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Testing Ellen's Gifts

Ellen White’s productive career was enhanced by her character. Generous, kind, and honest, she exemplified the Christian virtues she wrote about. For instance, despite the potential of living extravagantly off the royalties of her written work, she passed much of it on to the spread of the gospel, financially supporting church projects, and helping worthy students going to Christian schools.

For many years, she and her husband did not receive a salary, except that which was needed to provide food and clothing. Their home was a thoroughfare of visitors, workers and boarders, which they took in to assist others in their personal expenses. Domestic and office workers, who were needed to carry on church work, such as publishing, were often paid out of the White’s personal funds.

Nor was Ellen an inaccessible intellectual. By all accounts, she was a friendly neighbor, a loving wife and mother, a diligent housekeeper, and a visitor of the sick and downtrodden. She was well acquainted with the woes of humanity too: losing two of her children to disease — a very common occurrence in the 19th century.

The life of Ellen was both conventional — she played the role of wife, mother, housekeeper and friend — and unconventional, as she responded to God’s call to be His messenger. These two aspects of her person were balanced with uncommon finesse.

But none of this, her personal qualities nor her achievements, prove that she possessed a prophetic gift. Although she didn’t choose to call herself a prophet, she did claim to convey messages from heaven. Why should we believe them? Her visions could have been lies or delusions and her writing could have been the product of hypergraphia or delusion.

Not until we subject her ministry to the 10 tests of a true prophet can we know if her gift was genuine prophecy or pure madness. We’ll do just that in the next section.

Next: The Test Results

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