Are Adventists Christians? Exploring our 28 Fundamental Beliefs (Part 3)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
photo credit: the|G|™ via photopin cc
15. Baptism: By baptism we confess our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to sin and of our purpose to walk in newness of life. Thus we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour, become His people, and are received as members by His church. Baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reception of the Holy Spirit. It is by immersion in water and is contingent on an affirmation of faith in Jesus and evidence of repentance of sin. It follows instruction in the Holy Scriptures and acceptance of their teachings.

Baptism, as understood by the SDA church is widely accepted by Christians everywhere. In addition, the SDA church does not require any converts from other denominations to be re-baptized so long as they were baptized by immersion. In other words, the SDA church recognizes baptism in a Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal church etc. as valid. A Baptist who thus joins the SDA church does not have to be re-baptized unless he/she desires to do so.

16. Lord's Supper: The Lord's Supper is a participation in the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus as an expression of faith in Him, our Lord and Saviour. In this experience of communion Christ is present to meet and strengthen His people. As we partake, we joyfully proclaim the Lord's death until He comes again. Preparation for the Supper includes self-examination, repentance, and confession. The Master ordained the service of foot washing to signify renewed cleansing, to express a willingness to serve one another in Christlike humility, and to unite our hearts in love. The communion service is open to all believing Christians.


Yet another doctrinal belief of the SDA church that needs no comment.


17. Spiritual Gifts and Ministries: God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts which each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity. Given by the agency of the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts provide all abilities and ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained functions. According to the Scriptures, these gifts include such ministries as faith, healing, prophecy, proclamation, teaching, administration, reconciliation, compassion, and self-sacrificing service and charity for the help and encouragement of people. Some members are called of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the church in pastoral, evangelistic, apostolic, and teaching ministries particularly needed to equip the members for service, to build up the church to spiritual maturity, and to foster unity of the faith and knowledge of God. When members employ these spiritual gifts as faithful stewards of God's varied grace, the church is protected from the destructive influence of false doctrine, grows with a growth that is from God, and is built up in faith and love.


While not all denominations agree in every point on spiritual gifts (ie. some think that the gift of tongues is the ultimate sign of being baptized in the Holy Spirit) the SDA position is entirely mainstream.


18. The Gift of Prophecy: One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White. As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.


I don't know how many Christian congregations there are across America that have their own prophets. The concept of a prophet in a modern church is not unique to Adventism. As Seventh-day Adventists we affirm and embrace the prophetic ministry of Ellen G. White. Not only does she pass all of the prophetic tests but unlike false prophets, EGW consistently and unapologetically dedicated her life to pointing people back to the Bible and Jesus Christ. She never exalted herself, her books, or her ideas as being above or even equal to the Bible. In addition, not one SDA doctrine comes from EGW. All of them come from the Bible. If I was to loose complete confidence in EGW I would still believe every single one of the SDA doctrines. Her ministry was not one of telling people what to believe and do but pointing people back to the Bible the only rule of faith and practice. Some have accused SDA's of following the teachings of EGW and not the Bible. If that were true then I would admit that our church is not a Christian church founded on the principle of sola scriptura. However, this is a false allegation. With this evidence in mind, even if one disagrees with EGW being a prophet it still doesn't make our church unchristian. The SDA church does not even require new converts to believe in her prophetic gift. They are simply invited to investigate it but accepting it is not a test of fellowship (unless you attend an ultra conservative church whose views are contrary to mainstream Adventism). 


19. Law of God: The great principles of God's law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God's love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God's covenant with His people and the standard in God's judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Saviour. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments. This obedience develops Christian character and results in a sense of well-being. It is an evidence of our love for the Lord and our concern for our fellow men. The obedience of faith demonstrates the power of Christ to transform lives, and therefore strengthens Christian witness.


The SDA position on the law is no different from Arminianism or Weslianism. We reject salvation by works but affirm Christian obedience as a non-meritorious response to the grace of God.


20. Sabbath: The beneficent Creator, after the six days of Creation, rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God's unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of delightful communion with God and one another. It is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God's kingdom. The Sabbath is God's perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people. Joyful observance of this holy time from evening to evening, sunset to sunset, is a celebration of God's creative and redemptive acts.


The Sabbath as understood by the SDA church is not unique to our church. We actually got it from the 7th Day Baptists. Even if it was unique to our church, honoring the Sabbath does not make a church non-Christian. Obedience to this command is not a legalistic way of attaining heaven either. According to the SDA belief, Sabbath keeping is as non-meritorious yet non-negotiable as not committing murder, adultery, etc.


21. Stewardship:  We are God's stewards, entrusted by Him with time and opportunities, abilities and possessions, and the blessings of the earth and its resources. We are responsible to Him for their proper use. We acknowledge God's ownership by faithful service to Him and our fellow men, and by returning tithes and giving offerings for the proclamation of His gospel and the support and growth of His church. Stewardship is a privilege given to us by God for nurture in love and the victory over selfishness and covetousness. The steward rejoices in the blessings that come to others as a result of his faithfulness.


This doctrine is so mainstream it needs no comment. 

Comments