Western Religions: Seventh-Day Adventists, Part 2

Belief and Practice

1.  God. In Questions on Doctrine, they say, “We believe – That God is the sovereign creator, upholder, and ruler of the Universe, and that He is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  That the Godhead, the trinity, comprises God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Questions on Doctrine, pp. 21-22).

2.  Man. (a) “We believe – That man is free to choose or reject the offer of salvation through Christ; we do not believe that God has predetermined that some men shall be saved, and others lost” (QOD, p. 23).  Thus, they believe in free-will.

(b) “We believe – That man was endowed at creation with conditional immortality; we do not believe that man has innate immortality or an immortal soul” (QOD, p. 23).  “Conditional immortality” is the concept that man is mortal, and that immortality is a gift of God.  It is not given to all.  It is given to those whom God counts righteous through Jesus Christ.

(c) “Seventh-day Adventists hold – That the condition of man in death is one of unconsciousness.  That all men, good and evil alike, remain in the grave from death to the resurrection” (QOD, p. 15).  This is known as “soul sleep.”

3.  Salvation.  “We believe – That salvation through Christ is by grace alone through faith in His blood” (QOD, p. 22).  “Seventh-Day Adventists hold – That every person in order to obtain salvation must experience the new birth; that this comprises an entire transformation of life and character by the recreative power of God, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (QOD, p. 12).

What about baptism?  “Seventh-Day Adventists hold – That baptism is an ordinance of the Christian Church and should follow repentance and forgiveness of sins” (QOD, p. 12).  They teach that baptism follows forgiveness of sins.  They practice baptism by immersion (ibid). Note: I had a public debate 2012 with Kevin Miller, then V.P. of the Alaskan Conference of S.D.A. Church (He is now President). In that debate, he denied that baptism was essential to salvation.

There is a 13-point baptism vow which is made before baptism. (1) Do you believe in God the Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, a unit of three coeternal Persons? (2) Do you accept the death of Jesus on Calvary as the atoning sacrifice for your sins, and believe that by God’s grace through faith in His shed blood you are saved from sin and its penalty?  (3) Do you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, believing that God, in Christ, has forgiven your sins and given you a new heart, and do you renounce the sinful ways of the world? (4) Do you accept by faith the righteousness of Christ, your Intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary, and accept His promise of transforming grace and power to live a loving, Christ-centered life in your home and before the world? (5) Do you believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word, the only rule of faith and practice for the Christian? Do you covenant to spend time regularly in prayer and Bible study? (6) Do you accept the Ten Commandments as a transcript of the character of God and a revelation of His will? Is your purpose by the power of the indwelling Christ, to keep this law, including the fourth commandment, which requires the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord and a memorial of Creation? (7) Do you look forward to the coming of Jesus, and the blessed hope, when “this mortal shall…put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:54 KJV)? As you prepare to meet the Lord, will you witness to His loving salvation by using your talents in personal soul-winning endeavors to help others be ready for His glorious appearing? (8) Do you accept the Biblical teaching of spiritual gifts, and believe that the gift of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church? (9) Do you believe in Church organization? Is it your purpose to support the Church through tithes and offerings, and by your personal effort and influence? (10) Do you believe that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; and will you honor God by caring for it, avoiding the use of that which is harmful, abstaining from all unclean foods; from the use, manufacture, or sale of alcoholic beverages; from the use, manufacture, or sale of tobacco in any of its forms for human consumption; and from the misuse of or trafficking in narcotics or other drugs? (11) Do you know and understand the fundamental Bible principles as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Do you purpose, by the grace of God, to fulfill His will by ordering your life in harmony with these principles? (12) Do you accept the New Testament teaching of baptism by immersion, and desire to be so baptized as a public expression of faith in Christ and His forgiveness of your sins? (13) Do you accept and believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the remnant church of Bible prophecy, and that people of every nation, race, and language are invited and accepted into its fellowship? Do you desire to be a member of this local congregation of the world Church? [Seventh-Day Adventist Church Manual (2015), pp. 45-48] Once the vow has been made, the church votes on accepting the candidate into membership subject to baptism (ibid).

There is now an alternative 3-point vow. (1) Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, and do you desire to live in a saving relationship with Him? (2) Do you accept the teachings of the Bible as expressed in the Statement of Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and do you pledge by God’s grace to live your life in harmony with these teachings? (3) Do you desire to be baptized as a public expression of your belief in Jesus Christ, to be accepted into the fellowship of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and to support the Church and its mission as a faithful steward by your personal influence, tithes and offerings, and a life of service? (Victor Hulbert (July 08, 2005), Delegates Debate Baptismal Vows, Adventist News Network, archive.ph). Both Traditional vow and the Alternative vow are now in use.

They believe that one can fall.  “It seems abundantly clear that the acceptance of Christ at conversion does not seal a person’s destiny.  His life record after conversion is also important.  A man may go back on his repentance…” (QOD, p. 420).

4.  Morals. S.D.A. members tend to be very moral people.  The believe that the Ten Commandments to be “great moral, unchangeable precepts, binding upon all men in every age” (QOD, p. 12).  They believe that one should abstain from alcohol and tobacco (QOD, p. 24)

5.  Health. They emphasize healthy living and diet. “We feel it is to be our Christian duty to preserve our bodies in the best health for the service and glory of God” (QOD. p. 624).

They have a long history of being health conscious.  Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and W.K. Kellogg were S.D.A.

There are five “blue zones” which have been identified around the world, places where the population live significantly longer than average.  These are: Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California – which is home to a large number of S.D.A. members (Seventh-Day Adventist Diet: A Complete Guide, healthline.com).

6.  The Sabbath. “We believe – that the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath; we do not believe that the Sabbath has been abolished, changed to the first day, or is merely a seventh part of time” (QOD, p. 24).  They believe that the Sabbath was instituted in Eden and continues to be a perpetual memorial of a finished creation (QOD, p. 149).

Sabbath keeping was practiced early on in the S.D.A. church.  Joseph Bates wrote a tract on the subject in 1846 (Joseph Bates, whiteestate.org).  This tract came to the attention of James and Ellen White (ibid).  Ellen White claimed that she had a vision on April 7, 1847, in which she saw The Ten Commandments, and a halo of glory surrounded the fourth commandment (A Vision 1847, egwwritings.org).   This was viewed as confirmation that they were to keep the Sabbath.

What about those who do not keep the Sabbath?  They believe that currently there are true Christians in all churches and “None are condemned until they have had the light and seen the obligation of the fourth commandment.”  But that the time is coming when there will be no excuse.  “The line will be clearly drawn between the false and the true” (QOD, p. 183 quoting Ellen G. White, Evangelism, pp. 234-235).

7.  The Resurrection. “Seventh-day Adventists hold – That there shall be a resurrection of the just and the unjust.  The resurrection of the just will take place at the second coming of Christ; the resurrection of the unjust will take place a thousand years later, at the close of the millennial” (QOD, p. 14).  The second coming of Christ will be visible, audible, and personal (QOD, p. 451, 452, 459).  “The millennial reign of Christ covers the period between the first and second resurrection during which time the saint of all ages will live with their blessed Redeemer in heaven” (QOD, p. 17). 

The wicked or unjust will be raised and devoured by fire (QOD, p. 17).  This is “eternal punishment” by result.  They do not believe in an eternal existence of being in punishment (QOD, p. 23, 540).

The fire which consumes the wicked will purify the earth.  “The earth, restored to its pristine beauty, will become forever the abode of the Saints of the Lord” (QOD, p. 17).

8. 28 Fundamental Beliefs. The SDA Church has a statement of fundamental beliefs. These beliefs are placed in 28 topics. These topics are then explained in a full paragraph on the topic. The 28 topics are (without the expounding): (1) The Holy Scriptures. (2) The Trinity (3) The Father (4) The Son (5) The Holy Spirit (6) Creation (7) The Nature of humanity (8) The Great Controversy (9) The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ (10) The Experience of Salvation(11) Growth in Christ (12) The Church (13) The Remnant and its Mission (14) Unity in the Body of Christ (15) Baptism (16) The Lord’s Supper (17) Spiritual Gifts and Ministries (18) The Gift of Prophecy (19) The Law of God (20) The Sabbath (21) Stewardship (22) Christian Behavior (23) Marriage and the Family (24) Christ’s ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary (25) The Second Coming of Christ (26) Death and Resurrection (27) The Millennium and the End of Sin (28) The New Earth. You are to agree with their position on all of these points before baptism.

Now let’s consider some of the things that are contained in these topics when expounded. (16) The Lord’s Supper is a participation in the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus as an expression of faith in Him … The Master ordained the service of foot-washing to signify renewed cleansing, to express a willingness to serve one another in Christlike humility, and to unite our hearts in love … [The Lord’s Supper is commonly observed on the sabbath day, four times per year (Special Communion Service, victoryny.adventistchurch.org)] (18) The Scriptures testify that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This is an identifying mark of the remnant church, and we believe it was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested” (19) The great principles of God’s law are embodied in the Ten Commandments … They … are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God’s covenant with His people and the standard in God judgment…” (20) ” …The fourth commandment of God’s unchangeable law requires the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath …The Sabbath is God’s perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people…” (24) “…In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry … It is the work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin… The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligence who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ …and in Him, therefore are ready for the translation into His everlasting kingdom. (26) “The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed, until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ … appears the resurrected righteous and living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet the Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous will take place a thousand years later.” (27) The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ will come with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth.  The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth…” (28) On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed…” (ADV-28Beliefs2020.pdf, adventist.org).

  *Note: Most of the previous quotes in this article are from Questions on Doctrine.  This book was published in 1957 by “a Representative Group of Seventh-day Adventist Leaders, Bible Teachers and Editors.”  It is still fairly accurately reflecting basic S.D.A doctrine.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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