Seventh Day Adventism: From Heaven or of Men?

Jess Whitlock

The Seventh-Day Adventist movement began in America in the 1800s. The movement began in a failed attempt to set a date for the imminent return or “advent” of Jesus Christ. William Miller (1782-1849) was the first leader among Adventists. In 1818 Miller concluded from Daniel 8:14 (making a day equal to a year) that Christ would return and cleanse the earth (sanctuary of Daniel 8:14) with fire between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844 i.e., 2,300 years from the year Ezra returned to Jerusalem in 457 B.C. When that date failed many left the movement. Others, however, set a new date of October 22, 1844 stating that Miller had miscalculated. When this date failed many more left the movement.

In 1844 a small group of Adventists began to teach the seventh day of the week as the day for Christian observance, rather than the first day of the week. One member of this group was Ellen G. White. White had been injured by a thrown stone when she was a young girl. Almost all “visions” that she imparted to Seventh-Day Adventists came through messages supposedly revealed to her by God, in times of illness. She is heralded by Adventists as an “inspired prophetess.”

Mrs. White and others, endorsed the 1843 date of Miller by going back to Daniel 8:14 and reinterpreting the sanctuary as being in heaven rather than on earth. In 1855 the group set up headquarters and a publishing house near Battle Creek, Michigan. “In 1860 the name Seventh-Day Adventist was officially adopted, and in 1903 the headquarters was moved to its present location in Washington, D.C.” (Frank S. Mead, Handbook of Denominations in the United States, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995, p. 38). Today this cult has headquarters in Silver Springs, Maryland. Seventh-Day Adventists boast 82,000 plus churches worldwide. The “General Conference” oversees the ministry of the Seventh-Day Adventists, (SDA) world-wide.

Seventh-Day Adventism is Built Upon False Prophets

Moses gave the test for whether or not a prophet is true or false. “When a prophet speaketh in the name of Jehovah, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah hath not spoken: the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22).

William Miller stated, “I was thus brought, in 1818, at the close of my two-year study of the Scriptures, to the solemn conclusion, that in about twenty-five years from that time [1818] all the affairs of our present state would be wound up.” (Leroy E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, 1954, p. 463). Much later Miller would write, “I confess my error, and acknowledge my disappointment; yet I still believe the day of the Lord is near, even at the door…” (Sylvester Bliss, Memoirs of William Miller, p. 256).

Ellen G. White wrote concerning William Miller’s chart, “I have seen that the 1843 chart was directed by the hand of the Lord and that it should not be altered, that the figures were as he wanted them.” (Early Writings, 1882 edition, p. 64). She predicted the end of the world in 1843, 1844, 1845 and 1851. In 1851 White wrote, “Now time is almost finished, and what we have been six years in learning they will have to learn in months.” (Early Writings, p. 57).

The main doctrine which separates this cult from Christendom is their insistence on keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Concerning the Sabbath day, “The beneficent Creator, after the six days of Creation rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God’s unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry… The Sabbath is God’s perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people.” (Seventh-Day Adventist Church Manual, p. 15, fundamental doctrine # 19). The SDA holds “that the great principles of God’s Law are embodied in the Ten Commandments…” (ibid, p 15). The SDA insists that the Ten Commandments were in effect before sin entered into the world (ibid, p. 149). Can’t you envision Adam even now? He reads, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exo. 20:14). Adam then asks God, “What is adultery?” After reading Exodus 20:16-17 Adam queries, “God, what is a neighbor, what is a man-servant and what is a maid-servant?”

The SDA teaches that the Law of Moses was for Jew and Gentile. But Paul wrote of the “Gentiles that have not the law…” (Rom. 2:14). The SDA insists that man has kept the Sabbath Day from creation (not at Mt. Sinai). Let your fingers do the walkin’ and let the Bible do the talkin’: “Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments, and madest known unto them Thy holy sabbath…” (Neh. 9:13-14).

It is noteworthy that SDA members do not keep the Sabbath holy! The SDA argues the Sabbath is perpetual for everyone forever. However, they do not burn incense on the Sabbath. “And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before Jehovah throughout your generations” (Exo. 30:8).

The SDA cult does not offer burnt offerings and feasts on the Sabbath. Yet, “…for the morning and evening burnt-offerings, and the burnt-offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of Jehovah” (2 Chron. 31:3b).

The SDA adherents do not sanctify their first-born sons and animals. Listen to this: “Sanctify unto me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb, among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is Mine” (Exo. 13:2; cf. Luke 2:22-23).

The SDA cult does not obey the Law of the Lord as pertains to those members who violate the Sabbath day and the law of the sabbath. “Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a sabbath of solemn rest to Jehovah: whosoever doeth any work therein shall be put to death” (Exo. 35: 2).

SDA members teach that the Sabbath was bound as a “perpetual covenant” and cite Exodus 31:13-16 as their proof text. As noted, they do not keep the Law of Moses entirely. Paul wrote, “Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal. 5:3). How much of the law Paul? The apostle said the “whole law.” So, what part of the law is left out? Notice please, that Paul is not quite finished. “Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4). According to the apostle Paul, every member of this cult remains without God’s grace! That is frightening indeed.

The law of the Sabbath was given only to the children of Israel. The Ten Commandments were given to those brought out of Egypt (Exo. 20:2). That law was given specifically to Israel (Deut. 5:1-6). The Sabbath Law was made known on Mt. Sinai. “Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments, and madest known unto them Thy holy sabbath, and commanded them commandments, and statutes, and a law, by Moses, thy servant” (Neh. 9:13-14).

The old law, i.e., the law of Moses was nailed to the cross. We are now dead to the law and delivered from the law (Rom. 7:1-6). Paul, an inspired apostle declares, “Having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us: and He hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). E.M. Zerr has recorded,

As long as a note or bond is in force or unsatisfied, it stands as an obligation ‘against’ those who are under it. But when its demands have been met, it is canceled and its debtors are no longer held. Then such a document is rendered void by having a punch make a perforation through it, as a ticket is punched. This was done to the law when Jesus suffered Himself to be punctured or nailed to the cross (Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, 1954, p. 137).

That old law was done away (2 Cor. 3:11-13). “In that He saith, a new covenant, He hath made the first old. But that which is becoming old and waxeth aged is nigh unto vanishing away” (Heb. 8:13). We are now under a better covenant (Heb. 8:6-ff).

New Testament Christians worship upon the first day of the week, which is Sunday and not Saturday! Christ was raised on the first day of the week (Mark 16:9). The church of Christ was established on the first day of the week (Acts 2:1-47). Pentecost was always the first day of the week (Lev. 23:15-16). The Lord’s Supper was always observed upon the first day of the week (Acts 2:42; 20:7). The weekly collection was always taken on the first day of the week (1st Cor. 11:18-29; 16:1-2). Question: Where do we read of any one of these things being done on the seventh day of the week? I’ll wait… I am still waiting!

Think about this: When the Law of Moses came “…there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (Exo. 32:28), but when the law of Christ came “about three thousand souls” were “saved” (Acts 2:41,47). Therefore, we do indeed have a “better covenant” (Heb. 8:6).

Seventh-Day Adventists Do Not Believe the Bible

“…whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (Col. 3:16). Many people believe in God, but do not believe God. The thesis of this paper has been upon the emphasis the SDA places on the Sabbath. Time would fail us to examine all their departures from the Scripture. Let us close with a few of the commands of God’s Word that are completely ignored or overlooked by the SDA.

  1. The adherents of SDA deny the Bible’s teaching about hell, a place of eternal punishment for the wicked (Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:7-9).

  2. The SDA speaks of hell as a myth: “The finally impenitent, including Satan, the author of sin, will, by the fires of the last day, be reduced to a state of non-existence, becoming as though they had not been, thus purging God’s universe of sinners.” (Anthony A. Hoekema, The Four Major Cults, Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1978. P. 142). Furthermore, the SDA contends the lost will simply be annihilated, a form of “soul-sleeping.” The Bible teaches that men do exist following death, and are consciously aware of their eternal surroundings. (Luke 16:19-31).

  3. The SDA teaches that the law of God never changes. The author of Hebrews, whom I believe was the apostle Paul wrote, “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law” (Heb. 7:12). God’s law and the law of Moses are both given of God (Ezra 7:6,12; Neh. 8:1,8).

  4. The SDA generally observes the Lord’s Supper once a quarter (some more often). New Testament Christians partake of the supper of the Lord weekly, on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-28).

  5. The SDA charges Roman Catholicism with changing the Sabbath Day from Saturday to Sunday. The SDA does not know either biblical history or religious history. The Sabbath ever remains as Saturday (the 7th day), and has never been anything else. Paul commanded Christians not to keep the Sabbath (Col. 2:16).

  6. The SDA contends that the spirit of man is merely his breath, so at death he is annihilated. The Bible shows that man is a triune being made up of body, soul, and spirit. (1 Thess. 5:23). Materialists often go to Genesis 2:7 where “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” From this one passage it is argued that the terms breath and spirit are interchangeable terms. This cannot possibly be the case. Let’s consider a few examples: First Peter 3:4 speaks of a “meek and quiet spirit…” Is Peter suggesting soft breathing? In Acts 23:8 we read that the “Sadducees say there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit…” The Sadducees denied many plain truths, but in no way did they deny that man must breathe! Paul wrote, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit…” (2 Cor. 7:1). Was the apostle requiring the Cert’s breath test?

  7. There are dozens of other departures from the Word of the living God. This will be our final test of the SDA’s myriad of false doctrines. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). There is no more dangerous and damning doctrine than those doctrines that tamper with God’s plan of salvation. Ken McFarland, an SDA member tells us: “Adventists believe that salvation is only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus as mankind’s substitute… Everyone who in faith accepts Jesus as Savior can rejoice in the full assurance of complete forgiveness and salvation.” (Ken McFarland, Let’s Get Acquainted! Your Friends, the Seventh-Day Adventists, Pacific Press Pub., p. 13). Again, “…That which saves is grace alone, through faith in the living Christ. And similarly, that which justifies is His free and blessed grace.” (A quote from Questions on Doctrine, p. 102), and “So far it would appear that Seventh-Day Adventist soteriology is basically the same as that of Calvin and Luther” (Anthony A. Hoekema, The Four Major Cults, Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1978, p. 123).

The biblical plan of salvation involves much more than that “faith only” or “grace alone” equals salvation. Man must believe that Jesus is the Christ (John 8:24). It is essential that man repent of all sin (Luke 13:3-5). It is imperative that we make the good confession of Christ as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10). Then, be baptized into Christ “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

Let us encourage you to “search the scriptures daily, whether these things are so…” (Acts 17:11). We are under law to Christ today (1 Cor. 9:21). Christ’s covenant is far superior and we must keep the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). You will find that Seventh Day Adventism is not from heaven, but of men.

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