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Welcome to this brief and candid tour that gives you an inside look at
Seventh-day Adventism today. At first glance, some SDA readers
may view certain theological elements in this exposition to be utterly
shocking, unbelievable, and even grossly overstated. It is my
heartfelt prayer, that as the readers probe the depths of Adventism,
they will ultimately come to the conclusion that the information
presented herein is indeed concise, objective, and factual.
With intentional ambiguity and complexity, many facets of Adventism
are most difficult to examine, understand, and expose (i.e., their
stance on abortion, their exclusive investigative judgment, etc.).
Many of their leading apologists widely differ in their understanding of
the doctrinal pillars in their belief system. It is not uncommon to find
two opposing views, on many topics, in the writings of Ellen White.
Therefore, whatever “Spirit of Prophecy” evidence you may present,
the Adventist apologists can cite yet another contradicting quotation
as also being a “continuing and authoritative source of truth.” In
short, Ellen White is “all over the road” on many key doctrines.
Consequently, the fragmenting of Adventism can be observed
everywhere. Members of their conservative and liberal theological
societies have been known to even refuse dining together when their
meetings were held in the same vicinity.
Since the 1950s, Seventh-day Adventists have had a deep yearning
to appear as Evangelicals. The book, Questions on Doctrine,
published in 1957 with no author listed, is a prime example of this
desperate strategy to appear Evangelical—thereby hoping to remove
their cult stigma. Since then, however, the Seventh-day Adventist
Church has officially replaced and deleted key words in some
doctrinal statements (e.g., the words “all-sufficient” and “unerring”
were removed from their statement on the authority of Scripture).
This action allowed room for the extra-biblical writings attributed to
their revered messenger and prophetess, Ellen G. White.
Dennis J. Fischer
Updated: October, 2008
BEYOND ADVENTISM
The “Truth” Re-examined
DENNIS J. FISCHER
After being devout, third-generation Seventh-day Adventists for more than forty years, my wife Sylvia and I requested our names to be removed from their membership records. Following several delays, the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church, in Lincoln, Nebraska, finally honored our request eight months later on October 16, 2000. We joyfully consider this date our Freedom Day from spiritual, psychological, and monetary abuse. Having anchored our lives in the New Covenant teachings of Jesus Christ, we thank God continually for removing the “veil” from our hearts (2 Cor. 3:15,16). Belief transitions, at best, are not without trauma. Our journey in Adventism included dedicated service in both this country and overseas. My wife spent part of her early years in Baghdad, Iraq with her missionary parents. She was baptized in the Jordan River during one of her trips to the Holy Land. I have served the SDA denomination as a credentialed literature evangelist, credentialed missionary, and licensed minister. Consequently, our lives reflect an intense denominational identity. First of all, we dearly love the Adventist people. They will always be in our hearts and prayers. Many of our friends and relatives still remain in the complicated grip of Adventism. I actively conduct an online, chaplaincy ministry to reach struggling Adventists with the awe-inspiring gospel of Jesus Christ. Many times, while engaged in exit counseling, there are those who threaten to throw me out of chat rooms and message boards. Worse yet, sad to say, they employ very unkind remarks whenever their legalism is challenged. Sometimes I feel like Paul when he was repeatedly thrown out of the synagogues of his day. Even though God called and commissioned Paul to preach to the Gentiles, he had a real burden for the struggling legalists he knew so well. Amid the vastness of cyberspace, many honest-hearted Adventists are discovering, for the first time, that Jesus Christ is indeed our true Sabbath Rest. Jesus is the reality and substance of the Old Covenant shadows, that included the festal, weekly Sabbath given exclusively to the Hebrew people (see Col. 2:16,17; Deut. 5:3). According to Leviticus 23:2-3, the weekly Sabbath was one of the seven appointed feasts mandated for the “sons of Israel.” Certainly, we are not required to observe the Jewish festivals in order to obtain or maintain our salvation. There are no holy days in the Christian calendar. To observe any of these shadows of the Cross would deny the reality of Christ. Still others are threatened with the thought of losing their salvation if they leave the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is exciting to know that heaven has a party when Jesus is born in a new heart.
Sylvia and I were very busy with raising a family (we have three
daughters), working wholeheartedly for the denomination, and later
operating a family business. Someone aptly stated that “a wise man
changes his mind seldom, but a fool never.” Regrettably, we were
too busy to even get into theological matters. Satan truly delights in
our excessively busy lives. After all, we were constantly taught that
we were the only ones who had the “truth.” We were arrogantly
pleased that we were a part of heaven’s exclusive franchise, God’s
last-day Remnant Church, with its suppositional advantages that
“outsiders” could only wish they had.
We were comfortable and savvy in a doctrinal proof-text system or
“inner canon.” Outside of this so-called “inner canon” that reflects
serious hermeneutical errors, we were lost in Scripture—especially in
the New Testament Epistles. It always seemed easier to quickly
consult the writings of Ellen White than to personally study the Bible
in depth. Our home was saturated and imbalanced with stacks of
books attributed to Ellen White. These books were beautifully bound
with matching color schemes. Some of her books are now being
rewritten into a contemporary English style. Unfortunately, this
maneuver will make it much easier to hide her rampant plagiarism.
Having fervently believed that her “inspired” writings are a “continuing
and authoritative source of truth,” our former devotion to her ministry
can rightfully be called Ellenolatry and/or Ellenology—a veneration
akin to Mariology in Catholicism. Ellen White’s problematic and
blasphemous role, as a latter-day coredemptrix in salvation, is
officially verified by the SDA Church requiring that candidates for
baptism confess her as being the “Spirit of Prophecy” before they
can be baptized into Christ. For example, Ellen White’s authoritative
and dominant role in creating distinctive SDA dogma is seen in her
embellishment of the Fourth Commandment to include the legal
Sabbath also being a “final test” and “seal of God.” In reality, there
are no current SDA beliefs that Ellen White did not sanction or create.
The Bible always had lots of competition from other Adventist
publications as well. With any spare moments, we were engrossed in
literally scores of books, periodicals, and newsletters that largely
dictated our subculture. We thought we knew everything; you would
only have had to ask us for all the right answers.
“Seventh-day Adventism is incredibly complex”
Unlike the basic tenets of the Christian faith, Seventh-day Adventism is incredibly complex. With an aberrant closed theology, it is no surprise that we found virtue in our closed minds. It was considered meritorious and even salvific to become “settled in the truth.” We felt sorry for the ignorance of those poor “non-Adventists” or “Sunday keepers” who were described in-house as heathen, outsiders, apostate Protestants, whores of Babylon, and their clergy as false shepherds. Sadly, we even made fun of people who believed in biblical Christianity like we do now. Utilizing typical cultic methodologies, Seventh-day Adventism employs the following spiritually-abusive strategies: Extreme authoritarian accountability, top-heavy organizational structure, and a closed belief system. Information control that denigrates or cuts off outside sources
of information—especially if critical of the group. Consequently,
they develop a voracious appetite to hear the latest behind-
closed-door maneuvers and scandals of their hierarchy.
Cognitive dissonance, the anxiety resulting from simultaneously
holding contradictory and incompatible beliefs, plays a
dominant, troubling role in their mindset.
Discouraging critical, rational thoughts and questions; for
example, comments like, “Satan is the cause of all doubt; he
wants to keep you from the truth,” or “Those former Adventist
ministers and lay persons are actually full of pride. They think
they know more than the entire church.”
Excessive financial obligations that comprise a two-tier membership system (e.g., only “tithers” are allowed to hold church offices or positions of influence, no tithe funds can be used for local church needs like building expansion, maintenance, and church school needs). One hundred percent of the tithe funds go directly to several levels of hierarchical, administrative organizations. The local church properties are wholly owned by the Conference. Ministers are appointed and paid by the Conference. Generally, only one offering per month is allowed for church expense—many non-tithe contributions are also remitted to the Conference treasury. The hierarchy essentially exerts almost total control over the local churches. Language manipulation—ascribing new “inside” or “in-house” meanings in ordinary words or use an excessive vocabulary subtly moving a person to want to become an insider. Largely, these aberrant linguistic problems have roots in their faulty hermeneutics. Others, like their exclusive “investigative judgment” and “shut door” terminology, are solely reflective of their subculture. As a young minister, father, and departmental leader, I had little time to even think about questioning anything as I weekly preached perfectionist and promotional type sermons to a receptive Adventist audience. The Lord has graciously forgiven me. Truly, God redeems our past to advance His kingdom. Additionally, He faithfully restores the years that “the locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25) and nothing is lost. Soli Deo Gloria! “Information is a tool that empowers and enriches…lives”
Eventually, with an empty nest, we found extra time to delve into the essentials of the Christian faith. We soon discovered that sincerity of belief is no substitute for Biblical truth. Our exodus from Adventism took several years of diligent prayer and intensive Bible study. Even though we were deeply involved in Adventism, we knew very little of what was going on. It was very difficult to obtain information about anything that the church hierarchy did not see fit to divulge. All of this changed, of course, with the dawn of the Internet. The arrival of online religion is as consequential as when the printing presses brought the written word to medieval Europe. With religious literacy dramatically on the upswing, cyber-Christians find new appreciation for personal freedom in Christ. Cyberspace affords us the priesthood of all believers—an equal playing field. Information technology is a tool that empowers and enriches the lives of even the lowest social class in our society. While cyberspace is no equal substitute for in-person relationships, it does avail us of meaningful, worldwide Christian fellowship. The Internet was a significant and valuable tool in our quest for truth. A wide spectrum of Seventh-day Adventists know very little about their history, doctrines, organizational structure, and governing policies. When an inquiring member determines that even one doctrinal pillar is not Biblical, it clearly creates concern that other teachings may not pass close scrutiny as well. Being born in the Millerite deception of the early 1840s, Adventism shortly thereafter imposed a vast assortment of cultic views on its disillusioned adherents: The exclusive investigative judgment doctrine, as the central
core of their faith, teaches that the atonement was not
completed at the Cross
—initially delayed for 1800 years, it is
still in the process of being completed [an anti-Gospel message
indeed].
The “shut door” teaching, later abandoned, that grace for sinners ended on October 22, 1844. Only 144,000 people would be saved—later abandoned as membership exceeded this number. Soul sleep, conditionalism, and annihilationism were brought from the liberal Christian Connexion Church, a restorationist group related to the Stone-Campbell movement, by James White and Joseph Bates, early SDA pioneers. Those worshipping on Sunday will ultimately receive the mark of the beast. The final test will be Jewish Sabbath observance—even though
the word “Sabbath” does not appear in the entire books of
Genesis or Revelation. Adventists insist, however, that both
books are somehow significant in supporting their Sabbatarian
views. Jesus is not their final test. Instead, they warn that the
final test is all about a day of worship—creating a dividing wall
in Christendom. The final test centers upon the created
instead of upon the Creator Himself.
That the Law of Moses (also known as the “Pentateuch” or
“Torah”) is not defined as a mixture of 613 ceremonial, civil,
judicial, and moral laws that are basically summarized in the
Decalogue
Consequently, Adventists utilize a pick-and-choose tactic to
impose Jewish dietary, Sabbath, and tithing laws on the
uninformed as being morally-binding. Importantly, the weekly
Sabbath never was a moral directive, but rather it was a
ceremonial, festal convocation given to “the sons of Israel” (see
Lev. 23:2,3). On the other hand, God’s timeless moral laws
never take a break, and they were never trumped by ritual law
for any reason (i.e., circumcision on Sabbath, shewbread
replacement every Sabbath, and special priestly sacrifices on
Sabbath). Furthermore, moral commandments are valid 24\7
(every nanosecond of time) and not merely once a year,
season, month, or week. Unlike ceremonial laws, moral laws
never allow exceptions for works of charity, mercy, or
necessity.
In the context of an imminent, forthcoming “National Sunday
Law,” a death decree will be issued upon all loyal
Sabbatarians. In the final crisis, they warn, “Sunday keepers”
are going to actually kill the “Sabbath keepers.”
Satan bears our sins as typified by the scapegoat on the
annual Day of Atonement. Thus, Satan has an atoning,
salvific role to perform for our salvation by finally having to
suffer, through his meritorious annihilation, for all our sins that
are meticulously recorded in heaven as merely conditionally-
forgiven (see Great Controversy, pages 422 & 485;
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, page 475). Only through
Satan can our sins be finally blotted out. In the truest sense,
Adventism teaches that God rewards Satan for his busy
deviltry—the more people he can keep from becoming
Christians the less suffering he will have to endure for
confessed sins that were only conditionally-forgiven. Eternal
bliss is ultimately conditional upon the atoning role of Satan.
Paradoxically and sadly, official Adventism claims to have two
sin-bearers; namely, Christ and Satan.
Arianism, a belief held until the mid 1890s, teaches that Christ
was created or “derived from the Father” as Ellen White would
say it. Most current SDA beliefs were formulated by their Arian
pioneers. Consequently, some of their doctrines are still tainted
by this heresy.
The latter rain or special outpouring of the Holy Spirit is still in the future—a denial of Pentecost. The extra-biblical authority of their prophetess, messenger, and co-founder, Ellen G. White—acclaimed to be the “Spirit of Prophecy.” She remains the apple of the Adventist eye, and she is fills the role of being the infallible interpreter of Scripture. That fallen humankind can reach perfection with divine
assistance and flawlessly keep the Ten Commandments—a
partnership for salvation (see COL, page 69). In other words,
they believe that God helps us to save ourselves.
That the created archangel, Michael, is actually Jesus Christ (akin to the Jehovah’s Witnesses view). This view seriously compromises the divinity of Jesus Christ. In spite of their official claims of now being Trinitarians, they are
actually teaching Tritheism instead (three separate Beings or
Gods united in purpose). They still have no consensus on the
nature of Christ. They further believe that Jesus had the fallen
nature of Adam. Consequently, they insist that perfection is
possible for them as it was for Jesus in his sinful flesh. This
view makes Jesus Christ primarily an Exemplar instead of a
Substitute.
Our sins, once confessed and forgiven, may haunt us again
and be held against us until the “blotting out” of sins occurs
after the final phase of their exclusive investigative judgment
that began in 1844; there are literally scores of other aberrant
teachings, traditions, and unpublished standards that foster
wholesale legalism and create uncertainty of one’s identity and
position in Christ.
Ellen White’s unique “Great Controversy” theme implies that
Satan is not a defeated foe, that there is still somehow an equal
rivalry between Christ and Satan, and consequently Satan has
the possibility of winning over Christ. The Biblical truth is that
there is no “Great Controversy” between Christ and Satan—
never has been. The divine Creator and his created being,
Lucifer, have never been on an equal par. The superiority and
victory of Christ over Satan has never been in doubt from day
one.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church was not formally organized until 1863. Since then, however, Adventism has fathered numerous unsavory offspring with names like the Urantia Foundation, Shepherd’s Rod, Pilgrim’s Rest, and the infamous Branch Davidians. It truly boggles our minds how we could have believed all these things for so many years. We give praise to our Lord Jesus for our priceless freedom from the slavery and bondage of legalism. Having thoroughly studied Ellen White’s writings, we have come to the conclusion that her works are best characterized as a “multiple guess” type of inspiration. Her largely plagiarized writings cover the delights of vegetarianism (with a strict two-meal-a-day regimen that disallows even a tiny morsel of food between meals), to declaring masturbation the same as “self-murder” or suicide. Many of her “inspired” books are inspirational and informational; after all, most of her writings comprise the copied or rewritten thoughts of uninspired authors from diverse fields like education, health, history, medicine, and religion of her day. Believing that the “lesser light” will somehow lead us to the “greater light” is like trying to find the sun with a flashlight. The Holy Spirit is fully able, willing, and anxious to lead us into Biblical truth. Jesus is not merely a part of our life (as an intellectual assent), as we formerly experienced, but rather He is the central focus of our life. We have an entirely new identity in Christ. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t leave us where he found us. With His own timing, God called us out of Adventism. “Christ becomes secondary in many of their doctrines.”
My wife Sylvia and I are most grateful for the meaningful insights gleaned from many Christian authors and personal friends. Foremost and best of all, the inerrant Holy Scriptures, in their original
autographs, provide us with an unparalleled, all-sufficient revelation
for Christian faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:15-17). All Scripture is
fully inspired—meaning “God breathed.” Indeed, God is the ultimate
author of the Bible in that He had complete control of his inspired
penmen. Moreover, the Bible is God’s voice speaking to us. Often
even one word in a passage makes the difference between life and
death. Adventists, on the other hand, hold to merely thought
inspiration. This non-verbal view allows many mistakes and
contradictions like Ellen White has in her writings.
The New Testament, being the later, clearer, and final revelation to
man, must be allowed to augment the Old Testament teachings on
topics less clear as progressive revelation. Growing up as an
Adventist in western North Dakota, I well remember an elderly,
German-speaking SDA evangelist who emphatically declared that the
partition of Scripture into Old and New Testaments was purely “man-
made.” Similarly, with the covenants, Seventh-day Adventists regard
the New Covenant simply as a warmed-over Old Covenant. Thus,
Jesus Christ becomes secondary in many of their doctrines to this
very day—a point they would readily deny. The fact is that most of
their doctrines were formulated under the direction of their Arian
pioneers. This heretical legacy continues to taint and complicate
many of the 28 fundamental beliefs they hold today. For example, it
is most difficult—if not impossible—for them to exalt Christ above the
importance of the weekly, festal Sabbath.
Ellen White sternly declared, “I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will
be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and
unbelievers…And if one believed, and kept the Sabbath,…and then
gave it up…they would shut the gates of the Holy City against
themselves, as sure as a God that rules in heaven above” (A Word to
the Little Flock
, page 18). Gratefully, under the New Covenant, there
is no “dividing wall” (Eph. 2:14,15). This is a primary characteristic of
the New Covenant. Sadly, according to Seventh-day Adventist
understanding, Jesus Christ is not the unifying factor among God’s
elect. Instead, it is the Jewish Sabbath. Notice that Ellen White, in
the statement above, emphatically declares that former Sabbatarians
will be excluded from entering “the gates of the Holy City.” Almost
every religious conversation with an Adventist will automatically turn
to Law observance, not to Jesus being our atoning Substitute and
Savior. If in doubt, simply give it a try! We rest where God rests—in
Christ and His finished work (see Hebrews 4:10). Jesus is our true
Sabbath Rest.
Unquestionably, the SDA doctrine about the state of the dead is one
of their most aberrant and deceptive beliefs. Soul sleep and
conditionalism, together with their exclusive investigative judgment
alibi, affects the nature of Christ, the nature of man, and the nature of
salvation (soteriology). This further accounts for the elective
abortions performed in some Adventist hospitals (notably in the days
when abortion procedures were very lucrative to hospitals). Without
believing in the dualistic nature of man, body and spirit, it is not
difficult for Adventists to view the fetus as merely “body tissue” that
can be sucked into a sink. Obviously, with this heretical and immoral
view, there is a vastly diminished respect for the sanctity of human
life. Conversely, how can Adventists loudly proclaim to be
“commandment keepers” when they fail to even observe the Sixth
Commandment? It is fair to say that they got hung up on the Fourth
Commandment (considered the Third Commandment by some
Christian communities). Interestingly, a large segment of Seventh-
day Adventists are pro-life, but their official church position is pro-
choice. This confirms the fact that there are many, conscientious,
honest-hearted Adventists that challenge hierarchical statements and
position papers from their General Conference.
It can be argued that the SDA emphasis on physical health stems
from their view of the nature of man—the body entity being all they
really have. Adventists define the soul as merely their breath (air) or
life principle (spark of life) in their nostrils that automatically returns to
God at death. They further believe that their body becomes
nonexistent, yet somehow sleeps. In real life, a person that sleeps is
not “dead, dead” as Adventists put it. Something that does not exist
in any form certainly does not await anything—much less a
resurrection. Their view provides absolutely no continuity of
personhood. At best, they are in the memory of God like a fallen
sparrow. They further believe that they die just like animals, with the
only difference being that they are in the remembrance of God. To
them, the soul is not a separate entity that God calls home at death.
On the other hand, the apostle Paul clearly affirmed that he “would
prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor.
5:8 NIV).
Seventh-day Adventists repeatedly fail to utilize and/or ignore
accepted principles of hermeneutics in defining biblical figures of
speech, metaphors, places, and words (e.g., Abraham’s bosom, pits
of darkness, death, destruction, devour, eternal, everlasting, fire,
forever, gehenna, grave, hades, hell, perish, sheol, and tormented).
Biblically, death is defined as separation from God (e.g., the fall of
Adam). Linguistically, the same words in Scripture do not always
mean the same thing in various time frames. Words must be studied
not only etymologically, but comparatively as well, to comprehend the
biblical writer’s intent. The context, grammar, and syntax, together
with other pertinent tools of interpretation, must always be considered
when reaching a theological conclusion. With their proof-text system
of interpretation, they repeatedly incorporate selective and prejudicial
evidence to support an extra-biblical hypothesis. Unfortunately, this
flawed methodology is frequently employed by their apologists and
historians as well. They routinely analyze historical documents and
Biblical passages in light of their cultic presuppositions. Their primary
focus is to align historical data in such a manner that it fully supports
their worldview.
Adam still had an intact physical body immediately after the Fall, but
his soul suffered separation or death as God had promised in the
event of disobedience. Adventism attempts to make God into a liar
when He warned Adam and Eve about the immediate consequence
of sin, “…for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die
(Gen. 2:17 NASB). Interestingly, Adventists agree with the serpent,
“You surely will not die” (Gen. 3:4 NASB). Official Adventism denies
the fact that the souls of Adam and Eve died on the very day of their
disobedience. Unlike the animals, man was created to possess the
immortal image of God—the crowning act of creation. Remember, at
creation, the Creator was spirit not body. Adam was fashioned into
the eternal “spirit” image of his divine Creator. Therefore, we see the
dualistic nature of man at creation—body (material) and soul
(immaterial)—revealed right from the beginning in Genesis. Also,
unlike the animals, God specifically “breathed” the soul or spirit into
man (see Gen. 2:7). Human beings, as the crowning jewels of
creation, are most honored to be divinely-endowed with the immortal spirit image of God Himself, the Creator and Designer of all life. “Satan and his hosts never have a good day.”
An important church council, the Council of Chalcedon in A. D. 451,
was largely convened to correct the heresy of soul sleep and
annihilationism. Centuries later the great Reformer, John Calvin,
devoted his first literary work, the Psychopannychia, to debunk this
aberration of the Christian faith. The theory of annihilationism in
which the wicked pass into nonexistence either at death or at the
resurrection was first advanced by Arnobius, a fourth-century
“Christian” apologist [see Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, page 184].
Satan still does not want sinners to be concerned about eternal
punishment—merely a slap on the wrist will suffice as a quick-fix to
culminate a profane life. “The magnitude of the punishment matches
the magnitude of the sin…Now a sin that is against God is infinite; the
higher the person against whom it is committed, the graver the sin
and God is of infinite greatness. Therefore, an infinite punishment is
deserved for a sin committed against him” [Thomas Aquinas,
Summa Theologiae; Blackfriars ed., 1a2ae.87.4]. Interestingly and
strikingly, the Scriptures portray how the wicked will actually beg for
annihilation in asking for the rocks and mountains to fall on them to
hide them “from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16). However, in
spite of their frantic pleas, suicide and/or annihilation will not be
permitted to substitute for their “eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46).
The lead argument is that God is “too kind and loving” to extend His
justice forever. This view wrongly teaches, in effect, that God does
not view sin as being that big of a deal after all. With the resulting
quick fix of annihilation at the end of a profane life, one may easily
reason to accept a hedonistic lifestyle. If such a transitory fate were
true, many would opt to embrace the worldly view (Ecclesiastes 8:15)
to just eat, drink, and be merry today and quickly be extinguished
tomorrow. Annihilation does not constitute the ultimate punishment.
Rather, annihilation would constitute the end of punishment. The
ungodly in hell would like for annihilation to be true. Hell’s worst
feature is its duration. Obviously, with this view, the corrupt
pleasures of a lifetime of wickedness would far outlive the toughest
penalty that the worst criminal in history would have to endure, under
the momentary timeline of annihilationism. Indeed, the Bible teaches
that we have a heaven to gain and a hell to shun.
God does not view wickedness lightly. The primary reason why our
Savior told us so much about hell is that He doesn’t want anyone to
claim that they were not warned. Jesus Christ spoke of hell four times
more often than he spoke about heaven. Hell is so hard for people to
believe that it required Jesus Himself to verify its existence. It reveals
His great love for us. Those persons who end up in the eternal
torment of hell are without any excuse. The unregenerate in hell not
only realize that they deserve their fate but that they actually chose it
as well. In fact, heaven would be hell for the ungodly. God doesn’t
owe us anything. The fact that God even elects or saves anyone
makes his grace even more amazing. Our loving Father effectively
makes friends out of his enemies in the election process. His
choosing the elect is not based upon any human merit. Throughout
redemptive history, our sovereign God has always reserved the right
to select the members of His wonderful family. Truly, salvation is
from the Lord alone.
The only alternative for annihilationism is quarantine. And that is
exactly what hell is. Our righteous God has created a place of eternal
separation for those in perpetual rebellion against him. How could a
just and loving God eliminate his crowning jewels of creation simply
because they were not divinely-chosen? Since human beings are
fashioned into the very image of God, zapping them out existence
would do violence to his nature. “For believers death means being
‘away from the body and at home with the Lord’ (2 Cor. 5:8). That is
why He promised the penitent thief, ‘Today you will be with me in
paradise’ (Luke 23:43). That is why Paul described departing the
body to be with Christ as ‘better by far’ than remaining in the body
(Phil. 1:23). And that is why Scripture speaks of deceased human
beings as souls ‘under the altar’ (Rev. 6:9) and as the ‘spirits of
righteous men made perfect’ (Heb. 12:23)” [Robert A. Peterson; Two
Views of Hell
, page 171].
Adventists frequently like to say, “My God is too kind and loving. He
would never eternally torment the ungodly.” By not believing what
our sovereign God says about death and the afterlife, Adventists
make Him into their own image. They arrive at this conclusion based
primarily upon human sentiment instead of from biblical teaching.
Therefore, they unknowingly worship an idolatrous deity that fits their
humanistic perceptions. The sovereignty of God is not considered
when something doesn’t mesh with their esoteric views. By creating
their own god, they can conveniently sidestep anything that counters
their theological comfort zone. What blatant blasphemy to assert that
one knows the thoughts and ways of God! Let us review the
depressing plight of the devil. God has placed Satan and his angels
under conscious torment ever since he cast them out of heaven. And
note this, Satan and his hosts never have a good day. They exist
without any hope of regaining their original state. Their constant
anguish and despair is merely a foretaste of the reality of hell they will
soon experience forever. Is God “too loving and kind” to allow Satan
and his angels to suffer ever since their expulsion from heaven?
Furthermore, Satan knows what awesome, unspeakable splendor
exists in heaven. The thought of loss is greater than the thought of
gain. If the SDA supposals are true, Satan should have been
annihilated or obliterated immediately after his rebellion in heaven,
because God is “too loving and kind” to cause him to endure such
intense anguish and discomfort for thousands, perhaps millions, of
years already. The truth is that heaven only gets better while hell
only gets worse. Adventist dogma is very suspicious and distrusting
of God’s motives and justice. Consequently, they are planning to put
God on trial during the Millennium to verify and audit his records.
According to the SDA view, God is depending upon redeemed
humankind to vindicate his righteous character and justice by their
meticulously going through all the juicy details of those not found in
heaven. Adventists vividly surmise that engaging in this type of
gruesome, detailed investigation of the unsaved will somehow
alleviate their sorrow and loneliness in heaven. In other words, the
spotlight in the theater of the universe will focus upon human beings
instead of Jesus Christ during the Millennium. With the reality of
Calvary, God certainly doesn’t need any further vindication of his
character. What possible credentials do created beings have to judge
their Creator? This is yet another example of an SDA teaching that
diminishes the glory and honor due to our Lord and Savior, Jesus
Christ.
Let us remember the Adventist depiction of God, being “too kind and
loving,” who would never allow Satan and his evil angels to endure
such a severe, constant suffering all these many, many years. I can
well envision my Adventist friends asking, “How could a kind and
loving God inflict such horrific punishment upon a former leader in
heaven?” Furthermore, they would likely add, “Only a tyrant would do
such an awful thing. I would never worship nor respect a God like
that!” Dear friend, we serve a just, righteous, and sovereign God.
The unconfessed and unforgiven sins of the ungodly are forever
before the Father. The intentional parallelism in Jesus’ statement,
recorded in Matthew 25:46, is too obvious to miss. Indeed, we can
fully place our trust in the Bible! Others will continue to deny any
literal interpretation of Scripture because they don’t want to face the
literal realities that would reveal. Humanly speaking, God’s ways
may not always seem right or appealing to us. On the other hand,
why not just believe what He says? Which view of punishment do
you think Satan wants us to believe in—eternal agony in hell or the
momentary quick-fix of annihilation after living a profane life (try to be
objective)?
“We persevere because God preserves us.”
The gift of our eternal security in Christ should be a most serious
consideration (1 John 5:11-13). We are admonished not to be merely
“hope so” Christians, but rather to be “know so” Christians. “For the
gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29 NIV). The
apostle John, confirming our eternal security in Christ, clearly says,
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the
Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John
5:13). Furthermore, Jesus declared, “My sheep hear My voice, and I
know them, and they follow me; and I give [present tense] eternal
life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them
out of the Father’s hand
. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30
NASB). These passages, plus many others, certainly do not
entertain the notion that our eternal security in Christ is merely
“presumption” as our Adventist and Catholic friends like to tell us.
The assurance of our salvation, here and now, is vital to our spiritual
lives. Without it, our growth is retarded and we are assailed with
crippling doubts.
Thankfully, we no longer adhere to a “roller-coaster” religion that
teaches a fall from grace with every act of sin. This translates into
Seventh-day Adventists living in fear of losing their salvation several
times a day
. Let us, instead, embrace the promise of “being
confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on
to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6 NIV). After all,
we are sinners saved by grace. The central core of the Gospel is the
assurance that we can be right with God right now. This is good
news, indeed! Truly, we can trust God’s Word. No true believer ever
loses his salvation. To be sure, Christians fall at times seriously and
radically, but never fully and finally. Jesus is our Savior and Ark of
Safety—not our probation officer. We persevere because God
preserves us. Christianity, in the truest sense, is not a religion but
rather a relationship with Jesus Christ. The rebellious sin problem is
of utmost concern to our Heavenly Father.
In his classic book, Chosen by God, Dr. R. C. Sproul summarizes this
topic very well: “With respect to the assurance of salvation there are
basically four kinds of people in the world. (1) There are people who
are not saved who know that they are not saved. (2) There are
people who are saved who do not know that they are saved. (3)
There are people who are saved who know that they are saved. (4)
There are people who are not saved who “know” that they are saved”
(page 163). Truly, salvation is a very personal matter. We cannot
fool God about anything. Dr. Sproul further adds that, “False
assurance stems chiefly from false understanding of what salvation
requires and entails” (Ibid., page 164). The apostle Peter gives us an
important mandate, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to
make certain about His calling and choosing…” (2 Peter 1:10
NASB). “To be lacking in assurance is a grave hindrance to spiritual
growth. The person who is not sure of his state of grace is exposed
to doubts and terrors in his soul. He lacks an anchor for his spiritual
life. His uncertainty makes him tentative in his walk with Christ” (Ibid.,
page 168).
Adventist apologists cannot allow souls to be in heaven before their
“investigative judgment” scenario clears their names. Just when
Adventists will need Jesus the most, shortly before His glorious
appearance, He will be unavailable to them according to their
unbiblical hypothesis. This esoteric view actually teaches that fallen
mankind, prior to glorification, will ultimately be capable of facing a
holy God without the intercession of a mediator, due to their
achieved perfection status. The Bible clearly teaches that everyone
will consciously spend eternity in either heaven or hell. Most of
what we know about hell was taught by Jesus Himself. Please note
His clear message, “These will go away into eternal punishment, but
the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46 NASB).
By the way, the New Testament authors, under divine inspiration,
had ample access to the exact Koine Greek words they needed to
relate where we will consciously spend eternity. The intentional
parallelism in Jesus’ words quoted above are too obvious to miss.
Indeed, this passage describes an unending condition for all. The
same word “eternal” (Gk. αιωνιον) describes both heaven and hell
(see also the usage of “αιωνιον” in John 3:16 and 2 Thess. 1:9).
How can the adjective “eternal” be correct in regard to heaven and
not be correct in regard to hell? “Those that teach soul sleep and
conditionalism know it is contrary to many Scriptures, as is vividly
portrayed in the SDA’s Clear Word Bible with over 50 passages
changed by additions, deletions, or rewording, so readers won’t see
what God says about man and death” [Verle Streifling, Ph.D.; The
Nature of Man and Death,
page 7].
Thankfully, we don’t have to endlessly try to explain away what Jesus
meant by “eternal.” Since God is the ultimate author of Scripture, it is
apparent that the original biblical languages were determined by
Providence to provide the best communication with the human family.
We can always trust a passage when the hermeneutical structure and
context is fully applied. It is most important to understand what a
passage does not say as well as what it does say. This example
highlights the importance of seeing that all Christian teachings fit
neatly together like a completed puzzle.
In the larger picture, authentic Christian dogma is interrelated to the
extent that it reveals unity of thought on the essentials of salvation.
Because of their extra-biblical authority, based on the voluminous
writings attributed to Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventists do not
officially believe in the all-sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture.
Therefore, they cannot be considered to be truly Protestant. Let us
wholeheartedly embrace the Five Solas (or slogans) that became the
battle cry of the Protestant Reformation; namely, Sola Scriptura (“by
Scripture alone”), Sola Fide (“by faith alone”), Sola Gratia (“by grace
alone”), Solus Christus (“by Christ alone”), and Soli Deo Gloria
(“Glory to God alone”). The Gospel plus anything else is no longer
the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” It is
equally important to say that unexamined religion is not worth
practicing, and unexamined faith is not worth believing. Belief usually
does not stand still. It grows, develops, regresses, stagnates, and
changes. With His precise timing, God called us out of Adventism
with a sacred design for our lives. Our journey out of Adventism was
completed with the Biblical discovery that Jesus Christ is indeed our
true Sabbath Rest (Col. 2:16,17; Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 4:9,10; Gal.
3:11, 13, 19, 23-25; 5:1, 18; Phil. 3:9,10; Rom. 10:4; 14:5).
Under the New Covenant teachings of Jesus Christ, we have a
higher standard of righteousness than the Old Covenant could
provide. Through His indwelling Spirit, we are a new creation “sealed
for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). Our focus no longer centers
on the fading shadows of the sun, but rather upon the unsurpassing
glory of God the Son. We are not saved by a sunset calendar. The
legal Sabbath could not save us nor provide divine rest for our souls;
however, the True Sabbath saved us through His amazing grace. To
God be all the glory!
Being transformed by truth, we became members of an evangelical,
Bible-believing church. Moreover, Sylvia and I have come to greatly
appreciate the high view of God and Scripture as expressed in
Reformed theology. The doctrines of grace are aptly expressed in
the acrostic TULIP; namely, total depravity, unconditional election,
limited
perseverance of the saints. As many are painfully aware, Calvinism is a bad word in Adventist circles. For example, it would be unthinkable for a five-point Calvinist to embrace Adventism’s “investigative judgment” alibi with its heretical teaching that Jesus’ death did not fully atone for our sins. In biblical Christianity, the finished work of Christ on the Cross is nonnegotiable. Theologically, Seventh-day Adventists are most accurately described
as semi-Pelagianists (named after the British monk who went against
the doctrines of grace when Augustine was the Bishop of Hippo in
Africa). Indeed, salvation is from the Lord! We are not the captains
of our eternal destiny as we formerly believed. Our sovereign God is
certainly not at the mercy of the fallen human will. Our Heavenly
Father is calling ever-increasing numbers of Adventists out of
legalism and fear and into the freedom and security found only in
Jesus Christ. Consequently, those who are intent upon accurate
answers will no longer remain in a toxic-faith system. Moreover, they
are no longer content with observing the ritual shadows pointing to
the Cross. Walking in the light, words fail to adequately express our
joy and peace that we have found in Jesus. Our Savior graciously
declared, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:30
NASB). Having sipped enough nectar from the roses of life, my wife
Sylvia and I do not regret a mile we have traveled for the Lord. We
love and serve an awesome God. Yes, indeed, there is an abundant,
wonderful life beyond Adventism.
RECOMMENDED WEBSITES
www.desiringgod.org
www.ellenwhiteexposed.com
www.forthegospel.org
www.gty.org
www.ligonier.org
www.monergism.com
www.spurgeon.com
www.towertotruth.net/audio.htm#radio
(38-minute radio show interview on Seventh-day Adventism)
www.truthorfables.com
www.whitehorseinn.org
EPILOGUE
The primary purpose in relating my theological journey out of
Seventh-day Adventism is to give all the honor and glory to our
awesome and sovereign God. Now that I have shared my spiritual
journey with you in the preceding pages, it is my prayerful request
that you join me in singing my testimony in song, “He touched me,
and I will never cease to praise Him.”

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIgErxNu6X4)
May the inspiring words of this song, penned by Bill Gaither in 1962,
reflect the true nature of your heart as well. Our Heavenly Father is
efficaciously calling many out of false gospels as never before
witnessed. Indeed, He specializes in things thought impossible. A
soteriological stance that makes one’s heart to sing with gratitude and
praise is truly God-centered and God-exalting.
The most loving and compassionate deed that anyone can do is to
warn others against toxic belief systems—especially the most subtle
ones masquerading as Evangelicals. This is why the inspired writers
of the New Testament devoted so much time and effort to dispel and
expose numerous heresies. The greatest fortress against any heresy
is to be thoroughly grounded in Scripture. The Bible is God’s voice
speaking to us. It is most noteworthy, throughout redemptive history,
that our sovereign God never goes on a rescue mission that fails.
After all, Jesus came to “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21
NASB). Remember, friends don’t let friends become Adventists.
Your comments and questions are always welcome. May God
continue to abundantly bless your quest for biblical truth. Soli Deo
Gloria!
In awe of His saving grace,
Dennis J. Fischer, Director and Founder
DENNIS FISCHER MINISTRIES
“Online Chaplaincy and Mentoring Services”
4820 South 54th Street Lincoln, NE 68516 USA
E-mail: dfministries@gmail.com

Source: http://www.tekiah.co.za/images/docs2012/Beyond%20Adventism.pdf

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