Who Are the Seventh-Day Adventists?

Scripture: Matthew 24:35, Matthew 9:35
Date: 10/30/2010 
This sermon speaks about who are the Seventh-day Adventists. First of all, they believe the Bible. They believe in Christ's soon coming and the Sabbath as Saturday. They also believe in reaching out to all people with the message of Jesus practically and spiritually.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

And the message today is dealing with who are the Seventh-day Adventists? Now part of the reason we’re doing this is this month marks the 150th anniversary of the name being chosen for this movement, Seventh-day Adventist. And so I won’t do it again for another 150 years. But I thought I’d better take this opportunity to talk a little bit about who we are and what we believe. You know, there’s a lot of misunderstandings out there and there may be people who are wondering, you know, I’ve heard of Seventh-day Adventist, but I don’t know what they believe. And so I thought well it would be appropriate to just take one message and say I’m going to kind of go through a little overview of who are the Seventh-day Adventists and it won’t be a comprehensive presentation, but I’ll try and touch on some high points that I hope are relevant. And I can appreciate people who might wonder who are Seventh-day Adventists because I had no idea, never even heard of them. If I did I didn’t know it until I was 17.

A little bit of my own personal search for the truth. I grew up going to really no church. I was pretty much an agnostic and after going through the hippie scene, in and out of jail I went to a variety of parochial schools and I just pretty much didn’t have much time for God.

I found the Lord while I was living in the mountains in a cave. I lived there for about a year and a half down in Palm Springs in the mountains and someone had left a bible in the cave. I read the bible, found the Lord, accepted the Lord and said; well, I guess I need to go to church now.

And so I began to visit some of the evangelical churches, mostly Pentecostal churches I went to in the Palm Springs area and as I studied with Christians from a variety of different evangelical groups I quickly saw that while there were good people in all these different churches they did not agree with each other on certain what I thought were some key teachings.

And I went back up to my cave and I prayed and I said, Lord, I really don’t care what church you send me to, but I just want the truth. And so I said please show me the truth from your word. Well, that’s another whole story, but after that prayer and after I continued to study I landed with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

But I could quickly see that God had people in many different churches, but it could be confusing especially in the last couple of hundred years there are more fractions and divisions of Christianity than any other church. There’s a virtual kaleidoscope of different denominations out there that you can pick from. And sometimes a person will say so what is your church and I’ll say, well, I’m a Seventh-day Adventist. They’ll say Seventh-day Adventist. Are you the ones that don’t believe in blood transfusions? I said no, that’s not us. Seventh-day Adventist, is that like LDS? I said no those are the Latter Day Saints. We’re the SDA, not to be confused with the AOG, which is Assembly of God, and all these other churches that, you know, a lot of people out there in the world they get confused. And so I thought, well let’s take a moment and explain what is a Seventh-day Adventist.

Well, first of all in a word, they are bible Christians. I like to simplify. People say what, you’re an advent, what do they believe? I say we believe the bible.

Now I know a lot of churches will say that, but I think you’ll see as we explore this, we really take the bible pretty seriously. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a bible based church. And even some of the teachings that may not be convenient, if it’s what Jesus taught, if it’s in the bible we believe it.

Now, I’m going to give you some scriptures for those things as we move along through this. You look at Matthew 24:35, Jesus said, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will not pass away.’ While the world changes and cultures change and governments change and political parties change, God does not change. The grass may wither and the seasons may change, but the word of God is eternal.

Again, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable; for doctrine, for proof, for correction, for instruction, and righteousness that the man of God might be complete thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ So we need all the scriptures.

Matter of fact if you look in the baptismal vows of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, if you have any questions or doubts, here’s what it says. 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 the new testaments comprise the word of God. Now, isn’t that what we believe?

The name is a little unusual. If I was to just have people vote around the world what’s the best name for a Christian church, Church of Christ is a good name. That’s real simple, easy to remember. Or the Church of God, that’s already taken, and a lot of good names out there with the churches. Some of them get a little confusing. I won’t name any of those, but Seventh-day Adventist doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and you might think that sounds strange; why did you pick a name like that.

Well, really the name is key and integral to two very prominent teachings that we ascribe to. Namely, we believe in the Seventh-day Sabbath as opposed to many people who worship on the first day of the week, we believe the Ten Commandments have not changed and that the Lord has blessed the seventh day what we commonly call Saturday as the Sabbath. So we meet on the same day that Jesus met on and the Jewish nation and many bible Christians through history, old and new testament. So that’s where you get the word seventh from.

Adventist, a person -- I like adventure. Adventure means the coming of some great venture. Advent means the coming of something. So any Adventist Christian and there are first day Adventist Christians. Any Adventist Christian is someone who is looking forward to the advent or the imminent coming of Jesus. And this is a movement that was born in the context of a people that were revived to the nearness of Christ coming. Hence the name Seventh-day Adventist.

And by the way, that’s a picture there of the official church logo. It represents the open bible because we are a bible-based church. The cross is central. The preaching of Christ and Him crucified is the center. You’ve got a globe, it’s sort of an invisible globe, but it’s wrapped with three, looks like the spirit, symbol for Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as well as the three angels message that encircle the world and then we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. So that’s sort of what’s behind the church logo there.

A little history about where Seventh-day Adventists came from. Back in the early 1800’s, there was what they call the second great awakening. There was a great spiritual awakening principally among protestants in North America and it was in a region from Kentucky up to Maine in the northeast. It also sprang up during the time of an abolition movement. More and more Christians were speaking out against slavery and there was a lot of sacrifice that was being made, a lot of prayer. There was a great revival that happened during that time.

Also during that time as they returned to the study of the word, it’s very interesting people were really studying the word to understand where to stand on this important issue of slavery that was starting to divide the country. They also started studying the prophecies and in the study of the prophecies a variety of Christians around North America, indeed the world, came to the conclusion that a principal prophecy in Daniels 8, and part of it in Chapter 9, were told that the Lord would come at the end of this 2,300-year period. It said after 2,300 days then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. And so they counted the time from the returning of the Jews to Jerusalem, applying a day for a year, it ended up about 1843 or 1844, and this was a great advent movement. It was a revival. It swept all across the country. Thousands of Christians from all backgrounds; Protestants, Catholics, there were Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopal, across the board believed the Lord was coming some time around 1843 to 1844, and I don’t think I’m shocking you to let you know He didn’t come. And that’s referred to in history as the great disappointment.

Now a number of Christians responded to that disappointment a variety of ways. By the way, you know, the New Testament Church was born in a great disappointment through misunderstanding prophecy. The disciples thought that when the Messiah came he would kill all the Romans and make them a national empire again and when Jesus didn’t do that there was a great disappointment. Even after the Resurrection, the disciples said, will you now at this time restore the Kingdom. And they misunderstood the nature of Christ’s Kingdom. Well, back here in the 1800’s they misunderstood that prophecy. Nowhere in the bible does it say the earth is the sanctuary. And so the cleansing of the sanctuary didn’t mean Jesus was coming.

So a number of Christians from different churches, again, Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, they said look, it is not God’s will that His church be so fragmented. Jesus said all men will know you are my disciples by your love for one another. But we shouldn’t just unite so we can say we all love each other, we should be united principally on the truth of His word. Let us set aside all of our preconceived denominational doctrines and creeds and let’s study the bible afresh to find out what is biblical Christianity. And so they did that. And in the process of doing that the doctrines that are foundational to the Seventh-day Adventist Church were found. It’s not like we invented them. They’re sort of rediscovered.

Now there always have been Christians that kept the Seventh day Sabbath. Matter of fact, it was a Seventh-day Baptist named Rachel Oaks that introduced that to a sea captain, who had been a Presbyterian named Joseph Bates, who then presented it to James and Ellen White, who of course were some of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, so it’s not like we didn’t discover baptism by emersion even though a number of churches did not practice that. When the Baptists studied it with this group they said it’s biblical, we’re going with the bible.

One-by-one they began to explore certain key teachings and that all coalesced into a movement that began to explode and grew into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And so that’s a little background about how that happened. They weren’t formally organized until they picked the name in 1860; here we are 150 years later. They were organized as an official denomination in 1863.

There was some resistance to doing that, did you know that? They said we don’t want to just become another denomination; this is a movement that is sweeping through many churches to get back to the bible. And they were afraid when they organized as a denomination that it would, you know, break that momentum that they had, but it didn’t seem to hurt. It continued to grow and to spread.

The principal teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I’m going to give you some of the particulars. Look in your bibles in Matthew 9. Bible Christians, we follow Jesus as our example. Go to verse 35, Matthew 9:35. Now of course some of you know that I personally am connected with the Amazing Facts Ministry and we also partner with Weimar Institute.

It’s amazing to me how often I meet people. It happened again this week. And people say, oh, I watch your programs. What church to do you go to? And if they’re local I say well, we’re right across the street from Sac State, we are the Seventh-day Adventist Central Church, Central Seventh-day Adventist Church. I didn’t know you were Seventh-day Adventist. And I say, well you know, I try not to brag about it, but it depends on what programs you’re watching. You know, we don’t talk about the Sabbath day every week. We believe the whole bible.

But if we were to summarize what our mission is I like the mission of Jesus. It’s found in this verse, Matthew 9:35. ‘And Jesus went about all.’ We should go everywhere. He said; go into all the world, right? ‘The cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.’ Now that one verse tells that Jesus went to the people. He went everywhere; in the cities, in the country, healing, preaching. Teaching and preaching are different aren’t they?

But He did it all and so we’ve sort of taken this as our mission statement at Amazing Facts and Weimar. We use the word reap. R-E-A-P. Christ said the harvest is great. R is Restoration. That’s healing. E is Education. A is Adoration. That’s what happens in the context of a church and worship. And P is Proclamation. And so those are the summary of what the ministry of Jesus was all about and we’ve sort of taken that as our marching orders because we think He’s a good example, don’t we?

So we believe in serving our fellow man. And the Seventh-day Adventists, where ever they go, it’s not just about theology and doctrine, it’s about living out the life of Christ and helping to share the good news by relieving the suffering of others.

Jesus said in Matthew 25, in the judgment verse 35 and 36, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me.’

You know, the Seventh-day Adventist Church believes in helping the practical needs of people. Just before we moved into our worship service we had our feeding ministry up here talking about how each week we’re feeding people that are hungry. And some of our sister churches here in town, they’re giving away clothing and, of course, you’ve heard of ADRA, the Adventist Development Relief Agency around the world when there’s a disaster. They were in Haiti last week dealing with a cholera outbreak and of course after the earthquake, and during the recent cyclone in the Philippines and in Vietnam and just all around the world they’re drilling wells and providing drinking water for people. So part of being a Christian is not just preaching to people, it’s taking care of the real needs.

But I like that verse where He says, I was hungry and you gave me food. It’s not just physical food, I was hungry and you gave me the bread of life. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. Not just water, but the living water of truth that saves the soul. I was a stranger and you took me in.

People are separated from God. We are a nation of priests. We are to make at one, bring people back to God. I was naked and you clothed me. Not only physical clothing, but were to help them find the robe of Christ righteousness. Amen.

I was sick and you visited me. We’re to go to people and to bring them in contact with Jesus when they’re sick with sin. I was in prison. People are bound by habits. Seventh-day Adventists have programs around the world to help people get liberation from various addictions. I was in prison and you came to me. Help set the captive free.

So this encompasses the work of Christ and what are the two great commandments? Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor. And this is the essence of the cross. It’s dealing with this love relationship and to love each other, the vertical and the horizontal. And we take this as central to our mission as Seventh-day Adventist.

Well maybe I’ll give you a few facts. I talked a little bit about the healing part of our work. All around the world Seventh-day Adventist have hospitals. Matter of fact, we have 171 hospitals and sanitariums around the world that are treating, get this, 14,997,107, somebody counted right down to the person, people each year. We believe in healing. Now these are some of the leading hospitals in the world. I think most of us have heard of Loma Linda University and White Memorial Hospital and all over the world and countries around the planet there is a very important medical work. And we’re also a health conscious people.

Maybe we’ll say a little more about that, but Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we believe, by the way, this woman here is a 100-years old. She was featured by National Geographic. Matter of fact, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was featured by National Geographic as one of the three groups in the world. We were the only group in North America that they specifically studied for having the greatest longevity.

Seventh-day Adventist Christians typically live ten years longer than most of the population. And part of that is because we take what the bible says about not eating the foods that it identifies as unclean. Seventh-day Adventist don’t eat pork chops. We don’t eat the foods that you’ll find even Jews called un-kosher because the bible says that they’re unclean and not fit for humans to eat.

Also we believe in exercise, we rest every week when we keep the Sabbath, and we believe in the social. They think that it’s partly because of worship and the social benefit. There’s actually a health benefit in that. We don’t drink, we don’t smoke. And those things all prolong your life. There’s biblical principals for all of that.

So, we’re a people who believe our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We don’t just think that Christianity is a mental concoction of doctrines, but it’s something that affects every aspect of your life; in the physical, the mental, the spiritual, you live it out all week long.

A few more facts. I don’t want to just give you a litany of facts or I might put you to sleep. Membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church right around the turn of the century, last century, 1900, was 75,000. Then about 55 years later there was a census and there was one million Seventh-day Adventists. Today it’s somewhere around 17 million. And so we just praise the Lord for the exponential growth we’ve seen. The problem is population is growing like that, too. So we still have big work to do in getting the message out into the world.

The countries where the Seventh-day Adventists are involved in mission work, 203. So out of the 232 countries in the world, Seventh-day Adventist are working in 203. The countries we’re not in right now typically it’s because they are not allowing Christian evangelism. Some of the Islamic countries have some stringent laws about that.

Languages that are being used in our publication, over 900 languages spoken by Seventh-day Adventist, but just in our publications, 369 different languages. The material is going out into all the world. So when Jesus went to heaven, He said go and share the gospel, share the truth in all the world. We took that message very seriously and we’re doing it.

I’m just wondering, how many of you have been to another country? Let me see your hands. Oh, bless your hearts. Did you find Seventh-day Adventists in that country that you were in? You know, it’s really nice, even though some of the customs are a little different, everywhere that we’ve been in the world we find brothers and sisters in the Lord that have the same foundational truths that they believe. And there might be a little difference in, you know, some of their favorite foods. Or we go to some countries and before you go to church they take their shoes off and that’s neat when you, you know, sometimes we use chopsticks, depends on where we go. And so they’re, you know, they’re different everywhere and yet we’re united in the bible truths. And it’s a wonderful thing because we are to be one people.

We believe in, as I mentioned, education. And the Seventh-day Adventist Church not only has one of the most extensive medical works around the world, we have one of the most extensive educational works. I understand it’s only second to the Roman Catholic Church.

Seventh-day Adventist run schools in about 145 countries. There are 7,597 preschools, primary schools, secondary schools, colleges, universities, medical schools and seminaries around the world. That’s a lot of schools. That means they’ve got 66,000 teachers. Glad it’s not 666,000 teachers. There are 1,257,000 students right now enrolled in Seventh-day Adventist schools. And these schools believe in combining the teachings of God’s truth along with physical health, the moral, the social training that everybody needs. So we believe in education. Jesus believed in education.

Now, we’ve been talking a little bit about some of the facts and figures of the church and giving you a little context for some of the teachings, but let me go into some of the particular teachings that help identify us and talk about them briefly. Just summarize some of the high points.

First of all, we believe in God. Some people have different ideas of God. I’m going to read to you our statement. We believe that God is composed of one God who reveals Himself; He is three distinct persons. One couple in a marriage, you can have several people. You become one. God said let us make man in our image. So God is comprised of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal persons.

God is immortal. He’s all powerful; He’s 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, and service by a whole creation. So we believe in God. We believe that Jesus is God the son, He is Devine. Jesus is not a created being. The bible says all things that were made were made by Him. For all things that are made, to be made by Him, He must have always been there. He didn’t make Himself, right?

Furthermore, God is love. And if you go back into the infinite recesses of the past before God ever made anything in order for God to be love, you must have someone to love. Does that make sense? If God has always been love then there must have always been at least two. But I believe the bible teaches God, the Father, Son, and Spirit are eternal without beginning.

What do we believe, what do Seventh-day Adventists believe about salvation? Ephesians 2:8-9, ‘For by grace you are saved through faith. Not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any one should boast.’ Now I especially want to emphasize that because some people believe because Seventh-day Adventists make it a point to remember the Seventh Day Sabbath, we must think that we’re saved by keeping the Sabbath.

Now, maybe we’ll get an audience shout, I’m going to venture where no man has gone before. And to come down here you better all sit up and look real friendly because I just -- I want to get -- okay, well, I guess they’re getting you folks back here. Do we believe we’re saved by works? Or do we believe we’re saved by faith? We’re saved by faith. Do we keep the Sabbath to be saved or do we keep it because we love the Lord? Okay, I just wanted you to get it from a multitude of witnesses all right. Now I may call on you again, so stay awake, keep smiling. I’ll stand up straight, you keep smiling. Okay.

So we believe that we’re saved by grace. Here’s the official statement. We accept the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary as the atoning sacrifice for our sins and believe through faith in His shed blood we are saved from sin and its penalty. So it is through faith we are saved from sin.

Seventh-day Adventists are people, of course we do believe in the law and the Sabbath is part of that law, but we’re a people that believe when you’re saved God gives you a new heart, He gives you the Holy Spirit, and He can give you victory over your sins. Salvation is not just a big cover-up, it’s a transformation. You become a new creature. He delivers you. He changes you. You believe that? That He gives you victory. And so we are thankful for His grace, we’re thankful for His mercy, but we also believe He can change us and make us new creatures.

So when it comes to the law and the Sabbath, and I’ve kind of lumped these two together, we believe that Christians should keep the Ten Commandments because they’re of course the Ten Commandments. I like to remind people they are not called the ten recommendations or the ten good ideas or the ten great suggestions of God, they are the commandments of God. They are different, distinct and unique from the ceremonial laws that you might find in the bible and God spoke them with His whole voice, He wrote them with His own finger, He put them on stone; everything about the nature of the Ten Commandments He was being very explicit that this is my perfect concise will.

Now most Christians and most churches have no problems with the other nine. Some churches have problems with the one about idolatry, but most churches would, you know, welcome you if you wanted to come and stand up and talk about honoring your parents, respecting your spouse, the sanctity of the marriage, talking about not stealing or killing. Everyone says that’s right, of course Christians should keep those things.

Seventh-day Adventists believe we should be consistent and include the Fourth Commandment. It’s not that we’re trying to make a bigger deal out of it than the other commandments, we just think if you’re going to be a viable Christian we should keep not only a Sabbath day, God doesn’t say remember a Sabbath day as though you use a lottery and pick your own. He says remember the Sabbath day, the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord. There’s no way He could be more clear and definitive about what day it is.

And so we believe God’s told us that we are to keep the seventh day, there’s no question about what day that is, that’s what we commonly call Saturday today, that’s why most Christians celebrate Easter Sunday on the first day of the week because Jesus did rise the first day of the week, but nowhere does He ever say that is to be the new Sabbath.

And so it’s easy to show through history how gradually hundreds of years after Christ some of the churches began to try to compromise with the pagans to get more endorsement and they drifted away from the Seventh day Sabbath and they began to embrace the first day Sabbath. They were also trying to distance themselves from the Jews. At the same time there’s a lot of anti-Semitism. And so Seventh-day Adventist said look, before the Lord comes back we want to go by the bible. That’s why we do what we do.

So we believe in keeping the Ten Commandments including the fourth. By the way, only one commandment begins with the word remember. It’s like one commandment knew we’d forget, He says, remember. And so it doesn’t make sense we should stand up in a church and say there’s one commandment to forget, it’s the one that begins with the word remember. Does that make sense?

See, I didn’t really want to be a Seventh-day Adventist. I’m just being honest with you. When I started studying and praying about the truth and I found about Seventh-day Adventist I thought, boy, I’m sort of going to stand out if I go to church on this day and most are going to church on another day and the more I studied I thought well, Lord, you’re asking me to follow you and your word. I want to go to heaven, I want to be saved, and I’m saved based on the teachings of the bible so I may as well take it seriously or not fool with it, right. And so that’s why I became a Seventh-day Adventist Christian.

Oh, by the way Jesus said, John 14:15, ‘If you love me keep my commandments.’ So we don’t keep the Sabbath or any of the laws to be saved, we keep the Sabbath the same reason every other Christian keeps and any other Ten Commandments, because we love the Lord and it’s the right thing to do.

All right, and by the way you can find the Ten Commandments in case you’re wondering in Exodus 20:8-14.

What about death? Now, why am I reading that? Why would I say that? Well, because many Christians are confused on the subject about death. And it’s not that we want to focus especially on that, but some Christians believe that when you die that your spirit floats around. Some Christians believe that they can consult or talk to dead spirits of loved ones after they die. And the bible teaches very clearly that when a person dies that their next conscious spot is the resurrection. It’s either the resurrection of the saved, the dead and Christ rise first, or the resurrection of the damned or the lost, and that hasn’t happened yet. When a person dies, they dream a -- they have a dreamless sleep. They’re not dreaming anything. Matter of fact let me give you a verse on that.

You can read in Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, ‘For the living know that they’ll die, but the dead don’t know anything.’ And you read on there it says, ‘Also, their love, their hatred, their envy have now perished. Neither more will they have a share in anything that is done under the sun.’

When Jesus told his disciples our friend Lazarus sleeps. I said, oh he’s been sick. Sleep will be good. He’ll get better. He said no, Lazarus is dead. And he’d been dead for four days. And how many of you know John 11, Jesus raised Lazarus back to life? After being dead for four days what was Lazarus’ comment on death? I was up in heaven with the angels singing, I was down in hell and you brought me back, thank you very much. Did He make any comment at all? I mean if that happened in our world, someone really proven dead for four days, buried, already smelled bad, and they’re raised, every news agency in the world would be there with a microphone. Am I right? And what would be the first question they’d ask? What was on the other side? What did you see, what did you experience?

You know, all the resurrections in the bible, Jesus raised several people. There’s some in the Old Testament, several in the New, the apostles were involved in resurrections. There was never a single solitary comment from any of those people that are raised saying I was dead and here’s what happened, here’s where I went. It was a dreamless sleep. They don’t know anything.

Psalms 146:3 said, ‘Do not put your trust in princes in whom there is no help. When he dies his breath goes forth, he returns to the earth and that day his thoughts perish.’ It’s not thinking because you think with your brain.

By the way would it be fair for the Lord to have people that are in hell burning before the judgment day or to have people in heaven rejoicing before they’re judged or their resurrected. The great judgment day and the great resurrection, have they already happened or are they still in the future?

Now I’ll tell you why this belief really troubles people. Have you all been to funerals before where they say our dear beloved brother, sister, father, mother, they’re now with the Lord? Well, they’re not all wrong. Ah, ah, stay with me. If you’re saved and you die what is your next conscious thought? To be absent from the body, present with the Lord. Next thing you know is the resurrection and the glorified body because you’ve left the dimension of time.

King David the bible says died 3,000 years ago. By the time of the apostles they’re saying David is dead and buried and not ascended to heaven. So we know King David, good King David, he’ll be saved. He’s not in heaven yet. And yet he’ll be there, but for David 3,000 years ago, says he slept with his father. How long does it seem like for David? His next thought is to be absent from the body, is the resurrection in the presence of the lord. But they’re not there yet because we all live in this dimension of time. Isn’t that right? And so the dead are sleeping and people struggle with that. They say, but I’ve always thought that they’re up in heaven enjoying themselves. Well, that’s fine. As far as they’re concerned that will be their next thought. But they’re not there yet.

So we’ve got to understand that why is this doctrine important. In the last days the devil will exploit that misunderstanding among many Christians and he’ll use it to communicate through spirits, fallen devils, fallen angels, to impersonate dead people. If Christians don’t know that the dead are asleep they then set themselves up to be deceived. Revelations calls them seducing spirits that will go out and perform miracles before the kings of the earth, to deceive. And so we’ve got to know they’re asleep. And so if you think there’s a ghost, well, it’s probably just one of the devils demons or fallen angels that’s trying to torment you, but your loved ones are not haunting the house.

Oh, but Pastor Doug, I’ve just sensed that they’re with me. Well, you spend your whole life with somebody and you loved them and you think about them, you might have that sensation that they’re near. And the Lord may comfort you even with that, but they’re resting, they don’t know anything.

Now this is not a doctrine that is unique to Seventh-day Adventist. A lot of Christians from a lot of different churches, especially theologians know that this is what the bible teaches. It’s just, you know, there are certain popular pet doctrines that Christians cling to even though they’re not biblical. I mean how many of us know that Jesus was not born December 25th? Does anyone want to abolish Christmas and giving away presents? You know, we just sort of accept these things and tolerate them, but this is a different kind of doctrine. Understanding that the dead are asleep. It has very important ramifications.

In connection with that, another distinctive teaching of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, you know, in most areas we’re like other orthodox Christians so I’m highlighting just the difference of those; do you understand? Is regarding the punishment of the wicked? Now I probably ought to get down here again. I don’t know what you’re going to do, you better be good.

So all right, we’re often accused by other churches, they said, Seventh-day Adventist, they don’t believe in hell/fire. Do we believe there’s a lake of fire? Do we believe that the wicked are going to go to the lake of fire? Okay. All together now, raise your hands. How many want to go? Just wanted to see if you’re listening. Okay. So we all agree together that there is hell/fire. I wanted them to hear you say that because I hear people say, oh you’re the guys that don’t believe in hell. I say yes we do. Here’s where our beliefs diverge. We don’t believe that hell burns forever and ever because that’s what the bible teaches. Let me give you some scriptures.

You can take the last book in the Old Testament, Malachi 4:1, ‘For behold the day is coming says the Lord that will burn like an oven and all the proud and all who do wickedly’ this is all the wicked, ‘will be stubble. The day that is coming will burn them up says the Lord.’ Jesus said, ‘Don’t fear Him who can destroy your body, but they can’t hurt your soul, rather fear Him who will destroy soul and body in hell.’ So God the Father, he’s going to destroy soul and body. When the wicked are cast into the lake of fire everyone is punished according to what they deserve and they’re burned up. And it says, this is the second death.

John 3:16, I mean everyone knows that. You’ve got two choices. Believe everlasting life. Don’t believe, perish. Isn’t that what it says? It’s the devil who said to Eve, you will not really die. You’ll either live forever in heaven or you’ll live forever in hell. You’re immortal. Where does the bible say that sinners are immortal? There’s no scripture that says you are immortal. God will give us immortality.

When Jesus comes, then this mortal puts on immortality, 1st Corinthians 15. So the bible’s really clear that hell does not burn forever and ever. I told you there are two differences. Because the dead are asleep and the judgment hasn’t happened, how many people are burning in hell now? None. It’s at the end of the world Jesus said. The parable of the Wheat and the Tares, He said, ‘So will it be at the end of the world the Lord will gather out everything that offends and cast it into a furnace of fire. It’s at the end of the world and that should really give you relief.

You know, we all know people, their salvation is questionable and they passed away. Wouldn’t it absolutely drive you to distraction to think that all the while you’re walking the earth those folks are being broiled and blistered in sulfur and that they will be through all eternity? That’s something that came from Greek mythology and it found its way into the church and it was a very convenient teaching because some church leaders realize they were able to manipulate the people with fear about this God that was going to torture people thorough endless ages.

Now there are some scriptures that have a little difficulty. There are a whole lot more scriptures that make it clear the wicked do not live forever, that they are burnt up, that they will perish, they’ll be consumed into smoke, they’re consume away. God says in the new earth no more pain. Is that what it says? Revelation 21, no more suffering. There’s no more pain, no more death, no more sinners. Then how can you immortalize sin and Satan and sinners? It’s going to be purged from the universe. There is a lake of fire and the wicked will be punished according to what they deserve and so that’s sobering enough for me. We don’t need to make God a sadist and say he’s torturing people through endless ages. The bible doesn’t teach that. So that’s one of the distinctive differences and it’s a biblical teaching again.

By the way, there’s a wonderful website I’d recommend that has a lot of scripture on this. It’s simply called HellTruth.com. That’s real easy. Matter of fact pretty popular site. You’d be surprised. We need to get a site that says heaven truth, but I don’t know if anyone will go there. Everyone wants to go to the Hell Truth website.

We also have a website. We mentioned the subject of death a minute ago and if you want to see more scriptures on that it’s called DeathTruth.com. Studies, presentations, scriptures, all showing the bible support for these teachings. I want to follow the bible, don’t you? I want to follow Jesus. Jesus is the word and so in following Christ and following the word, we’ll get there. So we wanted to talk a little bit about that.

Now there’s another unique teaching and that’s regarding the subject of the sanctuary. We believe that Christ is our High Priest, the sanctuary and judgment. Now this is sort of a unique teaching, but it’s certainly biblical. You see, there are other Christians from other churches that understand death the way Seventh-day Adventist do; that the dead are sleeping until the resurrection. And there are plenty of Christians, great theologians like John Stott, even Martin Luther and others, they understood the subject of death. There are others that understand the subject of hell and lake of fire.

The one thing that is a little unique about Seventh-day Adventist is we believe that Christ is our High Priest; that He is interceding before the father now in a heavenly temple; that we are in the last phase of His priestly ministry in heaven. On earth it was known as the Day of Atonement. Just before the end of the Jewish year the High Priest would enter Yom Kipper, the Day of Atonement. It would be a time of judging the people. A time where people would be putting away sin and preparing to meet their God so to speak.

Christ is our great High Priest. He’s not in the earthly temple that was destroyed in 70 A.D. He has entered into the heavenly temple. And you can read about this in, well a lot of versus, but Hebrews 8:1-2. Now this is the main point of the things we’re 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 that the Lord erected and not man. Jesus is our High Priest and He’s before the Father in heaven.

Now, one other thing, most churches have ordinances. And for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the two primary sacred ordinances are what you would call baptism and the communion service, or the Lord’s Supper. We practice those things.

A word quickly about baptism, we follow what we believe is biblical baptism. It’s baptism by emersion. Like the Baptist and many other Protestant churches we think that the symbol does make a difference. We don’t believe we’re saved by baptism, but baptism is as important to a Christian as a marriage is to a wedding. No, as a wedding is to a marriage. It’s the ceremony by which we publicly say we’ve accepted the Lord, we want to be part of His people and so we’re baptized. And of course there’s verses on that.

Mark 16:16, Jesus said, ‘He who believes and is baptized will be saved.’

And in Matthew 28, Jesus said, ‘Go ye there for teach in all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.’ So we baptize by emersion and it doesn’t have to be a river, it might be the baptistery, it could be a river, it could be the ocean, but the idea is to be immersed in water. Marriage, cleanliness, new breath, new life, born again, dead to the old ways, alive to the new, is all encompassed in that beautiful right, that sacred right of baptism.

And then in the Lord’s Supper, some churches when they celebrate the Lord’s Supper they use a white bread and alcoholic wine and the bible is very clear that the bread is to be unleavened and the grape juice should be unfermented. You don’t find the word grape juice in the bible, it’s always called wine.

But Jesus made it pretty clear there in Matthew 27, I believe, where he said, drink this, speaking of the Lord’s Supper, for I will not drink it again until I drink it with you new in the Father’s Kingdom. New wine was unfermented. It was just grape juice right out of the wine press. So we celebrate the Lord’s emblem.

We also, Primitive Baptists you probably heard about, they participate in what you call foot washing where Jesus at the Lord’s Supper, He washed the disciples feet.

And He said in John 13, ‘If I your Lord and Master have washed your feet you ought to wash one another’s feet.’ And so when we do practice the communion service then we also with that, the men break off with the men and the ladies with the ladies. Sometimes couples will meet and we wash each other’s feet and we pray for each other. And it helps us to -- it’s called the ordinance of humility. We remember that event.

And so this is not -- I remember when I first heard about that I guess a number of churches there’s even some Catholics that do that, Protestants do it. When I first heard about that I had never heard about Christians washing each other’s feet. And I’ll confess to you that the first time or two I showed up at a communion service I made myself pretty scarce. Part of the reason is the first few times I showed up, you wouldn’t want to wash my feet. I was living up in a cave and so I thought, oh, this will be humiliating not only for me but for them, too. But so we practiced foot-washing.

So this is just giving you a little overview. Now I want to get down here especially for this last question. Some people say Seventh-day Adventist, I’ve heard about them. They think they’re the only ones going to Heaven. Now do Seventh-day Adventist believe that we are the only ones that will be saved? No. Do we believe there will be people in heaven that went to church on Sunday? Yes. Do we believe there will be people in heaven that ate pork? Yes. Their breath won’t be good, but they’ll be there. No, I’m just teasing. Do we believe there will be people in heaven who maybe smoke cigarettes? Yes.

Yeah, so this idea that we’re exclusive, I heard people say, oh Seventh-day Adventist, you guys think you’ll be the only ones there. That’s not true. Matter of fact, one reason I became a Seventh-day Adventist was because I got tired of studying with these different groups and they’d say, unless you speak in tongues you don’t have the holy spirit, you can’t be saved. Unless you’re part of our church you’re not one of the 144,000, your lost.

And I said, I’ve met so many lovely spiritual people in the wider body of Christ, how can that be? And then I read actually in the Seventh-day Adventist teachings and it’s in the book Great Controversy that the greatest part of Christ’s true followers are still in the communion of other churches. This is a movement.

Now having said that does it matter what church you belong to? As we near the end of time it is going to matter more and more because the bible tells us that there’s going to be a very cohesive select group that will be pulling together in the last days, especially under persecution that will have the Seal of God.

Seventh-day Adventist believe and I hope whatever church you’re in that you believe that your church is the right place to be. I mean if we don’t believe this you’d be saying well you ought to go where you think you should be. But we believe that we’re all being called back to the bible truth in the last days. Apostle says, we should earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. And the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I believe God has called like modern Israel. He’s committed to this revival movement, the Oracles of Truth.

You know, back in the days of Moses when that angel of judgment went through the land, only those that were in the right house with the blood on the door were saved; isn’t that right? When Joshua entered the Promised Land and blew his trumpets in Jericho there was only one house that was spared. You had to be in Rahab’s house with that red rope hanging out the window, a symbol of the blood of Christ that we are under the blood.

In the last days there’s going to be a great battle between those who have the mark of the beast, we’ll be persecuting those that have the seal of God. And we are going to want to be part of that group. You know how it identifies that group in Revelation? Twice. Revelation 12, Revelation 14, it says, ‘Here are they that keep the Commandments of God and they have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Hear those who keep the Commandments of God and they have the faith of Jesus.’

‘Blessed are those,’ Revelation 22:14, ‘who do His Commandments that they might have a right to enter through the gates of the city and to eat from the tree of live.’ It does matter, doesn’t it friends?

Jesus said as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be when the son of man comes. How many ways of escape were there in the days of Noah? Did Noah’s son say, look dad, you build your ark, we’ll build our ark, everyone you build your own boat or did God say everybody get together and build one boat and we’re all to be in that boat. That boat really represents Christ. We are to be in Christ. The church is the body of Christ. So especially in these last days God is calling His people together.

Now, having said that we won’t get an audience shot right now. In every church you’ve got a lot of lovely people and we all know that there are sometimes in different churches people who maybe don’t represent the truth. You can’t name a church denomination that doesn’t have a few kooky people; isn’t that right? Do we all agree with that? Yeah. And you want to be careful not to judge any denomination by, you know, there’s a few scandalous people that are out there because the devil even placed a Judas in Jesus’ church; didn’t he?

And so you might say oh, well I knew a Seventh-day Adventist once and, whoa, you know, or whatever. They weren’t very nice. Well, please don’t judge the whole denomination based on one bad apple that you met, right? I believe it’s a wonderful church. I believe it’s a church of God’s family and if you don’t have a church, you are more than welcome.

Keep in mind the bible tells us, Jesus said in the last days John 10:16, ‘Other sheep I have that are not of this fold.’ Christ said, ‘I’ve got other sheep.’ But as we near the end of time it says, ‘Them I must bring, they will hear my voice and there will be’ how many, ‘one fold and one shepherd.’ God said, Jesus said, ‘all men will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.’

Before Jesus ascended to heaven they were arguing among themselves. The Devil has always tried to divide the church by the denomination, fact-mending and arguing. Christ is going to pull out his spirit in the last days and his people are going to pull together and they’re going to pull together based on the word. And there will be one fold and one shepherd when Jesus comes back. There will be the truth and then there will be the counterfeits. Seal of God, mark of the beast. And that’s why I thought this message was so important that we all might be part of God’s family in these last days.

By the way, now you’re going to get angry at me. Jesus was a Seventh-day Adventist. Well, let me just read it to you from his own lips here. It says, ‘As his custom was He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and He taught the scriptures.

Jesus said, Luke 6:5, ‘The son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.’ Was Jesus an Adventist? Yes. You know, he says four times in Revelation, ‘Behold I come quickly, behold I come quickly.’ He believed in the eminence of His coming. And so we’re in good company. And friends, whoever you are we’ve got visitors here and we have some who are watching. We just wanted to give you a quick overview of who the Seventh-day Adventist are. We believe the bible and we trust in Jesus. Amen.

I’ll tell you what, why don’t we go ahead and let’s turn to our closing hymn. 348, The Church has one Foundation. I thought that would be appropriate. And let’s stand and sing from our hearts.

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