Seventh-day Adventism

Another Gospel


Grace College of the Bible

Omaha, Nebraska

Copyright by The Good News Broadcasting Association, Inc. All rights



William Miller, a Baptist minister, was a zealous Bible student who yearned

for the return of the Lord. As he studied the Scriptures he interpreted

Daniel 8:14 to mean that Christ was to return sometime between March 21,

1843, and March 21, 1844. Thousands who had accepted his teaching waited

eagerly during this time for the return of the Lord, but they saw no

evidence of His return. A new date--October 22, 1844--was set by some, but

again the date passed without the appearance of the Saviour.

Disheartened, William Miller declared that he and his followers had been

wrong. Before he died in 1849, he said, "We expected the personal coming

of Christ at that time; and now to contend that we were not mistaken is

dishonest. We should never be ashamed frankly to confess our errors. I

have no confidence in any of the theories that grew out of the movement"

("History of the Advent Message," p. 412).

Ellen G. White--who with her husband, Elder James White, was a part of the

date-setting movement in 1843 and 1844--became the prophetess of the

Seventh-day Adventist movement. (The name, Seventh-day Adventists, is

derived from the cult's observing Saturday as the day of rest and also from

the cult's emphasis on the advent of Christ.) Her writings are considered

to be "inspired-counsel" on the Scriptures. The leaders of the movement do

not teach that Ellen G. White was inspired in the same sense as the authors

of the Scriptures, yet for all practical purposes the difference lies only

in the terms they use to describe her writings. With few exceptions, the

Seventh-day Adventists follow Mrs. White's teachings with as much

preciseness as they follow the teachings of the Bible.

It has been said that the Seventh-day Adventists have changed their beliefs

from what Ellen G. White originally taught. But her book, "The Great

Controversy," which sets forth many of her strange beliefs, is still

referred to by the Seventh-day Adventists as "one of our standard books"

("Questions on Doctrine," p. 421).

Investigative Judgment

A basic doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventists is the teaching that Christ,

as part of His atoning work, has been conducting an "investigative

judgment" in the heavenly sanctuary since 1844. This doctrine was

formulated after Christ failed to return, as had been predicted, on October

22, 1844. The next day, it suddenly occurred to one of the group--Hiram

Edson--"that instead of our High Priest 'coming out' of the Most Holy of

the heavenly sanctuary to come to this earth on the tenth day of the

seventh month, at the end of the 2300 days, he for the first time 'entered'

on that day the second apartment of that sanctuary and that he had a work

to perform in the Most Holy before coming to this earth" ("Life and

Experience" by Hiram Edson as cited in "The Prophetic Faith of Our

Fathers," Vol. IV, p. 881, by Le Roy Edwin Froom).

That Christ's investigative judgment in the heavenly sanctuary is

considered to be a part of His atoning work in Adventist doctrine is seen

from such statements as "Now, while our great High Priest is making the

atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ" ("The Great

Controversy"). To claim that Christ is presently doing something to

complete His work of redemption is to disregard the words He uttered from

the cross: "It is finished" (John 19:30). The Greek tense employed in this

verse indicates something that had been completed and remained so. A

literal translation is "It has been finished." Also, Hebrews 10:12 clearly

indicates that the atoning work of Christ has been completed: "But this

man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the

right hand of God." Christ finished His work of redemption on the cross,

and nothing needs to be added to it.

In "The Great Controversy," Ellen G. White explains the investigative

judgment that Christ is supposedly conducting at this time: "As the books

of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on

Jesus come in review before God.... 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"

(p. 483).

It is scriptural to state that a person must place his faith in Christ for

the forgiveness of his sin, but it is not scriptural to say that anyone who

has sins they have not repented of will have their names blotted out of the

Book of Life. Jesus Christ completely paid the penalty for sin--past,

present and future--and He has said that anyone who believes on Him "shall

not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John

5:24). If, after receiving Christ as Saviour, one commits a sin, he is not

in danger of having his name blotted out of the Book of Life if he does not

repent of it. Confession of sin after salvation is necessary to maintain

fellowship with the Father but not to retain salvation--the salvation

question has already been settled.

A faith-plus-works type of salvation is revealed in Mrs. White's words:

"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." According to the Scriptures, character does not determine one's

salvation; rather, one's salvation determines his character. It is not

until a person receives Jesus Christ as Saviour and becomes a "new

creature" (II Cor. 5:17) that he can have a character that pleases God.

Such a person is Christ's "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good

works" (Eph. 2:10). But there cannot be good works that please God until a

person has salvation by receiving Christ as Saviour.

The Scriptures speak of individuals being judged, but the time of these

judgments is in the future, not the present. Those who know Jesus Christ

as Saviour will someday "appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that

every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he

hath done, whether it be good or bad" (II Cor. 5:10). However, this is a

judgment to determine rewards, not salvation. Only those who have

salvation will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. All who do not

have salvation will appear before the Great White Throne to have their

works evaluated and then will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-


Satan--The Sin-Bearer

Not only do the Seventh-day Adventists teach that sin is not fully atoned

for as yet but they also teach that Satan has a part in the bearing of our


Writing in "The Great Controversy" about the sin offering and the scapegoat

of Leviticus 16, Ellen G. White says, "As the priest, in removing the sins

from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so

Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator

of sin....Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused

God's people to commit....will at last suffer the full penalty of sin in

the fires that shall destroy all the wicked" (p. 485).

Mrs. White taught that as the priest symbolically took the sins from the

people and placed them on the scapegoat in Leviticus 16, so also Christ's

death removed the sins from the people and He will later place them on

Satan. The Scriptures teach that Christ bore the full penalty of our sins

because He became the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins and for the

sins of the whole world (I John 2:2). Those who refuse to receive Christ

as their sin-bearer will suffer everlasting punishment because of their

rejection of Him (Luke 13:5; John 3:18,19; Matt. 25:46). Speaking of

Christ, Isaiah 53:6,12 states: "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of

us all....He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the


In His agonizing hours on the cross, Christ was actually "made . . . to be

sin for us" (II Cor. 5:21). Since all our sins were placed on Him, we were

able to be delivered from all condemnation by receiving Him as our Saviour.

Christ did not die to take these sins from us in order to place them on

another; He died to suffer the full condemnation for our sins. Satan will

be judged for his own sin, but Christ "bare our sins in his own body on the

tree" (I Pet. 2:24).

Annihilation of the Wicked

The Seventh-day Adventists are also firm believers in the annihilation of

the wicked--that the wicked will cease to exist and not suffer everlasting

punishment. Much of the weight of their teaching is placed upon the

beliefs that, as a God of love, God would not permit anyone to suffer for

eternity and that eternal existence is promised only to the Christian.

It is true that God is a God of love--the Scriptures abound with verses

that give us this truth (John 3:16; 1 John 4:7-10; etc.). It is for this

very reason that God provided His Son to bear the penalty for our sin so we

would not have to suffer condemnation. God has made provision for every

person's salvation, but if a person rejects what Christ has accomplished in

his behalf, then he will be punished for his own sin.

God's Word clearly reveals that unbelievers will experience everlasting

punishment: "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the

righteous into life eternal" (Matt. 25:46). No distinction can be made in

this verse between "everlasting" and "eternal" for they are only different

translations of the same Greek word. If the "everlasting punishment" of

this verse is to be denied, then logically one must deny the "life eternal"

that it proclaims.

Revelation 19:20-20:10 reveals that the wicked do not cease to exist. The

two individuals who will deceive many during the Great Tribulation are

characterized as a beast and false prophet. They will be cast into the

lake of fire before Christ begins his 1000-year rule on earth. At the end

of this 1000 years Satan will also be cast into the lake of fire and the

beast and false prophet will still be there even after a thousand years-

they will not cease to exist.


Seventh-day Adventists also teach the doctrine of soul-sleep the belief

that there is not conscious existence from the time of death until the

resurrection from the dead. They teach that no believer, while living,

really has eternal life-for such a quality of life will not be given to him

until he is raised from the grave. However, God's Word declares the

possibility of present assurance of salvation (John 5:24; Rom. 10:9; I John


The Adventists base their teaching of the unconsciousness of the dead on

such a statement as "the dead know not anything" (Eccl. 9:5). It must be

remembered that the Book of Ecclesiastes was written from man's viewpoint,

not from God's. The writer even says, "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity"

(1:2). This book has been included in the canon of Scripture to reveal

the hopelessness of life unless it is dedicated to God. Ecclesiastes 9:5

shows that as far as natural man is concerned the grave is the end. But

the Scriptures reveal that this natural view is not correct because

judgment occurs after death (Heb. 9:27).

Such Scriptures as Luke 16:22-30; II Corinthians 5:1-8 and Philippians

1:23,24 show there is a consciousness after death for both believers and

unbelievers. First Thessalonians 4:14 also reveals that the Christian goes

to be with Christ at death. When Christ comes to rapture the Church, He

will bring with Him the believers who have died so they may receive their

bodies from the grave.


When most people think of the Seventh-day Adventists, they usually think

first of the Adventists' worship on the seventh day of the week--from which

practice the group gets part of its name. The Adventists normally make

more of an issue of this doctrine than any other. Our greatest concern is

not that they desire to worship on a different day but that they make the

keeping of this day, as well as the keeping of other laws, a criterion of a

person's relationship with the Lord--even as to his salvation.

In a letter in "Present Truth" James White wrote: "The keeping of the

fourth commandment is all-important present truth; but this alone, will not

save any one. We must keep all ten of the commandments, and strictly

follow all the directions of the New Testament, and have living active

faith in Jesus. Those who would be found ready to enter the saints' rest,

at the appearing of Christ, must live wholly, WHOLLY for Jesus now" (cited

in "The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers" by Le Roy Froom).

In their literature the reader will find it stressed over and over that the

Adventists believe salvation to be by faith in Christ. However, to this

belief in Christ they add their works of the Law. This is the same error

for which Paul condemned the Galatians. Seventh-day Adventism is 20th-

century Galatianism, and the Book of Galatians needs to be studied

carefully to see the proper relationship of the Law to salvation. Paul

condemned those who were teaching a gospel of faith plus works (Gal. 1:18).

Salvation cannot be by both faith and works. Ephesians 2:8,9 makes this

clear. Romans 11:6 shows it is impossible for anything to be obtained by

both faith and works because one excludes the other. The Word of God

teaches that salvation can be obtained only by faith in Christ apart from

the works of the Law (Rom. 3:21-24). A person produces good works because

he has everlasting life, not in order to obtain it.

If a person does not keep the seventh day of the week holy, then it is

obvious to the Adventists that he is not deserving of everlasting life. In

fact they believe this so strongly that they believe "Sunday-keeping" will

be the mark of the beast during the Great Tribulation. The Seventh-day

Adventists accept the statement of Ellen G. White: "Sunday-keeping is not

yet the mark of the beast, and will not be until the decree goes forth

causing men to worship this idol sabbath. The time will come when this day

will be the test, but that time has not come yet" ("The Great Controversy"

as quoted in "Questions on Doctrine," p. 184).

The Sabbath was given as a token of the covenant between God and Israel

(Ex. 31:16,17). Sabbath keeping has never been commanded of the Gentiles,

and with the setting aside of Israel came also the setting aside of God's

token with them the Sabbath.

The New Testament teaches that for the Body of Christ, the Church, the

special days of the Old Testament were only a type of things to come.

Therefore, believers are not to let anyone judge them "in respect of an

holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days" (Col. 2:16,17). The

Old Testament rest of the Sabbath Day was only a picture of the rest that

one enters when he places his faith in Christ and ceases from his own works

(Heb. 4:9-12).

In commemoration of the day upon which Christ rose from the grave, the New

Testament Christians met for worship on the first day of the week (Acts

20:6,7). Paul also instructed the Corinthian Christians to set aside their

offerings on the first day of the week for the work of the Lord (I Cor.

16:2). These practices were not performed in order to merit salvation.

They were performed because the individuals knew Christ as their Saviour,

and they wanted to fellowship together in the things of the Lord. It was

also their purpose to use offerings to help other Christians and to take

the gospel to those who had not yet received Christ as Saviour.

The distinctive doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are not

normally presented on their radio and television programs. Many people

listen to the radio program "The Voice of Prophecy" and view the telecast

"Faith for Today" without realizing these are Seventh-day Adventist

programs. After one begins to receive their literature he becomes aware of

the differences between their teaching and that of the Word of God.

Christians should know what books are published by the Seventh-day

Adventist Church. When in doubt, a person should check who the publisher

of the book is. Three of the major publishing houses for Seventh-day

Adventist literature are Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain

View, California; Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington,

D.C.; and Southern Publishing Association, Nashville, Tennessee.

Certain evangelical leaders have endorsed the Seventh-day Adventists as

"fellow evangelicals." But their teaching about the investigative judgment

and Satan's part in the bearing of sin is sufficient to show that the

Seventh-day Adventist gospel is different than the gospel taught by the

Scriptures. Because of their deviation from the Scriptures, the Seventh-

day Adventists cannot be called evangelicals. This does not mean that

every person in the Seventh-day Adventist movement is unsaved. Any person

who trusts Christ alone for salvation has eternal life, regardless of his

religious affiliation. However, it is regrettable that most of those in

this movement are blind to the Galatianism which their church teaches and

which has never been renounced by its leaders.

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