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Are Adventists Christians? Exploring our 28 Fundamental Beliefs (Part 4)

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22. Christian Behavior: We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with the principles of heaven. For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things which will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives. This means that our amusement and entertainment should meet the highest standards of Christian taste and beauty. While recognizing cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit. It also means that because our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we are to care for them intelligently. Along with adequate exercise and rest, we are to adopt the most healthful diet possible and abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures. Since alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and the irresponsible use of drugs and narcotics are harmful to our bodies, we are to abstain from them as well. Instead, we are to engage in whatever brings our thoughts and bodies into the discipline of Christ, who desires our wholesomeness, joy, and goodness.

The SDA lifestyle beliefs are not unique to Adventism. Many Protestant teachers, authors, and theologians from differing denominations share our views when it comes to diet and the use of harmful substances like tobacco and alcohol. The SDA position on Christian behavior is easily seen in many other Evangelical teachers such as John Wesley, D.L Moody, Billy Graham, Paul Washer and countless others.

23. Marriage and the Family: Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship. For the Christian a marriage commitment is to God as well as to the spouse, and should be entered into only between partners who share a common faith. Mutual love, honor, respect, and responsibility are the fabric of this relationship, which is to reflect the love, sanctity, closeness, and permanence of the relationship between Christ and His church. Regarding divorce, Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery. Although some family relationships may fall short of the ideal, marriage partners who fully commit themselves to each other in Christ may achieve loving unity through the guidance of the Spirit and the nurture of the church. God blesses the family and intends that its members shall assist each other toward complete maturity. Parents are to bring up their children to love and obey the Lord. By their example and their words they are to teach them that Christ is a loving disciplinarian, ever tender and caring, who wants them to become members of His body, the family of God. Increasing family closeness is one of the earmarks of the final gospel message.

This belief is so mainstream in Protestantism that it needs no comment.  

24. Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary: There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.

The Sanctuary doctrine is the most unique teaching in the SDA church. This teaching is often skewed and misrepresented to make Adventists look like legalists. It is because of this false allegation that some have come to think of the SDA church as a cult; however, nothing could be further from the truth. In a nutshell, the sanctuary doctrine teaches that Christ has begun his work of judgment in heaven and the close of this work will be followed by his second coming (which hour no man knows). Judgment in scripture is not a thing that the righteous fear because Jesus is both our lawyer and our judge. Many may disagree with this doctrine (I am not here attempting to prove it) but the point is whether you agree or disagree with it this doctrine is in no way "un-Christian." It solidifies the message of righteousness by faith and exalts the merits of Jesus as our only hope of heaven. There is nothing antichrist about that.

In addition, the SDA understanding of the 2300 days does not come about because of some unique interpretive system we created. It is the result of studying prophecy using the Historical method of interpretation that was used by many of the reformers.

For a better understanding of the Sanctuary Message you can read my paper on it titled The Pre-Advent Judgment.

25. Second Coming of Christ: The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour's coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ's coming is imminent. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times.

This is one of the most basic of Christian doctrines. While Adventists deny the doctrine of the "Secret Rapture" we are not the only ones to do so. We affirm the traditional view that Christs coming will be " literal, personal, visible, and worldwide."

26. Death and Resurrection: The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later.

I have already commented on the doctrines of annihilation and conditional mortality which Adventism embraces along with many other protestant teachers of various denominations.

  27. Millennium and the End of Sin: The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever.

There are many theories and versions regarding the 1000 year period of Revelation known as the Millennium. Adventism's view, whether agreed with or not, is in no way antithetical to the gospel. The righteous go to heaven and participate in the work of judgment for the wicked. The wicked are resurrected, judged and destroyed (annihalationism) and the presence of sin is forever eradicated from the universe. Once again, even if one completely disagrees with this interpretation there is no ground for declaring that the SDA church is un-Christian because of it.

28. New Earth: On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, love, joy, and learning in His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His people, and suffering and death will have passed away. The great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more. All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is love; and He shall reign forever. Amen.

The doctrine of "New Earth" is a widely accepted and basic Christian understanding of the end of sin. The only difference is that Adventists believe in annihilation meaning that there will not be any one suffering in Hell during the ceaseless ages of eternity. Again, this teaching is widely accepted in Protestantism and does not make a denomination "non-Christian."


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