Adventist Beliefs in Light of the Cross

The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption,–the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers. –Ellen White, Gospel Workers, Page 315 

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. 

Sabbath’s lesson this week says, “This week we look at some essential biblical teachings that make us Adventists and that shape our unity in faith.” As we take a look at these teachings, it is important to remember that we are saved by God’s love alone. So why is our understanding of these teachings so important? Bible teachings, or doctrines morph our understanding of God’s love, and our relationship and acceptance of God depends greatly on our understanding of His love. Bible teachings have to be correctly understood in order to correctly understand God’s love. For example, I have read testimonies from not just one, but various former atheists, who testified that the true Bible teaching about the punishment of the wicked helped them accept Christianity. Before, they could not comprehend a God who would torture sinners throughout all eternity. They could not believe such a god exists, and they are right! The god they were told about who tortures sinners for all eternity does not exist!

It is also important for us to remember that these Adventist beliefs were discovered by pioneers of various denominations. They all sat down together putting aside previous notions, and decided to go by the Bible alone. Together they found the truths Adventists hold dear today. However, they did not do all this searching, digging and studying for us! They studied for themselves and we must study for ourselves. So let’s begin,

Sunday’s lesson mentions Salvation in Jesus.

Why is studying salvation in light of the cross so important?

In pagan religions man makes the sacrifices to obtain the pleasure and acceptance of his “god”. Some pagan tribes have offered up human sacrifices just to make sure the sun would rise the next day. They also brought gifts for their “gods” hoping to gain their love and blessing. In Christianity it is the exact opposite. Our God sacrifices Himself on the Cross to obtain not His but our pleasure and acceptance. While we were the guilty ones He did not wait for us to bring a gift or peace offering, but made Himself the peace offering. Revelation 12 tells us of a war in heaven. Not with machine guns and tanks, but a war of the minds. Isaiah 14 tells us Satan wanted God’s seat to the point where he was willing to kill God Himself to get it. He convinced a third of the angels that it would be in the best interest of the Universe if he was in control rather than God. Satan came to this earth and in Genesis 3 convinced Eve and thus mankind that he was more interested in our welfare than God was. For years a great controversy has raged over who has our best interest in mind.

The Cross settles the controversy of who has our best interest in mind once and for all. At the Cross we see the true character of both God and Satan. While we see Satan manipulating men to kill God, we see a tyrant who is willing to kill anyone who gets in his way of being number one. In contrast we see a God who is willing to give His life to save the world. The Cross shows who is really interested in our welfare and who is just using us as pawns for his own selfish purposes. While Satan pretended to be on our side and acting in our best interest we see what he is really up to. We can also see the God whom Satan claimed did not really care about us is actually at peace with us and on our side!

You may find a Bible based study on the plan of salvation in light of the cross here. 

Monday’s lesson mentions the second coming of Jesus. 

Why is studying the second coming in light of the cross so important?

There is a difference between believing Jesus will come, and loving His appearing. Children who are misbehaving at home while mother is out running errands believe she is coming again but since they have misbehaved and made a mess out of the house they do not love her appearing. A true Adventist is one who not only believes in Jesus’ coming but is in love with Him and His appearing. They are like Paul in Galatians 6:14 and in love with the Cross and crucified to the world! The Bible often refers to the church as a woman (Revelation 12). Revelation 19:7 mentions a bride who is ready for marriage with the Lamb. Who could the Lamb be but Jesus and who could this bride be but His church? I have heard it said that the church wants to flirt with Jesus and even date Him, but the church also wants to flirt and date with the world. Jesus is not coming back to flirt and date His church. He is coming back for a wedding, to marry His bride! It is at the cross, where the church falls in love with Jesus and decides to stop dating the world and marry Jesus.

You may find a Bible based study on the second coming of Jesus here. 

Tuesday’s lesson mentions the Sanctuary. 

Why is studying the sanctuary in light of the cross so important? 

At the cross we see a God who provided a sacrifice to reconcile the world to Himself. In the sanctuary we see Jesus mediating between the Father and the world, not convincing the Father to love and accept the world, but convincing the world to love and accept the Father. The sanctuary shows us the purpose of the cross was not to appease and angry God, but to appease an angry race. 

You may find a Bible based study on the sanctuary and cleansing of the sanctuary here. 

Wednesday’s lesson mentions the Sabbath.

Why is studying the Sabbath in light of the cross so important?

Satan does not want us to forget the Sabbath because he wants us to forget the law. Satan knows we are not saved by the works of the law but by grace. The Sabbath is a sign of God’s grace. We do no work on that day, demonstrating that it is not our works that sustain or save us but rather God’s work both at creation and the cross that sustain and save us. We rest on the Sabbath showing that we are resting our faith in the only One who can save us, Jesus Christ. I can imagine God walking with Adam and Eve through the garden, as He showed them all He had made for them, and the wonders of not their works but His works. Adam and Eve realized that day with God, “it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves.” (Psalms 100:3) Before and after the Cross the Sabbath is a sign that it is God’s work that creates and sustains us. The Sabbath Commandment reminds us that God is our creator and we refrain from work and worldly activities on the Sabbath day as we rest our faith in God’s power to save and provide for us, instead of our own works and ability to do business and make money. The same principle is seen in the story of Cain and Abel. In Genesis 4 we read about Abel worshiping the way God had commanded in bringing a lamb as a sacrifice. God accepted Abel’s sacrifice as the lamb God instructed him to bring pointed to Jesus: the Lamb of God who would be sacrificed for our sins. Abel, more than just worshiping as God had instructed was saying he trusted in Jesus to save him and not his own works, he was looking to the Cross. Cain’s sacrifice was refused because he did not worship the way God had instructed, and he brought his own fruit, the work of his own hands. God cannot accept our works and could not accept Cain’s works either. Only the Cross can save us. Today, many people like Cain, try to be saved by worshiping their own way. Jesus says about them, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). Our own works and man made ways of worship will never save us.

The story goes of a little boy years ago who had built his own wooden sailboat. Tied to a string he set the boat out to sail in a nearby creek and then would use the string to reel it back in. One day the string broke and the little boat fell victim to the rapids and sailed away. Several days later the boy is window shopping downtown when he sees his boat in a toy store window. He goes inside and tells the owner, “That’s my boat in the window.” The owner of the store not sure if he should believe the young lad tells the boy he will have to purchase the boat if he wants it back. The boy does several chores around the home and neighborhood to get the few dollars the boat costs. He returns to the store and purchases his own boat. Walking home, holding his boat close to his chest he was over heard saying, “little boat you are twice mine. First I made you, and then I bought you.” That is what Jesus is telling us through the Sabbath today. As we rest from our works on the Sabbath and put our faith in Him, He tells us, “You are twice mine. First, at creation I made you, and then at the cross I bought you.”

You may find a Bible based study on the Sabbath here. 

Thursday’s lesson mentions death and the resurrection. 

Why is studying death and the resurrection in light of the cross so important?

First of all if you don’t really die then Jesus did not really die for us and we still need a Savior. The lie that we don’t really die destroys the cross and everything Jesus endured and accomplished on it. If Jesus was not really tasting death like Hebrews 2:9 says He did, then we have just minimized the cross to a six hour pain endurance marathon. I remember sitting in a funeral a while back for a little girl who was hit and killed by a car. Her mother sat on the front pew sobbing uncontrollably. Meanwhile the pastor talked about how happy the little girl and Jesus were right now up in heaven. Do you know how cruel that made Jesus look to the poor mother? Would Jesus tear a mother’s heart apart just to go have fun with her daughter? I think not! The little girl is resting in her grave and will be united with Jesus in heaven when the mother is reunited with her at the second coming.

You may find a Bible based study on death and the resurrection here. 

How do these Bible teachings in light of the cross help you to appreciate the love of God?

The Spirit of Prophecy or the Spirit of Bitterness

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Many Adventists and former Adventists either have the Spirit of Prophecy or the Spirit of Bitterness. Where does the bitterness come from?

This week’s SS lesson focuses on the book of Joel, which speaks about the Holy Spirit and gift of prophecy being poured out in the latter days. See Joel 2:28-29. Paul reminds us again that the gift of prophecy will endure as long as God has a church. Ephesians 4:11-13. Still, with all the false prophets today, people are skeptical of anybody being a true prophet. That is nothing new. What prophet has ever been accepted in his or her own time or place?

A few days ago someone shared a website with me that bashed Seventh-day Adventists and Ellen White. This site said Adventists were a cult because we are trying to be saved by keeping the commandments. That is not true. We keep*, (treasure* or cherish* is the literal translation in the Hebrew) the commandments because we love Jesus. John 14:15. This site also said we are trying to work our way to heaven by keeping the Sabbath. I don’t know how they came up with that one. We don’t rest on Sabbath so we can be saved by working. That accusation, like most accusations you find on anti-Adventist or anti-Ellen White websites do not even make any sense if you just stop to honestly think about it. The Sabbath is not a sign of works. It is a sign of rest. The Sabbath is a sign we are NOT saved by works.

I have to wonder what spirit is behind their accusations. After all, I am not a Mormon, but I respect them and have no reason or desire to run an anti-Mormon website.  I don’t accept their prophet Joseph Smith, but again I have no desire to run an anti-Joseph Smith website. Each to their own, I say. So I wonder why some people have the obsession to bitterly bash Ellen White and Adventists. The point I am trying to make is, while I do not believe in Joseph Smith, I am still not angry and bitter about it. The anti-Ellen White and anti-Adventist websites often have a bitterness that you cannot ignore.

Problem is, Adventists have also been misrepresented by their own people, and Ellen White has been misrepresented by her own fans. Please keep in mind, if I wear my Tampa Bay Rays baseball jersey into Yankee stadium and start throwing my nachos at the Yankee fans, that I am not properly representing the Tampa Bay Rays. Just because a Tampa Bay Rays fan does something does not mean the Tampa Bay Rays did it. They would be appalled by it. Same with the Adventist Church and Ellen White. They do not condone the action of all of their fans.

I do not know if Ellen White would approve of a compilation book called Messages to Young People, where everything she wrote was literally and blatantly taken out of context and then placed in a book to beat young people over the head.

There is much counsel, which was written to specific people, and what God leads me to see in her writings may not be what He is needing everyone to see. What I read I need to pray and apply to myself instead of hitting my neighbor over the head with it. In a church district where I served years ago, we had a lady who read Ellen White all the time. I mean all the time. So much so, that she never had time to help with Vacation Bible School when we needed her, or to help with Community Services when a tornado struck. She could never help. She was too busy reading Ellen White books.

Ellen White was balanced. Not all of her fans are though. The Adventist Church is balanced but not all of its members are. Hopefully we balance each other out. That being said, I guess I do understand where some of the bitterness can come from. But please do not become bitter of Ellen White or anyone else for that matter, because of someone else’s misrepresentation of her. Please don’t judge a sports team by its fans.The team may be nothing like their fans.

Let me just come right out and say here, the point of my post is not so much addressing whether or not Ellen White is still relevant to today’s church or not, but regardless of what people believe, why do some need to be so bitter about it? That being said, I believe if the Adventist Church and Ellen White had been properly represented, regardless if people believe in them or not, at least they would not be so bitter towards them.

Could the spirit behind their attacks be found in Revelation 12:17?

“And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.”

Keeping the commandments is not a sign we are a cult. It is a sign we are God’s children!

None of us likes it when other people put words in our mouths. If you have visited a website bashing Seventh-day Adventists, I would like to invite you to a website where you can find the truth about Adventists. Even if you do not want to be one, its only fair that Adventists are rightfully understood. No one likes to be misunderstood.

Every month someone sends me a magazine which bitterly bashes Seventh-day Adventists. Again, I find this very strange that someone wants to spend their time, energy and money bitterly lashing out at any Christian denomination. Bitterly bashing people is just not in my psyche I guess.

While I have made a habit of tossing this magazine into the trashcan next to my mailbox every month, this time I did happen to open a couple pages. One page was an article saying that the Spirit of Prophecy is about the Holy Spirit and not Ellen White. Well of course it is. 2 Peter 1:21 tells us all the prophets wrote or spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. So when a prophet has the Spirit of Prophecy it is from the Holy Spirit and not from him or herself.  In other words, the Holy Spirit gives His own prophecies to men to share with us. The fact that Ellen White’s writings are from the Holy Spirit and not herself, gives it even more merit.

Some like to point out supposed contradictions in her writings. Bible skeptics use the same logic to discount the Bible that Spirit of Prophecy skeptics use to discount Ellen White. People can find things in the Bible to look like a contradiction, but once you study it out and think about it you realize it is not a contradiction. It’s the same with Ellen White. I have seen a handful of people myself, who have stopped believing in Ellen White’s writings, and then stopped believing in the Bible and God all together. Christians need to be aware, that the same supposed logic that will lead you not to believe in the writings of Ellen White will also lead you to stop believing in the Bible and God.

I hear people say Ellen White is too legalistic and conservative. This year I have been reading through the Testimonies to the Church, by Ellen White, and what I have been finding over and over is that she actually attacks legalism. She is far from conservative, and being legalistic and works orientated. In her writings I find grace and mercy. I find her to be very balanced, and if she has to go to either extreme she goes to the side of mercy. A lot of anti-Ellen White people have never read her for themselves. I invite you to do so. After all, you would not want someone telling people about you. If you are like me, you want people to get to know you personally instead of just going by what they hear. I invite you to get know Ellen White for yourself.

Here is a link where you can explore the writings of Ellen White and find the treasures of the Spirit of Prophecy.

Also if you have been to any of the anti-Ellen White websites, the links below may help you find factual and logical answers to some of her critics.

http://www.ellenwhite.info/ 

http://www.ellenwhiteanswers.org/

http://www.ellengwhitetruth.com/

Here is a link where you can find out how to tell from the Bible if someone really has the gift of prophecy or not.

I hope you find it to be as great a blessing as I have. If you decide not to accept her as a prophet I hope we can still be friends. There is no reason to be bitter either way. The Spirit of Bitterness, accusations, and finding fault with other peoples religions comes from Satan, not from God.

And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus. Revelation 12:17 NLT