My Experiences with Seventh-Day Adventists

HomeChristianity and the BibleMy Experiences with Seventh-Day Adventists

I’m regularly asked about the beliefs of particular groups of people, like Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-Day Adventists. When I respond, I try to be very careful in my assessments. My goal is to compare beliefs (any beliefs, including yours and mine) with what we find in the Bible. I do not feel comfortable saying whether anyone in particular, or groups in general, has been saved. Some people are born again in spite of bad theology, and many people are bound for Hell in spite of good theology. In this article, I simply explain some of my experiences with Seventh-Day Adventists.

ONE

When I was a teen, I attended a church in a Seattle suburb. Another church down the street had a split over doctrine. They were Seventh-Day Adventists. The smaller group stayed there, but the larger group rented our church building to worship on Saturdays because it wasn’t being used. Naturally, some of them also visited our Sunday worship services. It wasn’t very long before they stopped renting the building… not because they found their own building, but because nobody was left to worship on Saturday. Why was that? Well, I asked a bunch of them because we had become friends. Here’s a summary of what they said:

We thought we were Christians before. When we visited this church, we literally heard the real gospel for the first time. We realized that we weren’t actually Christians… but now we’re born again, as the Bible describes.

That was pretty shocking to me. Now, please hear me: I’m NOT saying that Adventists aren’t Christians. Not at all. I’m saying that, depending on what each local congregation is being taught, those in attendance may or may not have the whole story.

TWO

I went to college in Idaho. As a freshman, I met an older man in a store. He was very nice, and we felt connected instantly. It was interesting to chat with him about all kinds of subjects. As we talked, I found out that he was the #3 leader at Pacific Press, the SDA publishers. He brought me to the factory and showed me around. Because my father was a printer, I found it all very fascinating. We spent a lot of time together that year, and talked about all kinds of things… but mostly theology. Because he was Adventist and I was not, we often ended up talking about our differences. It was always, always friendly, of course.

As we talked, it became clear to me that my friend, older than my father, simply didn’t know that the New Covenant instituted by Jesus is different, and better, than the old. He was convinced that obeying the Law was basic to pleasing God, but he was unclear as to why he and his church only followed part of the Law. We lost touch after a year or so, but I look back very fondly at our friendship.

THREE

About 10 years later, I found work with a truly incredible gentleman who cleaned carpets for a living. He treated me like his own son. I’ve only met a few people in my life who are that sincerely kind and generous. He and his wife were devoted Adventists. Because we worked together for 8-10 hours every day, we had plenty of time to chat. Unfortunately, he seemed to struggle with the same kinds of things that my childhood friends talked about, and that my college friend was unsure about… things like sabbath-keeping, dietary restrictions, and so on. He wasn’t dogmatic in his beliefs, and never suggested that I needed to live as he lived to please God… but he was convinced that we are under the Law, and that Christians needed to live by parts of the Torah. He just wasn’t clear on which parts, or why.

FOUR

All during that time, I had a PO Box instead of a mailbox. So, every day for eight years I would go to the Post Office to get my mail. There were always religious publications on the counter for anybody who wanted them. Sometimes it was LDS stuff (there are tons of Mormons in Idaho), sometimes it was The Plain Truth Magazine (from the Worldwide Church of God, which was an unorthodox cult at that time), and sometimes it was local SDA stuff. Usually those were flyers announcing some seminar on Bible prophecy. One time there was a big stack of paperback books! The title was “Sunday Worship: The Mark of the Beast.” I took one and read it, which seemed to be the goal of the person who left them there. Truly, it was an abysmal attempt at explaining the Scriptures. I recognize that this is a kind of fringe idea among Adventists, of course… but it’s an idea that GodWords readers have suggested many times over the years. It’s not as uncommon as it should be.

So: for around 15 years of my life, I spent considerable time in the company of Adventists and former Adventists, and I read a fair amount of official SDA stuff. The Adventists I know are pretty much all amazing people, and I truly love them… some were like family. I believe that MANY Adventists have been born again as Jesus described in John 3. I have no doubt that I’ll see tons of Adventists in Heaven.

The trouble is simply this: I also have no doubt that many of my Adventist friends will NOT be there, as they were never born again. My reason for writing this is to simply alert people to the possibility that, considering the beliefs and teachings and confusion of so many Adventists, the gospel of Jesus may or may not be preached there consistently. I say this only because of my own experiences, and from reading Adventist publications. I recognize that, like so many others who go to church regularly, they may not know the biblical gospel. My Adventist friends spent considerable time in Bible study, went to church regularly, and were sincere in their desire to please God. I’m only concerned for them because, like every other human on the planet, they must be born again to see the Kingdom of God.


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