Overview

Seventh-Day Adventism began in 1845 with some former Millerites, a group who grew around William Miller. Miller believed that the date of the return of Jesus could be ascertained in Scripture, first suggesting He would return between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844, which was supposedly 2,300 years after the beginning of the prophecy in Daniel 8:14. When the spring of 1844 came and passed, many of Miller’s disciples determined that the date was truly October 22, 1844. When this day also passed, the group disbanded because of differences of interpretation over what happened in the “Great Disappointment,” as the event was called. One group believed that something important did happen in October 1844, that Jesus began His ministry from the Most Holy Place, which represented the beginning of the “end times.” The group recognized Ellen G. White as a prophet of God, and her writings were and are held in great esteem. The name “Seventh-Day Adventist” combines two of the group’s messages: that Christians are to hold to the Sabbath on the seventh day as God commanded Israel, and that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, the “second advent.” Seventh-Day Adventism is known for adhering to many portions of the Law of Moses, including the Sabbath, the tithe, and dietary ordinances, and for strong premillennial beliefs.

Sections on this Page

Variants

There are some variants of the Millerite movement from which Seventh-Day Adventism originates. The Advent Christian Church was begun in 1860 from the Millerites, and they also preach the imminent return of Jesus Christ, although they do not believe that Ellen G. White was a prophet. Although there is internal disagreement over some issues and practices, the celebration of Easter being one, there have been no variants of Seventh-Day Adventism itself.

General Considerations

Part I

Lutheranism: Faith Alone

Pietism: Foot Washing

Baptists: “Once Saved, Always Saved”

Part III

Baptism: Baptism is for Remission of Sin and is Necessary for Salvation

The Church Treasury, I: Benevolence: Church Benevolence to Non-Saints; The Missionary Society

The Church Treasury, II: Other Considerations: Hospitals; Centers of Education; Kitchens/Fellowship Halls; Gymnasiums

Instrumental Music

Judaic Practices: The Ten Commandments and the “Moral Law”

The Lord’s Supper: When Should the Lord’s Supper Be Observed? Part A: Weekly

Positions of Authority: Who is the Pastor?; A Hierarchy of Bishops [one elder per congregation]; Female Deacons [Deaconesses]; Ordination

Part IV

The “Judaizers”

The Sabbath

Seventh-Day Adventism teaches that the Sabbath, the day instituted by God for Israel to rest, is still binding upon Christians today. They believe that God instituted the commandment at creation1, that God never commanded Christians to do otherwise2, and that the Apostles observed the Sabbath3. Are these teachings validated by Scripture?

The commandment of God concerning the Sabbath was made in Exodus 20:9-11:

Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a sabbath unto the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

The Sabbath was given to man as a day of rest for the reason that God rested on the seventh day. There is no evidence from the Scriptures that God commanded anyone before Moses to observe the Sabbath. Yes, God is said to sanctify the seventh day according to Genesis 2:3, but Genesis was no doubt written after the covenant was inaugurated between God and Israel, and the author demonstrates to Israel (and to us) the reasons behind the Sabbath regulation in the Law.

Likewise, there is never a commandment in the New Testament to observe the Sabbath. The Seventh-Day Adventists infer from the use of the term “sabbath” in Acts 13:14, 42, 44, 16:13, 17:1-2, and 18:4 that the Apostles did observe it. This inference, however, is not substantiated by the text: we see the Apostles preaching the word of God to the Jews on the Sabbath because that is when the latter came together. Paul says in Romans 1:16 that the Gospel went to the “Jew first, and then to the Greek,” and this is borne out in one example, Acts 17:1-2:

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his custom was, went in unto them, and for three sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures.

Paul’s custom was to reason with the Jews first in the cities he entered, and only after the Jews would not hear would he preach to the Gentiles.

It may be argued that since the term “sabbath” is used, this means that these Christians obviously observed it. This is not necessarily the case. “Christendom” recognizes December 25 as Christmas. If one speaks of doing something on Christmas day, does this necessitate that one observes Christmas as a religious observance? By no means, for it is the commonly understood term for December 25. Likewise, the early Christians recognized that the “seventh day” was the “Sabbath;” calling it as much does not necessitate its observance.

Concerning God having never “changed” the Sabbath, we must understand the nature of the covenants that God has with His children. We have been told in Colossians 2:13-14 the following:

And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross.

We also read the same message in Hebrews 7:12; 9:15:

For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

The apostles of God spoke clearly that there was a change of law enacted by the death of Jesus Christ. Therefore, since there has been a change of law, the laws of the people under Moses are not by that virtue alone applicable to Christians today. There are many instances where the laws of God under Moses are the same as under Christ, but many have been changed. Colossians 2:14 makes it clear that the Law of Moses has been nailed to the cross, and any practice applicable to Christians must come from either before the Law or through the Apostles. The Sabbath does not meet either of these requirements, for the Sabbath was instituted as a practice only in the time of Moses.

Colossians 2:13-16 actually speaks of the Sabbath in this regard:

And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses; having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross; having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day.

The Seventh-Day Adventists argue that this commandment only speaks concerning the “seven year” Sabbath of the land, since the rest of the acts are “ritual matters4.” Yet the text does not make any such distinction; the new moon comes monthly, and “in meat, or in drink,” refers to the dietary restrictions of the Law, which are by no means “ritual matters.”

We have further evidence of the change in the Sabbath in Hebrews 4:1-11:

Let us fear therefore, lest haply, a promise being left of entering into his rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good tidings preached unto us, even as also they: but the word of hearing did not profit them, because it was not united by faith with them that heard. For we who have believed do enter into that rest; even as he hath said, “As I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest:”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he hath said somewhere of the seventh day on this wise, “And God rested on the eventh day from all his works”;
and in this place again, “They shall not enter into my rest.”
Seeing therefore it remaineth that some should enter thereinto, and they to whom the good tidings were before preached failed to enter in because of disobedience, he again defineth a certain day, “Today,” saying in David so long a time afterward (even as hath been said before), “Today if ye shall hear his voice, Harden not your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience.

The Seventh-Day Adventists believe that this “rest” actually refers to the weekly Sabbath5. However, if we examine the text, we see that this cannot be so. The Hebrew author said in Hebrews 4:8:

If Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day.

Joshua is spoken of since he was the one who led the Israelites into the promised land and re-established the law in Joshua 8:32:

And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote, in the presence of the children of Israel.

The rest given by Joshua was the Sabbath, yet the Hebrew author demonstrates that there “remains a sabbath rest for the people of God.” He speaks further in Hebrews 4:10-11:

He that is entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience.

How can this rest be a weekly rest on Earth if we must “give diligence” to enter it? We are to give diligence to enter Heaven (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15), and yet are never told about diligence for a weekly rest. Therefore, it is evident from the Scriptures that the Christian sabbath represents the rest given to believers in Heaven, and our day of assembling follows the example of the Apostles in Acts 20:7:

And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight.

Dietary Restrictions

Seventh-Day Adventism also teaches that the dietary restrictions given under the Law of Moses are still applicable today6. However, we have numerous Scriptures showing that they are not so, including Mark 7:19 and Romans 14:2, 14:

“…because it goeth not into his heart, but into his belly, and goeth out into the draught?” This he said, making all meats clean.

One man hath faith to eat all things: but he that is weak eateth herbs.

I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself: save that to him who accounteth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

The Seventh-Day Adventists believe that Mark 7:19 was referring to the manner of the eating of foods, and not of the food itself7. It is true that contextually Jesus is discussing the Pharisees and their binding of external washings, yet the comment made in verse 19 is a commentary by Mark, not a statement of Jesus. It need not deal directly with the context of what Jesus is saying. Mark simply affirms that by teaching the Pharisees that food does not defile men, He also teaches that all foods are clean. They also teach concerning Romans 14:1-14 that the context simply discusses food offered to idols8, yet the text does not make any such distinctions. Paul says very clearly, “nothing is unclean of itself,” and that “one has faith to eat all things, but he that is weak eats herbs.” Nothing is spoken of concerning the nature of the foods themselves, only what they are. Paul makes it evident that all foods are clean for Christians.

The Second Advent

The other main teaching of Seventh-Day Adventism is the imminent return of Jesus Christ, or the “Second Advent.” Their belief system concerning the Second Advent has many parallels with Plymouth Brethren: Premillennialism. We will concern ourselves only with the main differences between the two belief systems.

The principal belief of the Seventh-Day Adventists concerning the Second Advent is the “Heavenly Sanctuary.” The Seventh-Day Adventists believe in a literal “Heavenly Sanctuary,” where Jesus now reigns as High Priest9. They believe that the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 gives a 2,300 year period for the cleansing of this sanctuary:

And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

If the date of 457 BCE is accepted for the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, the “seventy sevens” of Daniel 9:24, or 490 years, brings us to about 33 or 34 CE; the remaining 1,810 years brings us to 1844, or the time of the prophecy of William Miller. It is believed that the actions of Daniel 7:13-14 occurred in 184410:

I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Therefore, it is the belief of Seventh-Day Adventism that Jesus began the final phase of His ministry in 1844, preparing to return for the Second Advent11. Is this what the Scriptures teach?

We have seen in Plymouth Brethren: Daniel 7: The Beasts and Plymouth Brethren: Daniel 9: The Duration of Israel that the signs of Daniel point clearly to the first coming of Christ, the establishment of the church, and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The “seventy sevens” clearly refer to the time between Daniel and the destruction of Jerusalem, and this is confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 24:15.

The nature of this prophecy hinges upon the date of 457 BCE, the date wherein it is believed the decree of which Daniel spoke of in Daniel 9:25 was given:

Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times.

It is believed that this prophecy was fulfilled in the decree of Artaxerxes in Ezra 7:11-26, when Ezra was given the authority of the king to teach the Jews the commandments of their God. Even if we were to accept that this command was the “restoration” of Israel as spoken of by Daniel, the “building” of Jerusalem was first commanded by Cyrus concerning the Temple (538 BCE; Ezra 1:1) and ultimately commanded by Artaxerxes concerning the walls of Jerusalem (444 BCE; Nehemiah 2:1). This period of “building” is a long span, long before and shortly after the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 BCE. This is another situation where individuals attempt to force history to fit prophecy, as opposed to examining prophecy in light of historical evidence. There is no evidence that the decree spoken of by Daniel conforms to a decree of Artaxerxes in 457 BCE.

It is also believed by the Seventh-Day Adventists that the “millennial reign” will be in Heaven, at the conclusion of which the saints and Christ will return to the “new earth” to live forever12. It is also believed that there will be two resurrections, the first for the righteous at the Second Advent, and the second for the unrighteous after the “millennium13.” Is this taught by the Scriptures?

These beliefs are mostly based on the Revelation of John, and as we have seen in Plymouth Brethren: The Nature of Prophecy: the Revelation is a “prophecy by sign,” and while we believe John saw everything that he wrote about, we cannot determine that what John saw will literally occur. We have seen in Plymouth Brethren: The Nature of Christ’s Kingdom, that the Kingdom exists today, comprised of all the saints, and is not limited to a thousand years. We have been told in Matthew 25:34 the following:

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'”

The Kingdom for the saints has been prepared from the foundation of the world; how can this be a “new earth,” created after this world is destroyed? It is evident that John is using language and signs understandable to man to describe a scene so magnificent that no comparison can be valid.

We have also seen in Plymouth Brethren: The Judgment that the texts in Matthew 25:31-46 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 demonstrate that the Judgment will be a one-time event, and that there will not be two judgments for two resurrections. Therefore, the teachings of the Seventh-Day Adventists concerning the Second Advent of Christ are not based in the complete message of the Scriptures.

Other Resources

Notes

1: Seventh-Day Adventists Believe…: A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines, p. 249
2: Ibid.
3: Ibid., pp. 253-254
4: Ibid., p. 254
5: Ibid., p. 258
6: Ibid., p. 285
7: Ibid., p. 292
8: Ibid.
9: Ibid., p. 314
10: Ibid., p. 324
11: Ibid.
12: Ibid., pp. 364, 367-368
13: Ibid., 358

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6 Responses

  1. I quote…

    “If one speaks of doing something on Christmas day, does this necessitate that one observes Christmas as a religious observance? By no means, for it is the commonly understood term for December 25. Likewise, the early Christians recognized that the “seventh day” was the “Sabbath;” calling it as much does not necessitate its observance”.

    In response:

    Your reasoning is invalid since it is not commonly understood that Christmas is on the 25th December as the first Christians did not celebrate Christmas on this day. Hence why the Antiochan Orthodox which was the first church in the Bible (Acts 11:26), rightly celebrated Christmas day on January the 6th. A period of fasting begins 40 days before Christmas for Eastern Christians. This period does not correspond to the Advent Season of the Roman Church; the Eastern Church does not know Advent.

    There is therefore no common recognition that “the 25th December is Christmas day among all Christendom”. Therefore, there was no recognition of Sunday being the changed Sabbath by any of the disciples. Firstly because there is not one jot or tittle which has been changed from the Law (Matt 5:18) since Christ upheld it and followed it perfectly (Matt 5:17) and that Christ changes not (Mal 3:6) and that scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35) and that the Sabbath is to be observed forever (Ex 31:13-17) and that whoever teaches others to relax teaching any one of the commandments, will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but be damned to hell, because of their unrighteous deeds and false teachings. (Matt 5:19).

    Seventh-day Adventist Christian.

    • deusvitae

      Greetings!

      While it is true that some groups do not accept December 25 as the traditional day of Christmas, they are a minority view, and especially in the Western world, December 25 is “Christmas” even for those who have no belief or believe in other religions.

      While Christians were first so called in Antioch, the first church was in Jerusalem, which is beyond doubt in Acts 2-7.

      The day of Christ’s birth cannot be precisely ascertained; January 6 has no more validity than December 25, and both are likely inaccurate. As is discussed elsewhere on this website, there was most certainly a change of law since there was a change of priesthood (Hebrews 7:12-9:15), Sunday is never reckoned as the Sabbath, for the Sabbath rest of the Christian awaits in heaven (Hebrews 4:1-11). Early Christians did meet on the first day of the week to remember the Lord’s death on the day of His resurrection in the Lord’s Supper and to encourage one another (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 14:22-23, 16:1-3, Hebrews 10:25).

    • Yet you don’t keep the sabbath. Saturday is not the sabbath nor is Sunday

  2. Victor

    The author here is obviously uninformed. “A change in the law?” Is he for real? Does he even know what the implications are?

    1) Sin is the transgression of the law (KJV).
    1 John 3:4, NKJV
    Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

    Romans 4:15
    because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.

    Adam and Eve transgressed God’s Law even when it was not published on tablets of stone.

    1 Timothy 2:14
    And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

    The Psalmist teaches that the Law is eternal. How can something eternal change? It does not make any sense.

    Psalmist 119:160
    The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.

    Paul Teaches that the Law is establish based on our faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

    Romans 3:31
    Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

    If Paul wrote Hebrews, he could not have contradicted himself or we would have to throw out the Bible as inaccurate. No wonder so many do not believe in the Christian witness when the Law of God, which is the express representation of His holy character is minimized.

    Why change the Law after the sacrifice of Jesus? You offend in one, you are guilty of all, says James

    James 2:10
    For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

    So, why change the Law if in the New Testament, James speaks the validity of all the points of the Law?

    It does not make any sense. How can someone be a Bible teacher and make such a gross mistake?

    If the Law could have easily been changed, then Jesus didn’t have to die? What! Yet, He did because of our transgressions. Why change the Law?

    If one reads carefully, Hebrews is full of Levitical discussion. The Ten Commandments are given in Exodus, not in Leviticus. The Ten Commandments are not ceremonial laws, they are the Immutable Moral Law of God. It is because the world has gone a-whoring with Satan that God refers to us as an adulterous generations. There is not a single command in the Ten Commandments (Ex 20) that is ceremonial, even Sabbath observance is based on God as Creator, not some ceremonial washing of hands.

    Worship is not a question of ceremonial laws, it is about God being Creator which distinguishes Him from all of creation.

    Rev 14: 6,7, NKJV
    Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

    The everlasting Gospel is tied to the worship of God and the worship of God is intimately tied to His creatorship. The Sabbath point not just physical rest but spiritual rest, God is our Creator. We do not worship God for any other reason. We do not worship God because resurrected on Sunday, but because He not only created us but redeemed us and rested in the tomb on the Sabbath day according to the commandment.

    Luke 23:56
    Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

    Paul is very clear when he refers to the Ten Commandments.

    Hebrews 4:4
    For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”;

    No one can change the fact that the Sabbath points to God as Creator. We worship Him because he created us and redeemed us.

    I am saddened by the lack of scholarship and simple honest hermeneutics. Allow the Scriptures to speak.

    Hebrews 7:12 does say “a change of the law.” But it is clear that Paul is talking about all ceremonial laws that governed even the Priesthood. Yes, the Bible talks about “sabbaths” (ei. Col 2:16) but is clear that such “sabbaths” are part of the ceremonial laws, not the moral Ten Commandment.

    Hebrews 7:12 is not referring to the Ten Commandments but the ceremonial Law.

    For an excellent trustworthy scholarly exposition see Arthur W Pink, an English Christian Evangelist and Bible Scholar who denounced “dispensationalism” as a “modern and pernicious error.” An Exposition of Hebrews: The Priesthood Changed (Hebrews 7:11-16)

    http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Hebrews/hebrews_032.htm

    For the readers of this publication, I appeal to you all to trust your Scriptures and read it with much prayer. Leave your assumptions aside and reason with God’s Spirit and His Word. It is this subtle teaching that passes a Gospel and leads people to desecrate God’s Commandments.

    God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The mark of the true Church of God is described in Revelation 12: 17
    And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

    And again in Rev 14:12
    Here is the patience of the saints; here are those[g] who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

    Which commandments, a modified version? Changing the moral Law would make the sacrifice of Jesus of no effect. If the commandments can be changed, then, we are all without sin. Heresy!

    Jesus says:
    Matthew 5:17
    “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill…”

    Blessings

    • deusvitae

      Even in your exposition the difficulty is evident: what was done under the Old is not what is done under the New. There have to be some changes based upon the differences in the sacrificial system if nothing else.

      Your solution to the problem seems to be to make a division in the Law of Moses which is imposed upon the text and never used in it, either in the Old or New Testaments. Deuteronomy 4:2 is there for a reason; Jesus says what He does in Matthew 5:17-18 for the same reason, for once He has fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, the new covenant and Kingdom can be inaugurated.

      The Hebrew author gives the explanation, if you would hear it: with a change of priesthood there is a change of law. There is a covenant distinction between old and new; we are not under the old covenant, never have been, never would be anyway, unless we submitted to the whole Law, circumcision, Sabbath, dietary restrictions, animal sacrifice, and all else, and Paul makes the consequences of those decisions quite clear in Galatians 5:1-5.

      There are changes in law; there’s no way around that. Laws are not precisely the same during the Patriarchs, under Mosaic legislation, and then again in the new covenant. The problem is not in the text; the problems are in the assumptions you’ve brought as to how law “must work” and the conclusions you have decided to draw from Romans.

      We are still under laws; they’re just not those of Moses.

  3. This is very interesting. I am a Seventh-day Adventist, but I believe there is a need for all to discover what we believe and why we believe it by viewing others’ viewpoints as well of certain doctrines, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth (John 16:13). Interesting points made though. If I may, I would encourage the reading of the book titled “The Ten Commandments Twice Removed.” Great book with very interesting insight.

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