The Comforter

Commentary on Ellen White's article from the Signs of the Times, November 23, 1891

Two weeks before Samuel Spear’s 1891 articles on “The Subordination of Christ”(republished the following year by the Pacific press as a tract entitled “The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity”), Ellen White wrote an article entiled “The Comforter”. Her November 23 article and Spear’s December 7 and 14 articles both appeared in the California paper, The Signs of the Times. It is unfortunate that all but one issue of the 1891 Signs are unavailable in the SDA Archives yet all of Ellen Whites articles that year are preserved in the CD ROM. However, an analysis of her article is revealing.

She begins with the words of Jesus. “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.”Then she says, “The divine Spirit that the world’s Redeemer promised to send, is the presence and power of God.”Seven years later (some would suggest because of Spear’s influence, but more likely as a result of Kellogg’s) she expanded her description of the Spirit to include its personality and personhood, as well as its identity--the Spirit of Jesus. She continues.

“He will not leave his people in the world destitute of his grace, but he will come to them.” This is most certainly speaking of Jesus. “The world cannot see the truth; they know not the Father or the Son, but it is only because they do not desire to know God, they do not wish to look upon Jesus, ”She echoes again the words of Christ in John 14:17. In verse 6 Jesus declared himself to be the Truth and later in chapter 17:3 he recognizes his Father as “the only true God.”

“Jesus is inviting all men to accept him; and wherever the heart is open to receive him, he will come in, ”These words are reminiscent of Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and will open the door, I will come in, ”“I will come to you”John 14;18. “And in that day you shall know that...I [am] in you”verse 20.

She then quotes John 1:10-18 again featuring a world that knew Him not though He was the begotten of the Father, the only begotten Son that was in the bosom of the Father. “Kings and nobles marveled at the gracious words that proceeded from his lips. Many of the priests and rulers were convinced that he was the promised Messiah, but they dared not acknowledge him for fear of being thrust out of the synagogue. They could not consent to join themselves to Jesus and his disciples, and be in the minority.”

Is this not a picture of today? Fear restrains the natural response of the human heart in discovering the glorious truth that the divine Son of God has his Father’s very nature in him because he is “the Son of the Father in truth”2John 3. It is “His dear Son”(Col 1:13), “born of the Spirit”(John 3:6), that God the Father “spared not His own Son but gave Him up for us all”(Rom 8:32), in which “is manifested the love of God toward us because that He sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him”(1John 4:9). But this is what the minority believe! How can we be associated with such a small insignificant group? To do so today is to dare being thrust out of the synagogue. O Father, save Thy people!

“Christ saw that that which prevented the truth from reaching many hearts was their misconception of the nature and claims of the law. They neglected to cultivate spirituality. They did not know the Lord whom they professed to serve and obey. They did not discern the relation of Jesus to the Father, neither did they know by experience the paternal character of God, ” Can we afford not to know the Lord? How can we fail to discern the relation of Jesus to the Father? We must know by experience the paternal character of God, for “this is life eternal that they might know Thee”John 17:3. Jesus is speaking to his Father!

“Because I live, ye shall live also;”for I will bring you from your graves; for this power is given unto me.”She quotes John 10:18. He can take up his life again because “This commandment have I received of my Father.”Here is demonstrated the subordination of the Son to his Father, his Head (1Cor 11:3).

She continues in John 14 again verse 10: “ ‘At that day ye shall know,’ without a dimming veil to obstruct your view, ‘that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.’ How many read this promise, so rich, so glorious, and yet do not grasp its preciousness! Jesus virtually says to all such, “Your faith is feeble; you do not discern my oneness with the Father; neither do you comprehend the fact that I am identified with all who believe in me, that they are one with me, their interest is my interest, my interest and work is theirs.’ The perfect oneness of Christ with his obedient believing children is the same as that which exists between the Father and the Son.”

Being “in” his Father is another way of saying that the interests of the Son are the interests of his Father; his work and his Father’s work is the same (John 5:17). So, too, our interests, our work, is the same as Christ’s, to do the will of the Father. “Every struggle of the human mind against sin, every effort to conform to the law of God, is Christ working through his appointed agencies upon the human will;”Now that Jesus is in heaven sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb 8:1), he works upon our will to conform it to his “through his appointed agencies.” His Spirit, His ministering spirits, are agencies that influence our minds to conform to his Father’s law. “We shall cling to Jesus with unyielding faith, surrendering our will and way to his, binding up our hearts with his great heart of love. We shall live as he lives, work as he works, and because we depend on him as our helper, ” Jesus is our Helper, our Comforter, our Heavenly Guide.

Grace and peace be unto you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ
the Son of the Father in truth and love. 2 John 3

Gary Hullquist