A Warning About Seventh-Day Adventism
Republished May 26, 2010 (first published October 14, 2008) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following report is taken from “Avoiding the Snare of Seventh-Day Adventism.”
The Seventh-day Adventist denomination was established in 1860 in America. “Seventh-day” refers to sabbath worship. “Adventist” refers to their belief that God raised them up to announce the coming of the Lord. They have 15 million members worldwide in 61,000 churches, and they are working in 203 countries.
THE HISTORY OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM
Seventh-day Adventism originated with the Second Coming movement of the 1800’s. William Miller, a Baptist preacher, concluded in 1818 that Christ would return to earth in 1843. When that was proven wrong, he changed the date to October 22, 1844. His belief was based largely on an interpretation of Daniel chapters nine and twelve using the erroneous day/year equation (one prophetic day equals one historical year). Tens of thousands of people followed Miller, and many different groups sprang up within this excited religious atmosphere, all of them looking for the immediate return of Christ.
After 1844, Miller quit setting dates and admitted his mistake, but some of his followers went on to form Seventh-day Adventism.
James White, Joseph Bates, and others began practicing sabbath-keeping in 1844 and published their views through pamphlets.
They also followed the visions of 17-year-old Ellen Harmon. She claimed that God showed her that in October 1844 Jesus entered the holy of holies in heaven to begin the “investigative judgment.” This is a foundational doctrine of the Adventist Church. Ellen taught that Jesus began investigating the records of every person to determine who would be saved and who would be lost. She also claimed to receive a vision about the “Third Angel’s Message” in Revelation 14:9-12. She said that the mark of the beast (the antichrist) would be Sunday worship, and those who worshipped on Sunday would be punished. She said that the ones who keep the commandments of God refers to those who keep the sabbath in the last days. This is where the Seventh-day Adventists get their name. They claim to be the church of the last days that keeps the sabbath and that prepares the way for Christ’s return.
Ellen Harmon married James White in 1846 and they became the main leaders of Seventh-day Adventism. Between 1844 and 1915 Mrs. White supposedly received 2,000 visions and dreams. Claiming that she was commanded to write her visions for preservation, she produced over 100,000 handwritten manuscript pages.
While Adventist leaders claim that the Bible is their sole rule for faith and conduct, the fact is that without Ellen White there would be no Seventh-day Adventism.
We see, therefore, that the advent movement was unbiblical from its beginning. It was led by a woman, which is forbidden in Scripture (1 Timothy 2:12), and it set a date for Christ’s return, which is also forbidden.
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Mt. 24:36).
“Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Mt. 24:42).
“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Mt. 24:44).
“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Mt. 25:13).
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mk. 13:32-33).
“It is not for you to know the time or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7).
By ignoring the plain teaching of the Bible about Christ’s return, the Adventists were led into more and more error.
SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST DOCTRINE
In the following study we analyze some of the false Seventh-day Adventist doctrines and compare them with Bible truth.
FALSE TEACHING # 1: A GOSPEL OF GRACE PLUS LAW
Seventh-day Adventism professes to teach salvation by grace through faith, but they redefine this to add works to grace.
According to Adventist doctrine, grace is the power and forgiveness God gives to enable a sinner to keep God’s law and to thereby build a holy character fit for Heaven. The individual that fails to build the right character by God’s grace will never see Heaven. Faith and works are said to be the two oars by which the believer is propelled to glory.
These false teachers are aptly described by the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Galatians: “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Gal. 2:4).
It is important that we carefully document the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of salvation, since it is very subtle. Often, in their literature produced for the general public, the Seventh-day Adventists modify what they believe in an attempt to appear orthodox. The Christian should beware of the deceitfulness of the false churches. They are like the chameleon that changes colors according to varying situations. On one hand they try to appear orthodox. “We are just like you,” they protest. On the other hand they promote all sorts of heretical teachings and attempt to draw converts away from the Bible-believing churches. This should not surprise us. The New Testament refers frequently to the deception of false teachers. Jesus called false teachers wolves in sheep’s clothing (Mat. 7:15). He warned that they would try to deceive many (Mat. 24:4-5). The apostle Paul called them “deceitful workers” (2 Cor. 11:13). He said they use “cunning craftiness” (Eph. 4:14). He said they “speak lies in hypocrisy” (1 Tim. 4:2).
Consider carefully the following statements about salvation from Adventist publications. While professing to believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone, they redefine grace. The result is a false gospel that mixes grace and law.
From a Seventh-day Adventist Tract:
“Christ says to every man in this world what He said to the rich young ruler: ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,’ Matthew 19:17. In other words, THE STANDARD FOR ADMISSION INTO HEAVEN IS A CHARACTER BUILT ACCORDING TO THE TEN SPECIFICATIONS, OR COMMANDMENTS, OF GOD’S LAW. ...... THE MASTER BUILDER WILL STAND RIGHT WITH YOU AND IN YOU, AND SEE TO IT PERSONALLY THAT YOUR LIFE COMES UP TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF GOD’S LAW” (Charles Everson, Saved by Grace, pp. 45-46).
From a Seventh-day Adventist Correspondence course:
“Do you want to be a Christian? ... The steps to Christ are few and plain and easy to understand, and we will turn to God’s Guidebook now for information. ... Believe; that’s the first step toward becoming a Christian. ... the second step is repentance ... repentance is simply being sorry for our sins and putting them away ... the next step in becoming a Christian is confession ... real repentance and confession mean not only to stop sinning, but to do everything possible to make past wrongs right ... The next step is baptism, and the proof for that is found in Acts 2:38-39 ... Fifth, obedience through Christ in us ... So we have clearly outlined the steps that we need to take in order to become a Christian: to believe in God, to repent of and to confess our sins, to be baptized, AND TO OBEY ALL THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD. ... He may stumble and fall, but he gets up and presses forward again, determined to overcome by God’s enabling power. Such a fall is not counted against him when he repents and asks forgiveness and divine help to live the right life” (New Life Voice of Prophecy Guide, #12).
Adventism labels this doctrine “salvation by grace,” but it is not the grace that was preached by the Lord’s apostles.
1. According to the Bible, salvation is by grace ALONE through faith ALONE, without the works of the law. See John 3:16; 6:28-29; Acts 15:10-11; 16:30-31; Romans 3:19-25; 4:1-8; 11:6; Galatians 3:10-13; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-7.
The Good News of Christ is not that we are saved through a grace that produces the works of the law. The Good News is that we are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone WITHOUT THE LAW. All who will be saved must come on these glorious terms, trusting in the shed blood alone for full salvation.
Those who attempt to return to the Mosaic Law to perfect their salvation are committing the same error as the Galatians in the first century.
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Gal. 3:1-7).
Those who persist in placing themselves under the Mosaic Law in spite of clear New Testament teaching are outside of true salvation. Seventh-day Adventist teachers who believe the doctrine of their own denomination as stated in such publications as the New Life Voice of Prophecy correspondence courses are of this number; they are Galatian legalizers.
“But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Gal. 4:9-11).
“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Gal. 4:19-20).
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith” (Gal. 5:1-5).
2. Salvation is secure. The true gospel says that the believer is saved entirely by God’s grace through Christ and he has eternal life.
We know that salvation is secure because it is a free gift, entirely unmerited by the sinner (Ephesians 2:8-9). If the recipient does anything or pays anything, the “gift” is no longer a gift.
We know that salvation is secure because it means that the believer is declared righteous by God (Romans 3:21-24). This is the meaning of the word “justified.” Notice how the terms “justified” and “the righteousness of God” are used interchangeably in Romans 3:21-24. Notice too, that this righteousness is obtained “by faith” and “freely by his grace.” What is the sinner’s problem? Is it not his lack of righteousness? Therefore, if God declares that sinner righteous, what more does he need? Biblical salvation is an exchange. Jesus takes the sinner’s unrighteousness, and the sinner receives Jesus’ righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
We know that salvation is secure because it is a present possession.
In the following verses salvation is not described as a possibility, but as a certainty, as a present possession.
Justification is a present possession (Rom. 5:9).
Peace with God is a present possession (Rom. 5:1).
Reconciliation is a present possession (Rom. 5:10).
Atonement is a present possession (Rom. 5:11)
Eternal life is a present possession (1 Jn. 5:11- 13).
Being a child of God is a present possession (Eph. 1:6).
Being accepted in Christ is a present possession (Eph. 1:6).
Forgiveness of sin is a present possession (Eph. 1:7).
Being made alive in Christ is a present possession (Eph. 2:1).
Being made fit for heaven is a present possession (Col. 1:12).
Being delivered from the power of darkness is a present possession (Col. 1:13).
Having been translated into Jesus’ kingdom is a present possession (Col. 1:13).
Mercy is a present possession (1 Pet. 2:10).
Healing of sin is a present possession (1 Pet. 2:24).
A person is either saved or he is lost, either entirely saved or entirely lost. There is no middle ground, no growing into or perfecting of salvation. Are you trusting the blood of Christ, and the blood of Christ ALONE for salvation? If so, the Bible says you possess all the spiritual blessings listed above, plus much more, and they are secure blessings in Christ!
We know that salvation is secure because it is an entirely new position before God.
Salvation is an entirely new position in Christ (Romans 5:1-2). The sinner is either in Adam or he is in Christ. If he is in Christ, he has all spiritual blessings. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). See also Romans 6:11; Ephesians 1:6; 1 John 5:12.
The believer has a new standing before God in Christ, and he also has a walk in this world. The new standing cannot change because it depends entirely upon what Jesus did for us on the cross. To confuse standing and walk is to pervert the gospel. Consider the book of Ephesians. Chapters 1-3 describe the believer’s new position in Christ; chapters 4-6 describe the believer’s walk in this world. Ephesians 5:8 says, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but NOW are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” The believer has a new position in Christ that can never change, and he is called to live up to this position in this world by walking in obedience to God. Colossians 3:1, 3 says the same thing: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God ... For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” In his new position, the Christian is dead to sin and risen with Christ. In practice he is to live up to this eternal calling by seeking the things which are above.
The believer’s new standing is eternally secure the moment he is born again. His walk, on the other hand, changes according to his obedience.
What a wonderful salvation! The better the believer understands his secure position in Christ, the more heartily he desires to serve his Savior God.
We know that salvation is secure because the believer is promised certain deliverance from sin.
“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we SHALL BE saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we SHALL BE saved by his life” (Rom. 5:9-10).
We know that salvation is secure because the believer is kept by the power of God.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, WHO ARE KEPT BY THE POWER OF GOD through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
The believer can be sure that he will enjoy the inheritance spoken of in verse four solely because of the power of God.
This does not mean that a person can live as he pleases and still go to heaven just because he says he “believes.” The Lord Jesus Christ said that it is impossible to be saved without being born again (John 3:3, 7), and the new birth is a dramatic, life-changing experience. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). When a sinner is born again, he receives a new nature from God. He has new desires. God’s nature within him impels him to live God’s way. The indwelling Holy Spirit ministers a desire for holiness and truth. The professor in Christ who does not love God’s way is not a saved man who falls away from salvation; he is a hypocrite or a deceived person who has never possessed true salvation.
From the previous studies, it is evident that true Bible salvation does not have the uncertainty and legalistic admixture of the Adventist gospel. The SDA gospel is false.
FALSE TEACHING # 2: SABBATH-KEEPING
Seventh-day Adventism says that the sabbath was given to Adam in the Garden of Eden and that God intended for all men to keep it.
“God instituted the Sabbath in Eden; and so long as the fact that He is our Creator continues to be a reason why we should worship Him, so long the Sabbath will continue as its sign and memorial. ... The keeping of the Sabbath is a sign of loyalty to the true God” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 386).
Adventism says that Jesus and the apostles kept the sabbath and that it is binding upon all Christians.
“... from this it is evident that all Ten Commandments are binding in the Christian dispensation, and that Christ had no thought of changing any of them. One of these commands is the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath...” (Bible Footlights, p. 37).
“The example of Jesus is clear and consistent. His custom was a Sabbath-keeping custom. ... Yet in spite of this, we find a strange situation in the world today. For though we have the same Christ as our example, the same Bible as our guide, yet we find two Sabbath days kept by Christians...” (George Vandeman, Planet in Rebellion, p. 277).
They claim that Christians kept the sabbath until the fourth century when Constantine changed the law and forced churches to worship on Sunday.
“Constantine was the Roman emperor. He was a sun worshiper, but he was also a keen politician. He wanted to please everybody. It was while still a pagan that he decreed that all government offices should be closed upon the first day of the week—’the venerable day of the sun.’ The church, which had now been established in Rome, had been quick to see the temporal advantage of compromise with paganism ... so it was that after a few brief years, when Sunday had gained a foothold, the Roman church in the Council of Laodicea set aside the clear command of God and decreed the change from the seventh to the first day of the week” (Planet in Rebellion, p. 290).
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
1. The sabbath, though mentioned in Genesis 2:2-3, was not delivered to man until it was given to Israel in the wilderness (Nehemiah 9:13-14). Ellen White added to Scripture when she taught that Adam and the patriarchs kept the sabbath.
2. The sabbath was not given to mankind in general, but to Israel alone as a special sign between her and God (Ex. 31:13, 17). If the sabbath had been kept by mankind from the creation, it could not have been given as a special sign to Israel.
3. The New Testament teaches that the believer is not bound by the sabbath law. See Colossians 2:16-17.
4. The sabbath was a type of salvation. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (Heb. 4:9-10). As God rested on the seventh day from His work of creation, the believer today rests in the completed work of Christ. In order to enter into God’s rest, a person must accept God’s work and must cease from his own work (Jn. 6:28-29). Salvation must be accepted as God’s gift.
5. Jesus kept the sabbath because He was born under the law to fulfill the demands of the law. See Galatians 4:4-5. The Lord Jesus made Himself a servant and was born under the law of Moses that He might redeem sinners from the curse of the law and bring them into the eternal liberty of sonship.
6. It cannot be proven that the apostle Paul and the early churches observed the sabbath. It is true that Paul met in the synagogues on the sabbath in order to preach to the Jews assembled there, but this does not mean that he observed the sabbath. According to the Bible, the reason Paul visited synagogues on the sabbath was to preach the gospel. Paul’s desire was to preach Christ. He was burdened for his own people, the Jews. So he went where the Jews were to preach Christ to them. Consider Acts 13:14-44; 16:13-14; 17:2-4; 18:4.
7. There is much evidence in the Bible and elsewhere that the early Christians met and worshiped on the first day rather than on the sabbath.
On the first day Jesus rose from the dead (Mk. 16:9).
On the first day Jesus first appeared to his disciples (Mk. 16:9).
On the first day Jesus met with the disciples at different places (Mk. 16:9-11; Mt. 28:8-10; Lk. 24:34; Mk. 16:12-13; Jn. 20:19-23).
On the first day Jesus blessed the disciples (Jn. 20:19).
On the first day Jesus imparted to the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 20:22).
On the first day Jesus commissioned the disciples to preach the gospel (Jn. 20:21; with Mk. 16:9-15).
On the first day Jesus ascended to Heaven, was seated at the right hand of the Father, and was made Head of all (Jn. 20:17; Eph. 1:20).
On the first day the gospel of the risen Christ was first preached (Lk. 24:34).
On the first day Jesus explained the Scriptures to the disciples (Lk. 24:27, 45).
On the first day the Holy Spirit descended (Acts 2:1). Pentecost was on the 50th day after the sabbath following the wave offering (Le. 23:15-16). Thus, Pentecost was always on a Sunday.
The Christians met to worship on the first day (Acts 20:6-7; 1 Cor. 16:2).
Since those days, the vast majority of Christians have met to worship on the first day of the week. They do this in honor of the resurrection of their Savior. Christ was in the tomb on the sabbath and rose as the firstborn from the dead on the first day. The sabbath signifies the last day of the old creation (Gen. 2:2). Sunday is the first day of the new creation.
8. Sunday is not the sabbath. Bible-believing Christians do not observe the sabbath by assembling on Sunday. The New Testament believer is redeemed from the obligations of the Law of Moses. Romans 14:1-13 and Colossians 2:16 clearly state that believers are not to be judged in respect to holy days. The Galatians’ respect of holy days caused the apostle Paul to fear that they were not even saved! See Galatians 4:10-11, 20.
9. The idea that Sunday observance will be the mark of the beast is not found in Scripture. This idea came from Ellen White. It is true that the Antichrist will “think to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25), yet nowhere does the Bible say that this will involve the sabbath or Sunday. The Bible does not reveal exactly what laws the Antichrist will change.
FALSE TEACHING # 3: SOUL SLEEP
The Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches that those who die do not go to heaven or to hell but their soul sleeps unconsciously in the grave until the resurrection.
“To be dead does not mean to go to heaven; it does not mean to go to hell; it does not mean to go to purgatory. Indeed, it does not mean to go anywhere at all. It means simply an end of life. ... Death is cessation of life, an absence of life, the exact opposite of life. ... The man does not live; the body does not live; the soul does not live; the spirit does not live; the mind does not live. Intelligence ends, consciousness ends, memory ends, knowledge ends, thought ends” (When A Man Dies, p. 20).
Adventism teaches that the body and soul are not separate entities that can be parted at death.
“...the soul of man nowhere is represented as a separate, conscious part of man existing as such when the body sleeps in death... the soul of man comes with the breath; it goes with the breath. ... It has no function or power of manifestation or of action, no existence, apart from the body...” (When A Man Dies, pp. 32, 33).
They teach that the spirit is the breath.
“... notice Job 27:3: ‘All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.’ Again we find in the margin that spirit might also be translated ‘breath.’ The two words are often used interchangeably in Scripture. ... Now listen. ‘And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.’ Nowhere are we told in Scripture that God gave man a living soul. Man became a living soul as the result of the union of the body with the breath of life. ... It is clear that the spirit that a man received from God and that goes back to God when he dies, is what God put into his nostrils. ... when he dies, the two separate. The dust returns to the ground. The breath, or spark of life, from saint or sinner, returns to God who gave it. The living, loving, acting soul does not go anywhere. It simply ceases to be a conscious entity until the resurrection morning, when the body and the breath of life are united again. That is Scripture pure and simple!” (Planet in Rebellion, pp. 320-323).
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
1. The word “soul” has different meanings in Scripture. Sometimes it does refer to the whole man. Often, though, it refers to a conscious, immaterial part of man that exists apart from the body beyond death. Words in the Bible must be defined by the context in which they are found.
Old Testament examples of the soul as an immaterial, conscious part of the man are seen in Genesis 35:18 and 1 Kings 17:21-22. In Genesis 35 the death of Rachel is recorded, and we are told that her soul departed when she died. “... as her soul was in departing, (for she died)...” In 1 Kings 17 a young boy died and was raised again through Elijah’s ministry. The Bible plainly says that his soul departed and then returned: “... O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” Obviously the prophet Elijah did not have the same idea about the soul and death as the Adventists do.
In the New Testament, the word “soul” is also used to describe a spiritual part of man distinct from his body. “... I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Th. 5:23). Here we are told that man has three parts. Paul did not say man IS a soul; he says man HAS a soul.
2. The word “spirit” also has various meanings in Scripture. Just as the word “soul” does not always refer to the whole man, but often refers to the immaterial part of man, even so the word “spirit” does not always mean breath. Spirit often refers to the conscious, immaterial part of man that is distinct from his body and that is separated from the body at death.
This is the meaning in Genesis 45:26-27, where the spirit is used interchangeably with the heart. “And Jacob’s HEART FAINTED, for he believed them not. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, THE SPIRIT OF JACOB THEIR FATHER REVIVED.” Obviously, this passage does not refer to the spirit as the breath! In Exodus 6:9, the children of Israel had “anguish of spirit.” Was it their breath that was anguished! How silly. The word “spirit” obviously means something different in Scripture than breath. Again, in Exodus 35:21, the Bible describes those who contributed toward the construction of the tabernacle as those “whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing.” Deuteronomy 2:30 is another example of this. Here we find God hardening the spirit of King Sihon. In 1 Kings 21:5 King Ahab is said to have had a “sad spirit.” Certainly none of these references could be construed as speaking of the spirit as the breath. The Seventh-day Adventist doctrine that the spirit is limited to breath is contrary to the Bible’s own teaching.
3. The New Testament plainly describes death as a departure of the spirit from the body. When we come to the New Testament, any uncertainty remaining from our Old Testament studies disappears in the light of full revelation. One uniform doctrine of death is found throughout the New Testament. Here death is plainly seen as a departure of the spirit from the body. Death means separation, not cessation. (This is how Adam and Eve could die the same day they partook of the fruit. They died spiritually. They were “dead in trespasses and sins.” Later they died physically and the soul was separated from the body.) This has been the orthodox doctrine of death throughout the New Testament age.
New Testament reasons for believing that death is a departure of the spirit from the body to another conscious realm of existence.
First, it is the body that dies (Jam. 2:26).
Second, Paul testified that death is a journey. See 2 Corinthians 5:6-7; Philippians 1:23-24; and 2 Timothy 4:6.
Third, Jesus’ promise to the thief on the cross shows that death is a departure. “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Lk. 23:43). Adventists claim that this passage is not translated correctly, that the comma should be after the word “today.” “Verily I say unto thee today, ‘Thou shalt be with me in paradise.’” No Bible translation reads like this. It is merely an effort to twist the passage to fit false Adventist doctrine, but the Lord Jesus Christ promised the repentant thief that he would be with him in paradise that very day.
Fourth, the story of Lazarus and the rich man shows that death is a departure. The proper names (Lazarus, Abraham) Jesus used in this story prove that He was speaking about an historical scene, rather than giving a parable. The Lord’s parables did not contain such details. Yet even if it this was a parable, it would still teach literal truth. “... the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments...” (Lk. 16:22-23). This passage teaches that death is a journey of the soul either to Heaven or to Hell.
Fifth, the dead saints will return with Christ from Heaven at the time of the resurrection and rapture of the saved. This shows that dead saints go to Heaven at death. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so THEM ALSO WHICH SLEEP IN JESUS WILL GOD BRING WITH HIM” (1 Th. 4:14). According to the Bible, the dead are not sleeping in the grave as the Adventists claim. Rather, they are in Heaven and they will return from there with Jesus!
Sixth, John’s heavenly visions show dead saints in Heaven before the resurrection and during the Great Tribulation on earth. See Revelation 6:9-11. This is another indisputable testimony that dead saints are not sleeping in the grave, but are residing in Heaven awaiting the return of Christ to earth.
Seventh, Moses’ and Elijah’s appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration proves that the dead have conscious existence between death and resurrection. See Luke 9:28-33. That Peter and the other apostles were not just seeing a future millennial scene is demonstrated by the fact that Moses and Elijah were speaking with the Lord Jesus about His approaching death. Moses and Elijah, though dead, appeared on that mountain and conversed about events that were soon to take place in Jerusalem. It is obvious that Moses and Elias are not sleeping in the grave.
It is plain from this survey of the New Testament that man has a spirit or soul that departs from his body at death and that lives eternally either in Heaven or in Hell. The Bible speaks of death BOTH as a sleep and as a journey. It is the sleep of the body and the journey of the spirit.
Even in the Old Testament we are taught that death meant separation from the body by the spirit. In Genesis 25:8 Abraham “gave up the ghost, and died ... and was gathered to his people.” This cannot mean simply that he was gathered to the grave, because Abraham’s people were not buried in Mamre. They were buried in Haran a long distance away (Ge. 11:31-32). In Genesis 35:18, it is recorded that Rachel’s soul departed at her death. 1 Kings 17 tells us that when the widow’s son died, his soul had departed (vv. 21-22). God told Moses in Numbers 27:13 that he would be “gathered unto” his people. For two reasons, this could not mean that he would sleep in a grave. First, Moses’ people were not buried in the wilderness where he died. Second, Moses appeared centuries later with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, and he was quite conscious at that time.
Thus, no matter where we look in the Scripture, we see that death does not mean sleeping unconsciously in the grave. The passages that speak of death as sleep are speaking poetically. Some Old Testament references to death, particularly in the book of Ecclesiastes, speak of it from the viewpoint of this world. In that sense, it is true that the dead do not praise God in this world. The theme of Ecclesiastes is “under the sun,” and it describes man’s attempt to understand life apart from divine revelation.
4. The doctrine of immortality was not fully revealed until the New Testament. See 1 Timothy 1:9-10. It was with the coming of Christ that the doctrine of life beyond the grave was brought to full light. Thus, we must not interpret the New Testament in light of the Old Testament, but the Old in light of the New!
FALSE TEACHING # 4: ANNIHILATION OF THE WICKED
Seventh-day Adventism teaches that the unsaved will be burned up in the lake of fire.
“The theory of eternal torment is one of the false doctrines that constitute the wine of the abomination of Babylon. ... There will then be no lost souls to blaspheme God as they writhe in never-ending torment; no wretched beings in hell will mingle their shrieks with the songs of the saved” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pp. 470, 477).
They claim that the eternal torment of the wicked cannot be reconciled with God’s love and mercy.
“How repugnant to every emotion of love and mercy, and even to our sense of justice, is the doctrine that the wicked dead are tormented with fire and brimstone in an eternally burning hell” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 469).
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
1. The Bible teaches that the unsaved will endure eternal conscious torment. See Matthew 25:46; Revelation 14:10-11; Revelation 20:10-15. Three times in Mark 9 Christ spoke of hell as “the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched...” (Mk. 9:43-48). This is the language of eternal suffering.
Adventists argue that though the fire is eternal, the punishment is not. This is an impossible interpretation, because Christ taught that the punishment of the unsaved will be worse than a violent destruction or loss of existence. Mark 9:42 warns that would be better for the wicked to hang a millstone about his neck and to be cast into the sea than to endure God’s judgment. In the very next verse, Jesus began to describe the horrors of Hell. In other words, Hell is going to be worse than any violent destruction. The suffering is eternal in duration. In Matthew 26:24, the Lord said Judas’ punishment will be worse than loss of existence. “... it had been good for that man if he had not been born.”
The doctrine of eternal torment might be difficult for us to understand, but God has revealed it and our part is to accept it by faith. Hell is a place of fire, and it is a place where the suffering is eternal. These Scriptures should be a loud warning to every man, woman, and child that life is no game; salvation is not a thing to delay for even an hour. No time should be wasted in finding security in the Saviour whose blood “cleanseth us from all sin.” No effort should be spared in reaching lost souls for Christ. Hell’s torment is as eternal in duration as Heaven’s bliss.
2. God’s mercy does not erase His holy justice. God’s justice was satisfied in the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, but those who reject His great salvation must suffer for their own sins. God has given His Son to die on the cross to redeem men from their sins. Through this atonement, God’s holy justice was satisfied (Isaiah 53:11), and He offers full pardon and eternal life to every sinner that responds in repentance and faith. Those who reject the Savior’s suffering must suffer for their own sin. Adventism claims that God would be unjust to make Christ-rejecters suffer eternally for their sins, but who are we to question God’s justice?
FALSE TEACHING # 5: ELLEN WHITE A PROPHETESS
Seventh-day Adventism believes that Ellen White was a prophetess. Consider some quotes from their writings:
“Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. Ellen G. White exercised the true prophetic gift. They believe that God graciously spoke to her in divine revelations, and that through her He sent inspired messages to His church. ... The Seventh-day Adventist Church is indebted to her as a spiritual leader and a pioneer builder and guide. In most of the soul-winning activities of the church, from its very beginnings, the leaders received guidance from what they believed were the prophetic insights of this servant of God” (D.A. Delafield, Ellen G. White and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, pp. 2, 10-11).
“The Holy Spirit that inspired Moses, Paul, and John, also inspired Sister White. The inspiration of the prophets is one thing” (The Spirit of Prophecy Treasure Chest, p. 30).
“The Ellen White books have been likened also to a telescope which greatly enlarges the vision of God’s plans as revealed in His word” (Ellen G. White and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, p. 34).
“These messages, we believe, should be faithfully followed by every believer. Next to the Bible, and in connection with it, they should be read and studied. They throw a floodlight upon the Sacred record” (Prophetic Guidance, Lesson 16, p. 60).
“Consistency calls for acceptance of the Spirit of Prophecy writings as a whole. We cannot justify accepting part and rejecting part. For example, to accept one of Mrs. White’s books of a devotional character while questioning what she has written on doctrine, morals, or health standards, is really accepting one part and rejecting another” (Prophetic Guidance, Lesson 18, p. 70).
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
1. Mrs. White taught doctrines that deviate from New Testament Revelation. See Isaiah 8:20; Romans 16:17-18. The fact that a group holds many true doctrines does not mean we are to overlook its heresies. False imitations of Christianity have always been characterized by a mixture of truth and error. The Galatian heretics were apparently orthodox in most of their doctrines. We have no reason to believe they were anything but orthodox about the Trinity, Christ’s Deity, the Resurrection, and Biblical Inspiration, but the fact that they added to Paul’s gospel brought upon them a divine curse (Galatians 1:8-9). In fact, they were all the more dangerous because of their seeming orthodoxy. Rat poison is at least 95% harmless.
Romans 16:17 warns us to mark and avoid those that cause divisions contrary to the doctrine which we have learned. Seventh-day Adventism is guilty of this. They cause divisions contrary to the apostolic doctrine of death, of sabbath-keeping, of Hell, of the ministry of Christ during this present age, of the Mosaic Law, of the woman’s place in the church, and of the apostolic doctrine of the last days, and others.
2. Ellen White contradicted herself and was a hypocrite.
Consider two examples:
She taught that women should abstain from wearing jewelry.
“To dress plainly, abstaining from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind, is in keeping with our faith” (White, Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 366).
Ellen White did not follow her own teaching. She wore jewelry, including broaches, expensive pins with white stones, and chains. In “Did Ellen White Wear Jewelry?” S. Cleveland and D. Anderson document this fact (http://www.ellenwhiteexposed.com/contra7.htm).
She taught that photography is idolatry.
“This making and exchanging of photographs is a species of Idolatry. Satan is doing all he can to eclipse heaven from our view. Let us not help him by making picture-idols” (White, Messages to Young People, p. 316).
Mrs. White often sat for pictures, contrary to her own teaching.
3. Women are not to teach nor usurp authority over men. God calls men, not women, to lead the churches (1 Timothy 2:11-12). There were no female apostles, and women are not qualified to be pastor-elders (1 Tim. 3:1-2; Tit. 1:5-6). Ellen White lived in direct opposition to these commands. She was a leading figure in the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She addressed large crowds of men.
4. The true prophetic gift was to cease when its purposes for this age were fulfilled.
“Charity never faileth: but WHETHER THERE BE PROPHECIES, THEY SHALL FAIL; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Cor. 13:8-10).
The context of 1 Corinthians 13 pertains to spiritual gifts. The entire section from chapter 12 to 14 deals with this subject. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 refers to the revelation gifts of prophecy, knowledge, and tongues, through which God spoke to the early churches. These gifts were to pass away upon completion of their divine purpose, just as many other elements of God’s program for the ages have passed away.
Since the Bible says that point prophecy will cease, when did this happen? The answer is found in Ephesians 2:20. This verse groups the prophets and the apostles together and says that they laid the foundation for the church. They preached the gospel, established the first churches, and wrote the New Testament Scriptures under divine inspiration. Their job was then complete. The foundation was firmly laid, and they were no longer needed. Just as there are no apostles today, in the early church sense, there are also no prophets in the sense of receiving and imparting revelation. In this sense, “prophecy” has “failed.”
Ellen White could not have had the New Testament gift of prophecy, because that gift ceased with the passing of the apostles and prophets and the completion of the Bible.
The Christian faith was delivered once for all to the saints during the days of the apostles (Jude 3). It is not to be added to or tampered with. Rather, it is to be contended for. The Holy Spirit has given everything necessary to make the “man of God perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). This refers to the completed Scriptures, and a seal was placed in the last chapter of the Book, warning all men against claiming to have some new or fresh word from God (Rev. 22:18-19).
Did Mrs. White add to the things contained in the Bible? In just one vision that in the book Early Writings (pages 14-20), she added the following things: She said that Jesus’ hair is curly and shoulder length and that His trumpet is silver. She said that it takes seven days to ascend to heaven. She described tree trunks of transparent gold, fruit that looks like gold mixed with silver, houses that have the appearance of silver supported by pillars set with pearls, and shelves of gold, fields of flowers, “little ones” with wings, tables of stone engraved with the 144,000, and a silver table many miles in length.
She also said that God offered Satan a pardon (The Great Controversy, pp. 495-96), that the serpent had wings (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 39-40), that Enoch’s face radiated light (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 57), and that angels who golden cards that they carry with them (Early Writings, p. 39).
There is no doubt that Ellen White’s visions added to the Bible’s prophecies. Those who refuse to accept the Bible as the final Word of God for this age always receive another word through false visions and prophecies. Seventh-day Adventism is the product of this great error.
5. Ellen White’s prophecies did not come to pass. See Deuteronomy 18:22.
In the book Seventh-day Adventism and the Writings of Ellen White, J. Mark Martin documents many false prophecies that were published by Mrs. White. These include the following:
Old Jerusalem Never Built Up
“I also saw that Old Jerusalem never would be built up; and that Satan was doing his utmost to lead the minds of the children of the Lord into these things now, in the gathering time” (Early Writings, p. 75).
In fact, old Jerusalem has been built up extensively since the birth of the modern state of Israel in 1948.
Adventists Living in 1856 Would See Jesus Return
In May 1865 Ellen White declared in a meeting in Battle Creek, Michigan, that some present would “remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 131-132).
England Would Attack the United States
“... when England does declare war, all nations will have an interest of their own to serve, and there will be general war, general confusion. ... this nation [the United States] will ... be humbled into the dust” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 259).
In fact, England did not declare war and the United States was not humbled into the dust.
FALSE TEACHING # 6: INVESTIGATIVE JUDGMENT
According to Ellen White, Jesus entered the heavenly holy of holies to begin an investigative judgment of the records (deeds and thoughts) of those that have professed faith in Christ. The judgment is supposedly based on the Ten Commandments, and the character of each person will be tested by the standard of this law to determine his eternal destiny. During this heavenly judgment, God has allegedly raised up the Seventh-day Adventist Church to proclaim the gospel to the world. When the judgment is finished, Christ will return to the earth, destroy the wicked, resurrect the saved (who have allegedly been sleeping in the grave), and place all sins upon Satan.
“Every man’s work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. ... The law of God is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment. ... Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance. ... All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life. ... Sins that have not been repented of and forsaken will not be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but will stand to witness against the sinner in the day of God” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pp. 424-425, 428).
“The righteous dead will not be raised until after the judgment at which they are accounted worthy of ‘the resurrection of life.’ Hence they will not be present in person at the tribunal when their records are examined and their cases decided. ... Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. ... When the work of the investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pp. 431-432).
“When the investigative judgment closes, Christ will come, and His reward will be with Him to give every man as his work shall be. ... Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away ‘unto a land not inhabited’ (Lev. 16:22); so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God’s people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will then be desolate, without inhabitant, and he will at last suffer the full penalty of sin in the fires that shall destroy all the wicked” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 427).
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
1. The believer will not be judged by the Ten Commandments and will not lose his salvation if his service is unacceptable. The believer has eternal life (John 3:16). He has already passed from death unto life (John 5:24). He is safe in Christ and stands and rejoices in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2). He has no fear of future wrath, for he is complete in Christ (Romans 5:9). All punishment for his sin fell on Christ, and he is forever free. Christ took the believer’s unrighteousness upon Himself and gave the believer His very righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
2. The believer’s judgment is an examination of his service to Christ to determine whether he will be rewarded or suffer loss of reward. See 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 and 2 Corinthians 5:5, 9-10.
Consider some important differences between the judgment described in these passages and the Investigative Judgment of Seventh-day Adventism: (1) Christ’s judgment of believers does not determine their salvation. Those who stand at the judgment of 1 Corinthians 3 will be there because they have already been saved, not in order to determine whether or not they will be saved. The ones judged in 1 Corinthians 3 are those that have established their lives upon the solid foundation of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11-12). (2) The believer’s judgment will not result in damnation, torment, or separation from God. Believers whose works fail the test will suffer shame and loss of reward, but not loss of salvation. “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). Words could not be plainer. (3) Notice, too, that the believer shall appear personally before his Lord. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10). According to Adventist theology, the believer’s judgment occurs in the heavenly holy of holies between 1844 and the Second Coming, while the believer himself is supposedly on earth or sleeping in the grave. This is not what the apostle Paul taught.
3. It is unscriptural to identify Satan with the scapegoat of Leviticus 16. Both goats of the Day of Atonement—the one slain and the one released into the wilderness—represent the Lord Jesus Christ. The slain goat pictures the act of Christ’s atonement: it is a bloody sacrifice. The released goat pictures the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement: it is accomplished once for all and is forever complete. To interpret the scapegoat as a reference to Satan is blasphemous. Adventism finds confirmation of this doctrine, not in Scripture rightly divided, but in the visions of Ellen White, which is yet another example of how they have added to the Bible’s revelation.
FALSE TEACHING # 7: MISUSING THE LAW OF MOSES
A foundational error of Seventh-day Adventism is its misuse of the Law of Moses. This is the same heresy that many of the Jews of Paul’s day were guilty of. It is the heresy that he confronted in his epistle to the Galatians.
Four Adventist Errors about the Law
1. According to Adventism, law and grace are not opposing systems, but both work together for man’s salvation.
“The fact that all who are redeemed are saved by grace does not dispense with the law of God any more in the one dispensation than in the other. The law is not against grace, and grace is not against the law” (Charles Everson, Saved By Grace, p. 11).
2. The Law of Moses is the standard by which God shall judge believers.
“The law of God is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment. ... Those who in the judgment are ‘accounted worthy’ will have a part in the resurrection of the just” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pp. 423-425).
3. The Law of Moses is the believer’s rule of life.
“Instead of being free to ignore and break the law because he is saved by grace, he is now doubly obligated to keep it. ... It is very evident, then, that in the new covenant we do not see the law a thing of no consequence, but we find it occupying the center of the covenant” (Charles Everson, Saved By Grace, pp. 23, 36).
“The Ten Commandments are the only perfect rule of conduct in this world today. God gave man the Decalogue as a rule of life” (J.L. Shuler, The Great Judgment Day, pp. 113-114).
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
The following is a summary of every major New Testament passage dealing with the law. The reader is encouraged to look up and study each one of the passages. We are confident the Lord will encourage you in the glorious eternal liberty the believer has in Christ Jesus.
1. The Law of Moses has one main purpose, and that is to lead men to Jesus Christ. A man is saved and justified by faith ALONE through grace ALONE, apart from the law. Because of man’s fallen condition, the law can only condemn him. The law is indeed holy and good, but it can do nothing for sinful man except to reveal his wicked condition and lead him to Christ. See Romans 3:19-20; 5:20; Romans 7:7-13; 1 Corinthians 15:56; 2 Corinthians 5:5-13; Galatians 2:16; 3:9-24; 1 Timothy 1:6-11.
“The law demands strength from one that has none, and curses him if he cannot display it. The Gospel gives strength to one that has none, and blesses him in the exhibition of it. The law proposes life as the end of obedience, the Gospel gives life as the only proper ground of obedience” (C.H. Mackintosh, Notes on the Pentateuch, pp. 232-233).
2. The Law of Moses holds no power over the believer; he is placed in Christ entirely out of the law’s grasp. The law can no more bring condemnation to the believer than it can to Christ Himself, since the believer has been made perfect in Christ. The law has no more power over the believer than the dead husband has over a living wife. The apostles did not teach the Adventist doctrine that the believer is to conform his life to the standard of the law by the power of the resurrected Christ, and that if he fails to do so the law will condemn him in the day of judgment. See Romans 5:1-2, 6-11; 6:3-7; 8:8-10; 10:4; 7:4; Galatians 3:24-29.
3. The Ten Commandments is a covenant of death that is done away with in Christ. Adventist teachers protest that the moral law, represented in the Ten Commandments, was not done away at the cross of Christ and that only the ceremonial law was done away. But the New Testament describes even the Ten Commandments as a covenant of death! The Mosaic Law as a whole had one chief purpose. It was given by God to fallen man in order to show him his sin and his need of the Savior. See 2 Corinthians 3:6-13.
The apostle said that the law written in stone is done away with in Christ, and that refers to the Ten Commandments. Two times the apostle tells us that the Ten Commandments are abolished. Two times he tells us that the Ten Commandments were a ministration of death and condemnation! Words could not be plainer. For the Adventist teacher to come along and point the believer back to the Law of Moses as a rule of life is a great evil.
5. The Law of Moses is not the believer’s rule of life. The believer is told to put on Christ and to follow the Spirit of God. The believer’s objective is not to be conformed to the law, but to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). The Holy Spirit molds and transforms the believer’s life into the image of the Lord Jesus. Romans 8:11-14; 8:29; 13:13-14; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 4:20-24; Colossians 3:9-11.
“If the law be indeed the rule of a believer’s life, where are we to find it so presented in the New Testament? The inspired Apostle evidently had no thought of its being the rule when he penned the following words: ‘For in Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God’ (Gal. 6:15-16). What ‘rule’? The law? No; but the ‘new creation.’ Where shall we find this in Exodus 20? It speaks not a word about ‘new creation.’ On the contrary, it addresses itself to man as he is—in his natural or old-creation state—and puts him to the test as to what he is really able to do. Now if the law were the rule by which believers are to walk, why does the apostle pronounce his benediction on those who walk by another rule altogether? Why does he not say, as many as walk according to rule of the Ten Commandments? Is it not evident, from this one passage, that the Church of God has a higher rule by which to walk?” (C.H. Mackintosh, Notes on the Pentateuch, pp. 232-233).
“I, as a Christian, obey all law that is moral in the Decalogue, not because it is in the Law, but because it is in the Gospel. Worship of God only is enjoined fifty times in the New Testament; idolatry is forbidden twelve times; profanity four times; honor of father and mother is commanded six times; adultery is forbidden twelve; theft six; false witness four; and covetousness, nine times. ‘The Ten Commandments,’ as Luther says, ‘do not apply to us Gentiles and Christians, but only to the Jews.’ So therefore, Paul, in all his fourteen epistles, never once names the Sabbath—except in a single passage where, classing it with the entire law, he declares it has been totally abolished. So the early church held” (William C. Irvine, Heresies Exposed, p. 165).
6. Law and Grace are two different systems that cannot be mixed in salvation. We have already looked at this under the section on the Seventh-day Adventist’s false gospel of grace plus law. See Acts 15:8-11; Romans 3:18-25; 4:4-5; 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-10.
7. To point believers back to the Law of Moses as a rule of life is to place them back under legalistic bondage, bringing a curse upon the one who teaches this heresy as well as upon the one who follows it. The apostles condemned in the strongest language those who tried to get believers to return to the Law of Moses as a rule of life. This refutes the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine that the law is a blessing to the justified man. See Galatians 1:7-9; 2:4; 3:1-9; 4:9-11, 19-21; 5:1-9.
Christ came to redeem men from bondage to the law, to remove their condemnation by paying the price the law demanded for man’s sin. Those who try to bring believers back under the law are deceiving men and pointing them away from the finished work of Christ and true Bible freedom in Him. They themselves are cursed because of their false gospel, and they are leading others away from the truth. The goal of salvation is not to bring the believer to the law, but to present him perfect in Christ!
FALSE TEACHING # 8: VEGETARIANISM
Ellen White warned against eating meat and promoted vegetarianism.
“Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view, and endeavor to work steadily toward it. I cannot think that in the practice of flesh eating we are in harmony with the light which God has been pleased to give us. All who are connected with our health institutions especially should be educating themselves to subsist on fruits, grains, and vegetables” (Ellen White, Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 380-81).
“Let not any of our ministers set an evil example in the eating of flesh-meat. Let them and their families live up to the light of health reform. Let not our ministers animalize their own nature and the nature of their children” (Ellen White, Spalding and Magan, p. 211).
This teaching was part of White’s health program, which she claimed was given to her by divine revelation in 1863.
Today the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist’s Nutrition Council recommends abstaining from meat, fish, coffee, and tea.
Here we will only deal with the issue of vegetarianism. From Adam to Noah, men were vegetarians, stemming from God’s command in Genesis 1:29-30, but after the flood, men were instructed to eat meat as well as vegetables (Genesis 9:3). Under the Law of Moses, the nation Israel continued to eat meat, and some animals were designated clean and others unclean. The Lord Jesus Christ lived under the law as a Jew and followed the Mosaic dietary system. He was not a vegetarian. We know that He ate fish (Lk. 24:42-43) and He ate lamb, which was required during the Passover (Exodus 12:6-8).
There are only three teachings about diet in the New Testament.
First, Peter was taught that the Old Testament dietary restrictions are no longer in effect for the New Testament believer (Acts 10:9-16). The truth of this was emphasized in that the command to rise, kill, and eat was repeated three times. This passage single-handedly refutes the following claims: that the Mosaic dietary restrictions are in force in the New Testament churches, that the Mosaic dietary restrictions were for health purposes (if that were true, God would have kept them in force), that eating meat is unhealthy, that vegetarianism is a superior program, and that is cruel to kill animals.
Second, we are taught that in the New Testament dispensation diet is entirely a matter of personal liberty (Romans 14:1-6) and we are not to judge others in such matters (Romans 14:13).
Third, we have a warning about those who teach against eating meat (1 Timothy 4:1-6) and we are told that to require a vegetarian diet is a doctrine of devils. This one heresy is sufficient to mark Ellen White as a heretic who was under the control of the Devil.
To go beyond the Bible’s clear teaching in this matter and to create dietary programs that purport to have a scriptural basis and or to be derived from extra-biblical prophecy or otherwise to have divine approval is heresy.
The New Testament plainly states that “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5).
Thus, according to Scripture, diet in this dispensation is a personal and individual matter. Each person is different, with his own metabolism, taste, culture, lifestyle, health, and occupation; and diet must be determined on this basis and not on some plan purporting to be from the Bible.
I am not saying that all diets are equally healthy; I am merely saying that there is no one diet that is required by the Bible, and vegetarianism is certainly not upheld by Scripture.
The writer of Hebrews warned:
“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein” (Heb. 13:9).
Salvation and spirituality are not determined by what you eat but by whether or not you have submitted to the gospel of Christ’s grace. A doctrine of meats or special diet is a strange and unscriptural doctrine!
In spite of her own teaching against eating meat, which she claimed was based on a vision she had in 1863, Ellen White continued eating meat most of her life. This is documented extensively in “Oysters and Herrings” by M. Chugg and D. Anderson, http://www.ellenwhiteexposed.com/contra6.htm.
This report is excerpted from AVOIDING THE SNARE OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM. This book has been called the best on the subject by the editor of The Baptist Challenge. Now it has been throughly updated and enlarged. It is diligently researched from official publications of the Seventh-day Adventist organization and proves conclusively that the Seventh-day Adventist gospel is false. The book begins with a chapter entitled “Adventists Wanted Me to Revise This Book,” describing a deceptive attempt by Seventh-day Adventists to have me change the book. The major divisions of the book are: “Adventist History Proves It is Heretical” and “Adventist Doctrine Proves It Is Heretical.” The book analyzes Adventist doctrines such as Sabbath-keeping, Soul-sleep, Annihilation of the wicked, Ellen White as a Prophetess, Investigative Judgment, Misuse of the Mosaic Law, and Vegetarianism. The chapter “Why Some Have Considered Seventh-day Adventism Evangelical" analyzes Walter Martin’s (author of Kingdom of the Cults) faulty view of Adventism. The book includes selections from D.M. Canright’s 1898 book Seventh-day Adventism Renounced. Canright was an early leader in Adventism who left and became a Baptist pastor. Third edition updated and enlarged September 2008. 206 pages, 5 X 8”, perfect bound, $8.95.
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