DISCOVERING THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY
He Still Speaks
How does God communicate over the noise of modern society?
By Alberto R. Timm
Adventist World magazine has published a selection from the writings of Ellen G. White in each edition since its launch in September 2005. Beginning with this edition and continuing through the next two years, special articles about the biblical gift of prophecy will also appear in this space every other month to help Seventh-day Adventists around the world appreciate and learn more about God’s special gift to His remnant people. These “Discovering the Spirit of Prophecy” features will include explorations of Bible teaching about spiritual gifts, practical articles about applying insights to everyday life, and helpful methods to share the richness of this gift with friends and neighbors.
We live in a world in which communication devices are growing astronomically under the impact of the technological and cybernetic revolutions. Satellites, the “World Wide Web” (www), cell phones, and many other tools have transformed our world into a global community. Busy communicating with each other through those means, we do not spend enough time listening to our loving God. Fascinated with so many sophisticated resources, we are continuously tempted to disregard the simple ways in which God tries to speak to us. With the abundance of information available to us, we risk ignoring the saving knowledge that only God is able to impart to us. We need to retune our minds to the clear communication that comes “from above” (see James 3:13-18).
God Speaks in Nature
The whole healing and renewal process that keeps nature alive also points silently to the ultimate restoration when God will “make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). “The trees cast off their leaves, only to be robed with fresher verdure; the flowers die, to spring forth in new beauty; and in every manifestation of creative power is held out the assurance that we may be created anew in ‘righteousness and holiness of truth.’ Ephesians 4:24, margin. Thus the very objects and operations of nature that bring so vividly to mind our great loss [after the fall] become to us the messengers of hope” (Education, p. 27). Yet, the message of nature is not only unclear, because of the presence of evil, but also incomplete, for it does not speak explicitly about the plan of redemption.
Undoubtedly, the supreme revelation of God to humankind is found in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became also the Son of man. Hebrews 1:1-3 (NIV) explains, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he spoke to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” For this very reason He was called “‘Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us’” (Matt. 1:23, NIV). Indeed, “we have only one perfect photograph of God, and this is Jesus Christ” (E. G. White, in The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 906).
Despite the fact that Jesus Christ is no longer visible in our midst and that, as far as we know, there is no genuine prophet alive in our days, God’s providence generated and preserved the Scriptures throughout the ages. As our only rule of faith and practice, they bear witness about Christ (John 5:39). The Old Testament messianic prophecies portrayed the forthcoming Messiah in such distinct colors that Jesus of Nazareth could be identified as the true One. The New Testament writers confirmed such identification, presenting Him as the only hope of salvation and eternal life for the sinners. The apostle John says that the Gospel record was written so that we “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing” we “may have life in his name” (John 20:30, 31, NIV). This implies both a living relationship with the person of Christ and a true commitment to His teachings found in the Scriptures (see Matt. 7:21-27).
The Holy Spirit’s Role
God reveals through nature His creative and sustaining power and restoring love. But He spoke more explicitly to humanity through His servants the prophets. The basic prophetic message was incorporated in the Scriptures and preserved by divine providence throughout the ages. The revelation process found its climax in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ, who was actually “God with us.” The same Holy Spirit who inspired the prophets to write the Scriptures also enlightens our minds to understand them properly, to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, and to walk with Him and for Him. The whole process aims to free us from our sinful paths of death and guide us in the way where we find fullness of life in the presence of our loving God.
Alberto R. Timm is rector at the Latin-American Adventist Theological Seminary in Brasilia, Brazil.