Why is The Great Controversy in my Mailbox?
Every year, households across North America receive free copies of a 150-year-old book, The Great Controversy. Millions more are shared around the world.
It’s written by Ellen G. White, a prolific author of the 19th and 20th centuries, and a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It looks at key parts of history through the lens of biblical prophecy, also offering insight for navigating our daily lives in an ever-changing world.
More than likely, the book was distributed as a free gift from various supporting ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This way, those who are interested in a spiritual perspective of the religious and political struggles of our world can study this information on their own time, at their own pace.
To learn more about this book and why it’s so significant to the Adventist denomination, we’ll give you an overview of its content:
- Context for current events
- How we can prepare for our lives ahead
- Explores the biblical concept of the “antichrist”
- The Reformation and the shaping of Protestantism
- Explores biblical concepts such as the sanctuary, life after death, and the Sabbath
- Insight about future events
- Encouraging personal Bible study
The Great Controversy can help us understand current events
It’s natural to be curious about what’s going on in the world and how things got to where they are today. This book was written to help us understand the “whats” and “whys” behind the progression of our global history.
Many people, even those who don’t identify as religious, seem to feel that the world is headed for some sort of global event or paradigm shift.
Christians believe that event will be the second coming of Christ. Other religions also believe there will be a divine decisive move to triumph over evil. Others believe the world will eventually become so greedy and war-torn that civilization may nearly destroy itself, or at least deplete natural resources.
The Great Controversy was written using the Bible as its foundation for interpreting how history has unfolded. So many major events of the past lineup with specific predictions in biblical prophecy, and it can be fascinating to go through it all.
And even while studying our world’s messy history, The Great Controversy also upholds the hope that we can all have in Jesus Christ.
It reminds readers to be prepared for what’s coming
Nothing quite compares to the helplessness one can feel when unprepared for a major event.
Students fear a pop quiz they’re not ready for.
Brides worry about having everything ready for their wedding day.
Moms-to-be want all ducks in a row before the baby is born.
Party hosts work tirelessly to ensure everything is set for when their guests arrive.
The Bible encourages us to be prepared for the second coming of Christ. The day of His return will be glorious for those who are expecting it. But it will look terrifying to those not expecting it.
The Great Controversy helps readers keep in mind that everything in this life leads up to the day when Jesus returns to make all things right again. We don’t have to feel unprepared or helpless, even while the world seems to crumble around us.
It explores the topic of the antichrist
The Bible’s book of Revelation remains one of the mysteries in Christianity. And within that book, there is much discussion over the power that is against Christ, referred to as the “antichrist.”
So who is the antichrist and how will we be able to identify this individual(s)?
If you’ve wondered about this, there’s another reason to consider reading this book.
By outlining the characteristics and exploring the clues Scripture gives about this power, The Great Controversy helps us deduce who the antichrist could be and how to stay faithful to God—even when much of the world becomes mystified with the antichrist.
It explores the Reformation and the shaping of Protestantism
Whether you’re an Adventist, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, or Methodist, the Reformation is a crucial part of the history of Christianity. Knowing what led to the Reformation and what was accomplished by the stance of reformers such as Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Calvin (and others) helps us understand how things became how they are today.
By reading this book, you get an in-depth look at this significant time in the world’s and Christianity’s history.
It covers biblical doctrines such as the sanctuary, death, and the Sabbath
When we were little, we needed someone to cut up our food into smaller bites. As adults, we do this for kids so they can eat safely and comfortably.
Certain concepts in the Bible also are better understood when broken down into parts, so we can “digest” them a bit easier.
The importance of the sanctuary, the Sabbath, what happens at death, and the Second Coming are a few teachings that can be a lot to mentally chew on. But it becomes easier the more we study—just as it is for any complex subject.
The Great Controversy helps break down these doctrines so we can see how they came together.
It tells what’s going to happen in the future
One of the biggest questions of the human mind is, “what’s going to happen?”
Kids want to know what the cafeteria will be serving for lunch and young adults may want to know who they’ll marry. There’s always a point in our lives when we become increasingly curious about something in the future.
That curiosity also extends to spiritual matters. God knew we would be curious about the future, and He doesn’t want us to worry (Matthew 6:25-34) or to operate within a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).
While two-thirds of The Great Controversy relates to past events, the last third covers future events in correlation with words of prophecy in the Bible. God, in His infinite love for us, has given us a glimpse of what the future holds. This kind of information will encourage us to stay focused on Him when a difficult future falls on our planet.
It encourages further study of the Bible
1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (ESV).
When you read a book like The Great Controversy (or any book that claims to be inspired), the only way to know whether or not it’s credible is to compare it with the Bible yourself. This book encourages you to do just that.
“Go to God’s instruction and testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, there will be no dawn for them” (Isaiah 8:20, CSB).
If you decide to read The Great Controversy, know that you will be advised to go back to your ultimate guide, the Bible, to test what the book says. Any text other than the Bible that urges us to action should also encourage us toward further Bible study.
When society seems split over a matter and you seem caught in the middle, unsure of what to do…do the research yourself.
You don’t have to take anyone’s word for it that this book is either worth or not worth your time. The best way to be sure is to start with the first chapter and see for yourself.
By seeking God’s wisdom, He will lead you in the way you should go.
That Sabbath would not be about a checklist of rules but about a mindset of rest. It’s a day to set aside daily cares and connect with God, our Creator. Out of our love for Him, we take the principles of the Bible and apply them in the way we keep the Sabbath.
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The secret rapture belief asserts that the followers of Jesus will be suddenly and stealthily “raptured” from earth and taken to heaven. Then, any people left on earth will face a period of great difficulty—before Christ’s second coming actually happens.
The Bible tells us that we keep the Sabbath by avoiding work. God made this law because he knew it would strengthen us and bring us joy, as well as give us time to reconnect with Him and recharge from our busy lives.
If you know of any Adventists, you may have noticed that they stop their work or business activities before sundown on Friday. What’s the reason behind this?
Christian growth is the experience of allowing Jesus Christ to work in our lives through the Holy Spirit and restore in us the image we were designed for—God’s image of selfless, other-centered love.
Seventh-day Adventist, like other Christians, believe that after the second coming of Christ, God will cleanse our earth by fire and then restore it back to Eden-like perfection.
As most Christians, Seventh-day Adventists hope for the time when sin and evil will no longer exist. The Bible teaches that God will bring an end to sin after a thousand-year period of time called the millennium.
The thought of dying can seem scary. And the idea of being resurrected—or coming back to life—can seem a little uncomfortable.
The second coming of Jesus Christ is an event the Bible prophesies will occur at the end of this world’s history. It’s called His second coming to distinguish it from His first, when Jesus was born to Mary and lived as a human before dying on the Cross.
What is Jesus doing right now?
The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes God made marriage and family as special blessings to reflect Him and His love for us.
The patterns of actions and words that make up behavior are central to any type of belief system because they flow from those beliefs. Seventh-day Adventists look to the Bible, with Jesus as the perfect example, for guidance on shaping our daily behavior.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that the biblical Sabbath is a beautiful gift of rest that God gave to us at Creation and that remains valid to this day. Falling on the seventh day of the week—Saturday—it connects us to God in a special way and offers us a weekly opportunity to be physically, mentally, and spiritually refreshed.
Love for God and our fellow humans is the overriding principle of the Seventh-day Adventist faith. And we express that love in an overarching way through how we manage the things—material and immaterial—that God has entrusted to us.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that God’s law reflects His character of love (1 John 4:8; Romans 13:10). It is perfectly summarized in the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai, showing us the practical application of loving God and loving other people.
Adventists believe the gift of prophecy is a spiritual gift that the Holy Spirit gives to specific individuals to help the church carry out Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:16–20). Prophecy helps strengthen, encourage, and comfort His people (1 Corinthians 14:3).
Seventh-day Adventists believe that spiritual gifts are talents that the Holy Spirit gives to believers and followers of Jesus Christ. These gifts are different but complementary, and they often equip followers of Christ with the ability to spread the good news about Jesus and encourage its members.
Like many Protestant Christians, Seventh-day Adventists believe in the practice commonly called the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion. They drink grape juice and eat unleavened bread in obedience to Jesus’ direct instructions to do it in remembrance of Him (1 Corinthians 11:24–25).
Like many Protestant Christians worldwide and throughout history, the Seventh-day Adventist Church believes in baptism, a ceremony in which individuals go under water to publicly demonstrate dying to an old life and beginning a new life in Christ. We baptize people by immersion, as taught and exemplified in the Bible.
Seventh-day Adventists believe in biblical unity—the idea of believers in Jesus being united by the truth of the Bible and the common goal of representing God and His love to the world.
The “remnant” are a group of faithful believers that have existed throughout history and proclaimed God’s truth, love, and plan to save humanity. They “remain” with God even amid persecution and also when it seems everyone else has rebelled against God or compromised their beliefs.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that the idea of the church is an important biblical concept.
Adventists believe that salvation is a gift that anyone can receive through belief and commitment to Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death.
Jesus Christ, a person who lived in first-century Palestine, is the foundation of the Adventist faith. This is because it’s only through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that any of us have hope of life beyond the toil, suffering, and death of this world.
The Bible unveils a supernatural struggle between good and evil which Adventists often refer to as “The Great Controversy.”
Seventh-day Adventists believe that God is the creator of our world. They come to this conclusion from the first book of the Bible—Genesis. The account there tells us that God took six literal days to form the earth and all it contains, including us humans.
Like most Protestant Christians, Seventh-day Adventists believe in God the Father as part of the Godhead. We call Him Father because of His role towards Jesus. Jesus Himself encouraged us to also call Him Father.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that humanity was created perfect and that, at our very core, we crave this kind of perfection and unity with God. But unfortunately, the Bible teaches that we chose to be wise in our own eyes and disobey God, which led to a natural tendency to be sinful, evil, and selfish.