There are a number of ways to witness to SDA. This addendum to the book "The 7th Day Sabbath - Relevant for Christians Today?" is one of many resources to witness. Go to the links, FAQ, FYI and helps section in order to get more material and information for witnessing.
A majority of Christians are part of either a church or denominational system in which they attend or pledge their allegiance. Some just for the purpose for fellowship and worship, some (being more intense) for strict obedience and guidance. It has been estimated that there are over 3,000 Christian organizations, sects, and cults operating within the United States. And even within many denominations there are "sub" sections and groups who have their own beliefs, rules, etc.
But you can mainly cut the line across the Catholics and the Protestants. Then within the Protestants you have a divide between groups who stress different days of worship. One of these denominations is called the 7th Day Adventist (Adventist or SDA).
They are a group who, even though they profess Jesus Christ, have many different beliefs other than (or besides) most "mainline" Christian groups. One of the main differences is that they believe in the 7th day (Saturday) Sabbath as being the only true day of worship. They don't just view this as a "minor" issue, but as a major doctrine (in which your very salvation is based.)
The beginning of the book speaks of their many beliefs, primarily focusing on the Sabbath and law aspects. But there are many other issues Christians should know about Adventist. Many good books out there, like the late Dr. Walter Martins "The Kingdom of the Cults", have done an in-depth analysis and discussion on the Adventist, so I don't think we need to go over or repeat old material. What I will discuss is the recent condition in the Adventist church, and how you can defend yourself against their arguments.
The reason why this is needed is because the Adventist are a very large and powerful group. Also a group who is openly hostile to any other Christians who don't observe the 7th day (e.g. - Sunday keepers). They mean well, but can be just as fanatical as Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses (JW's), or many other of the cults. In other words, they (like Mormons and JW's) do many good works, send missionaries, built hospitals and the like, but (like Mormons and JW's) may not necessarily be your friend.
The question may arise then, "Are 7th Day Adventist Christians?" Answering that question will depend on exactly what type of belief and ideas an individual Adventist holds. Back in the 60's, when Walter Martin did his analysis on the Adventist, they were on the very brink of cultism and pure Christianity. They held many of the common "foundational" doctrines of Christianity, such as: the deity of Christ, his atonement on the cross, resurrection, ascension, and soon return.
This is where the similarities end though. They also have a "dark-side" of their beliefs, where they take on a very legalistic and "rules based" theology. Adventist will hold to a strict (and unyielding) inherence and observance of the ten commandments (decalogue) law. They also hold to many of the Mosaic ceremonial observances. Even though they will accept the fact that those latter laws were done away with - still, strangely they will strongly suggest you do many of them if (or after) you join them (this is what I call the "law paradox").
To sum it up, even though Adventist may seem Christian that does not make them so (as with [again], the Mormons, JW's, etc.) The key component of whether they are Christian or not is measured by how legalistic, or non-legalistic they are.
Even Walter Martin noted that there were many "evangelistic" Adventist who hold more to faith, grace, and the Holy Spirit than others. Back when Dr. Martin wrote his book there may have been a great number of "evangelistic" Adventist. But I personally believe that today this is no longer the case.
I believe that many of the "evangelistic" Adventist have either left the church (in frustration), or were kicked out (like the noted Dr. Desmond Ford); and that the organization (today) is primarily made up of those of the more legalistic slant. I know this first hand because I use to be an evangelistic Adventist, and still have many family members in the organization all over the country. As a aggregate, everything from current church literature, to services, to sermons, etc., are presently pointing towards legalism and works.
The answer plainly to the question, "Are 7th Day Adventist Christians?" Would be yes, if they are basing their justification, salvation, and sanctification on Christ and his finished works; and no, if they are basing their salvation (etc.) on the Sabbath and law (which would seem more the case recently with many.) But this is primarily on an individual level, and we are not called to judge, nor can we read the heart (as God does). So this report is for those who may encounter "legalist" Adventist, where hopefully you'll be able to witness and turn them back to the truth (James 5:20) in gentleness and love (2Tim 2:24-26 [key]).
What They Believe (A Brief History) -
The Adventist history goes back to the 1800's when there was a spiritual movement or "awakening" occurring. This movement was led by a Baptist Pastor by the name of William Miller. This was no small "fringe", but numbering in the many thousands; and out of many mainline denominations of that time period. Miller had supposedly received wisdom from God and/or interpreted from scripture that Jesus would soon return. Mr. Miller must have been either well-known or very believable for so many to accept his word. He had set a date of October 1844 as to when Christ return would take place. This, because of some obscure scripture in Daniel chapter 8 [vs14].
Well, as you can guess, the momentous return of Christ did not happen (which would've never been believed or happened if anyone had clearly read Jesus' own words - Matt 24:36.) But it did not stop there even after the first failure, because Miller and his Millerites "re-examined" the scriptures and found that he was "off" by one year. So the people in his movement waited another year, and were again disappointed. In fact, this is what they called the event after that second years supposed failure - the great disappointment.
After that second event, most of the movement broke up and went home (Miller included). But there were a few small splinter groups who not only didn't go home, they "went back to the drawing board [scriptures] again," and formulated a new hypothesis as to why Jesus did not return. Two of the most prominent of these "splinter" groups were our well know Jehovah Witnesses (JW's) and the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). This is where the path takes many strange twist and turns, as far as the formation of these groups (who strangely, have many familiar doctrines.) It was at this point that a Mrs. Ellen G. White came prominently into the picture, as a "pillar" and architect of the SDA.
She was instrumental in organizing, and even later holding together the sect when there was a danger of it breaking apart. She was also the one who many of the churches doctrines and beliefs derived from, and she is highly revered even to this day. SDA call her the Prophetess of our time (fulfilling Joel 2:28-32), the "last day" Prophet who is a "lesser" light to that of the Bible [the Bible being the "greater" light.]
She wrote an enormous amount of literature (over 20 books, numerous articles, etc.) and other materials that are still widely used by Adventist today. Her writings are as comfortably quoted as are the holy scriptures (Bible) in most SDA pulpits.
Her picture is displayed along side Moses, Elijah, Ezekiel, and other Prophets in SDA illustrated art work. And there are many an occasion where you'll hear, "Now Sister White would not like that you know!!"- sternly noted to a misbehaving SDA brother or sister.
The key would then be to determine in a conversation with an Adventist, how much merit they place on Mrs. White. That's because you can use this as a basis for an argument of the validity of her words. This could be dangerous though, because many SDA revere Mrs. White as much as the Mormon revere Joseph Smith, or as Catholics revere the Pope. The main thing you should remember is that all (if not most) of their secondary doctrine comes from her writings, so be prepared to question her authenticity. They should hopefully allow you to have this right (1Joh 4:1).
In general, she seemed to be a devote Christian, where some of her writings may seem on target. But there are also many of her writings and doctrine that was and is way off base. Scriptures note that when someone comes along purporting to be a Prophet, that we should test their words (Duet 18:21-22, 13:1-5/1Joh 4:1). If their words are not correct or don't line up with scriptures 100% then we reject that persons words (vs. 21). Let's take a look at these words and other issues as we enter our next section.
Believe (Doctrine) -
As noted, beside the key orthodox doctrine SDA have, they also have many other minor or secondary doctrinal beliefs. If you can begin to think in a legalism (works) mind-set, then you'll be in the realm of how they primarily think. Contemplate where you have to "work" or "do" something in order to please God, or elicit His favor. What will surprise you most about Adventist is that they feel they are not legalistic in any way or form. They look at the Roman Catholics as the main evil and bearer of legalism in the world today. They, in fact, believe that they are in (and doing) Gods will (His commandments), and that you are not. The Sabbath and/or the ten (10) commandments is their key foundation and fixation. Adventist therefore have very strong roots in most of the Old Testament, but their favorite books of all the Bible are Daniel and Revelations (Revelations, because it has a lot of "Daniel" type traits.) So it would be wise to study up on these books in order to get an idea of where they're coming from. The main thing to keep in mind when dealing with Daniel and Revelations is that they are very prophecy oriented. Meaning, you can sometimes not get a clear message of the interpretation of certain scriptures (without the Holy Spirit and context). So you cannot base a whole doctrine on one or two scriptures, which happens to be the case with many cultic groups and SDA.
Here are some of Adventist beliefs (with answers/rebuttal) we will investigate:
One of the main beliefs of the Adventist organization is that they are the one, true, and only "remnant" among all the church denominations (Protestants or otherwise.) They believe this because of the fact that they're the ONLY ones who are truly keeping the commandments - and the only true day of worship (Saturday)
(Answer) - The word "remnant" has a meaning of there being only a small group of true worshippers of God (they being pure), while all others are defiled and unsaved. This type of thinking is "cultic" in itself, being very similar to the what JW's and other cults claim; where they mysteriously received a "special" message from God. This is usually associated with the fact that "they" are the only ones who have this truth. You have to counter this argument as you would with any other cult (i.e. - if they are the only ones who have the truth, then were all the other Christians before Adventist damned or unsaved?) You can also point out that the Adventist are not the only organization on the planet who has the Holy Spirit, or is doing the true works of God (spreading the Gospel). Jesus referred to his church as his "body" (Matt 26:26). And just as Paul noted to the Church of Corith (1Cor 12:14-27); is the arm separate from the shoulder, or the legs from the torso? Surely these scriptures are not referring to only the Adventist as being Jesus' whole body! It would not even refer to only one of the body parts being saved; where only the "big toe" Adventist are the saved remnant, and all of the rest of the body (who worship on Sunday) being damned.
(Rebuttal) - Adventist will claim that all Christians in the origin of church history had indeed worshipped on the Sabbath. They'll note that Jesus, Paul (Luke 4:16/Act 13:14-44) and others worshipped on the Sabbath, and it was only until the church of Rome (and finally the Catholic church) began to change the day from Saturday to Sunday. You can counter that Jesus and Paul did attend the Sabbath day observances, but it was primarily to bring the gospel and witness to the Jews. This was as per the words of Jesus, that the gospel be given first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles (Acts 1:8/Rom 2:9, 10). You can also point out that many in the early church were "Jewish" and were required by birth to keep many of the laws. That looking at all the Sabbath references of the Old and New Testaments, none of the scriptures (in context) prove 100% that Gentiles should keep the Sabbath. That is unless, they chose to be Jewish convert proselytes. Then there is the issue of whether SDA are speaking of a remnant, where they are in place of Gods chosen people - the Jews. Adventist will say that the Jews were [past tense] Gods people (or remnant) in the Old Testament, but since the Jews rejected Jesus then this is no longer true. There are many mainline denominations that agree with this argument. Scripture, whether in the Old or New Testaments (Jer 46:28,31:37/Psa 94:14) tells an entirely different story. God says that:
"Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night ....... If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the LORD, 'Then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever. Thus says the LORD: 'If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done,' says the LORD." (Jer 31:35 - 37, emphasis added)
The scripture here is very clear, only if the sun or moon cease will God forsake the Jews. The fantasy of SDA being Gods new remnant is further dispelled by Paul in Romans chapter 11. This chapter in Romans is the New Testament proof that God has not (nor will He) totally reject Israel. And if Israel is still Gods people in some sense, then there is no basis whatsoever of and for the remnant doctrine as they interpret it.
(Scripture References) - 1Cor 12:14-27/Rom 2:9, 10/ Matt 26:26/Rom 11:1[key]
The Adventist organization teaches that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are indeed still active, but only to a certain extent (not all being relevant.) In other words, they accept gifts, such as: prophecy, teaching, preaching, healings and most of the main gifts, but do not accept the gifts of tongues. Depending on the location or church, a majority of SDA give healings "token" attention, and give more credence to prophecy. When I say they give more credence to prophecy, I do not mean that they prophesy or "exercise" the gift in church. What I mean is that they recognize that gift (prophecy) as being relevant due to Mrs. Whites exercise of that gift. This is in regards to (again) the Joel 2:28-32 prophecy, which strangely only applies to Mrs. White over the centuries. In other words, SDA accept the gifts as per Joel 2:28-32, but primarily in the capacity of Mrs. White (no one since her has exercised the gifts to the extent, or as well as her.)
(Answer) - There are many issues here about the gifts that might take many pages to resolve (as pertains to SDA). I will concentrate on two (2) main areas of consideration:
1) Was the SDA church specifically the only ones who received these gifts of Joel 2
2) Is there some gifts that are active, and others which have ceased.
Adventist won't specifically say that they are the only ones who have received gifts. Certainly they will agree that early on, at Pentecost, many of the gifts were manifested in the church. But at the point that Mrs. White came on the scene they will most certainly imply that the gifts were primarily manifested in the Adventist church (from the "remnant" doctrine), and more specifically, with Mrs. White. You can then remind the Adventist by noting the Joel prophecy notes a plural, "...... your daughter(s) shall prophesy."
Then there is the issue of whether certain gifts are relevant. Adventist claim that the gift of tongues have ceased by the scripture which notes, "....... whether there are tongues, they will cease, ........ But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away." (1Cor 8-10, emphasis added)
They note that the "perfect" in this scripture is the closing of the canon (when the book of Revelations was completed) being the event spoken of in that scripture. There is not a consensus on this scripture among scholars. Many of them say that the "perfect" spoken of there is the canon, but many more believe that it is speaking of Jesus Christ himself (vs. 12 verifying this). That when Jesus returns, not only will tongues be eliminated, but all gifts will be done away with. This is because there will no longer be a need for them. The primary purpose for the gifts was to spread and communicate the gospel, when Jesus returns there will no longer be that need (the object of the gospel will be here.) There are many fine books on the "gifts of the Spirit" that will further explain this subject, and in a more in-depth manner. So it is advised that you study this matter (reading other material) in more detail to better understand it.
(Rebuttal) - Adventist will counter that their Mrs. White was/is the Prophet of our time, and gave accurate prophecies for the last day's. It is at this point you will have to take on (head on) the issue of whether Mrs. White is and/or was what they say she was. So the main thrust of the rebuttal will depend on if Mrs. White was indeed a Prophetess (as measured and verified by scripture.) This will be explored more in the next few sections.
(Scripture References) - Joel 2:28-32/1Cor 8-10
When Jesus did not return in 1844/45 Adventist came up with a doctrine as to why he didn't return. This doctrine is called the "Investigative Judgment." It claims that Jesus did not physically return, but that "something" nevertheless happened on that Oct. 25th, 1844 day. What happened was that Jesus got up from the right hand of the Father, entered the Holy place (of the temple in heaven), then went into the Holy of Holies to begin a new task. In the Holy of Holies Jesus would begin an investigation of all sins done by mankind and believers. If you kept the commandments then you would be found worthy to enter into heaven (when you died). If you were found unworthy then you would be judged and cast into hell. This doctrine was very prominently endorsed by Mrs. White as being true from God (as per a special vision she verified), along with another man by the name of E. Haran. The vision had originated from Mr. Haran (who never claimed to be a Prophet), but it was Mrs. White who had verified, interpreted, and expanded on the vision.
(Answer) - While this doctrine is not prominently spoken of today, it is still "on the books" and has never been officially denounced. Since Mrs. White was claimed to be a Prophet of God, we must first determine whether this doctrine is scriptural. There are over sixteen (16) scriptures which clearly refer to Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55, Rom 8:34, Heb 10:12, etc.). Is there one scripture in the entire Bible that notes a movement from the Fathers side? Yes, but not as Adventist claim it. There is the very strong reference (Psa 110:1, Heb 1:13) which notes Jesus would not move from the side of the Father, or would be at His right hand "till" (or until) He make his enemies his footstool. Was this act of God making His enemies his footstool in 1844? - No!, this act (of defeating his enemies) will not be accomplished until Rev 19:11-21, or Jesus second coming - when ALL EYES will behold him (i.e. - it will not be invisible). That being the case, it would seem to indicate that Mrs. White vision was either limited to just herself, or, it was wrong - making her a false Prophet. The latter would be more the case since her vision DOES NOT in any way conform to or line up with scriptures.
(Rebuttal) - Most Adventist will not have a rebuttal to this, because so few even know of it (the few who have read Mrs. Whites book, "The Great Controversy.") But even though they may know about it, they may consider it so "vague" as to not want to argue about it. Do not let them squirm their way out of this issue - error is error. And just as you would point out error to a Mormon about Joseph Smith, or to a JW about the Watch tower, you must press the same issue here. If Mrs. White was really a true Prophet of God then why did she make this mistake? - then again, why has the SDA organization never officially denounced the doctrine? The same reason could be given as to why the Catholics don't denounce the inquisitions - it (as with the Adventist) would be a great embarrassment. The key reason why you'll want to do this method, of "humanizing" Mrs. White, is to show that she was NOT perfect, nor was she a "lesser light." (as they would say). This process will lead into breaking down other issues that Mrs. White gave "prophecies" concerning.
(Scripture References) - Acts 7:55, Rom 8:34, Heb 10:12, Psa 110:1, Heb 1:13, Rev 19:11-21
Adventist believe that Ellen G. White is a true Prophet of God who had the "Spirit of Prophecy" (as they would say) for these last days. That her words are the "lesser light" as comparable to scriptures, and that she was a Prophet in the truest sense of the Bible.
(Answer) - It is not for anyone to judge one personally, but only by what the scriptures say. Scriptures note that when someone claims to be a Prophet then you are obligated to thoroughly "test" their words. If their words do not line up 100% with scriptures, then that person is to be deemed a false Prophet. When a person is found to be a false Prophet then you are not only to reject their word, but to shun them (they were even stoned in the Old Testament times.) Some of Mrs. White writings are orthodox, but many more are not so orthodox. Some of these more non-orthodox doctrines have to do with issues, such as: the investigative judgment, sanctification by the law, salvation by Sabbath keeping, vegetarianism, and many other legalistic beliefs. Many of these legalistic beliefs are from the Old Testament ceremonial laws (which the Adventist claim was annulled, but they nevertheless still selectively observe - being a law enigma of sorts.) You can remind the Adventist of Mrs. Whites error (especially with her verification of the failed Miller predictions, and later with the investigative judgment).
(Rebuttal) - Adventist will counter that Mrs. White was indeed a true Prophet of God because she had the "Spirit of Prophecy", and correctly predicted the present problem with meats (i.e. - mad cow disease, etc.) You can then remind the Adventist that there was only ONE who specifically had the "Spirit of Prophecy", and scripture points that person out very clearly (read Rev 19:10). That Prophets of God don't endorse errors, and will predict future events much more significant than whether "foods" are good for you or not. The coup de grace of any argument concerning Mrs. White is whether SDA have full confidence in her words. In other words, if they really believe she is true, and that her picture should be placed side-by-side with the other great Prophets, then why do they not make a new Bible? A Bible (like what the Mormons and JW's have made) with Mrs. Whites own section and "book." In all of the Holy scriptures there is no such term or concept as a "lesser light", nor was there any prediction or prophecy of any such a concept! In the end, show Adventist the errors from scripture Mrs. White has made, and how they must choose either the Bible or Mrs. White. Also show them that it is Jesus who is not only referred to in scripture as our savior and redeemer, but is also touted as our great Prophet (Joh 6:14, Deut 18:15, etc.) above all Prophets. It is noted of that "last day" Prophet in Deut 18:15, that it is "Him" whom we should heed and obey (not Mrs. White). In fact, it is noted that God the Fathers primary goal and plan was to speak of His son through and by the Prophets (Heb 1:1, 2), and that His son would speak a message himself that we should heed (again, Deut 18;15). It is strongly noted that in the "last days" (vs. 2) Gods central and most important message would be His son. On the other hand, you have Adventist proclaiming "other" messages (already mentioned above), which they say are true "last day" prophecies from God. Is scripture true, or Adventist doctrine? No!, the true truth is that JESUS is the utmost message that we should be concerned with. Everything else is worthless, vain, and "chop liver" compared to the awesomeness and supremeness of the son of God. Jesus should be our all in all, and NOT one among many, as would be with Adventist doctrine - which makes for an implied divided loyalty between Christ and other things (e.g. - the law, vegetarianism, etc., etc.)
(Scripture References) - Rev 19:10/Joh 6:14/Deut 18:15
Adventist may believe that you are saved by grace, but that you are also obligated to keep the law in order to be completely saved to the end. They are true Armenianist in the truest sense of the word. So that it is possible to lose your salvation if and when you sin, and/or do not keep the commandments (i.e. - sanctification by works).
(Answer) - While you may not be able to answer or argue the Armenian issue (this is still hotly disputed among noted Christians), you can most certainly argue the law issue. Most of that issue was covered in the prior report. But the main thrust of the issue is whether the law is still active. The law is most certainly still valid, so it is wise to concede this part of the issue. What is not true is whether we Gentiles are obliged to keep it. You can argue from three main standpoints: 1) That we Christians have liberty (Gal 5:1,13), 2) The law has another purpose (Gal 3:24), and we should not judge by the law (Col 2:16), 3) The law was improved on, and that improvement was Jesus and the Holy Spirit - these (with grace) are a much more holy (2Cor 3:5-11) representation from God than the law.
(Rebuttal) - The Adventist will try to dispute those scripture by saying: 1) No liberty is greater than the law (Mat 22:36), that obedience should be number one, 2) That the "no judging" scripture in Col 2:16 is only speaking of the "ceremonial law" and not of the ten commandments, and 3) That grace does not annul the law (Psa 89:34). They won't be able to handle the last part of the answer (i.e. - improvement by the Jesus, grace and the Holy Spirit), and will most likely just switch off and/or traverse to another issue. This is very similar to what JW's and other cults do whenever they run into a brick wall (truth). The "other" issue that they'll usually fall back on is that of the Catholic "beast." They will claim that you're worshipping on the day of the beast - Sunday. Besides the law issue itself, they will attempt to hammer you with the Sabbath issue. It will basically sound like a "broken record", where they will go back-n-forth between the Sabbath and commandment argument (i.e. - "if you love him [Jesus] you will keep them!") When they get on this argument then hopefully you can convince them with the evidence about a "day" in the last report (sections F through H). The one strong issue that you can successfully debate the Adventist concerning the law is the issue with the ceremonial law; this is what I call "the law paradox." SDA will usually willingly agree that ceremonial laws were abolished at the cross of Christ. But that agreement is only a surface acceptance. In other words, Adventist will say that the ceremonial law is dead, but they readily keep many of the ceremonial type laws, such as: no wearing of jewelry (in the sanctuary), no makeup for women, no dancing or cinema entertainment, strict inherence of tithing and offerings, no long hair permitted on men, no unclean meats (if they are not vegetarians), etc. While these rules are not universally held by all Adventist churches, or even on the individual level, they are nevertheless still recognized as a sign of a higher righteousness. Most of these beliefs are either from SDA tradition, or from Mrs. Whites writings. You can therefore inquire whether a Adventist keeps any of these rules, and ask them why there is this contradiction of keeping certain aspects of the ceremonial law (since it was supposedly abolished.) They will counter that these observances are a measure of being separate from the world (Jam 4:4). You can then counter that Jesus, nor the apostles, gave any word or indication of keeping any of the ceremonial observances; but that we should recognize the inward, the spiritual, and/or the heart. Numerous scriptures also clearly note that there is righteousness only in, by, with, and from Jesus Christ (Gal 2:21/Rom 3:22/2Cor 5:21/etc., etc.) And as far as "separation" from the world is concerned, only the Quakers can truly come close to laying claim to that feat.
(Scripture References) - Col 2:16, 2Cor 3:5-11, Gal 5:1-13, Mat 22:36, Psa 89:34.
Adventist don't believe in an eternal hell. This is because God is too "loving" to torture anyone for an eternity (1Joh 4:8,16). But that the unsaved will be "burnt up." It is much like how you would burn up a piece of meat on a grill, where if you left it on for too long it would burn to a "crisp." They get this concept primarily from Mal 4:1-3, where it notes that the wicked will be "burnt up."
(Answer) - While it is true that God is indeed a loving God, He is also a "just" God who is obligated by his nature to punish sin. Hell was not created for man, but for the Devil and his angels (Matt 25:41). Those who choose to blatantly sin and follow Satans path of rebellion will receive the same consequences as Satan. Scripture notes that this punishment will be an eternal "forever and ever" burning hell. The primary evidence of an eternal hell is in three main proofs: 1) Jesus notes (Mark 9:44-48) that this will be a place that neither worm will not die, or the fire be quenched, 2) Jesus also gave a story (Luke 16:19-31) that clearly verifies the presence and perils of hell, 3) The hell and lake of fire accounts clearly point to an eternal hell.
(Rebuttal) - Adventist will counter that: 1) That the worm may never die, but there is no mention of man being in that same state; the fire may also be eternal but that it's no indication of man being in that flame forever, 2) That the story in Luke 16:19-31 is in fact a parable only, so is not to be considered as a factual "real life" incident, 3) The "forever and ever" statement of Revelations doesn't really mean an eternal "forever and ever" state. And that is proved by other scriptures (most notably in Mal 4:1-3). This last argument is the most frustrating because forever and ever should mean forever and ever. The key method to counter this argument is by logic, and by language. The logic of "sequence" of events should be the first proof, as seen in Revelations. In Rev 19:20 it notes that the Beast and false Prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire. This event is before the 1,000 year millennium and imprisonment of Satan; it is also before the great white throne judgment in Rev 20:11-15. When Satan is released after the 1,000 years, he rebels, and is judged; it notes that he is cast into the lake of fire, "where the beast and false Prophet is" (i.e. - they are STILL there, not burnt up as Adventist theology would claim.) The other major proof is in the original language itself, where the forever and ever statement in Rev 20:10 is from the Greek words "eis aion aion." This "eis aion aion" is the same "eis aion aion" that is over in the next chapter (Rev 22:5) when it is referring to Gods people living with Him forever and ever ("eis aion aion" - same word). At that point, the Adventist will have to choose to believe that hell is not forever and ever (which would mean that our eternity is not certain), or they must choose that hell is indeed eternal (because our eternity is eternal), and that Adventist doctrine is wrong. You can answer and tie the Mal 4:1-3 event to a related event in Rev 20:9 (in the future), where it records that Gods "fire" will come down out of heaven and devour or consume the enemy (this would surely be a place where the people of God would come out the city and be able to walk on the ashes of the enemy.) The bodies of Gods enemies will indeed turn into ashes as noted in Mal 4 - their physical bodies that is. But it is clear to see that those same people are seen again at the end of Rev 20. When it notes that ALL persons [dead] small and great will appear before the throne of Christ (vs. 12, 13). It is assumed that they are in their spiritual (non-fleshly) bodies at this time, and therefore it's not known if spiritual bodies leave ashes when (or if) they burn.
(Scripture References) - 1Joh 4:8,16/Rev 20:10, 11-15/Rev 22:5/ Mal 4:1-3/ Luke 16:19-31/ Mark 9:44-48/ Matt 25:41
Many Christians wonder what will happen at the moment they die. Adventist have a doctrine that says that a persons soul (whether saved or unsaved) will go into a type of "sleep" after death. The body will decay and disintegrate because of the natural decomposition process, but (they believe) the very essence, spirit and soul of that person goes into a immaterial state of reserve [like a suspended "spiritual" animation.] That state of reserve will continue until the last trumpet of God (1Cor 15:52) summons all souls unto judgment. SDA therefore do not believe in an immediate translation to either heaven or hell after a person dies.
(Answer) - There are many other religions who believe in this "soul sleep" type doctrine, even many mainline Protestant denominations are in this category. The reason for this is that there is a number of scriptures that would imply a soul sleep type rationale (1Cor 11:30, 15:51/John 11:11-14/1Thess 5:10). There are over 86 references in the Bible that have to deal with sleep, 28 of them are in the NT, 13 of them deal with this issue.
They are: Mat 9:24, Mar 5:39, Luk 8:52 , Joh 11:11, Joh 11:12, Joh 11:13, Joh 11:14, Act 13:36, 1Co 11:30, 1Co 15:51, 1Th 4:14 and 1Th 5:10.
The NT ones that are more relevant are:
Mat 9:24 - He said to them, "Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping." And they laughed Him to scorn.
Mar 5:39 - When He came in, He said to them, "Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping."
Luk 8:52 - Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, "Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping."
1Co 15:51-52 - Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1Th 4:14 - For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
When Lazarus died Jesus said that he "slept", and that he [Jesus] would go to wake up Lazarus (John 11). Jesus said the same thing about a little girl (i.e. - she was sleeping - Matt 9:24) before he raised her from the dead. Even with all of these scripture proofs for soul sleep many evangelical/fundamentalist Protestants do not accept the position. They will say that scripture also shows the clear position of an immediate heaven/hell transition for the saved/unsaved.
They will stand on the saying of Paul where he notes, "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord."(2Cor 5:8, emphasis added) Paul also notes in Philippians 1:23 his desire to depart and be in the presence of the Lord. His words, "be with Christ" would imply an immediate audience with Christ in heaven. Then there is the parable, that is not a parable (as some would say it). In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus gives the story of two men (Lazarus and the Rich man) who end up in Hades. The illustration would imply an immediate translation into an afterlife. In the case of the two men, evangelicals will say that they went into two (2) compartments of Hades. But after the ascension of Christ, evangelicals will note that Jesus went into Hades (Eph 4:8) and led the captives (believers who died before Christ) from Abraham's bosom into heaven.
(Rebuttal) - As noted from the last section (hell and punishment), Adventist will counter that the Luke 16:19-31 parable is just that - a fictional illustration that has a spiritualized meaning. They will also utilize a scripture from Ecclesiastics which notes, "For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward" (Ecc 9:5) Since the dead know nothing, it is logical (they say) that one is "asleep." Evangelicals will counter that Ecclesiastics list Solomon's humanistic views of mans earthly position, and not the enlightened New Testament view of Christ. This is seen in the fact that Ecc 9:5 notes there is no reward after death, and we know from 1Cor 3:14 that this is not the case. Many scriptures also indicate that Christ is coming with his saints (Jude 1:14/Dan 7:10/Zech 14:5/Rev 19:14).
How can he come with his saints if they are sleeping in the graves? A very strong scripture in 1Thess 4:14 backs this up when it specifically notes, ".... For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus." (emphasis added) Notice that this scripture clearly states that Christ will be bringing his saint with him, further noting these saints are the same ones who "sleep."
Then there is the statement that Jesus made to the thief on the cross, that Jesus would bring him (today) in paradise (Luk 23:43). Surely paradise is speaking of heaven, and the thief would be going there with Jesus (and not some soul sleep.) You can also look at the transfiguration of Jesus, where Moses was seen there at that scene (Matt 17:3). If Moses was in a "sleeping" state then how is it that he can show up here?, did God already resurrect Moses for this occasion? Then there is the situation with Elijah in the Old Testament. There is a situation where Elijah raised a boy from the dead. When the boy came back to life it noted that his SOUL RETURNED TO HIM (1Ki 17:20-22 ). How could his soul return if it was "sleeping" in his body (it would already be there!)
No one really knows for 100% sure what and how this issue is resolved, because no one has been able to come back to verify what is the truth. We will just have to ultimately put this issue in the category of the "Trinity" and other unexplainable issues. In other words, not be too dogmatic either way, and agree to disagree. But soul sleep is definitely the much weaker argument.
Adventist believe in keeping certain Old Testament "clean foods" laws (i.e. - no pork), and many more even believing in consuming no meats - only vegetables (many going further by avoiding no milk products - sometimes called "lacto-vegetarians.") The latter doctrine is derived almost completely from Ellen Whites writings and beliefs. Presently, it takes on a more "health" connotation than it does a spiritual one. This also has the premise that Mrs. White was truly a Prophet, because she foretold that meat would one day be proven unhealthy and milk products also [because of the hormone feed cows].
(Answer) - Adventists will try ardently to pin down the fact that meat is indeed more unhealthy than vegetables (or visa versa). They will "shower" you with recent medical reports, data, and other propaganda that will attempt to convince you of the fact that vegetables are better. One of their favorite tactics is to show you a gruesome video of a meat slaughter house. This is to make you so physically nauseous and ill as to frighten you, and so you won't desire meats any longer. It is a very powerful tool, and not suggested viewing material. The main issue of this argument should not be whether eating a certain food is healthy or not. Our objective as Christians is whether it pleases God or not (Jam 4:15). We should be more concerned whether the issue is spiritual or not (i.e. - it's Gods will), where if it is not spiritual then it is a work that's done in vain (much like what the Pharisees of Jesus day had regularly done - Matt 15:3-9).
(Rebuttal) - Besides the health issue, and Ellen Whites Prophecies, the Adventist will try to spiritualize vegetarianism by noting that eating vegetables was the case with man way back in the beginning (with Adam and Eve - Gen 2:16). They will also attempt to use the book of Daniel to verify vegetarianism for everyone today; where Daniel (Dan 1:8-16) and his associates ate vegetables instead of the kings meats. You can then point out to them that vegetables were indeed given in the "beginning", but that God gave man the option to eat meats at both the Noahic and Mosaic covenants. They will then have to refute your premise as to why God allowed this; could it be that God changed His mind?; or, would it be more logical to assume that it doesn't make any difference to God what type of food you eat. The New Testament would verify and validate this second premise, when you have clear scriptures proclaiming truth, such as:
(1Cor 8:8) - But FOOD does NOT commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.
I would challenge any Adventist (or any person) to interpret this scripture in any other way than it is clearly stated! Then there are numerous other scriptures (Rom 14:3/1Tim 4:3-5/Heb 13:9/etc., etc.) that would support the more accurate position that you can eat whatever you desire (if it's blessed by God.)
Even Jesus noted that we should eat whatever is placed before us (Luk 10:8). Jesus gives no indication that we should refuse meats (in favor of vegetables) if they're placed before us. Surely if vegetables were a major priority of God then Jesus (being God) would have given a command here regarding this issue. He would have also not eaten the fish (a meat) on many occasions: from the feeding of the 5,000 (Mar 6:30), to the second feeding of the 4,000 (Mar 8:1), to his meeting with the apostles after his resurrection (John 21:13/Luk 24:41-43), etc., etc. With that in mind, was Jesus (being God) wrong all of those times that he fed the people meats?, or should he had made the fish into vegetables, if vegetables were a divine priority for man? - the answer is not only obvious, but blatantly clear!
Jesus noted that his "food" was to do the will of the Father - this should be our utmost duty also (John 4:34).
(Scripture References) - Rom 14:3/1Tim 4:3-5/Heb 13:9/1Cor 8:8/Joh 6:27
One doctrine of SDA, accepted in the genesis of their organization, is a belief of a direct correlation between the persons of Jesus Christ and Michael. In other words, whenever there was the appearance of Michael in the Bible, then this was supposedly Jesus in pre-incarnate substance. It is a belief that is very similar to what the JW's believe except with a slightly different twist. That twist is that Adventist will say that Jesus was in the form of Michael, and only as a type of "theophany" (i.e. - a visual manifestation of the presence of God - similar to the "Angel of the Lord" appearances throughout the OT.) The JW's, on the other hand, believe in a more radical view of Jesus - he starting out as an angel and being "promoted" to Godhood in the NT. Either way, there is a big problem with Jesus being Michael (in any sense).
(Answer) - Many mainline Adventist will not see this argument as a major issue. It will depend on how traditional and/or conservative that an Adventist is. If they have a very traditional/conservative thinking then they'll be more inclined to endorse this doctrine. That is because this doctrine also has its roots from Mrs. White and the early SDA church fathers. These more traditional/conservative SDA will make a strong argument to their belief of Michael being Jesus. Their main proof will center around a combination of Michaels Archangel status, and the relationship to the "Angel of the Lord" references throughout the OT. Adventist will therefore counter that because of the status, power, and authority of Michael, that this is indicative of an "Angel of the Lord" type position. They will note even his (Michaels) title and name, "who is like God" is an indicator of Michael being Jesus (i.e. - I mean, "who else in all the Bible is liken unto God", they might say.)
(Rebuttal) - If we had no other proof or scriptures of Michael, other than the few OT passages, then one might be predisposed to assume that Michael does mirror the aspects of Jesus nature (as compared to the "Angel of the Lord"). But Adventist reliance and fixation on the OT is that common problem they have. The OT has a confined view of Michael; the only problem (and a major one) with it would be in those NT scriptures that strongly indicate a limitation on Michaels part (where Jesus, being God, is not limited.) The specific one is noted in Jude 9, when it looks at a confrontation Michael has, and as he is compared to Satan. This is where Michael has to rebuke Satan in the "Lord's" name in a dispute over Moses body. The question is, "Why would Jesus (being Michael also) have to rebuke Satan if he were the Lord?" If you were somebody of authority, then you would not need to rebuke someone else in your own name! This was the case in the gospels, where you NEVER saw Jesus rebuking demons in "the Lord's" name (he did it himself - directly). The second point would be in Michaels war account in Rev 12:7. All throughout the book of Revelations, Jesus is revealed as King, Conqueror, First and last, etc., and NEVER an angel. It is noted that Michael is an Archangel, but Heb 1:1-14 notes that Jesus is above all angels in rank and authority. So unless there is a direct proof Adventist can give that an Archangel is synonymous with the Angel of the Lord then it cannot be said that Michael is Jesus (and visa versa.)
(Scripture References) - Heb 1:14/Jude 9/Rev 12:7
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