"Those who accept the Saviour, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or to feel that they are saved."
A closer look at Ellen G. White's cautions regarding this subject reveals that, in context, she is not speaking against the certainty of a believer's present standing with God. She is warning against the presumptuous "once saved, always saved" teaching of eternal security--those who claim "I am saved" while continuing to transgress the law of God. Here is her full statement:
"Peter's fall was not instantaneous, but gradual. Self-confidence led him to the belief that he was saved, and step after step was taken in the downward path, until he could deny his Master. Never can we safely put confidence in self or feel, this side of heaven, that we are secure against temptation. Those who accept the Saviour, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or to feel that they are saved. This is misleading. Everyone should be taught to cherish hope and faith; but even when we give ourselves to Christ and know that He accepts us, we are not beyond the reach of temptation. God's Word declares, 'Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried' (Dan. 12:10). Only he who endures the trial will receive the crown of life (James 1:12)" (Christ's Object Lessons, p. 155, emphasis supplied).
That Ellen White understood the proper basis for true Christian assurance is evidenced by the following remark she made before the church's General Conference session:
"Each one of you may know for yourself that you have a living Saviour, that He is your helper and your God. You need not stand where you say, 'I do not know whether I am saved.' Do you believe in Christ as your personal Saviour? If you do, then rejoice" (General Conference Bulletin, April 10, 1901).
To a woman who was struggling with doubts Ellen White wrote:
"The message from God to me for you is 'Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out' (John 6:37). If you have nothing else to plead before God but this one promise from your Lord and Saviour, you have the assurance that you will never, never be turned away. It may seem to you that you are hanging upon a single promise, but appropriate that one promise, and it will open to you the whole treasure house of the riches of the grace of Christ. Cling to that promise and you are safe. 'Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.' Present this assurance to Jesus, and you are as safe as though inside the city of God" (Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 175).
"I do not claim to be a prophetess."
Why does the Seventh-day Adventist church believe that Ellen G. White received the gift of prophecy when she said that she did not claim to be a prophetess? The misuse often made of this Ellen White statement is an illustration of the importance of proper context. Here, in her own words, is what Ellen White did and did not mean by her statement:
"Some have stumbled over the fact that I said I did not claim to be a prophet; and they have asked, Why is this?
"I have had no claims to make, only that I am instructed that I am the Lord's messenger; that He called me in my youth to be His messenger, to receive His word, and to give a clear and decided message in the name of the Lord Jesus.
"Early in my youth I was asked several times, Are you a prophet? I have ever responded, I am the Lord's messenger. I know that many have called me a prophet, but I have made no claim to this title. My Saviour declared me to be His messenger. 'Your work,' He instructed me, 'is to bear My word. Strange things will arise, and in your youth I set you apart to bear the message to the erring ones, to carry the word before unbelievers, and with pen and voice to reprove from the Word actions that are not right. Exhort from the Word. I will make My Word open to you. It shall not be as a strange language. In the true eloquence of simplicity, with voice and pen, the messages that I give shall be heard from one who has never learned in the schools. My Spirit and My power shall be with you.' . . .
"Why have I not claimed to be a prophet?--Because in these days many who boldly claim that they are prophets are a reproach to the cause of Christ; and because my work includes much more than the word 'prophet' signifies. . . .
"To claim to be a prophetess is something that I have never done. If others call me by that name, I have no controversy with them. But my work has covered so many lines that I cannot call myself other than a messenger, sent to bear a message from the Lord to His people, and to take up work in any line that He points out.
"When I was last in Battle Creek, I said before a large congregation that I did not claim to be a prophetess. Twice I referred to this matter, intending each time to make the statement, 'I do not claim to be a prophetess.' If I spoke otherwise than this, let all now understand that what I had in mind to say was that I do not claim the title of prophet or prophetess" (Review and Herald, July 26, 1906, reprinted in Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 31-35).
"During the discourse, I said that I did not claim to be a prophetess. Some were surprised at this statement, and as much is being said in regard to it, I will make an explanation. Others have called me a prophetess, but I have never assumed that title. I have not felt that it was my duty thus to designate myself. Those who boldly assume that they are prophets in this our day are often a reproach to the cause of Christ.
"My work includes much more than this name signifies. I regard myself as a messenger, entrusted by the Lord with messages for His people" (Letter 55, 1905; quoted in Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 35, 36).