"First-born…in Earliest Times…First-born of Heaven" and John 8:42- Ellen White Talks About this Issue

Church of the First-born

A great distinguishing mark between God’s Church and the counterfeit is the rejection ofEllen White Tr</p>
<div style= the identity of Christ as the Son of God. Most Adventists today will confess they believe Christ is the Son of God. HOWEVER, the early Adventists were truly the “Church of the FIRSTBORN”(Heb 12:23, 24, see also Matthew 16:16-18, DA 413)

First-born of Heaven in Earliest Times:

The dedication of the first-born had its origin in the earliest times. God had promised to givethe First-born of heavento save the sinner.” {Ellen White The Desire of Ages, p. 51}

Most Adventists today have rejected the notion that Christ is “the First-born of heaven”. Many spiritualize it away and it is considered heresy to them. In today’s handbook 28 fundamental beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists it is taught that Christ is part of a “unity of three co-eternal beings” and that is “Fundamental Belief #2

Jesus said to some of the Pharisee’s, who professed to be children of God and children of Abraham that if they were the children of God they would believe that Christ came out of God by birth. You will find it hard to find many Adventist’s who believe the following passage refer’s to the birth of Christ. However we will see that Ellen White clearly did:

John 8:41-42 KJV Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. (42) Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

Jesus just said he came out of his Father. This is all about his relationship to the Father. It looks like Jesus is saying that God is his Father, so much so, that Jesus literally “proceeded forth and came from him” Some will try to interpret this verse as referring to Him coming down from heaven. But this article is about Ellen White’s take and she says it referred to his birth. And it doesn’t say “He proceeded forth and came from Mary”.

Ellen White on John 8:42 Referring to Christ’s Birth

“Jesus denied that the Jews were children of Abraham. He said, “Ye do the deeds of your father.” In mockery they answered, “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” These words, in allusion to the circumstances of His birth, were intended as a thrust against Christ in the presence of those who were beginning to believe on Him. Jesus gave no heed to the base insinuation, but said, “If God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God.” {Ellen White Desire of Ages page 467}

Ellen says this verse in John 8:42 is an “allusion to the circumstances of His birth.” There is no way around this one. It can’t be used to refer to his earthly birth because the verse says “I proceeded forth and came from God”. He is talking about His relationship with His Father in heaven. Further we have another who Ellen described as a “messenger of the Lord” that was sent to Seventh-day Adventists who was saying the same thing about this verse in John 8:42:

“As to when He was begotten, it is not for us to inquire, nor could our minds grasp it if we were told. The prophet Micah tells us all that we can know about it in these words, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity.” Micah 5:2, margin. There was a time when Christ proceeded forth and came from God, from the bosom of the Father (John 8:42; 1:18), but that time was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning” (E. J. Waggoner—Christ and His Righteousness, pp. 21, 22).

There was a time in eternity when Christ “came forth” or “proceeded forth” from God. Notice also that Waggoner quotes Micah 5:2 here. The word used in this verse is “His goings forth”. It’s very similar to “proceeded forth”(John 8:42) and also “I came forth”(John 16:33). The actual word in Micah 5:2 is “origins”. And it can be read “His origin is from everlasting” or “He originated in eternity”. He is the “Eternal Son of God”.

Some may have a problem with me using the word “Eternal” here. However as an Adventist if you’ve studied the word “Eternal” it doesn’t always mean without beginning or without ending. Unless you are an Adventist who believes in the doctrine of “Eternal torment” or “Eternal Fire”.

That’s another study, angels are eternal, and you will be as well should you prevail, but the point is Waggoner speaks of Micah 5:2 as referring to the birth of Christ. And I’ll post a quote where Ellen uses Micah 5:2 in a similar manner when referring to the birth of Christ.

“His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2. And the Son of God declares concerning Himself: “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting.… When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.” Proverbs 8:22-30.” (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, page 34)

She is quoting Micah 5:2 with Proverbs 8:22-30. These verses she is alluding to also talk about Christ being “brought forth”.

Proverbs 8:23-25 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. (24) When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. (25) Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:

“Brought forth”(Proverbs 8:23, 24, twice)
“Goings forth”(Micah 5:2)
“Proceeded forth”(John 8:42)
“Came forth”(John 16:28)

Christ in this passage is not talking about when he came forth from Mary, or his resurrection. He tells us in this passage it is before creation. He spent time with the Father and His Father taught him things as “one brought up with Him”(Pro 8:30) Jesus says. It’s beautiful when we understand that the traits, the character, the glory, the beauty, the loveliness, the sacrifice all were traits given by his Father, and my Father, His God and my God.(See John 17:3-8, John 20:17). This is how God wants us to see Him.

Regarding Christ being co-eternal, this was considered an “extreme” view by some of our pioneers including EJ Waggoner as documented below, and he tells us it was“obviously out of harmony with the language of scripture”.

EJ Waggoner - Is Christ a created being - birth of Christ - John 8:42

“In arguing the perfect equality of the Father and the Son, and the fact that Christ is in very nature God, we do not design to be understood as teaching that the Father was not before the Son. It should not be necessary to guard this point, lest some should think that the Son existed as soon as the Father; yet some go to that extreme, which adds nothing to the dignity of Christ, but rather detracts from the honor due him, since many throw the whole thing away rather than accept a theory so obviously out of harmony with the language of Scripture, that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. He was begotten, not created. He is of the substance of the Father, so that in his very nature he is God; and since this is so “it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” Col. 1:19 … While both are of the same nature, the Father is first in point of time. He is also greater in that he had no beginning, while Christ’s personality had a beginning” (E. J. Waggoner, The Signs of the Times, April 8, 1889).

Ellen White further pointed out in almost the same words as Waggoner that believing Christ was born in eternity does not mean He was created. Notice carefully the following quote. It refers to Christ’s birth. And He was born in the form of God, with the same characteristic’s as God. This is not referring to when he took the form of a man and was born of Mary as we shall see by carefully comparing the quote I follow with.

“A complete offering has been made; for “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,”—not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father’s person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895)

He was “begotten in the express image of the Father’s person” Compare this with the following, when did Christ exist in the express image of God?:

Before Christ came in the likeness of men, he existed in the express image of his Father.” (Ellen White, Youth’s Instructor, December 20, 1900)

Not when He came in the likeness of men, but BEFORE he came in the likeness of men he was “begotten in the express image of God”. Only by reading far to fast will we miss these points.

Why is this so important? It’s important because when we deny this truth we deny who our Father is and what He had to sacrifice. A real Son. We deny the unselfishness of Father in filling the Son with the fullness of himself. We deny God’s love in giving his only begotten Son.

1Jn 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

Jesus is the most beautiful Son the world will ever see. But Jesus didn’t come to glorify himself. He came to glorify the Father. The Father glorified the Son. When we read books like the gospel and epistles of John with this understanding, the pages explode into our minds the beautiful love that was given to mankind.

This is what this is all about. It’s not about being right, or proving self is right, trying to win a debate, or anything like that when you see this. It’s about sharing something that will help you see your Father in such a different light than the mystifying Trinity can ever do.

This is what it’s all about. Or at least all that it should be about. God’s love and His character, giving “glory to Him”(Revelation 14:7):

1Jn 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

We can take those words literally or we can spiritualize them away. But we were warned of this. As to explaining when Christ existed from, all we know is he existed in eternity. Eternity is not measured in numbers. We can’t explain eternity. It’s like explaining where the end of the universe and all matter stops. It’s incomprehensible to our finite mind as EJ Waggoner said above. Ellen White tells us the very same thing:

“The Lord Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, existed from eternity, a distinct person, yet one with the Father. He was the surpassing glory of heaven. He was the commander of the heavenly intelligences, and the adoring homage of the angels was received by him as his right. This was no robbery of God. “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,” he declares, “before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth.”” {E. G. White, Review and Herald, April 5, 1906 par. 7}

As to when He was born, it is not for us to inquire, and even if we were told our minds could not grasp it. All we know is he was brought forth before mountains, hills, the fountains of waters and before the preparation of the heavens.

“Angels of God looked with amazement upon Christ, who took upon Himself the form of man and humbly united His divinity with humanity in order that He might minister to fallen man. It is a marvel among the heavenly angels. God has told us that He did do it, and we are to accept the Word of God just as it reads. And although we may try to reason in regard to our Creator, how long He has had existence, where evil first entered into our world, and all these things, we may reason about them until we fall down faint and exhausted with the research when there is yet an infinity beyond.” {E. G. White, S.D.A. Bible Commentary Vol. 7, p. 919} 1888

As far as how long he had his existence, it’s not for us to explain. All we know is that God said it and that there was a time so far back in eternity, it is not for us to explain, and we are take our Father at His word, that He really had a Son to give, and this is not a show or an act. It was a hard thing for the Father to give the one that he “brought up”, showed all things to, and gave everything to including the glory and throne.

Leave a comment

  • Gordon Coutts

    Excellent study, thankyou.

    • Praise Father, glad you enjoyed it brother Gordon.

    • Praise God Gordon… Check out the video I posted above on the Foundation of our Faith and why its important to know the truth concerning the Son of God. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

  • Paul Chung

    Great study! Really appreciate it!

    • Glad you enjoyed it Paul… May our loving heavenly Father bless your continued studies of this glorious truth.

  • Wilson N Emiline Corros

    Nobody can debunk this study. Thanks for making it so clear.

    • Your welcome Wilson. I made a video about this as well, but I talked about why it was so important to understand. You may want to take a look.

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