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Seventh-day Adventists - Facts & Fables

Scripture: Ephesians 2:8-10, Exodus 20:8-11
Date: 11/21/2015 
What is a Seventh-day Adventist? What are the facts and what is fiction about Seventh-day Adventists?
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You know, I thought it would be appropriate to talk a little bit about 'What is a Seventh-day Adventist?' and separate it from fact and fiction. And that'll be the title of our message today, Seventh-day Adventist Facts and Fables. Now, when I first was exposed to the Seventh-day Adventist message - some of you have heard my personal testimony that I came from a background that was, for the most part, irreligious. I know, it always worries me when people see that picture and say, 'Oh, so that guy's our pastor?' but in my teenage years, you know, coming from a Jewish background, my mother, and my father, he was pretty much an atheist but we grew up not really believing anything. I went to Catholic school and Jewish schools, but we weren't really indoctrinated very much. I had never heard of Seventh-day Adventists, so after I read a Bible, I was living in a cave during some hippie years, and I read a Bible and accepted Jesus through the power of the word.

I said, 'Well, I need to go to church.' I didn't have any - I was clueless about where to go. I just wanted to go where I could Bible Christians that were on fire. And so, I began to study with and meet with a number of evangelical churches. And I’ll tell you that I’d never even heard of a Seventh-day Adventist at that time. If you had asked me who they were, I wouldn't have been - I’d be totally clueless. And I’m afraid that there are a lot of other people in the world out there that still don't have any idea or they have a lot of misconceptions. You know, as I travel, I’m a pastor, so when you meet people and you start with your typical introductory remarks - 'how are you? Where are you from? What do you do?' 'I’m a pastor.' 'What church?' 'Seventh-day Adventist.' 'Seventh-day Adventist? What do they believe? Aren't you guys - no blood transfusions, right?' I said, 'No, it's not us.' they said, 'Seventh-day Adventists - that's like LDS - is it Latter Day Saints?'

I said, 'No, we're SDA, that's LDS, which is not to be confused with AOG, which is Assembly of God or Church of God or Presbyterian.' and people - you'd be surprised how much ignorance there is out there about the different denominations. And you can understand the reason for some of the confusion because there are literally hundreds of different denominations in North America that all claim to be Christian and so people get lost in the kaleidoscope of different denominations and you try to explain what a Seventh-day Adventist is and it's - they seem to scramble it up if they're not acquainted with it or they knew somebody who knew somebody or they had a relative and all they know is that they went to church on a different day and that they didn't eat pork. I heard a story years ago - I’ve not verified this so it could be an urban myth, but I’ll share it with you anyway.

Any of you remember the Art Linkletter show? And he had a - either a feature on that program or a program that said, 'Kids Say the Strangest Things' and he had this one little girl up there and he said something about, you know, 'What'd you do yesterday?' and she said, 'Well, I went to church.' he said, 'No, yesterday was Saturday. You don't mean you went to church.' she said, 'No, we went to church Saturday.' he said, 'You go to church Saturday, why do you do that?' she said, 'Because we're Seventh-day Adventists.' 'Seventh-day Adventists - what do you believe?' she said, 'Well, we don't eat pork and we hate Catholics.' (Raucous laughter) so that probably went a long way to help with our public image. The not eating pork part is true.

I hope the other part is not true. But, you know, people have these perceptions and so there's a lot of confusion. But it's interesting, it seems like, in recent months, for a variety of reasons, Seventh-day Adventists have been coming and, I expect, will be coming more into the public eye and so I thought I’d like to take a moment to try and talk about 'What is a Seventh-day Adventist?' and some of the facts and try to de-bunk some of the fables. Karen and I were tickled when we were in Fiji a few weeks ago - it's just last week - maybe two weeks ago - and we met the new president - he was president-elect then, he has been inaugurated since. Major General George Konrate, who is the president and he is the first Seventh-day Adventist president of this island nation. And he met us twice, said Amazing Facts had something to do with his being a Seventh-day Adventist - and we were thrilled to hear that.

Wonderful, humble man - very smart man - very respected in his country. And then, of course, we have somebody, at least at the time of this recording - I always like to be conscious, this may play in a few years, but - a Seventh-day Adventist that is fairly prominent in the polls who is running for the republican nomination - Dr. Ben Carson. And I spoke with him, actually, about a year and a half ago. He was at our religious broadcaster’s convention. I think I saw Duane here, he was there with me, and I stayed behind and visited with him. We had actually met before because he would frequent some of the same camp meetings and convocations I would be at and I would just see him briefly backstage. But that was back before he announced he was running. And so now, Donald Trump and others said, 'I don't know what a Seventh-day Adventist - what's that? Seventh-day Adventist?' and so then people began to Google search - what is it? And it worried me because they went to some websites that don't know anything about us and, you know, you're going to find good and bad on the internet. Some people think, 'Well, it must be true - I saw it on the internet.'

Take my word for it, not everything you see on the internet is true. And if you've got an ache or a pain, don't try to find out what it is on the internet because you'll be sure you're dying if you look there. So, what is a Seventh-day Adventist and what makes us different? Well, in a word, Seventh-day Adventists are, very simply, Bible Christians. And, of course, a lot of Christians'll say that, but really, this is what we believe and if you want to find out what a church is, let's get something out of the way right from the start: when you want to find out what a denomination believes, don't say, 'Well, I knew a Baptist so I know what Baptists believe.' because I think every Baptist will admit there are people that go to Baptist churches that don't very nicely represent Baptists - or don't even know what they believe. And that will be true of Methodists and Presbyterians, and Church of Christ and Seventh-day Adventists. And so, when you want to find out what a church believes, don't just look at one person - don't misunderstand, you should all, if you're members - I know we have a lot of non-Adventists that are visiting - worshiping with us today, but if you're a member you want to live a life that is a good example for what you believe. But not everybody does and every church has some kooky cousins, right?

So, if you want to really find out what they believe, look in the foundational documents. And if you look in the documents of what the Seventh-day Adventists believe, they'll tell you very clearly, this is one of our baptismal vows. When you join the church you say, 'We believe the Bible is God's inspired word and that it constitutes the only rule of faith and practice for the Christian. We believe both the Old and New Testaments comprise the word of God.' we believe and take the word of God quite literally. We believe it's the inspired, infallible word of God. And you will hear people - because Seventh-day Adventists do believe that God speaks through people, I mean, what else - why would pastors stand up except you hope that God will inspire people, right? And one of the founders in the Adventist church, Ellen G. White, most Seventh-day Adventists believe, was inspired and had the gift of prophecy that a prophet might have. And - but because of that, people say, 'Well, Seventh-day Adventists, you base your teachings on the writings of Ellen White.' Now, I’m going to do something a little risky here in this message, because I know many of you are Seventh-day Adventists, I’m going to come down where you are and we're going to put you on camera. We'll do it as a crowd. We won't single you out.

Now I’m giving you warning in advance because some of you look very austere right now. I want you to smile before the camera goes on you. (Laughter) Alright, so I’ll come down, we'll get a camera shot, and I want to ask a question and I want them to see your answer because we've got - how many of you are Seventh-day Adventist members? I won't ask - I see a lot that are not raising hands - you're visitors, okay. And so, getting a shot of the members so you can bear witness. Do we base our beliefs on what the Spirit of Prophecy says, what Ellen White says, or what the Bible says? The Bible. Okay, just wanted to get that on record. I hadn't told you I was going to say that, right? So this is all unscripted. I just want - others that are watching might see this tape, if we put it up, and I want them to know this is what we believe. And Ellen White, herself, who we do believe was inspired by God, she said, 'Do not base your beliefs on anything I’ve said.' she said, 'Base it on the Word of God.' Amen. And so, you'll hear people accuse us of that and it's just not true. Jesus said, 'Heaven and earth will pass away; My word will not pass away.'

That's Matthew 24:35 - Matthew 4:4, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" and so everything - what the pastor says, what a prophet says, what anybody says, must be measured up against what the Word of God says. Now, when I first heard about Seventh-day Adventists, I’ll just be very honest with you, I thought it was a peculiar name. You know, when I started saying, 'Lord, just show me your church' - because I worshiped with many different churches and I found that they disagreed on some, what I thought were, pivotal doctrines and I - I just went back up to the cave and I said, 'Lord, I just want to know the truth. Show me.' And I expected that I would find a church that was named 'Church of God' and there are churches that are called the Church of God - that's a great name. Or I’d find one that said, 'The Church of Christ' and there is a church called the Church of Christ - that's a good name - simple, right?

Assembly of God - assembly wouldn't have been my first choice, but that's still a great name. And, you know, you'll find a lot of the best names are copyrighted. And there may be several that are actually arguing over certain names. A lot of churches have a lot of names. 'We're living near the end of time, I want to be a Latter Day Saint,' don't you? Amen. But that's a Mormon and our beliefs are different. I want to be a witness for Jehovah. And you've got to be careful because that's another very different denomination. So why Seventh-day Adventist? Well, it's very simple, because along with the other nine commandments, we believe - in keeping a hundred percent - and one of them says, 'Remember the Sabbath day' so we worship on the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as the Sabbath. We don't see evidence in the Bible or history that it has been changed by God. And so, we're going to just do what God tells us to do. We figure that it's a commandment. That's one reason.

The word 'Adventist' means that we believe in the soon-coming or the imminent return of Jesus. Christ said, 'Behold, I am coming quickly.' several times in Revelation He tells us He's coming. In John chapter 14, 'I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.' And so the disciples and the apostles made a great priority about talking about the shortness of life, the return of the Lord, and getting people ready for that event. And so, we believe that we are a church that's been called in the last generation - the last age of the church - the age of Laodicea - to prepare the world for the advent of Jesus. That's all that means is - so we are Seventh-day Adventists but we're Bible Christians. And so, sometimes the names can sound confusing.

A little history about the formation of the church. Back in 1835 there was a great revival. It became known as - it was a 'The Great Second Awakening' or 'The Great Advent Movement' - not to be confused with Seventh-day Adventists. Seventh-day Adventists were not organized as a church until 1863 - I think the name was picked in 1860 - it was formally organized and incorporated in 1863. We're going back now to 1835 through 1844 - there was a Millerite movement - William Miller was a Baptist. He was an Adventist Baptist and hundreds of thousands of Christians around North America and South America and Europe - through reading the prophecies of Daniel, they were convinced because Daniel 8:14 said, "Unto two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed." And they understood those verses to mean that Christ was going to come at the end of this time period and cleanse the earth with fire - that the earth was the sanctuary - and that Jesus was coming. And it is true, the Lord's coming with fire and a whirlwind, but they misunderstood the prophecy. But that's what they believed and they sincerely believed it. And there was a Great Advent Movement that's known in history as 'The Great Disappointment' when, in 1844, and that October date passed - Jesus didn't come. People have said 'Seventh-day Adventists - you're the ones that have set dates for Jesus' coming.'

I’m going to go down here so you all look happy. I want to ask you now - hopefully you know your Bibles and your history. Have we, as a church, ever set a date for the second coming of Jesus? No. Okay, just - thank you very much, I appreciate that. That looked very decided. We have not set a date. That was the Millerites that set a date. We were not even organized as a church until years later. What is true, is a number of church groups fragmented and grew out of that disappointment. And that's not necessarily a bad thing because if you love Jesus and the New Testament, are you aware that the Bible writers in the New Testament wrote, after organizing, after coming through a great disappointment, because they misunderstood prophecy. Did the apostles believe that Jesus was going to die on a cross, even though he told them?

Were they devastated? Didn't they think that Jesus was going to overwhelm the Romans and set Himself up on the throne of David and proclaim Himself king and make Israel a literal nation? And even after He rose from the dead they came to Him and they said, 'Will you, at this time, establish the kingdom?' and He said, 'You know, you don't get it.' and they were so disappointed. So it shouldn't surprise you that God would raise up a movement coming from the ashes of a great disappointment, because that's how the New Testament, sort of, grew up. There was a lot of misunderstandings.

They also didn't think they should preach to Gentiles. It was quite a struggle when Peter first went to Cornelius' house. He thought the message about the Messiah was just for Jews. And they had to convince them, 'No, it's to go to everybody.' And so, that's - it grew out of this great disappointment time, was organized in 1863, but to just give you the picture, what I love about the Adventist church is that we are - we're sort of the co-mingling of Christians from many different backgrounds that basically put aside their differences. Back after Jesus didn't come in 1844 there were Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians - all these different churches - and they said, 'Let's study together. We've, obviously, misunderstood the word.

There's probably many other misunderstandings.' it had not been that long since the Protestants came out of the Dark Ages where the truth was cast to the ground. And they said, 'Let's study.' and in those studies from Christians of many denominations, the church developed. They said, 'Let's get back to the Bible.' They realized there were several things they'd been following that were not biblical. And so we'll be talking about what some of those things are and what some of them are not. Some of the principle founders of our church - there was a sea captain who had been, I believe, a Presbyterian - Joseph Bates - a very interesting man. If you want to hear an amazing autobiography, this guy started out running away as a cabin boy.

He ended up in jail, and pressed into the British Navy and shipwrecked and almost eaten by sharks and - just an incredible story. Joseph Bates, one of the founders of the church along with James White, Ellen White, and a number of others - and they were all young. Many of them were in their twenties. Joseph Bates was sort of the senior man in the group. So what do we believe as a church? What grew out of that Bible study that developed us into the church that we are today? Well, one thing we believe in following the Bible, loving the Lord, and loving your neighbor.

We believe in serving our fellow man. Seventh-day Adventists have a world-wide community service program. Some of you have heard of ADRA - the Adventist Relief Development Agency - and we go into countries around the world, especially when there's disasters and we provide relief plus ongoing help in developing countries to alleviate the needs of the people. Jesus said, 'I was hungry and you fed Me; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was a stranger and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' and Christ said, 'Inasmuch as you do it to the least of these you've done it to Me. So Seventh-day Adventists believe in alleviating the suffering of humanity and that is part of the ministry of Christ.

That's what it means to be a Christian. And some of the evidence of that is that all over the world we have a very extensive health and ministry work. We have hospitals and sanitariums - actually, there are 171 Seventh-day Adventist hospitals and sanitariums around the world. It is the largest health-care ministry - largest Christian health-care ministry next to the Catholics.

The Catholics have a long history of medical work and hospitals. Seventh-day Adventists, considering that we're certainly not the oldest Protestant group, but we're number two when it comes to our understanding relieving the physical suffering of humanity and ministering to the sick. And that means they're treating 14,997,000 people every year. According to the research done not too long ago - some of you heard of the Blue Zone study? Because of the Seventh-day Adventist belief that the Bible teaches healthful living - that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit - we need to care for our bodies - a number of studies have shown that Seventh-day Adventists live an average of ten years longer than the average citizen.

Now, in some countries, it's much better than that, but in America, we live an average of ten years longer. Matter of fact, I think I’ve got a picture somewhere that shows - yeah, there she is - that's Marge - at the time of this picture - 104 years old. Some of you saw the National Geographic magazine Secrets of Living Longer - they identified four groups. Three of those groups were identified based on a territory - I think it was Sardinia, Okinawa, Japan - Loma Linda. Loma Linda's there but there's - there was a fourth one. Hunza - was it Hunza?

I don't know if that was one of them. Anyway, there were four groups that were identified. One of them, though, was Seventh-day Adventists. They focused on Loma Linda, California, but it wasn't because of their race or their geography, it was because of the belief system, in this study, and they said Seventh-day Adventists clearly live longer than the average and it was attributed to - one thing, the rest and community on the Sabbath; there's something healthful about that - but a lot because of the lifestyle. And it's much more common for a Seventh-day Adventist to reach a hundred years of age than it is for the average citizen, because we believe in caring for our bodies. We have - we abstain from unclean food, alcohol, tobacco, and along with another - a number of other important health practices.

So we're a health-conscious people. Just a few facts and figures I might share with you about the Seventh-day Adventists - I just printed these off last night because the numbers, of course, are changing. It's a very dynamic figure, but as of this recording in November 2015, there are 78,000 churches worldwide. Church membership - it was only about 7,000 around the turn of the century - or 78,000 around the turn of the century and now it's at 18.4 million and growing. Baptisms last year - or if I’m - I could be wrong, it might be baptisms in the last five years - this may be a quinquennium report - 1 million - no, I think it's more than that. You know, it was just last year - I million baptisms - that's - and we just added to that and will today. 18,000 ordained ministers - worlds - how many countries and areas in the world, according to the United Nations? There are 237, not just countries but including places designated as areas - they may not be incorporated as countries - 237. Seventh-day Adventists are working - out of 237 we are in 216. That's encouraging.

Jesus said, 'The gospel of the kingdom shall go into all the world for a witness, then the end will come.' Languages used in the Seventh-day Adventist publications and oral work - 947 languages - and so people that are sharing the message around the world are doing it in 900 languages. Jesus said to every tongue and people. Educational program - we have 7,579 schools with a total enrollment of 1,800,000 (and change) students. 294 clinics and dispensaries, 34 orphanages, and 15 media centers, 63 publishing houses printing in 366 languages - and so this is a world-wide movement - and some of you are going to be joining that movement today through baptism and we thought it'd be good to have some of those figures.

So that gives you a little picture of what we're doing - our educational system, medical system, media system - and Amazing Facts is part of this global media work of the Seventh-day Adventist church. But what about our teachings - because that's the bottom line - what are the ingredients? You know, when you ask a person, 'What does your church believe?' a person might say, 'Well, let me see, what did my pastor say we believed last week?' or 'Well, I don't know, I’ll ask one of our members.' If you're going to join a church, what is the reason to join a church? You know why most people join churches? Let me see if I can just list, from memory, some of the top ten reasons 'Why do people join churches?'

It's where their family went. 'I joined while it's - our people - our family, for generations we've been Catholics, so I’m a Catholic.' What do you believe? 'Well, I don't know, let me ask the priest.' but some people, they just joined - it's sort of like they've inherited their religion. 'Oh yeah, I was born a Baptist, I’m going to die a Baptist.' 'What do you believe?' 'What my church believes.' 'What do they believe?' 'What our pastor teaches.' 'What does he believe?' 'We believe the same thing.' (Laughter) and some people, they're not sure, it's just sort of like a cultural thing with them. Some people pick a church because it's close to their house. 'Why do you go there?' 'It's right up around the corner.

It's convenient.' 'What do they believe?' 'Well, I don't know, most of I agree with it.' I know this because we get calls on the radio every week and we hear the reasons that people join a church. 'Why do you go to that church?' 'Well, it's the church where everybody that's anybody in our community, goes to that church. It is the church where the people with the power go.

They are connected.' Karen and I were visiting with somebody just last week and they, basically, that's what they said. 'This is a church where the people are connected with the community. They're - they - it's like the power - influence. Years ago, when presidents changed and presidents used to go to church more commonly on Sunday, in Washington D.C. and they would like to call the local Methodist church or the Presbyterian church and say, 'Is the president attending today?' They wanted to go when the president went. 'Why do you go to that church?' 'Wow, it is the most beautiful building. I go in and when the stained glass - when the sun is at a certain place and it shines in, there's this ambience - I just feel the presence of God - the architecture, the vault, the echo.' it's the building. 'What do they believe?' 'I don't know but oh, it's just so beautiful.' Really, some people - that's - 'Why do you go to that church?' 'They've got a great children's program.' Now, I think we have a great children's program. And everybody wants to go to a church with a great children's program, but is that the reason you pick a church? ‘Why do you go to that church?' 'The music. I like to sing, they've got a choir, so I go.' 'What do they believe?' 'I don't care for their beliefs, but their singing is out of this world.' And, for that reason, you ought to join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir because they are really good. (Laughter)

Isn't that right? 'They're great. They can sing.' 'But what do they believe?' and the thing is what do you believe, right? So, when you're going to make a decision and say, 'I’m joining a church.' - even though you want them to have a charismatic pastor, it's nice if they have a good music program, a good children's program, a clean building - all of those things are fringe benefits. None of them are the reason to pick the church. The reason to pick the church is the teachings of that church - the official teachings of that church are the teachings that you find of Jesus in the Bible. Amen. That's the reason - that's why I joined this church - and, if I find a church - I hope I don't hurt anybody's feelings, but if I find a church closer, I want to be in the church that is the closest to the teachings of Jesus. Amen. That's really the reason that you want to be part - and if you're joining this church it's because, I hope, you believe that the teachings of the church are the teachings of Christ. Well, let's look at some of those - what about our - teaching of God?

Let me read to you what our teaching is: 'There is one God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - a unity of three co-eternal persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all and ever present. He is infinite beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, service - by the whole creation.' We believe in what you would call 'The Trinity'. Now, that word is not found in the Bible - that God the Father, Son, and Spirit comprise God. And so, no, we don't believe Jesus was created. We believe all things that were made were made by Him. We do not believe that the Holy Spirit is just some electric force that God uses. The Holy Spirit is a person. Jesus said, 'When He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will lead you into all truth' - and Christ identifies Him as Father, Son, and Spirit being part of God. What do we believe about salvation? 'Oh, because you believe in the Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists, you believe that you are saved by keeping the Seventh-day Sabbath.' Alright, coming down here for a second.

Start smiling now. Do we - we believe the seventh day is the Sabbath? Yes. Do we believe that we are saved because we keep the Sabbath? No. Seventh-day Adventists don't believe we're saved by Sabbath keeping any more than a Baptist believes that you're saved by not stealing. Just because you believe all ten commandments does not believe - mean that you believe you're exclusively saved by keeping one of the commandments, we just believe that they're all important and, obviously, because you're in a culture where Christians, at large, neglect one of the commandments, we are going to say more about that. Idolatry's wrong. There are some churches that don't have a problem with that. There are going to be people in heaven that did not know about idolatry. I know that that might be hard for some of you to imagine. Matter of fact, why don't I do that right now? I’ll come down here and ask another question.

One of the myths that I hear is that Seventh-day Adventists believe that we're the only ones that are going to be in heaven. Do any of you believe that only Seventh-day Adventists are going to heaven? No. Okay, that's good. You talk to me later because I hear people say, 'Oh, Adventists, they think they're the only ones that are going.' One reason I joined the church is I was pleased to finally find a group that said that they believe the largest part - matter of fact, this is something Ellen White says in the book Great Controversy, the greatest part - not the smallest part - the greatest part of Christ's true followers are in the fellowship of other denominations. I said, 'Oh, that's refreshing.'

I don't agree with all of the teachings, but God knows their hearts and that there are many people in these other churches that love Him and they walk in the light they've got and they're God's children and His spirit works in them and God answers their prayers, but theologically, they may be wrong on some things. I’m in this church because I believe it's theologically closer to the Bible. Amen. But the Seventh-day Adventists - I think there's more to it than that. I believe that in the last days the whole world is going to be polarized into one of two groups.

Most Christians agree that there's going to be those who have the Mark of the Beast and those who have the Seal of God. You're going to have one group - everyone's going to be forced to worship the beast. That's going to be sort of global, right? All - small and great, rich and poor, free and bond. The other group is going to be faithful to God and that means, right now, since He's got His people in so many different churches, there's going to be a time of trouble. There's going to be a shaking before the end and people are going to be shaken into one of two groups.

Christ said, 'Other sheep I have that are not of this fold. Them, also, I must call. They will hear My voice. They will be one fold.' Right now there's many. The church is fragmented. Other religions make fun of Christianity because there's such - such a fractured religion. It's not going to always be that way. Christ is going to come back for a church that is like the faith that He delivered unto the saints. There's going to be a revival of apostolic spirit-filled biblical Christianity before the end where we're going to return to the teachings of the Bible. Alright, let me get back to some of the specifics. Do we believe we're saved by works or faith? Faith. Salvation - Ephesians 2, "By grace you are saved through faith, not of yourselves, it is a gift of God." Do we all believe that? Yes. Does anyone believe we're saved by keeping the Sabbath? No. Or any command - no. And it says this in our teachings: "We accept the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary as the atoning sacrifice for our sins and believe, through faith in His shed blood, I am saved from sin and its penalty.

It's through faith alone we are saved. And we all believe that. So the myth out there is somehow we believe by not eating pork we're saved, or eating more garlic (Laughter) - you've all met people that believe in righteousness by garlic, haven't you? And they come to church and sit in their own pew - and that's a pun. (Laughter) It's through faith. Now, with that, I should probably say something about the law and the Sabbath. We do not keep the law to be saved, we keep the law because we are saved. Amen. Jesus said, 'If you love Me' - what comes first?

Love for Me. 'If you love Me' - do what? Keep My commandments. Keep commandments. If anyone says you love the Lord and you don't keep His commandments, John says you're a liar and the truth is not in you. And that wouldn't mean 50% or 80% - we believe 100%, including the Sabbath commandment that has never been changed. And, of course, you find that in Exodus 20, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." Wouldn't it seem odd to you that God would say the one commandment you're supposed to really forget about is the only commandment He said to remember. Right? He says, 'Remember the Sabbath day' and then on the next page He says, 'Well, but that's the one you're supposed to forget.' No, He's very clear. And so we believe that.

We believe in keeping all of them. I don't believe I’m saved more by keeping the Seventh-day Sabbath than I am by not committing adultery - or by not stealing or lying - it's all part of God's law and if we love the Lord we're going to want to keep His commandments. Amen. Now something that is admittedly different from typical Evangelicals with the Seventh-day Adventists is our understanding of what happens when you die. We believe that when a person dies, that they sleep a dreamless, peaceful sleep - an unconscious sleep in the grave - until the resurrection. 'But what about that verse in the Bible, Pastor Doug? It says, in 2 Corinthians 5:8, "...to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." and as soon as you die you, you get ushered off to Abraham's bosom or somewhere in spirit form and then when Jesus comes back you'll get the body and then you'll have the judgment.'

We just don't find that's biblical. First of all, it is true that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Meaning, if you're saved, and you should die, your next conscious thought is the resurrection and the presence of the Lord. There's no awareness of time for you and so - God lives in all dimensions of time - but you and I, we live in time and the resurrection hasn't happened yet. Do we all agree? Right. Christ said, 'I’ll raise him up the last day.' Very clear. Jesus said, 'In the last day.' the judgment hasn't happened yet. The idea that people go right to hell or heaven as soon as they die, before the resurrection, before the judgment is not biblical. And so, yes, we are in that group and we're not alone.

That was the belief of many of the Protestant reformers, but some of the mythological - the teachings of the Dark Ages that were in the church, crept into the Protestant churches. Let me give you a quote - and this is from Martin Luther - this is actually written by the Lutheran scholar Dr. T.A. Kantonen in his book the Christian Hope, p. 37, "For just as one who falls asleep and reaches morning unexpectedly awakes without knowing what happened to him, we shall suddenly rise, on the last day, without knowing how we have come into death or through death."

That was the teaching of Luther. He believed you slept in the grave, unconsciously, but he believed your next conscious thought was the resurrection of the Lord - or the resurrection - the coming of the Lord. That's also what William Tyndale believed. You've heard of the Tyndale Bible translators. Many of these Evangelicals would be surprised how many of the great reformers believed exactly what Seventh-day Adventists believe about the subject of death, even though how many of you have been to a funeral where they say, 'Our dearly beloved, they're out - they're up in heaven with Jesus now and they're singing and walking and they're - they're telling their friends down on earth to shape up and they're watching over us right now.'

You've all heard that? The reason it's important not to be confused on the subject of death is because the Bible says, in the last days, Satan is going to use seducing spirits that will deceive people. And if you believe that the dead can communicate with the living and ghosts and spirits - Christians shouldn't be getting involved in that. If people are getting messages they may have fallen angels that are manipulating them, but the Bible is very clear: "For the living know that they will die;" - Ecclesiastes 9:5 - "but the dead know nothing." It is the living that praise the Lord. Those that die, it says in the day their breath goes forth - Psalm 146 'Their thoughts perish' - they stop thinking. They're not thinking anything.

They're sleeping. There are about twelve resurrections in the Bible - Old and New Testament. Are you aware that in every one of those cases none of those resurrected ever made a single comment about knowing anything when they died? Wouldn't you think that the first question that would be asked when someone was dead and they were raised is, 'what did you see? What did you experience? What was it like? What did you feel?' But the record of the Bible is that none of them have anything to say about their experience during death because the dead don't know anything.

It's pretty clear. But that flies in the face of what some Christians have heard for years. And I know it troubles people because they say, 'You know, I lost my husband and I just feel his presence with me and' - you know, you've got those memories. I’m sure they're very precious, but they're sleeping. And some of us know loved ones that have died that maybe didn't know the Lord. I hope you find relief in the knowledge that they're not roasting while you walk the earth. That's why, on many of the ancient graves it says, 'RIP'. What does that mean?

Rest in peace. They're sleeping - dreamless sleep until the resurrection. So that's one thing that is admittedly different about the Adventist belief. Connected with that is our understanding about hellfire. Now, I want to get - who wants it this time? I’ll come back over here. Okay, we've been accused 'Seventh-day Adventists do not believe in hell.' Let me ask you, do we believe in hell? Yes.

Okay. Is hell hot? Yes. Will the lost burn in hell? Yes. Okay, just in case, I want to make sure - I know we have some Baptists that are watching and they say, 'Oh, Seventh-day Adventists don't believe in hell. We do believe in hell. Matter of fact, our hell is hotter than the Baptist hell (Laughter) because the Baptist hell just sort of simmers them forever and our hell burns them up. (Laughter) They don't burn forever and ever. And I know that's different. During the Dark Ages it was very profitable for the church to scare people out of their wits with the idea of the wicked being tormented forever and ever and ever. And can you imagine - and they say as soon as you die they go to torment - they haven't even been judged yet and they go to hell to burn forever and ever and ever for the sins of one lifetime. And if the Bible says every man is rewarded according to their work, but Adolf Hitler gets the same punishment as some, you know, poor confused teenager that committed suicide and didn't know Jesus, where's the justice in that? This is not what the Bible teaches.

Jesus said there are two choices: believe and live; do not believe and perish - John 3:16. The devil said, 'You will not surely die.' That doctrine that you just burn forever and ever comes from the devil. God said, 'In the day you sin you will die.' Life is a gift. God doesn't give eternal life - where in the Bible does it say that everybody has immortality? When Jesus comes, then 'This mortal will put on immortality.' God and God only has immortality. The idea that sinners are immortal - well, the devil would like to believe that because even he will be cast into the lake of fire, but he's not immortal. Only God is immortal. God gives us the gift of immortality in the resurrection. We don't have that yet.

So we believe that the wicked are cast into hell. Hell is real. It's going to burn. Everyone is punished according to what they deserve, but the Bible says they are consumed - Malachi chapter 4 - they are burnt up. In Revelation 20 it says fire comes down from heaven and devours them. The scriptures are very clear that the wicked burn up in hell. By the way, this was the belief of John Stott, who was probably the most influential Evangelical theologian in the last century. He firmly believed in what we call annihilation - that the wicked will be burnt up. And, you know what?

I’m relieved. I need to be honest and tell you that Seventh-day Adventists don't really hold a monopoly on that teaching. More and more Evangelicals I am meeting - matter of fact, I meet some of them at these religious broadcaster meetings and they come up and they look around to make sure nobody's listening and they'll say, 'I agree with you on the subject of hell.' they said, 'You can't prove the other from the Bible.' And there are Pentecostals, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists - more and more leading scholars in these churches realize that the idea of the eternal torment of the lost is - was a medieval theology that had kind of come over into the Evangelical churches. It's not what Jesus taught. Jesus said, 'When you go to heaven' - Revelation - 'no more sin.

No more crying, no more pain. All things new.' If all things are new and there's no more pain and there's no more crying, how can you say there's some vast torture chamber where people are shrieking forever and ever and ever? Another interesting belief is regarding the Sanctuary. Now, you know, the reason - what I’m doing is I’m highlighting some of the things that are unique about Seventh-day Adventists. In many ways we're typical Christians and believe and do the typical Christian things, but Seventh-day Adventists believe that Jesus is our High Priest. And doesn't the Bible teach this? And that there is a literal dwelling place of God known as the Sanctuary in heaven. The Bible talks about it. Hebrews is very clear in that Christ has entered into the last phase of His work of redemption. Yes, He died once. He was sacrificed once, but He hasn't ceased working as our High Priest. If the ministry of Jesus is totally over, then why hasn't He come back?

What's God waiting for? If it's all over, what are we doing here? Obviously, it's not over yet and Christ is continuing His work - His intercession - His mediation as our High Priest. If you look in Hebrews 8:1 and 2, "Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: we have such a high priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man." Like most Christians, Seventh-day Adventists celebrate the communion. We use unleavened bread and unfermented grape juice.

That would be the same as Methodists, Baptists, most - some churches - Presbyterian, Catholic use fermented grape juice. We believe that it is a type of the blood of Christ, which is unpolluted and is to be pure. It should be unfermented. And - I don't know how to say this but - except just to say that I believe Jesus was a Seventh-day Adventist. Amen. Did Jesus believe that the seventh day was the Sabbath? Yes. You can read in the Bible, it says, 'As His custom was, He went into the church on the Sabbath day and stood up to read the scriptures - in Luke chapter 2, Mark chapter 1, Jesus believed in the second coming. He said, 'I go to prepare a place for you and I will come again.' Now here's the question - you might say, 'Well, Pastor Doug, I’ve heard - Seventh-day Adventists - I’ve heard that you're a cult.' Have you heard that before? If the Lord did have a unique church in the last days that had a revival of biblical truth, and if you were the devil, how would you want to portray them? Wouldn't you do everything you could to smear that name? Are you aware that that's what they did to Jesus when He walked the earth?

They accused Paul of that. Listen to what they said about Paul. They called him a heretic. Acts 24:5, "For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect" - the cult - "of the Nazarenes." and they portrayed Paul in the most violent and outrageous terms. Acts 24:14 - Paul said, "But this I confess to you, that according to the way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets." And friends, that's why I’m a Seventh-day Adventist.

Some will call it a cult, but I will be happy to stand toe to toe with a pastor from any church and say, 'Here's why I believe what I believe. Now let me challenge what you believe from the Bible.' That's right. It's all about can you prove it from the scriptures? Now I respect that different people are convinced differently and I understand that. But I believe, as Jesus comes back, there's going to be a great shaking in our world and people are going to be called into biblical faith. I don't know exactly how it's going to happen, friends, but something's going to happen and there's going to be a shaking.

It'll affect our church, it'll affect the whole world, and people are going to be searching for God. Men's hearts failing for fear - there's going to be a great time of trouble and a small time of trouble and, during this small time of trouble, I think there's going to be the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. People are going to be digging in the Bible like never before. God's people are going to be brought before kings and rulers of the world to give a testimony. I understand Mel Gibson is making a movie - 120-million-dollar movie about a Seventh-day Adventist hero, based on Desmond Doss, the winner of the Medal of Honor who would not lift up a gun - very unusual. And I knew him.

His wife was a member of our church - an incredible person - but I think a number of things are happening in the world today that are going to bring Seventh-day Adventists more into visibility, and I thought it was appropriate to take a little time and talk about what are some of the facts and what are some of the fables and let our viewers hear it from the horse's mouth, so to speak, and say it in the presence of witnesses that will confirm and affirm these things.

So, the bottom line is, we invite people to study the word for themselves and make sure you're building on the rock. Jesus said there's going to be a storm coming and the only house that's going to survive is the one that is built on the foundation of God - Christ's teaching - and his word. Amen? Amen. What Seventh-day Adventists believe is not new, it's actually very old. We are seeking to return to the faith that was delivered to the saints and I invite all those that are watching to do that. Isn't that your prayer, friends? Amen. And I want to be part of that people. Can't get enough Amazing Facts Bible study?

You don't have to wait until next week to enjoy more truth-filled programming, visit the Amazing Facts media library at ‘AFTV.org'. At 'AFTV.org' you can enjoy video and audio presentations as well as printed material all free of charge, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, right from your computer or mobile device. Visit 'AFTV.org'. Every day we make hundreds of decisions. Sometimes these choices are mundane: 'What will you have for breakfast?' or 'What will you wear for work?' But sometimes these decisions can have an eternal impact, like when you set up an estate plan that supports God's work.

We need to move quickly, friends, to ensure as many souls as possible have the opportunity to make decisions for Christ. And when you choose to include your evangelism values in your estate plan today, Amazing Facts can do even more to expand God's kingdom through your faithful stewardship. I’d like to offer you a free gift entitled Provide and Protect, which is a tremendous resource telling about life and death decisions connected with your estate plan. Contact our Planned Giving department at 800-436-2695 or visit Enduringlegacy.org and you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your house is in order.

You've probably heard the expression before, 'If you don't like the weather in Texas, just wait; it'll change.' And you've also heard, 'Everything is bigger in Texas - the ranches, the belt buckles, the cowboy hats...' But the most famous slogan about Texas is 'Remember the Alamo!' The violent battles and bravery of iconic heroes, have been the stuff of legends, throughout which entire cultures often draw their identity and pride, even long after centuries have past. And in Texas, the story of the Alamo has been a rallying cry of Texas independence for 200 years.

One reason that Texans love to brag that everything is bigger in Texas is, of course, because Texas is the largest of the lower 48 U.S. States. It's hard to believe that this massive state got its beginning in a very small Christian mission during the battle of the Alamo. Every year this famous mission museum receives over two and a half million visitors from all parts of the planet, that are eager to get a good look at this legendary site.

The Alamo played a critical role in the Texas revolution. In December 1835, Texans and Tejano volunteers battled Mexican troops quartered in the city, forcing General Martin Perfecto de Cos to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the Alamo and strengthened its defenses. Famous Americans like Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Colonel William Travis made this location - this ancient mission - the beachhead - the last stand in an epic battle to win independence of Texas from Mexico.

On February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Antonio Lopez Santa Ana nearly caught them by surprise. Undaunted, the Texans and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo. For this small rag-tag group of rebels, the youngest of whom was about sixteen and the oldest seventy-five, was against the well-trained and organized Mexican army of six thousand-plus soldiers. It was a fierce and lopsided battle, yet the small force of rebels was able to repel the troops for thirteen days. Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line in the ground with a sword and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over the line.

All except one crossed over. The final assault came before daybreak. On the morning of March 6, 1836, the thirteenth day of the siege, canon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several Mexican attacks. Regrouping, Santa Ana's soldiers scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and the garrison was slain. You know, historians may debate some of the details regarding the battle of the Alamo, but none of them question the incredible sacrifice that was made and the courage that was displayed during that intense conflict.

They made the ultimate sacrifice - giving their lives - and this is why the story of the Alamo is so inspiring and so encouraging. You know, and that's why the Bible is so inspiring, friends, because someone was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and give his life so that you could have freedom and eternal life. Don't you think you could trust your life to a friend like that, that would give everything? The story of the gospel is a story of courage and hope. It's the story of God who will never leave you without defense and support. Jesus is the good news and the gospel is a story worth remembering.

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