The Seventh Day Adventist Church...Christian or Cult?
By Steve Wohlberg

As many Wisconsin Christian News readers know, I have been writing a monthly column for this wonderful paper for many years. As you may or may not know, I am also a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Because Adventists are sometimes derided as being members of a “cult,” I thought I would do my best to set the record straight.

First, before I begin comparing Adventist beliefs with the Bible, I think it is important for you to know that one of the most respected evangelical “cult experts” of all time, the late Walter Martin (1928-1989), firmly believed that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was not a cult. Martin founded the Christian Research Institute in 1960 and is best known for his monumental book, The Kingdom of the Cults.

In the 1950s, Martin began an intense study of “Adventism.” Instead of merely accepting what its critics had to say, he went to the sources and read Adventist literature for himself, carefully comparing it with Scripture. Martin also personally interviewed many Adventist leaders. His conclusions were later publicized in his book, The Truth About Seventh-day Adventists (Zondervan, 1965) which clearly stated that, although he disagreed with Adventists in some areas, Adventists basic acceptance of the authority of the Bible, their firm belief in Jesus Christ as fully God, Lord, and Savior, and their teaching about salvation by grace through faith were solidly in line with the New Testament. “Not so!” a few angry evangelicals retorted; yet Martin steadfastly maintained this view until the day he died. Before his death, Walter Martin also received medical treatment at Weimar Institute - an Adventist Health Center in Northern California. “Seventh-day Adventists are real Christians!” was his final verdict.

As an ordained Seventh-day Adventist minister with a B.A. degree in Theology from La Sierra College, a Master of Divinity degree from our theological seminary in Michigan, and with many years of pastoral and evangelistic experience under my belt, I feel fully qualified to represent my church and its teachings. As you can imagine - and I realize that this is the debatable issue - I truly believe that the Adventist church’s fundamental doctrines are solidly biblical in every way. If I didn’t, I would quickly exit this organization in search of another church. Am I wrong, or right? In Parts 1 and 2 of this mini-series, I will list our core doctrines (including some of the most controversial ones), with supporting Bible texts. As you examine them, one by one, you can decide for yourself. Ultimately, what you or I think is not the most important thing. Rather, it is what God thinks and what He says. May we each seek to please Him in all things, no matter the cost.

Whatever you’ve heard, this is what Seventh-day Adventists actually believe:

• Both the Old and New Testaments are fully inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16).

• The entire Bible points to Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven (John 3:16; 5:39; 14:6).

• Jesus Christ is fully God (John 1:1-3) and fully Man (John 1:14; 1 Tim. 2:9).

• On the cross, Jesus Christ died for “the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). This is the “gospel” (1 Cor. 15:3).

• Personal salvation comes through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone (Acts 20:21; Romans 6:23), not through human effort, works, or the “deeds of the law” (Eph. 2:8; Rom. 3:20).

• Believers should be baptized by immersion as a testimony of their faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:4).

• Jesus Christ will return a second time in power and great glory, with all the holy angels, and “every eye will see Him” (John 14:1-3; Matthew 24:30,31; Rev. 1:7).

So far these doctrines are pretty basic, don’t you think? Whatever church or denomination you attend, I hope you agree with these teachings - at least so far. Walter Martin did. Whatever you may have heard, the simple fact is that Seventh-day Adventists really are Christians who believe in the Bible, in Jesus Christ, in His death, burial, and resurrection, in Bible baptism, and in “the blessed hope” (see Titus 2:13) of His return.

Now let’s look move on to some of the more controversial teachings:

The eternal validity of the Ten Commandments. Adventists believe that even though we are not saved by the law, or justified by the law, nevertheless the Ten Commandments remain in full force in New Testament times. In Ephesians 2:8, Paul states that we are not saved by works, yet in chapter 6 of the same book he tells Christian kids to obey the 5th commandment stating, “Honor your father and your mother” (Eph. 6:2). Thus to Paul, the Ten Commandments still stand. Other New Testament verses clearly teach the eternal validity of the Big Ten, such as Romans 3:31; 7:7,12; James 2:10-12, 1 John 3:4, and Revelation 14:12. Most Christians should agree with this. Billy Graham did. Commandments like “Do not murder” (#6), “Do not commit adultery” (#7), “Do not bow down to graven images” (#2), “Do not steal” (#8), “Do not lie” (#9), and “Do not covet” (#10) have universal appeal. For the record, Adventists believe that obedience to the Ten Commandments is the “fruit” (not the “root”) of their “faith” in Jesus Christ as Savior. This is solid New Testament teaching.

Next comes probably the most controversial doctrine of all (but it actually flows logically from the previous point above), and it is this:

The Fourth Commandment, which states, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy…the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord” (Exodus 20:8-10), should also be obeyed. Scripture evidence shows that “the seventh day” falls on Saturday, not Sunday, which is “the first day of the week” (see Matthew 28:1,2). Even after the cross, Christians “rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56). In the book of Acts, the Sabbath is mentioned 11 times (see Acts 13:42-44; 16:13; 18:4), whereas “the first day of the week” is mentioned only once, in Acts 20:7, which careful study shows really applied to a Saturday night gathering, not a Sunday morning church service. In a nutshell, because Adventists believe the Ten Commandments still apply today, they also believe in keeping the Fourth Commandment too - not as a means of earning their salvation, but as the “fruit” of their faith in Jesus Christ, who also referred to Himself as “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). Because Seventh-day Adventists keep the Sabbath on Saturday, not Sunday, this makes them different from other Christians. Yet we don’t think this justifies labeling our church a “cult” - do you? We don’t.

• Perhaps the next most controversial belief of Adventists is our understanding of what happens when a person dies. Essentially we believe that:

Just as Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead, so when a man dies he is also dead (literally), and lies unconscious in the grave awaiting the resurrection. In other words, we don’t believe in the “immortal soul” idea. Instead, we believe “immortality” is granted on Resurrection Day (see 1 Cor. 15:51-55) to believers in Jesus Christ. The Bible says that right now God “alone has immortality” (1 Tim. 6:16), whereas sinful man is “mortal” (1 Cor. 15:53). When a person dies, “the dead know nothing” (Eccl. 9:5). To those who believe in Him, Jesus promised, “I will raise him up at the last day” (see John 6:39, 40, 44, 54). Until then we peacefully “sleep in the dust of the earth” (Daniel 12:2) without any pain or awareness of the lapse of time (see also John 11:11-44; Acts 7:60; 1 Cor. 15:51). Death, burial, and resurrection - this is what we believe. We are also well aware that there are a few Bible verses that seem to teach otherwise (like Luke 23:43 and 2 Cor. 5:8); yet nevertheless, we believe that when those verses are studied carefully and compared with the rest of the Bible, they fit - rather than contradict - the rest of God’s word.

• Next issue: Hell. This is a big one, and controversial too. Just to be clear, Adventists do believe in a real, literal, and very fiery hell, yet our understanding of it - at least to us, and to many others - makes much more sense than “the traditional view.” Adventists believe:

• The word “Hades” (translated “hell” in our English Bibles) literally means “the grave” (see 1 Cor. 15:54), whereas “Gehenna” (also translated “hell” in our English Bibles) refers to the apocalyptic “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14) that will totally burn up the wicked at the end of time. The most famous verse in the entire Bible says the lost will “perish” (John 3:16). Paul said. “the wages of sin” is “death” (Romans 6:23). Malachi wrote that on the Day of the Lord the wicked will “be stubble,” shall “burn up” entirely, and become “ashes” (Malachi 4:1-3). Speaking to the devil (the worst offender of all), God Himself predicts, “I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth…never shall you be any more” (Ezek. 28:18,19). In other words, we don’t believe in eternal torment, but in the just judgment of total annihilation from a loving God. As with the topic of death, we know that there are a few Bible verses that seem to teach otherwise (such as Revelation 20:10); but once again, we contend that when those verses are studied carefully they also agree, rather than disagree, with the majority of God’s Book (for example, Rev. 20:10 contains symbolism, whereas the verse right before it, which has no symbolism, says that the lost will be completely “devoured”). The bottom line is that Adventists believe that God is completely “just,” and that when He punishes sin and sinners at the end, He will be perfectly fair in doing it. When He is finished, “the wicked shall be no more” (Ps. 37:10) instead of suffering consciously throughout all eternity.

In Part 2, we will take a closer look at Adventist teaching about the work of Jesus Christ as our High Priest in the heavenly “sanctuary” (see Hebrews 8:1,2), “the investigative judgment” (see Daniel 7:9, 10 and Rev. 14:7), “the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10), and the “mark of the beast.” When we do, I am confident that you will discover that the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of these subjects is biblical, and not heretical.

As I see it, you are now being educated about what Seventh-day Adventists really believe, rather than being misinformed by what our critics say. Significantly, when Paul arrived as a prisoner in Rome he was approached by certain Jews seeking clarification about Christianity. “We desire to hear from you what you think,” these Jews said, “for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:22).

Get it? The early church was also considered a mere “sect.” Not only that, but it was “spoken against everywhere” because of its teachings.

History has a funny way of repeating itself.

To be continued….
“What is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular.”

- Author unknown
“Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?” (John 7:48, NKJV) was the challenge of wily Pharisees who refused to believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. Their basic argument was that because many respected Jewish theologians, rabbis, and scribes refused to accept Jesus as the Promised One, that this was proof that Christ must be wrong. In hindsight, we know it was those Pharisees who were mistaken, not Jesus. Although most readers of Wisconsin Christian News already believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior; nevertheless, the challenge of those Pharisees contains a valuable lesson for us: we should follow God’s Word, even above the strong opinions of respected theologians.

Religious leaders aren’t always right. They are but men.

This is Part 2 of a special series exploring key Seventh-day Adventist doctrines. It’s obvious that respected theologians within the Christian community today have not accepted some Adventist beliefs, but this in itself should not be used as a foolproof argument against them. In matters of faith and truth, majority opinion should never become the decisive factor. The biggest question is: are Adventist doctrines biblical or not?

Before going any further, I want to clarify that my original goal was to make this a two-part series. Yet in the process of writing Part 2, I decided to expand it to three parts in order to cover some subjects more thoroughly. After Part 3 of this series, I’ll shift back to my regular articles.

The Sanctuary: A large percentage of Adventist teachings about “the end times” are rooted in the doctrine of “the sanctuary.” In a nutshell, Adventists believe that after Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, He became our great “High Priest… a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” (Hebrews 8:1,2).

Let’s stop right here. Think about it. How many sermons have you ever heard, or how many books have you read, about Calvary and the resurrection? More than I can count, you might be thinking. Good. Me too. We can never hear enough about Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, or about His being raised from the dead. But what about what Jesus has been doing in heaven for the last two thousand years? Isn’t this important too? The writer of Hebrews certainly thought so, for he devoted four entire chapters (chapters 7-10) to Christ’s heavenly ministry. Jesus is now our great “High Priest,” wrote Paul, “a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”

These are Paul’s words, not mine.

Significantly, the book of Hebrews also states that the original Old Testament Jewish sanctuary was actually “the copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5). This is a key text to Adventists. The words “copy” and “shadow” mean that what happened inside the earthly Jewish temple foreshadowed a heavenly reality. The earthly sanctuary was a “copy” wrote Paul, and a “shadow” of things that Jesus Christ would be doing from the time of His ascension to His Second Coming.

Sounds pretty important, don’t you think?

The ancient Jewish temple, or “sanctuary,” had three primary sections: The courtyard (which surrounded the temple), The Holy Place, and The Most Holy Place. The courtyard contained the altar of burnt offering where animal sacrifices were burnt. That altar pointed forward to the place where Jesus Christ would later die – Calvary, the place of the Skull. The second section, The Holy Place, contained three articles of furniture: the table of bread, the golden candlestick, and the altar of incense.

Significantly, each of these pointed forward to different qualities of our Savior. Jesus is “the bread of life” (John 6:35), “the light of the world” (John 8:12), and our Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25). Thus the earthly “Holy Place” (and its furniture) not only pointed forward to Christ Himself, but also to His ongoing ministry in the sanctuary above after His death and resurrection.

But what about The Most Holy Place? Both the Old and New Testaments are very clear what was inside that room. “The Holiest of All,” wrote Paul in the book of Hebrews, contained a number of items, but the main things were two golden angels resting on top of “the ark of the covenant” inside of which lay “the tablets of the covenant” which were the Ten Commandments (see Heb. 9:3,4; Deut. 10:5). Between the angels, God’s Presence shown forth.

Seriously now, if the earthly sanctuary had two rooms - The Holy Place and The Most Holy Place - and if Paul said in Hebrews that the entire sanctuary was a “copy and shadow of heavenly things,” then doesn’t it make sense that both rooms pointed forward to the work of Jesus Christ in heaven? Yes, it does. It would also make sense that Christ’s Holy Place ministry would tie in with His initial work after His ascension, and that His Most Holy Place ministry would point to His closing work prior to His return. Amazingly, a careful study of the book of Revelation proves this to be the case.

When John first saw his Risen Lord in a vision on the island of Patmos, He saw Him “clothed” in royal “garments” like a priest (see Rev. 1:12). Significantly, Jesus was “walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks” (Rev. 1:13). Although the seven candlesticks represented the seven churches, there is no doubt that this is Holy Place imagery rooted in the sanctuary service. Moving to Revelation 4:5, John again saw “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.” Again, this is Holy Place imagery. At the same moment, John also saw “lightnings, thunderings, and voices.” Remember this detail. John saw three manifestations of God’s power connected to the “seven lamps.”

Four chapters later the book of Revelation advances to the heavenly “golden altar” filled with “incense” (Rev. 8:3). Notice carefully that there John also beheld “voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.” Did you catch that? Now there are four manifestations of God’s power, not three. Three chapters later John is led deeper into the heavenly sanctuary and the signals of God’s power increase. Now don’t miss this. By the time we get to Revelation 11, notice what John sees,

“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament; and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and a great hail” (Revelation 11:19).

To summarize, at “the seven golden lampstands,” John saw three manifestations of God’s power (Rev. 1:12; 4:5); at the golden altar of incense, he saw four (Rev. 8:3-5), and then the curtain is lifted and he is taken into the most sacred room of all where he sees “the ark of His testament” (Rev. 11:19) and five manifestations of God’s power. Thus the book of Revelation points us to Jesus Christ as our great High Priest, and then from The Holy Place to The Most Holy Place.

The last verse in Revelation 12 goes a step further. John wrote:

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17, KJV).

Based on the prophetic sequence that clearly moves from The Holy Place (with its seven lamps of fire and golden altar of incense) to The Most Holy Place (with its ark and Ten Commandments), and because Revelation 12:17 predicts that a “remnant” will develop on earth who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,” Adventists have concluded that in these final days our great “High Priest” is seeking to accomplish four things:

1) To direct the human family to His Most Holy Place ministry in the heavenly sanctuary (Rev. 11:19);

2) To impress everyone with the importance of keeping the Ten Commandments which the Old Testament plainly says were inside “the ark” (Deut. 10:5);

3) To write this law in our hearts and minds (Heb. 10:15-17);

4) To lead people everywhere to trust entirely in His precious blood shed on Calvary that cleanses from all sin (1 John 1:7) .

This will result in the creation of a “remnant” that “keep the commandments of God” (Rev. 12:17) as the fruit of their faith in Jesus Christ alone. Significantly, Revelation 12:17 also predicts that “the dragon,” symbolizing Satan, will make all-out “war” on that “remnant.”

As you ponder these things, let me also stress that the book of Revelation continues advancing in its use of heavenly sanctuary language. In Revelation 15:5,6, John wrote that once again “the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened” and out came seven angels with the seven last plagues. In the next chapter we read, “Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” (Rev. 16:17). Thus “the temple of heaven” is the very center of God’s work. Jesus Christ is there. Revelation points there. Light flashes from there. And Jesus will finally announce, “It is done!” from inside of that temple.

The Investigative Judgment: Continuing to prayerfully analyze the prophetic sequence, Adventists have discovered that closely following “the temple” “ark” “remnant” “commandments of God” sections in Revelation 11 and 12 is a spotlight on “the beast” and its deadly “mark” (see Rev. 13:1-18). This is followed by a solemn warning represented as being proclaimed by three angels with loud voices to “every nation, kindred, tongue and people” (see Rev. 14:6-14) revealing these seven startling truths:

1) The everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ (verse 6);

2) “The hour of His judgment is come” (verse 7);

3) Worship the Creator (verse 7);

4) Babylon has fallen (verse 8);

5) Avoid the beast, its image, and its deadly Mark (verses 9-11);

6) Keep God’s commandments and the faith of Jesus (verse 12);

7) Jesus Christ is coming. Get ready! (verses 14-16).

The question is often asked, why do Adventists believe in an “investigative judgment” before Christ returns? Essentially, the reason is because Revelation 14:7 announces that “the hour of His judgment is come,” that this announcement is to be given all over the world while the gospel is still being preached on earth (verse 6), before and when the mark of the beast is enforced (verses 9-11), and immediately prior to the return of Christ (verses 14-16). Putting these pieces together, Adventists believe that “the hour of His judgment is come” (Rev. 14:7) and that God is now judging the faith and actions of His professed people in all denominations to see who are Jesus Christ’s true followers. For the record, we strongly believe that there are true Christians who are going to heaven in all churches, not just in our church. And in our quest to understand more fully the Three Angel’s Messages, we have concluded that the only way to stand in “the hour of His judgment” (verse 7) is through faith in “the everlasting gospel” (verse 6) which points to what Jesus Christ has already done on the cross. Two thousand years ago, Jesus paid the full price for all of our sins (see 1 Cor. 15:3), and when a person is genuinely “saved by grace” through faith in Him, such a faith will be manifested by “good works” (see Ephesians 2:8-10). In “the hour of His judgment” (which is going on right now), God is examining our “works” to see the genuineness of our “faith.”

For further research about what Adventists believe about the judgment, simply read Daniel 7:9,10; Eccl. 12:13,14; Matthew 12:35-37; John 3:18; Heb. 9:27; 10:30; 1 Peter 4:17; Romans 8:1,4. If it’s in the Bible, we want it, for we seek to base our doctrines on God’s Holy Word above all.

In Part 3 (the conclusion of this series), I will tackle what are perhaps the most controversial Seventh-day Adventist beliefs of all: “the mark of the beast” and the writings of a little Christian lady who lived in the 1800s named “Ellen G. White.”

Once again, for the record, Seventh-day Adventists believe in the Bible as our supreme standard of authority - not any extra-biblical writings, including those of Mrs. White. Based on her own public statements, her calling was to direct people to Jesus Christ and the Bible, not away from it. For your consideration, I will finish Part 2 with this pertinent quote from her pen:

“But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines, and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority, - not one or all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord” in its support.

(The Great Controversy, p. 595).

Personally, I think this is great advice.

I hope you do too.
This is the grand finale of my 3-part series exploring Seventh-day Adventist doctrines. In parts 1 and 2, I have done my best to prove that the Adventist Church is not a cult for the simple reason that its fundamental doctrines teach that the Bible is God’s Book (2 Tim. 3:16), that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully Man (John 1:1-3; 14), that His death on the cross was a perfect sacrifice for our sins (1 Cor. 15:1-3; 1 John 2:2), that He rose from the dead on the third day (Matt. 28:7), that salvation is God’s gracious gift granted to sinners when they repent and have faith in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 6:23; Acts 20:21; Eph. 2:8), and that born again Christians should obey the Ten Commandments by the Holy Spirit’s power (Romans 8:4), not to earn or merit salvation (for this is impossible), but as the evidence or “fruit” of their love for the Savior. Honestly, these are not the doctrines of a cult, but of New Testament Christianity.

It was this realization that prompted the world-famous cult expert Walter Martin (now deceased), in the Appendix of his book, The Kingdom of the Cults, to publicly announce “that Seventh-day Adventism as a denomination is essentially Christian” and that “it is perfectly possible to be a Seventh day Adventist and be a true follower of Jesus Christ.” (1) The reason Martin added such an Appendix to his book was because “for over a century Adventism has borne the stigma of being called a non-Christian cult system” (2). It was his goal to set the record straight.

Thank you Dr. Martin!

The name “Seventh-day Adventist” simply means that we observe “the seventh day” as “the Sabbath of the Lord” (Ex. 20:10) and await the “advent,” or Second Coming of Jesus Christ (John 14:3). The Sabbath points back to the beginning of the world (Gen. 2:1-3), and the “advent” looks ahead to “the end” (Mat. 28:20). The beginning, the Big Ten, Calvary, and the great consummation - this is the heart of what Adventists teach.

With this in mind, its time to discuss what Adventists believe about the Mark of the Beast and the writings of Ellen White. Hold on to your seats. Here we go.

The Mark of the Beast: It’s not easy to summarize such a big subject in one short article, but I’ll do my best. In a nutshell, the Adventist understanding of “the mark” is primarily rooted in a careful study of the Three Angel’s Messages of Revelation 14:6-12 which, as we discovered in Part 2, reveals God’s final message of mercy to humanity before the return of Jesus Christ (verses 14-16). Open your Bible and read Revelation 14:6-12 for yourself. If you do, you will be impressed with the importance, solemnity, and power of these messages.

In Revelation 14: 6-12, these facts are clear: we are urged not to “worship the beast” and receive its “mark” (verse 9), but instead to believe the “gospel” (verse 6), to worship the Creator (verse 7), and to “keep the commandments of God” (verse 12). These truths are right there - in black and white. The logical implication is that those who believe in Jesus, who worship the Creator, and who keep the commandments of God will thereby avoid the mark. Now here’s a shocking fact: the only one of the ten “commandments” that specifically refers to the Creator is the fourth, which states, “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord” (compare Ex. 20:8-11 with Revelation 14:7). Based on this, Adventists believe that the Sabbath will eventually become a global, end-time issue.

About “The Beast.” I realize this is highly controversial, but Adventists believe what Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, and countless Protestant Reformers believed about “the beast” of Revelation 13:1-10. It is a symbol of the Roman Catholic Church. Not the people, per se, but the system. Signficantly, numerous Roman Catholic councils, theologians, books and magazines also claim that the Roman Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. At the climax of the Council of Trent in 1563, in order to meet the growing threat of Martin Luther and the Reformation, Rome not only affirmed this to be so, but also used it as proof of her divine authority above the Bible.

Do a Google search for “Council of Trent, Archbishop of Reggio speech, January 18, 1562, Rome changed the Sabbath to Sunday,” and you can read the evidence for yourself. Essentially, Adventists deny that Rome has such authority.
Back to prophecy. Adventists believe that during Earth’s last great crisis - now pending - that this “mark” of Rome’s authority (Sunday observance) will finally be enforced by legislation around the world as a last ditch effort to bring humanity back to God and to solve the crisis. If you do another Google search for “Sunday laws in Europe” you will discover what is already happening overseas. Ultimately, all Sunday legislation (called “blue laws”) is wrong for two reasons: 1) The Fourth Commandment teaches that “the seventh day” (Saturday) rather than “the first day of the week” (Sunday) is God’s holy day (see Ex. 20:10; Isaiah 58:13; Luke 23:56; 24:1), and 2) Sunday laws seek to enforce religion. Both reasons are flawed. The seventh day is still Saturday, even in the New Testament (see Luke 23:56), and God never uses force to compel obedience. Instead, He woos the heart by the Holy Spirit with an appeal of love. “If you love Me,” Jesus said, “keep my commandments” (compare John 14:15 with Ex. 20:6). This is God’s way.

When Sunday observance is finally enforced globally (all previous European, British, and American “blue laws” are only preliminary), those who believe such legislation is right will get “the mark” (of Rome’s authority) in their foreheads (their minds); while those who don’t, but who act along with it in order to buy or sell, will get the mark in their hands (their actions). In Revelation 14:9-12, God gives this warning: Don’t get the mark, believe the gospel, worship the Creator, and “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (verse 12).

As solemn as Noah’s message, this is Heaven’s last call before the end.

If Adventists are wrong about this, time will tell. Based on our study of Revelation 14:6-12, we think we are right. Essentially, we believe that the final issue is not primarily about technology (most theories see “the mark” as a computer chip), but about Jesus Christ, the Ten Commandments, and a day pointing to the Maker of Heaven and Earth. It’s about faith in the gospel (the root), and total obedience (the fruit). During the final crisis, the “test” of such obedience will be the fourth commandment that God wrote with His own finger on stone (see Ex. 31:18). In the Garden of Eden, the test was two trees. At the end, it will involve two days. In both cases, the key issue was (and will be) faith in God’s Word manifested in loving obedience.

Walter Martin knew Adventists believed this, but he didn’t label the church a “cult” because of it. It’s our interpretation of the Bible, and we’re honest about it. We won’t kill anybody over it, for we don’t believe in force - only in Jesus, in His love, and in obedience. Like I said, if we’re wrong, time will tell; but if we’re right, then you should soberly consider what you are reading, and take the warning seriously.

Ellen White: Perhaps the most controversial Adventist belief of all is our conviction that during the 1800s Jesus Christ Himself called a frail little lady named Ellen G. White to promote Bible truth to the world. Truly, that woman is both loved and hated. A brief Internet search will reveal many websites that attack her ministry, and others staunchly defending her. Before addressing this briefly, let’s return to the Bible. Prophecy states:

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17, KJV).

This is God’s Word. It predicts that there will be a “remnant” that not only “keep[s] the commandments of God” but also has “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” What is this “testimony of Jesus Christ?” The book of Revelation itself supplies the answer: “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).

The New Testament teaches that “the spirit of prophecy” is the biblical gift of prophecy given to certain individuals that Jesus Himself chooses. In Acts 13:1, “certain prophets” had this gift. In Acts 21:10, “a certain prophet named Agabus” did too. In Acts 21:8,9, we read that “Phillip” had “four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.” On the day of Pentecost, Peter confirmed that “in the last days” God Himself would pour out His Spirit on all flesh, and “your sons and daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17). Thus the gift of prophecy can be given to women too. Yes, Jesus did warn about “false prophets” (Matthew 24:11), but we must be on the look out for genuine ones too. How can we tell the difference? Only by testing their words by the Scriptures. If they agree with the Bible, we should listen to them. If not, we should throw them out. We should also keep in mind that throughout Bible days true prophets were often rejected by many of God’s professed people because they rebuked sin and called sinners back to obedience to God’s law (see Jer. 6:19). For this they were often vilified, and even stoned (see Mat. 23:37).

So what about Ellen White? Esssentially, Adventists believe she had a genuine gift that fulfilled God’s prediction that “the spirit of prophecy” would operate among “the remnant.” For the record, we don’t believe her writings are the Bible, are above the Bible, or replace the Bible - no matter what our critics may claim. Not only that, but we believe her writings must be tested by the Bible, agree with the Bible, and point to the Bible. The little lady herself said, “The Written Word is our only safety” (3), and she meant it. Now get ready for a shock. Although Walter Martin didn’t agree with everything Mrs. White wrote, notice his concluding evaluation,

“After reading the publications of the Seventh day Adventist denomination and almost all the writings of Ellen G. White, including her Testimonies, the writer believes that Mrs. White was truly a regenerate Christian woman who loved the Lord Jesus Christ and dedicated herself unstintingly to the task of bearing witness for Him as she felt led…Ellen White was true to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith regarding the salvation of the soul and the believer’s life in Christ…no one can dispute the fact that her writings conform to the most basic principles of the historic gospel, for they most certainly do.” (4).

Anyone who knew Ellen White personally would surely agree. She believed in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and in keeping the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath. She also believed in the Three Angel’s Messages as recorded in Revelation 14:6-12. Above all, she truly loved Jesus as her precious Savior and sought to exalt Him before the world. In her most beloved book, The Desire of Ages (about the life of Jesus), she revealed the passion of her life.

Take a look:

“The spotless Son of God hung upon the cross, His flesh lacerated with stripes; those hands so often reached out in blessing, nailed to the wooden bars; those feet so tireless on ministries of love, spiked to the tree; that royal head pierced by the crown of thorns; those quivering lips shaped to the cry of woe. And all that He endured--the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands, His feet, the agony that racked His frame, and the unutterable anguish that filled His soul at the hiding of His Father's face--speaks to each child of humanity, declaring, It is for thee that the Son of God consents to bear this burden of guilt; for thee He spoils the domain of death, and opens the gates of Paradise. He who stilled the angry waves and walked the foam-capped billows, who made devils tremble and disease flee, who opened blind eyes and called forth the dead to life,--offers Himself upon the cross as a sacrifice, and this from love to thee. He, the Sin Bearer, endures the wrath of divine justice, and for thy sake becomes sin itself.” (5).

Is Adventism cult or Christian? Well, you are free to think what you like, but ultimately, God is the judge, not man. I can tell you this: if an Adventist happens to be your neighbor, and if he or she follows the teaching of our church, you will have a kind, loving, health-conscious Christian living next to you who won’t murder, lie, steal, covet, or sneak around with your spouse. Adventists believe in the Bible and in salvation by the grace of Jesus Christ. Really, we do. We also don’t believe we are the only Christians going to heaven. Far from it! We also long for our Savior’s return to take His children home.

The core of our message is the Ten Commandments, the Second Coming, and the unfathomable love, mercy, and grace of the Crucified and Resurrected One for a lost and dying world.

Really now - what is so bad about that?


Kingdom of the Cults, by Walter Martin. Bethany Fellowship, Inc., Publishers; Minneapolis, Minn. 1965. p. 360.
Lift Him Up, by Ellen White. P. 371.
Kingdom of the Cults, p. 385.
The Desire of Ages, by Ellen White. Pacific Press Publishing Association, Nampa: Idaho. Pages 755-756.