Response to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Document “Invitation to Uplift Jesus”

On April 11, 2018, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists published a document containing guidance for church leaders desiring to work with ASI-member ministries like ours. Pathway to Paradise Ministries is encouraged to learn that “[t]he Church will be eager to work with all who share its prophetic message expressed in the 28 Fundamental Beliefs.”[1] Below is our official response to seven “crucial questions” that summarize these fundamental beliefs.

Question 1. What does it mean to accept Jesus Christ? When we say we accept Christ is this a mystical Christ of experience only, or, does it mean an acceptance of the doctrinal truths He taught, or, both? Does such ministry or initiative uphold the substitutionary atonement of Jesus?

Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the Son of God “made flesh” (John 1:14) in human form, and salvation is available only through Him (Acts 4:12). To accept Jesus Christ is to acknowledge Him as Creator (John 1:1-3), Savior (John 1:39), and Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). Accepting Christ means to claim the righteous merits of His shed blood as the only means of forgiveness and cleansing from sin (1 John 1:9), and to recognize in His life and death the substitutionary atonement for human sin (Romans 5:17-19). Accepting Christ also means to accept His words and teachings as authoritative in one’s life (John 12:47-48) and to daily pursue a living relationship, through the work of the Holy Spirit, with the risen Christ (John 15:1-10).

Question 2. How do they understand the role of doctrine in Christian faith? Is there an organic connection between the person of Christ and the teachings or doctrines of Christ? Is there the understanding that knowing Christ necessarily includes knowing and living His teachings and the Biblical truths He taught?

Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). A Christ-centered life will naturally produce true heart-obedience to God’s law, for Christ will be living His life of obedience through that person (Philippians 2:13). The teachings, or doctrines, of Christ are expressions and explanations of what the fruit of the Spirit looks like in a person’s life (Galatians 5:22,23). They also explain and reveal Who Jesus Christ is and what He has done and continues to do for the salvation and redemption of mankind. For this reason, Christ commanded His disciples to “teach all nations” how to observe “all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19,20).

Question 3. What is their understanding and support of the message and mission the Adventist church in the light of its prophetic mission? How do they express their understanding of 1844 and Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary?

Upon His ascension to heaven, Jesus Christ was anointed as our High Priest in heaven’s temple and began His work of intercession for us (Hebrews 8:1,2; 7:25). In 1844, at the conclusion of the 2,300-year prophecy of Daniel 8:14, Jesus Christ entered the Most Holy Place of heaven’s sanctuary to complete the final phase of the atonement, which includes cleansing His people of their sins so that they can stand before Him without fault at His second coming (Leviticus 16:30; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 John 4:17). The Seventh-day Adventist church, prophesied in Revelation 12:17 as the remnant of the woman’s seed, has been given the mission to “prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” (Revelation 10:11) the everlasting gospel which includes Christ’s contemporary and soon-to-close work of judgment in heaven’s temple (Revelation 14:6,7).

Question 4. Do they have a clear understanding of the uniqueness of the Seventh-day Adventist movement? Are they clear in how Adventist faith differs from other evangelical denominations that exalt Jesus?

Seventh-day Adventism is a prophetic movement raised up by God at the “time of the end” (Daniel 12:9) to preach and keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17). Seventh-day Adventists express faith in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ shed at the cross for the forgiveness of sins (1 Corinthians 5:7), and in His continuing ministry for us as our High Priest in heaven’s temple (Hebrews 8:1,2). Christ’s work in the sanctuary above, and especially His work in the final atonement begun on October 22, 1844 (Daniel 8:14) is central to a correct understanding of Biblical eschatology. It also reveals God’s purpose to cleanse His church of sin so that its members can stand before Him “holy and without blemish” at the second coming (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Question 5. What is their understanding of creation? Do those involved in new ministries and initiatives believe that God created this world in six literal days and rested on the seventh day in the recent past as understood and voted in our 28 Fundamental Beliefs?

The Biblical record of creation week as found in the first two chapters of Genesis forms the foundation for a correct understanding of human history, the great controversy between good and evil, and the plan of salvation. We believe that God created this world in six literal, contiguous, 24-hour days, and that on the seventh day “God ended his work which he had made; and he rested” (Genesis 2:2). In so doing, God gave to all of humanity the blessing of Sabbath rest on the seventh day.

Question 6. What is their understanding of biblical authority and prophetic interpretation? Do they accept the historicist explanation of Bible prophecy and do they share the Adventist understanding of the little horn of Daniel 7, the beast powers of Revelation 13 and the antichrist of Scripture, and that faithfulness to Christ will ultimately climax in a conflict over the law of God with the Sabbath at the center of that final controversy?

The Bible’s apocalyptic prophecies found in Daniel and Revelation trace human history from the prophet’s time (ca. 500 BC for Daniel and ca. 100 AD for John) until the second coming of Jesus Christ. These prophecies reveal the rise of a great antichrist power (also known as the little horn of Daniel 7 and the beast of Revelation 13) from within the Christian church that would persecute Bible-believing Christians. Protestant scholars have long recognized these prophecies to point to the papal power. Revelation 13 predicts that this power will eventually gain control of the entire world and then implement the mark of the beast. This mark is a counterfeit of the seal of God found in Revelation 7, and points to a final conflict over the law of God and especially the seventh-day Sabbath.

Question 7. Due to current perceptions of gender and sexuality, which contradict the biblical teaching on marriage and the family as accepted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, these pertinent questions must also be asked: How do they understand gender identity and the question of LGBTQ+ relationships to church membership in the light of Scripture? Do they have a clear, unambiguous and biblical understanding of this subject?

The Bible says that God created man “in his own image…male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). God united Adam and Eve in marriage (Genesis 2:22-24), yet both retained their distinctive gender. For nearly six thousand years the marriage of a man with a woman has formed the basis of the family and of society. In his first conversation with Eve, however, the devil planted the idea of the fluidity of human nature when he said, “your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5). Whenever and wherever the Word and worship of God has been rejected, humanity has tended to repeat this Satanic philosophy of the fluid nature of humanity, including gender fluidity (see, for example, Genesis 19 and Romans 1). While Christians are called to love all people and compassionately call them to repentance of their sins, faith in Jesus Christ, and obedience to God’s law (Matthew 28:19,20), the Bible makes it clear that church membership requires a higher standard of moral and sexual conduct than that permitted by the world (1 Corinthians 5).