified. The more abundant impartation of the Spirit did not take place till after Christ's ascension. Not until this was received could the disciples fulfill the commission to preach the gospel to the world. But the Spirit was now given for a special purpose. Before the disciples could fulfill their official duties in connection with the church, Christ breathed His Spirit upon them. He was committing to them a most sacred trust, and He desired to impress them with the fact that without the Holy Spirit this work could not be accomplished.” (Ibid)
We can see very clearly here that the Holy Spirit is none other than the Spirit of Christ. It was this that the disciples received.
In 1892, after saying that “The record declares, "He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.", Ellen White wrote
“Jesus is waiting to breathe upon all his disciples, and give them the inspiration of his sanctifying spirit, and transfuse the vital influence from himself to his people. He would have them understand that henceforth they cannot serve two masters. Their lives cannot be divided. Christ is to live in his human agents, and work through their faculties, and act through their capabilities. Their will must be submitted to his will, they must act with his spirit, that it may be no more they that live, but Christ that liveth in them.” (Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, 3rd October 1892, ‘Faith brings Light’)
She then added
“Jesus is seeking to impress upon them the thought that in giving his Holy Spirit he is giving to them the glory which the Father has given him, that he and his people may be one in God. Our way and will must be in submission to God's will, knowing that it is holy, just, and good.” (Ibid)
The Father and the Son
In ‘The Desire of Ages’ Ellen White wrote
“The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, a plan formulated after the fall of Adam. It was a revelation of "the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal." Rom. 16:25, R. V. It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God's throne.” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 22, Chapter 1, ‘God with us’’)
She then added
“From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the deceptive power of the apostate. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the terrible emergency. So great was His love for the world, that He covenanted to give His only-begotten Son, "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.” (Ibid)
Notice here there is no mention of the Holy Spirit.
Later in the same book she wrote (this was when Jesus entered Heaven after the resurrection)
· “When the wicked dead are raised from the grave, they come up with the tastes, habits, and characters that they formed in the time of probation. A sinner is not raised a saint, neither is a saint raised a sinner. The sinner could not be happy in the companionship of the saints in light, with Jesus, with the Lord of hosts; for on every side will be heard the song of praise and thanksgiving; and honor will be ascribed to the Father and the Son.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 24th October 1912, ‘The Measure of Light Given Measures Our Responsibilities’)
· “"I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." Revelation 21:22. The people of God are privileged to hold open communion with the Father and the Son.” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 1911 edition, ‘The Controversy Ended’)
“We are on trial now, but under every test let us
make it manifest to all around us that we are on the Lord's side. I am so
thankful that none need dishonor Christ! We may all win heaven; we may all be welcomed to the city of
· “In that day [Christ's Coronation Day] the redeemed will shine forth in the glory of the Father and the Son. The angels of heaven, touching their golden harps, will welcome the King and His trophies of victory -- those who have been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. A song of triumph will peal forth, filling all heaven. Christ has conquered. He enters the heavenly courts accompanied by His redeemed ones -- the witnesses that His mission of suffering and sacrifice has not been in vain.” (Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, 21st November 1906, ‘The Results of Forgetting God’)
“As the voice was heard, a light darted from the
cloud, and encircled Christ, as if the arms of Infinite Power were thrown about
Him like a wall of fire. The people beheld this scene with terror and
amazement. No one dared to speak. With silent lips and bated breath all stood
with eyes fixed upon Jesus. The testimony of the Father having been given, the
cloud lifted, and scattered in the heavens. For the time the visible communion between the Father and the Son was ended.” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages’, page
625, ‘In the
· “If the disciples believed this vital connection between the Father and the Son, their faith would not forsake them when they saw Christ's suffering and death to save a perishing world.” (Ibid, page 664, ‘Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled’)
· “In the beginning the Father and the Son had rested upon the Sabbath after Their work of creation.” (Ibid, page 769, ‘In Joseph’s Tomb’)
· “When in the fulness of time the Son of the infinite God came forth from the bosom of the Father to this world, He came in the garb of humanity, clothing His divinity with humanity. The Father and the Son in consultation decided that Christ must come to the world as a babe, and live the life that human beings must live from childhood to manhood, bearing the trials that they must bear, and at the same time living a sinless life, that men might see in Him an example of what they can become, and that He might know by experience how to help them in their struggles with sin.” (Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, 17th May 1905, ‘A Teacher sent from God’)
· “Even the angels were not permitted to share the counsels between the Father and the Son when the plan of salvation was laid. And human beings are not to intrude into the secrets of the Most High. We are as ignorant of God as little children; but, as little children, we may love and obey Him.” (Ellen G. White, Ministry of Healing, page 429, 1905, ‘Danger in Speculative Knowledge’)
· “The most convincing argument we can give to the world of Christ's mission is to be found in perfect unity. Such oneness as exists between the Father and the Son is to be manifest among all who believe the truth.” (Ellen G. White, Bible Training School, 1st February 1906, ‘One, even as we are one’)
· “Through the efficacy of the atonement made, man may return to his allegiance. Through accepting the righteousness of Christ, he may become loyal to the law of God, united to the Father and the Son.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 3rd May 1906, ‘The Great Controversy’)
· “In the Bible every duty is made plain. Every lesson reveals to us the Father and the Son. The Word is able to make all wise unto salvation. In the Word the science of salvation is plainly revealed. Search the Scriptures; for they are the voice of God speaking to the soul.” (Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, 10th October 1906, ‘Blessed are they that do’)
· “Through the eternal ages the offensive character of sin will be seen in what it cost the Father and the Son, in the humiliation, suffering, and death of Christ. All the worlds will behold in Him a living testimony to the malignity of sin; for in His divine form He bears the marks of the curse. He is in the midst of the throne as a Lamb that has been slain.” (Ellen G. White, Bible Training School, 1st December 1907, ‘Wonderful Love’)
· “The plan of redemption was arranged in the councils between the Father and the Son.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 28th May 1908, ‘Cooperation’)
· “The Father and the Son each have a personality. Christ declared, "I and my Father are one." Yet it was the Son of God who came to the world in human form. Laying aside his royal robe and kingly crown, he clothed his divinity with humanity, that humanity through his infinite sacrifice might become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 6th August 1908, ‘Circulate the Publications, No. 1’)
· “The story of a crucified and risen Saviour is the great central theme of the Word of God. In the Psalms, in the prophecies, in the gospels, and in the epistles, God has by revelation made prominent the vital truths concerning the agreement between the Father and the Son in providing for the salvation of a lost race.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 24th September 1908, ‘Build on a sure Foundation’)
· “The grace of Christ has made it possible that there be a close union between the receiver and the Giver. Those to whom God reveals by his Spirit the truths of his Word will be able to testify to an understanding of that mystery of godliness which from eternal ages has been hid in the Father and the Son.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 19th August 1909, ‘As ye have received so walk’)
· “Writing to a helper in the gospel work, a woman of good repute and wide influence, he [John the gospel writer] said: "Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed: for he that biddeth him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds." (Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles, 1911, page 554, ‘A faithful Witness’)
· “It is perilous to neglect to render to God the full consecration of all our powers, for he has given them to man in trust. Will you not ask yourself, "How is it with my soul?" The great gift of salvation has been placed within our reach at an infinite cost to the Father and the Son.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 21st November 1912, ‘Peril of Neglecting Salvation’)
· “He expired on the cross exclaiming, "It is finished," and that cry rang through every world, and through heaven itself. The great contest between Christ, the Prince of life, and Satan, the prince of darkness, was practically over, and Christ was conqueror. His death answered the question as to whether there was self-denial with the Father and the Son.” (Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, 5th January 1915, ‘The Mighty and the Inspiring Conflict’)
· “By daily communion with God he [the minister who has made a full consecration] becomes mighty in a knowledge of the Scriptures. His fellowship is with the Father and the Son; and as he constantly obeys the divine will, he becomes daily better fitted to speak words that will guide wandering souls to the fold of Christ.” (Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, page 23, 1915, ‘Called with a Holy Calling’)
The question must be asked again here. In all of the above quotations, why did not Ellen White write of the Holy Spirit as she did of the Father and the Son? Could it be that she wrote just as did the Bible writers, particularly as did the apostle Paul. As was Ellen White, the latter were inspired writers.
The Holy Spirit and the inspired writers of the Scriptures
In section twenty-nine we noted that in the introductions to all of his letters to the believers in the various churches, the apostle Paul only extends ‘the grace’ from the Father and the Son. Never does he include the Holy Spirit. It behoves us to reason ‘why not’?
Here is what he wrote in each of his epistles
“To all that be in
“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:2-3
“Paul, an apostle of
Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the
“Paul, an apostle, (not
of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father,
who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus
Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at
“Paul and Timotheus, the
servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at
“To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:1-2
“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:1
“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.“ 1 Timothy 1:1-2
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.“ 2 Timothy 1:1-2
“To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.“ Titus 1:4
“Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer, And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philemon 1:1-3
There must have been a very good reason for the exclusion of the Holy Spirit from these introductions. We must also remember that Paul wrote under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
We must also remind ourselves of the prayer that Jesus offered up to His Father.
In this prayer He said
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3
If as some purport that the Holy Spirit is a person like the Father and the Son, then why did not Jesus mention that life eternal was getting to know Him as well? In other words, why again exclude the Holy Spirit? Did Jesus have a reason for doing so? Obviously He must have had a reason.
In what we call his first epistle, John the gospel writer penned these words
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3
In closing this section, please note two final quotations from the spirit of prophecy. Do they give us a clue as to how Ellen White regarded the Holy Spirit? I believe they do.
The first says
“The union between Christ and his people is to be living, true, and unfailing, resembling the union that exists between the Father and the Son. This union is the fruit of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” (Ellen G. White, General Conference Bulletin, 1st July 1900, ‘Unity among Believers’)
Here we can see that the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” is equivalent to the indwelling of the “the Father and the Son”. Note that Ellen White said that this Heavenly “union” was only between “the Father and the Son”. Again the Holy Spirit was excluded. This was only the same as what the other pioneers believed. This belief was that the Holy Spirit present is both the Father and Son personally present when the latter two are bodily and physically in Heaven. In other words, the Holy Spirit is God and Christ omnipresent.
The final quotation from the spirit of prophecy says
“As Saul yielded himself fully to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, he saw the mistakes of his life and recognized the far-reaching claims of the law of God. He who had been a proud Pharisee, confident that he was justified by his good works, now bowed before God with the humility and simplicity of a little child, confessing his own unworthiness and pleading the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour.” (Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles, page 119, 1911, ‘From persecutor to Disciple’)
Ellen White then wrote
“Saul longed to come into full harmony and communion with the Father and the Son; and in the intensity of his desire for pardon and acceptance he offered up fervent supplications to the throne of grace.” (Ibid)
Here we see that this harmony for which the apostle Paul longed was not with the Holy Spirit but with “the Father and the Son”.
Many more quotations such as these can be found in the writings of Ellen White. This was even after she said that the Holy Spirit was a person (or personality). This must tell us something about how she regarded this very mysterious divine personality. We can conclude that just like Jesus, also like the apostle Paul, Ellen White did not regard the Holy Spirit as a person like the Father and the Son.
The human spirit
A correct understanding of the human spirit would help us immensely in understanding how the Holy Spirit is the personal presence or (eternal presence) of both the Father and the Son.
The Scriptures say when referring to what happens when a person dies
“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
When a person dies, the body itself returns to the dust from whence it originally came but the spirit of that person is returned to God. This spirit, because it does not have a human body through which it can function, is dormant (inactive or inanimate) and is therefore unconscious (sleeping). This means that in this condition (being without a body in which it can function), the spirit (or person) has nothing more to do with anything that happens on earth or in Heaven. This is of course until the resurrection. This is when the spirit of a person is again united with a human body and will be able to function as it did before the death of the original body.
God’s Spirit (the Holy Spirit) is not restricted by the lack of bodily form. This is obviously why it can function apart from God Himself (the Father) and apart from the humanity of Jesus. We can conclude therefore that just as the human spirit is the life of a human person, so too the Holy Spirit is the life of Christ.
The next section (thirty-four) is part two of the study of Ellen White and the Holy Spirit.
Last edited – 31st December 2011
© T. M. Hill 2008 England