Have you ever wondered what it might be like to talk to a person who lived long ago? Cindy Tutsch, of the Ellen G. White Estate, knows a lot about the beginning of our church. She thought about questions she'd aks William Miller, and what his responses might be base on information known by the White Estate.
William Miller, whose message sparked the religious revival that led to the beginning of the Adventist Church, died in 1849.
CT: Mr. Miller, I’d like to begin by asking how you came up with the idea that Jesus is coming again? I hear that your preaching on that subject was a hot topic in the early 1840s.
William Miller: I didn’t always believe that the Bible was inspired by God. But my doubts didn’t bring me any happiness. Then, suddenly, one day I was overwhelmed with the thought that Jesus is my personal Savior—he died for my sins! That conviction changed my life. I began studying the Bible—almost non-stop! And Jesus became my best Friend.
CT: What did all that studying teach you?
I learned that the real, personal coming of Jesus was not very far away. Texts about Jesus’ second coming almost popped off the page at me! I also learned that the Bible interprets itself. So for two whole years I compared scripture with scripture. For example, I Thessalonians 4:16 says, “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” I compared those texts with Matthew 24:27, 31 and Matthew 25:31. You might want to check these texts out for yourself after the show.
CT: Sure thing. I never take anyone’s word on matters like this without testing it by the Bible. So, after you were sure Jesus was coming again soon, what did you do next?
Miller: I just had to go out and tell everyone else about the good news I had discovered!
CT: And how did the people respond?
Miller: Many believed that the prophecies were about to be fulfilled. People wept, prayed, confessed their sins, and pleaded with God for forgiveness. They flocked to my meetings to hear the message—often there was standing room only! But of course, some people didn’t like what I was preaching. Really, it seemed to me like only those who were studying the Bible for themselves accepted the Second Advent doctrine.
CT: History tells us that you and the people who believed your message became known as Adventists because you all believed in the “Advent,” or second coming of Jesus. I hope we Adventists today will be as eager to tell others about the second coming as you were!
*William Miller died in 1849, so he is sleeping in death until Jesus’ resurrection. This is an imagined interview. This interview is adapted from Lesson two of the Jr SS Lessons for First Quarter, 1996, published by the Review and Herald.
To learn more about Adventist history and the pioneers of this church, go to www.whiteestate.org/VEZ.