BY LOUIS T. TALBOT, CHANCELLOR
BIBLE INSTITUTE OF LOS ANGELES
Reprinted from The Kings Business, June, 1957
In view of the current controversy occasioned by the recent defense of Seventh-day Adventism by Eternity magazine, I have been endeavoring to put before the readers of The King’s Business a few of the reasons why I believe that this sect is not evangelical.
Only lack of space has prevented the consideration of more than eight erroneous teachings of Seventh-day Adventism, although it is my opinion that it contains many additional unscriptural views. In his excellent booklet entitled, Why You Should Not Be a Seventh-day Adventist, Rev. E. B. Jones, a former missionary of that sect in India, has presented 40 Bible-supported reasons for rejecting its teachings. So in three brief articles, I am barely “scratching the surface” of this subject. However, in spite of the necessarily compressed nature of this series, I trust that the eyes of some may be opened to see how infinitely remote from being evangelical Seventh-day Adventism actually is.
Dr. M. R. DeHaan, distinguished teacher of the Radio Bible class of Grand Rapids, declared: “Modern-day Seventh-day Adventism contains some truth, but it is not the truth. The fact that their errors are covered with a veneer of truth makes it all the more deceptive, subtle and dangerous. What little truth the Seventh-day Adventists teach is cleverly used as a disguise to cover up the many errors in their system. The history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a history of unbroken deception.”(1)
I concur with Dr. DeHaan in these views. Consequently, I am emphatically opposed to the recent attempt of editors of Eternity to put pressure upon evangelicals to approve this sect and to receive its members into full fellowship with Bible-believing churches. Whatever motive prompted these writers to approach the top leaders of Seventh-day Adventism, I do not know; God alone knows the hearts of men. But I do know that their action has brought confusion and harm to the church of Christ and hindered those endeavoring to lead their loved ones and friends out of bondage into the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. I should not wish to answer to God for this excursion in heresy. To my mind, it is nothing short of treason to the gospel cause, a desertion to the side of the enemy which has left aghast many of the children of God.
I have in my files a letter received from one of the most honored evangelicals in this country, who writes:
“This [Eternity espousal of Seventh-day Adventism] is probably the greatest shock I have received in my 35 years of ministry. I cannot conceive of any Bible-taught believers going overboard and not detecting the subtle deception which has been characteristic of the Seventh-day Adventist movement ever since its inception. One ought to know by this time that all of their Adventist leaders’ talks are nothing but the common practice of baiting the hook with pure truth, and then after they [the unwary] are hooked, dumping them into the creel of their numerous errors and vagaries. Surely these are the last days and it makes us tremble and cry unto God to keep us steady and give us a spirit of discernment that we too may not be deceived. Until I have seen a flat, outright, unquestionable repudiation of the many false doctrines of Adventism, and issued officially by the denomination itself, I shall not believe one word of their pious talk.”
This is my view as well. We can only pray that Satan, as he frequently does, may overstep himself in this instance. Let us ask God that all of this controversy and accompanying publicity may be used to draw the attention of believers to the dangers of this sect and to put them on the alert. This stimulus to the propagandizers and proselyters is responsible for new penetration into churches, young people’s organizations and mission fields where, as always, Seventh-day Adventism is working havoc.
This sect has many faces. One of its most attractive is that of the Voice of Prophecy radio broadcast which operated for years without identification of any kind and, since no mention was ever made by its sponsors of the broadcast’s underlying heresies, was often mistaken for an evangelical program. Had the Seventh-day Adventist teachings of the sanctuary, investigative judgment, Sabbath-keeping, annihilation, soul sleep and their Christ-defaming scapegoat-Satan error, been propagated, this artful radio broadcast never would have built up its vast listening audience.
To illustrate how misleading this program is, the other day I was listening to it and the speaker in bland tones referred to “the blood that covers all our sins.” I wondered how many listeners were aware that Seventh-day Adventists have no assurance whatever that their sins are washed away when they take upon themselves the name of Christ. They cannot be certain they are saved until the so-called “investigative judgment” in the supposed “sanctuary” is completed.
In this regard Mrs. White declared: “It is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which their cases are to be investigated….At the time appointed for the judgment—the close of the 2300 days, in 1844—began the work of investigation and blotting out of sins. All who have ever taken upon themselves the name of Christ must pass its searching scrutiny” (The Great Controversy, pp. 485, 486). She also wrote: “Those who accept the Savior, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or feel that they are saved. This is misleading….Those who accept Christ, and in their first confidence say, I am saved, are in danger of trusting to themselves” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 155). So that back of the lovely phrases piously used by the Voice of Prophecy speaker lie these ugly heresies, and this alluring “front” is but a trap for the untaught.
Heresies covered in previous articles
In the [first] issue we considered briefly the Seventh-day Adventist teaching that Christ, our holy Savior, was born with a “sinful” nature—a nature which, in the blasphemous language employed by a former writer of an official Seventh-day Adventist publication, The Signs of the Times, was defiled by “inherited meanness,” and that “bad blood” flowed in His veins!
The Scriptures teach that the humanity of Christ was as spotless as His deity. Whether in heaven or on earth, there was no change in His nature; He was from eternity to eternity, “…holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26). He bore our sins “in his own body on the tree,” not in His nature. Dr. I. M. Haldeman(2) rightly declared: “He [Christ] was begotten of God from the seed of the woman, by and through the Holy Ghost. That which was begotten was not a person but a nature—a human nature. This human nature was holy; Scripture calls it that holy thing. It was the holiness produced by and out of God. Since its quality was the holiness of God, there was no sin in it, and no possible tendency to sin. This holy, sinless human nature was indissolubly joined to the eternal personality of the Son.” The Seventh-day Adventists have dragged the Lord Jesus Christ down to the level of unregenerate man in their denial of the impeccability of this Holy One.
In the [last] issue we attempted to explain the fantastic, man-devised, Satanically-inspired Seventh-day Adventist teachings of the sanctuary, investigative judgment, unfinished atonement and the scapegoat-Satan error. We allowed the Seventh-day Adventist authors to state these gospel-conflicting views which came into being as an emergency measure to cover the embarrassment suffered by the sect’s founders when the prediction of William Miller, Adventists’ spiritual progenitor, that Christ would return in 1844 failed of fulfillment. Since there are no Scriptures to support these doctrines, they must be repudiated by anyone who relies upon God’s Word and who calls himself evangelical. The editors of Eternity themselves reject these views but defend those who teach them! I consider this position untenable and inconsistent.
The Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath
Now we come to a consideration of the favorite—or at least, the most zealously advocated—teaching of the Seventh-day Adventists. I refer to “the Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath.” I call it that because it certainly is not a New Testament or Christian doctrine. In Seventh-day Adventism this so-called “truth” ranks in importance second only to its sanctuary teaching and is the very heart of that legalistic system.
Dr. J. B. Rowell wisely observes: “It is not likely that many Seventh-day Adventists know all the steps in the strange development of this Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, nor how many confessed mistakes in the interpretation of Scripture were made. However, it is well that they should know that it was their unscriptural teaching regarding the heavenly sanctuary, and Satan being the sin-bearer, which led to the emphasis on the Sabbath. I quote directly from their standard work The Great Controversy….’In the very bosom of the Decalogue is the fourth commandment, as it was first proclaimed: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”….None could fail to see that if the earthly sanctuary was a figure or pattern of the heavenly, the Law deposited in the ark on earth was an exact transcript of the Law in the ark in heaven: and that an acceptance of the truth concerning the heavenly sanctuary involved an acknowledgment of the claims of God’s Law, and obligation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment….The work of judgment which began in 1844 must continue until the cases of all are decided. In order to be prepared for judgment, it is necessary that men should keep the law of God‘ (pp. 435, 435—italics mine). The Seventh-day Adventists, by their legalistic teachings regarding the Law and the Sabbath, practically deny the doctrine of salvation by the free gift of God, and go in direct opposition to the Epistle to the Galatians.”(3)
Where is the Emphasis?
Early this year I was conducting meetings in the Central Presbyterian Church of St. Petersburg, Fla., when to my surprise, upon opening the local newspaper one morning I was greeted with a half-page advertisement appearing in the section reserved for church announcements for the forthcoming Sunday. In a condensed form we are reproducing that ad.
Immediately I cut out one of these advertisements and sent it to the editors of Eternity with the following comments, in substance, if not in these exact words:
“The enclosed announcement appeared in the St. Petersburg paper this morning. You contend that the Seventh-day Adventists believe in the deity of Christ and other truths of the Word, but it is very evident from the enclosed that this is not where their emphasis is. It is upon the keeping of the Sabbath day.
“Please note 1) The claim that the Seventh-day Adventists have turned one million Christians from worshiping on the first day of the week to the seventh day. They have reason to boast, for this is the objective of their message. 2) This meeting was not held on the seventh day, but on Sunday in order to catch untaught Baptists, Presbyterians and those of other denominations. 3) It is sponsored by ‘Adventist churches’. Where is the Seventh-day designation? You and I are both ‘Adventists’ if by that is meant belief in the second coming of Christ. A number of good, sound ‘Advent’ magazines come to my desk but they are not Seventh-day Adventist. This too is misleading. If the million Sabbath-keepers increase to two million, the Seventh-day Adventists will be greatly in your debt.”
I received no reply.
The pastor of the church in which I was ministering sent a stenographer to this widely-publicized service and she took down the message verbatim. It is an understatement to remark that the report was most enlightening! One of the things that struck me most was the way in which the Seventh-day Adventist “evangelist” introduced the subject. Said he: “This evening we shall take into consideration why it is that most of the Christian people of the world are keeping Sunday. In the language of Deuteronomy 30:19: ‘I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.’ Friends, it is a life and death matter we have before us this evening, because it deals with one of the Ten Commandments by which we shall be judged.”
This “life and death matter”—the Adventists’ belief as universally held by them that Sabbath-keeping is essential to salvation—was not the question of receiving or rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior, but of making a decision with regard to one’s observance of the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath! I understand that this kind of meeting is by no means an isolated case, but it came to my personal attention as an illustration of the emphasis upon law and Sabbath-keeping as being vital to the salvation of the soul, which characterizes Seventh-day Adventism all the time, everywhere and without which there would be no Seventh-day Adventism at all.
Since I have been writing these articles, my mail has been flooded with Seventh-day Adventist literature. In one day I picked up from my desk a handful of pamphlets bearing these titles: Has the Sabbath Been Lost? The Blessing is the Sabbath, The Sabbath Man Made, Is the Sabbath Vital?, The Sabbath Christ Made, Breaking One Means Breaking Ten, How Sunday-Keeping Started, Remember the Sabbath Day, and God’s Sabbath-Keeping Church Today. One and all of these publications are of Seventh-day Adventist origin. Do you wonder, friends, that I have concluded that the Seventh-day Adventists’ regard for the Jewish Sabbath virtually amounts to the worship of a day instead of a Person? Never once in all the Scriptures did the Lord Jesus Christ command the observance of a day. There is, however, a plain and most important commandment given to the Christians in the New Testament. It is found in 1 John 3:23 and it has no reference to the seventh day or to any day. It is written: “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”
Origin of “the Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath”
As O. R. L. Crosier (with Edson and Hahn) was responsible for actually formulating the Adventists’ sanctuary teaching (afterwards repudiating it and Seventh-day Adventism as well), it was Joseph Bates, a former sea captain, who was principally responsible for adding the seventh-day Sabbath doctrine to the Adventist creed. His influence and support launched Elder James White and his youthful wife Ellen upon their respective careers as leaders of the sect. Bates was also mainly accountable for the sect’s formerly held error, “shut door,” or belief that probation for the world ended on October 22, 1844.
In five years this crude fallacy was abandoned by both Bates and the Whites, but the Sabbath teaching grew in power. Influenced by a book of Preble’s entitled, The Hope of Israel, Bates wrote a tract of 48 pages entitled, The Seventh-day Sabbath, a Perpetual Sign, which in substance contains the views on the seventh-day Sabbath as held by the Adventists at the present time—that the Sabbath was in force from the creation, that it was ratified at Mt. Sinai, that the papacy as “the little horn” of Daniel 7 “changed the day,” and that “the third angel’s message” (Rev. 14:9-11) requires that the ten commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath precept, be obeyed.
Subsequently, Bates wrote another tract, The Seal of the Living God, attested by Ellen White who declared, “The seal is the Sabbath.”A more ambitious work, History of the Sabbath and of the First Day of the Week, by J. N. Andrews, followed. Mrs. White confirmed Bates’ views with her “vision” of April 7, 1847, which we reproduced in our [last] issue. Claiming to be taken to heaven by an angel, she there supposedly “saw” the ten commandments with the other memorials of Israel’s history in the ark.
Of the fourth commandment she writes: “The fourth [the Sabbath commandment] shone above them all; for the Sabbath was set apart to be kept in honor of God’s holy name. The holy Sabbath looked glorious—a halo of glory was all around it. I saw that the Sabbath was not nailed to the cross….I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question to unite the hearts of God’s dear waiting saints. And if one believed, and kept the Sabbath, and received the blessing attending it, and then gave it up, and broke the holy commandment, they would shut the gates of the Holy City against themselves, as sure as there was a God in heaven above”(A Word to the Little Flock, one of the earliest Adventist publications. Italics mine). In the face of these declarations by “the messenger of the Lord to the remnant church” (as Mrs. White is designated by the Seventh-day Adventists), dare anyone claim that this sect does not teach that Sabbath-keeping is essential to salvation?
Dr. Leroy Froom, prominent Seventh-day Adventist leader of the present day, explains:(4) “Thus the Sabbath, first received under the binding claim of the law of God, was now reinforced by various prophetic passages, particularly of Revelation 14:9-12, which gave the Sabbath the significance of a testing, sealing message for the last days. And the doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary, which explained the Disappointment and enforced the soundness of their basic positions, was now clearly interlocked with the doctrine of the Sabbath” (The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers, Vol. IV, p. 959).
It is consistent that the sanctuary teaching, which presents the Lord Jesus Christ as still making atonement in heaven, and the Sabbath doctrine, the sect’s chief mark of legalism and salvation by works, should be “interlocked.” The sanctuary heresy sets forth an incomplete Savior; the Sabbath an unfinished salvation.
Consequently, it is sadly true that no Seventh-day Adventist has assurance of salvation.
He cannot rejoice in such Scriptures as 1 John5:13: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” My soul is filled with a righteous indignation when I think of these modern religious leaders who, like the Pharisees of old, “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men,” of whom Christ further declared [in figure]: “…Ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in”(Matt. 23:13).
Those evangelical writers who have permitted “blind leaders of the blind” to persuade them to throw their influence into the enemy’s cause must also share in the responsibility for this shameful betrayal of the souls of lost men. Instead of employing their gifts and energies as apologists for this sect, they should be warning men and women—and young people especially—of the peril of dabbling with error in any form.
Thank God for a present salvation, for hope and joy and peace in believing that our sins are forgiven for His name’s sake, for the assurance of eternal life here and now! Salvation-plus-law, salvation-plus-the-Sabbath, is utterly contrary to salvation by grace through faith plus nothing, which blessed spiritual boon is based upon the finished work of a substitutionary, vicarious Savior on the cross of Calvary.
The Sabbath, as related to the last days, is described by Mrs. White as follows: “Through a rift in the clouds, there beams a star whose brilliancy is increased fourfold in contrast with the darkness. It speaks of hope and joy to the faithful but severity and wrath to the transgressors of God’s law. Too late they see that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the seal of the living God….The voice of God is heard from heaven, declaring the day and hour of Jesus’ coming and delivering the everlasting covenant to His people” (The Great Controversy, pp. 638, 640). In like manner the Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath as “the test and seal of God” is featured in all Seventh-day Adventist literature. For instance, Uriah Smith, famous for his 46-page Key to the Prophetic Chart upon which so much Seventh-day Adventist eschatology is based, wrote bluntly: “We understand the religious world will be divided into just two classes, those who keep the Sabbath, and those who oppose it” (Biblical Institute, p. 240). It is my understanding too—and I am sure it is yours, my friends—that the world is divided into two classes: the saved and the lost, according to what they do with the offer of free salvation in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lamb of God, man’s only Savior.
When Did the Sabbath Begin?
No one denies the assertion of the Seventh-day Adventists that “on the seventh day” God rested from His creation labors and sanctified the day. However, there is no implication in the Genesis account or any other place in the Word that this Sabbath was applicable to man. Dr. Charles L. Feinberg comments: “There is no hint here [in Genesis] that God gave the Sabbath to man. He alone rested. Considered as a day of rest (although God did not rest because He was tired—Isaiah 40:28), the original Sabbath could not logically have been given to man because as yet he had not labored.”(5)
The long period of 2,500 years from Adam to Moses is Sabbath-less. Details of the domestic lives and religious rites of the patriarchs are described in the first book of the Bible but no mention is made of a Sabbath. It is not logical to suppose that if the Sabbath were a part of their lives, it would be overlooked in the records. The only reasonable conclusion is that the Sabbath is not mentioned there because prior to Sinai, the Sabbath did not exist for man.
Moses himself clears up the question as to whether the Sabbath was in force for man before Sinai with the words recorded in Deuteronomy 5:1-3: “…Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant [which included the Sabbath commandment] with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.”
The Case of Exodus 16:21-30
A favorite argument of the Seventh-day Adventist who attempts to prove that the Sabbath was given to Israel before Sinai is based upon the passage in Exodus 16 which has to do with the gathering of the manna for six days and a rest on the seventh day. Especially do the Seventh-day Adventists pounce upon verse 29: “See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread for two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”
I am indebted to Dr Feinberg’s previously mentioned booklet for a clear and reasonable exposition of this portion of Scripture: “Carefully note, first of all, that in this passage, the Sabbath is not included as a commandment to Israel. We do not have here the language or the terminology of commandment as in Exodus 20:8-11. Compare the wording which is clear in both cases. Secondly, mark the absence of penalty for disregard of the Sabbath in Exodus 16 and the penalty for infraction of the Sabbath in Numbers 15:32-36. Both were acts of gathering too, but no death penalty is given in Exodus 16. The Sabbath was not binding on them in this chapter. It cannot be argued that no act was performed. Verse 28 makes it clear that they had refused the provision God had given here for rest on that day. See verses 29 and 30 also. Thirdly, note the unprecedented character of the situation in Numbers 15. They had no precedent by which to proceed, therefore they had to ask God’s mind in the matter, which was clearly given. The Sabbath is given to Israel in Exodus 16 before it is enjoined upon them in Exodus 20, but they did not enter into it. Man has never prized the Sabbath either as a gift (Exodus 16), nor has he kept it as a law (Numbers 15). Exodus 16 was a temporary arrangement of which the people did not take advantage.…Thus Exodus 16 cannot rightly be used to indicate any help to the legalists on the supposed perpetuity of the law. The case was single, was circumscribed to one people, and applicable for a limited time, or until the giving of the law.”
The Sabbath for Israel Alone
In view of such Scriptures as Exodus 31:13 and Ezekiel 20:10-12, the Seventh-day Adventist cannot deny that the Sabbath was given to Israel and Israel alone, and for a specific purpose. In no way at all can these words be twisted to apply to Gentile believers: “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you” (Ex. 31:13); “Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them” (Ezek. 20:10-12). But the Seventh-day Adventists get around this by claiming to be “the true Israel of God” as other sects have done from time immemorial.
The whole law of Sinai was given by Moses to Israel, and the particular law of the Sabbath had a glorious significance for Israel alone, to remind that nation that by His call, His covenant and His miraculous works on their behalf, He had sanctified them—or set them apart—from all the nations upon earth to be His peculiar treasure through which to reveal His love and mercy to all the world. God delivered the law in its entirety to Israel. There is no distinction in “ceremonial” law. All the law “…was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). The Law-Giver became the Law-Fulfiller.
What about the Pope and the Sabbath?
One of the “tall tales” of the Seventh-day Adventists is the claim that “the pope” changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. Many have asked, “Which pope?” but to date no answer has been forthcoming. Nor will there ever be a reply since there is no historical evidence for this contention. Often the Roman Catholic Convert’s Catechism, compiled by Roman Catholic Rev. Peter Geiermann, C.SS.R, is quoted by the Adventists as absolute proof that the day of worship was altered by the papacy. Dr. Rowell calls our attention to something additional written by this same author which is “conveniently” omitted by Seventh-day Adventists as he points out that:
“Either the Seventh-day Adventists do not know all that Peter Geiermann wrote on this subject, or else they refuse to quote that which makes the difference.…This Romanist theologian actually taught that the Lord’s Day was observed from the times of the apostles. I have before me a highly commended work by the Rev. P. Geiermann, C.SS.R., entitled, A Manual of Theology for the Laity, bearing the official imprimatur and Nihil Obstat. In this we read: ‘The first Christians, besides, kept Sunday holy also, because on that day the Savior rose from the dead, and the Holy Ghost came down on the apostles. Later on, however, a dispute rose between the Jewish and Gentile converts respecting the day which must be kept holy. Many of the Jewish converts maintained that all converts were bound by the entire law of Moses. TO REMOVE THIS ERRONEOUS IMPRESSION, and to free her children from the ceremonial law of Moses, the church decreed in the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 364) that all Catholics should keep holy Sunday as the Lord’s day (Apoc. 1:10) AS HAD BEEN DONE IN APOSTOLIC TIMES (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). This change the church was authorized to make by the power conferred upon her by Jesus Christ’ (p. 326). While it is not necessary for us to refer to the papacy for proof that the first day of the week was the day of worship for the early church, we cite this as evidence that the Adventists will withhold what seems best to them, and quote only those portions which are expedient for them.”(6)
It is interesting in connection with Dr. Rowell’s conclusions to reflect that the “mark” of Roman Catholicism has never been a day of worship. What distinguishes that system from all other religious bodies is their belief in the supremacy and infallibility of the papacy. Neither Constantine nor the Council of Laodicea “changed the day”, as claimed by the Seventh-day Adventists. They only approved the observance of the first day of the week, on which day the Christian church had worshiped from its beginning. To claim otherwise is to deny the facts of history.
Where is the Sabbath in the New Testament?
The Seventh-day Adventist is hard put to it to explain why not once in the New Testament is there given a command to keep the seventh or the Sabbath day. He endeavors to put such commands in the mouth of the Lord Jesus and resorts to such absurdities as twisting Matthew 24:20 into a Sabbath precept. This verse, obviously a prediction of the then soon-coming destruction of Jerusalem (in 70 AD), states: “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day,” and naturally it refers to the difficulties of travel on those occasions. It is no more a reference to keeping the Sabbath than it is to keeping the winter season! The Seventh-day Adventist forces Mark 2:27, 28 (“And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath”), to refer to mankind as a whole, not to the Jews, to whom Christ was directly speaking.
Again, the Adventist makes much of the fact that the Lord Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. Of course He did. He was a Jew who obeyed the law of Moses. He lived in Palestine all His earthly life. But when He went to the cross, that was the end of the law, for He was the end of the law (2 Cor. 3:5-14; Col. 2:9-15). He was personally the complete and perfect fulfillment of all the law, including the Sabbath! Paul also preached in synagogues on the Jewish Sabbath, for obviously that was where he could find a Jewish audience!
The Seventh-day Adventist further claims that the fact that Christ rose in triumph over death on the first day of the week was of no consequence; that the gatherings together of the primitive Christians on the first day of the week, as recorded in Acts, were not actually public meetings at all. One has only to refer to the descriptions of such assemblies as in Acts 20:7 to prove this false. First Corinthians 16:1, 2 also throws light on the subject.
There is such a fanatical and unrelenting attempt on the part of the Seventh-day Adventists to make the Scriptures mean what they wish them to teach, that one, in reading their arguments, is impressed that there is indeed something Satanic about such a rabid brand of religiosity. Apparently it is the design of the enemy of men’s souls to divert the attention of the needy soul to the observance of a day, as a means of salvation, and away from the Lord Himself as “the way, the truth and the life.”
Keeping of the Sabbath Discouraged
The Seventh-day Adventists claim that because the term Sabbath days used in Colossians 2:16 is in the plural, it cannot refer to the weekly Sabbath day. However, in the Authorized (King James) Version, the word days is in italics, signifying that it did not appear in the original manuscript, and in the American Standard Version (the Revised), the translation is a Sabbath day. The Sabbatarians will be required to produce another translation for any support of the theory that this verse does not include the regular weekly Sabbath as well as all the other Sabbaths of the Mosaic system.
Dr. Rowell has done the church of Christ a great service as he points out that in the New Testament, duty to keep all other nine commandments is mentioned, but obligation to keep the Sabbath is not once mentioned. Worship of the Lord God only, is found 50 times; idolatry condemned, 12 times; profanity, 4 times; and covetousness, 9 times. Dr. Rowell makes this reasonable inquiry: “If, as the Seventh-day Adventists affirm, the keeping of the seventh day is imperative, why did Christ not once command it? And why did the apostles neither command it, nor condemn its non-observance?…The Seventh-day Adventists stress the failure to keep the Sabbath as the great sin. Then why is it that in the lists of sins recorded in the New Testament, the sin against the Sabbath is never once mentioned? For example, in Mark 7:21 22, there are 13 sins listed. Why did our Lord not mention breaking the Sabbath? In Romans 1:29-31, there is a list of 19 sins; in Galatians 5:19-21, a list of 17 sins; and in 2 Timothy 3:1-4, a list of 18 sins. In all the great warnings concerning sins, why was not failure to keep the seventh day given prominence? It was not even mentioned.
“One of the best opportunities Jesus had to preach Sabbath-keeping was when a lawyer asked Him, ‘Master, which is the great commandment in the law?’ (Matt. 22:36). In His answer, our Lord made not the slightest reference to the Sabbath. Neither here, nor elsewhere, did our Lord teach the keeping of the Sabbath day; nor did He warn against not keeping it. ‘Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God will all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandments. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets’ (Matt, 22:37-40).”(7)
In the difficulty with the Judaizers in the early church, described in Acts 15, why is there not one single reference to the Sabbath day? The Council at Jerusalem declared what “laws” were to be observed by Gentile converts, and all had to do with idol worship! It is obvious that the Sabbath was not binding on those Gentile Christians nor is it binding on any believer today, Jew or Gentile.
Dr. Rowell also deals helpfully with this matter of Christ’s abolition of the law, including the Sabbath, in these words:
“When the substance is come, we no longer need the shadow (Col. 2:16, 17). If when walking we see a shadow overtaking us, our thought may be on the shadow; but, when our friend catches up with us, we are no longer occupied with the shadow, but with our friend himself. So, since Christ came, we are no longer occupied with the shadow of things to come, but with the glorious person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us’ (Gal. 3:13). Let God’s Word make this clear: ‘Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made…that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, [or until Christ] that we might be justified by faith’ (Gal. 3:19-24). ‘…Ye are not under law, but under grace’ (Rom. 6:14). Grace in the power of the Holy Spirit in the heart can effect truest obedience to the will of God more readily than the letter of the law written on tablets of stone, or pages of a book. Hence the Word of God turns us to ‘the glory that excelleth’ and the One who empowers us for its realization. ‘Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ (2 Cor. 3:17).”
What about the first day of the week?
The Christian need not concern himself about any change in the day of worship. Actually, there is no connection at all between the Jewish Sabbath and the Lord’s day. The Christian has no Sabbath in the truest meaning of the word. But he has a “rest,” and that precious repose of the soul is in Christ. For the Christian worker, the Lord’s day is not a day of physical rest at all but the day in which he is busiest serving his risen Lord whose resurrection the first day of the week commemorates. For all such it is truly “day of all the week, the best, emblem of eternal rest.” No more blessed words were ever spoken or written than those of Matthew 11:28-30 in which the Lord Jesus Christ invites us: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Christ is our peace and Christ is our rest. The children of Israel in the wilderness missed this spiritual rest or rest of faith as we read in Hebrews 4:9-11: “There remaineth therefore a rest [or a Sabbath—a perpetual cessation from spiritual strain and anxiety] to the people of God. For he that is entered into his [Christ’s] rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labor therefore [seek] to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Those who insist that something must be added—whether it be a day, a religious rite or any work of the flesh—cannot know the true Sabbath, which is rest-of-heart and peace-of-mind which result from relying completely upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ and ceasing utterly from one’ own works.
Annihilation, soul-sleep, conditional immortality
Space permits but a bare mention of these heresies which Seventh-day Adventists hold in common with the Jehovah Witnesses cult. From a pamphlet entitled, What do Seventh-day Adventists Believe?published by the Seventh-day Adventist Pacific Press Publishing Association of Mountain View, California, I quote the position of the sect on these subjects: “The Mortality of Man. We believe God alone has immortality; that a man may have immortality only as a gift from God through Christ; that upon conversion, the Christian receives eternal life by faith in the promises of God; that immortality will be conferred upon the righteous at the second coming of Christ and the first resurrection. The Unconscious State of the Dead: We believe that when a man dies he enters a state of silence, inactivity, and entire unconsciousness; that he remains ‘asleep’, altogether oblivious to the passing of time or events, until the first resurrection if he is accounted righteous, or until the second resurrection if he is numbered among the wicked. The Punishment of Sinners: We believe that ‘the wages of sin is death’; that the punishment meted out to sinners will be eternal death, total extinction by fire, after they are adjudged guilty before the bar of God.”
It is needless to say that none of these teachings are to be found in the gospel message of the Word of God. No true evangelical accepts them. How then can anyone who is evangelical approve a sect which teaches them? How can a true Christian be indifferent to such teachings going into homes and capturing the hearts and minds of little children and young people? The Word of God clearly reveals that man was created an immortal soul who will live somewhere forever—either with God or forever separated from Him in hell. When a Christian dies, his spirit goes immediately into the presence of Christ where, though “absent from the body,” he (the inner man) is “present with the Lord” (Eph. 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:1-8); and the unbeliever—the one who rejects Christ as Savior—will find himself in a place of everlasting punishment, prepared for the devil and his angels, with all of those who have bypassed Calvary and rejected the love of God as revealed in the blessed and only Savior.
Much more should, and could, be written upon Seventh-day Adventism. I had hoped to reproduce more of Mrs. White’s visions, but those who are interested can buy the book Early Writings and read them. One can see why the Seventh-day Adventist must resort to such extra-scriptural “evidences” as visions, dreams, and revelations for his beliefs, for he certainly cannot find support for them in the Scriptures.
In conclusion, with the author’s permission, I quote the following “contrasts” from a book previously referred to, Why You Should Not Be a Seventh-day Adventist, by Rev. E. B. Jones. This gives me an opportunity to pay tribute to the tireless labors of this thoroughly informed and faithful servant of God who serves the Christian church well in his unenviable specialized ministry of exposing the falsity and the soul-endangering character of this sect. I consider reprehensible the efforts of the self-appointed champions of Seventh-day Adventism to “downgrade” Mr. Jones, the late D. M. Canright, and others who have repudiated the poisonous doctrines of this unscriptural system and, by the grace of God, have forsaken it. For a final summing up of the case here are:
Some startling contrasts
“The correctly instructed Christian believes that Christ was a ‘holy’—a sinless—Savior. The Seventh-day Adventist believes that our Lord’s nature, while here in the flesh, was ‘sinful’—that ‘in His veins was the incubus of a tainted heredity…bad blood and inherited meanness’!
“The correctly instructed Christian believes that when Christ shed His blood upon the cross, He made an offering completely acceptable to God for the sinner’s reconciliation. The Seventh-day Adventist does not believe this—he does not believe that Christ completed the atonement when He suffered and bled on Calvary!
“The correctly instructed Christian believes that when Christ died ‘on the tree,’ He then and there bore ‘in His own body’ all our sins. The Seventh-day Adventist believes that, in the end, Satan will be man’s sin-bearer!
“The correctly instructed Christian believes that Christ—here and now—has saved him, and for all eternity! The Seventh-day Adventist believes that no one is saved in this life—that eternal life is but a mere future ‘hope’!
“The correctly instructed Christian believes that by his faith in Christ alone—’without the deeds of the law’—he has eternal salvation. The Seventh-day Adventist believes that eternal life is obtained by ‘perfect obedience’ to the Sinaitic law!
“The correctly instructed Christian believes that Christ is ‘the end of the law’—the one who by His death, perfectly fulfilled the law and thus terminated it. The Seventh-day Adventist believes that the law is still in force—that it has ‘never been annulled,’ and that Christians are obliged to keep it!
“The correctly instructed Christian believes that in this age of the ‘better covenant,’ Christ is his Sabbath or his day-by-day spiritual ‘rest’—the ‘finisher’ of his faith—his perfect and ever-continuing peace. The Seventh-day Adventist believes that only by observing the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath may one be ‘sealed with the seal of the living God’ and experience true peace within his soul!
“The correctly instructed Christian believes that when his natural life ceases, his spirit will immediately ‘depart and be with Christ.’ The Seventh-day Adventist believes that in death the whole man sleeps in the grave, in complete unconsciousness, till Christ comes to awaken him at the time of His second advent!
“The correctly instructed Christian believes that at death the spirits of the wicked dead go to their ‘own place—hades, ‘the unseen world,’ and following the judgment of ‘the great white throne’ will be ‘cast into the lake of [unquenchable] fire’ where ‘the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.’
“The Seventh-day Adventist believes that the unrighteous dead sleep peacefully in their graves until the second resurrection, and after the judgment God will consign them to ‘a furnace of fire,’ and there in ‘love and mercy’ cause them to be ‘utterly destroyed’—annihilated!”
My friends, is it necessary to bring any further evidence to show that Seventh-day Adventism is not evangelical? May God in His light give you to see the light. Ever “prove all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thes. 5:21). †
- What’s Wrong with Seventh-day Adventism? From foreword. Dunham Publishing Co, Findlay, Ohio.
- Used by permission of Fleming H. Revell, New York.
- Copyright by The Sunday School Times Co. Used by their permission.
- From the booklet, The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.
- Copyright by The Sunday School Times Co. Used with their permission.
- The Sunday School Times.