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Posts Tagged ‘Ellen G. White’

Yesterday I sat down for lunch with two men who will both be 70 within the next twelve months.  They could not be more different if they had been born on separate planets.  One had lost his way in the drugs and parties of the 70’s.  The other had gone to seminary and doesn’t even know a single Led Zeppelin song.  One worked for over 40 years as a union worker, even through the party life, and lives on an adequate retirement, in a rent house.  The other re-built his life from scratch after divorce and career change left him with nothing.  One watches TV most of the day, the other works his small ranch and plays basketball on a city league with men half his age.  They are my fathers – one by birth, the other through marriage.  Even though my husband and I have been married over 20 years, this was the first time our fathers had ever been together long enough to have a conversation.  My dad is a former SDA pastor, and my father-in-law, former long-time member of the Worldwide Church of God, founded by Herbert W. Armstrong.  Over lunch at this home-cooking diner, they found common ground, and I sat in awe of God’s amazing love and faithfulness to all of us over the last many years.

My father left Adventism  in the 80s during the big upheaval when the truth began to come out about their prophet, Ellen G. White, and prominent leaders began to question the doctrine that had been seen as the founding pillar of the group.  He lost his job for the sake of the gospel, and over other matters, his wife as well.  For a long time I feared he was going to give up on faith altogether.  He never seemed to find a church where things worked out after that, and his questioning began to take directions that frightened me as I began my own life with Christ in my early adult life.  But through all the confusion, he has found Jesus to be the only worthwhile Truth.

After Worldwide Church of God shifted their theological position from Old to New Covenant in the early 90s, through the influence of their leader, Joseph Tkach, my father-in-law also embraced the new path.  On a side note, my father’s mother – also a long time member, did not.  She followed one of the many splinter groups that sprung up after the shift in opposition to the change.  My grandmother passed away seeing grace as too good to be true, and my father-in-law drifted out of fellowship and back into drugs.  As often happens when people let go of the Law-based religion, they feel lost and alone, and overwhelmed at the thought of trying to attend a mainstream church. (His old congregation dwindled and floundered badly.)  If you don’t replace the void with a very real Jesus, you will feel hung out to dry.  Simply changing your mental understanding *about* God, does not always spark a living relationship *with* Him.

After losing his wife two years ago, and surviving massive heart attack, followed by bypass surgery this past year, I saw a huge transformation in my father-in-law.  He stayed with us during his recovery and we really formed a new bond with him.  I saw His spiritual heart had been broken when his physical heart nearly ended his life.

Yesterday he was re-baptized at his new church two blocks from his home.  My father, visiting from another state, attended the service with me.  The significance of the day began to sink in as I sat on the pew, between them.  Two men with long journeys to tell.  And a young whelp of a pastor who had no sense at all of the holy ground he was treading on.  He was in a hurry.  Dunk the new member, rush through the sermon, brush off the old man who puts a hand on his shoulder and tries to tell him how much he reminded him of himself as a young pastor back in 1966, with tears brimming in his eyes.  I believed a good lunch was in order so insisted we sit down for some real fellowship after church.  There two men were able to share and rejoice in what God had done for them, with someone who understood.  I sat mostly quiet (I know, hard to fathom) in awe of what God had orchestrated this day.

Early yesterday morning before getting ready for church, I saw a friend living on the opposite side of our planet had posted a quote by Joseph Tkach on his facebook page.  I took this amazing “coincidence” as  gift from God for the day, and printed it for my father-in-law.

We have always understood grace to be unconditional, an unmerited pardon of our sins. But we tended to think of it as one of the components of salvation that needed to be “stirred into the mix” because we can’t keep the law. We need to see that God’s grace is much more than that.

Grace is not just a spiritual supplement that God provides because we can’t keep his law, like a whiff of oxygen to help a sick person breathe a bit easier. Grace is the love and freedom-producing action of God that reconstitutes humanity into an entirely new creation. It transforms us and gives us a new kind of life – life that no amount of law keeping could sustain. Grace is the environment that allows us, God’s new creation, to not just survive, but to grow and flourish.
Joseph Tkach

Sometimes it takes a long time to see what Grace can do.  It knows that life cannot be forced or coerced before its time.  In our short life spans we find it so hard to endure this slow process, in ourselves and others.  It reminds me of the words in Corinthians, that love bears all things, and believes all things.  I have often been like the young pastor, in a hurry and unable to see the miracles in front of my face, wishing for big things to happen.  But God is at work in every moment,  no matter how hard or dark.  I pray to be more aware of every day of Grace!

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Just have to share  a blog post from a great friend and former SDA.  I could write a book contrasting the worldview of Adventism vs. The Gospel but it would not come close to the clarity these pictures demonstrate from the books that she and I both grew up with.

Please visit her most excellent blog:  Images of Judgment

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This post presents yet another illustration of the subject matter addressed here.  I did not intend to post anything about the recent Doomsday prediction by Harold Camping and Family Radio even though it’s nearly identical to the failed prediction that spawned the Seventh-day Adventist organization in 1844.  That was.. until I saw a Sacramento Fox News station interview Doug Batchelor , a well-known Seventh-day Adventist media evangelist (see below).  I am still reeling from the irony of this station choosing a Seventh-day Adventist to comment on Harold Camping’s prediction, not that they are not more than qualified to understand his position, but this commonality they shared never came to the surface.  In fact the name of Batchelor’s denomination was never even mentioned, or included in the name of the church he pastors.  He was introduced as the pastor of the “Sacramento Central Church” but the ACTUAL name is the Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Someone is hiding something in this broadcast on purpose.

I found it interesting to hear Batchelor decry a prediction which so closely mimics the very thing that Adventists continue to uphold as a move of God which brought end-time truth to the last-day “Remnant Church of Bible Prophecy”.  Batchelor claims he does not know any other group of pastors who would agree with Campings date calculations.  Interestingly, no other group of pastors outside Adventism agree that Jesus “began to finish” his work of atonement in 1844 either, or that this work is still taking place since that time.

The name of Doug Batchelor’s ministry association is “Amazing Facts” and I’m sure the listening audience would have found the real truth to be amazing facts indeed!  For an overview of the doctrine Adventists still proclaim as their explanation for their own Great Disappointment, read here or check out my Resource page for more links.

I post these things for informational purposes, for those researching.  But for Adventists and Family Radio members alike, I simply plead with you to read the Word alone in prayer, seeking the Truth, and stop relying on the interpretations of men who would profit from you.  Coming from someone that knows what it feels like to say, “I was wrong” and walk away – it’s NOT the end of the world.  Just the beginning.


Vodpod videos no longer available.

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When I am visiting someone’s home for the first time, if their bookshelves are visible, I find myself irresistibly drawn to look over them… not just because I love books, but because what people read or collect tells me so much about their perspectives on everything.

This week I happened upon a collection of books from an estate.  Of course when I see bins of books, I can hardly wait to dig in and search for treasure, but this collection was different than I had hoped.  Every bin contained a monoculture of a specific genre of religious teaching, one that was unknown in Christianity until the last 30 or 40 years.  When I realized I would find only a handful of “old-fashioned”  mainstream material, I pondered the phenomenon of being totally given over to a specific teacher or religious movement.

Having been there myself at one time, I remembered what this was like, and how it affected my own library shelf for awhile.  I remember as a child  we did not have any books published by any authors outside of our denomination which claimed to have “special truth”.  I distrusted books from Christians outside our realm, and considered them inferior even if they did have some good points.  They didn’t have ALL the truth.  And not only did we have just one source for books, there were many of them.  Many.  Our publishing houses churned them out as quickly as people would buy them.

Here I saw these same characteristics with the singular type and quantity of books as I sifted through bin after bin… losing hope of finding treasure and becoming increasingly sick as I surveyed some downright astonishing book titles and author’s claims.  A few verses came to mind.

This verse speaks to the thirst for only one kind of teaching; something “new” or “restored” (if Jesus, Paul, and the other Apostles didn’t proclaim it, it doesn’t need to be restored),  and considering it superior to “that which we have received from the beginning… which was once and for all, delivered to the saints” (I John & Jude).

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3,4

I don’t know when I have ever seen a more clear example of this in a collection of books since I left home.  The sad, obvious fact:  the owner had no interest in anything unrelated to this new and exciting teaching.  Even books with subjects that seemed Biblical – such as “Forgiveness” – revealed chapter titles that brought this subject back around to the same falsehood.  Everything centered on the falsehood, not the truth.

As to the overkill in quantity, exactly how many books do you need that say essentially the same thing?  I’m sure the profits from book sales are intoxicating for these teachers.  Write the same thing, give it  a different title, repackage it 100 different ways, and people keep buying them!  Where can you find a better business model of repeat sales and residual income?  Rock stars maybe?

But the sad characteristic of feeding on spiritual falsehood is that you never have enough.  You never quite get to that place they promise, so you need one more book, one more DVD, one more reassurance that you have found the truth.   But this is not a new development.  We are told from long ago that the last days would be full of false teachers, and I find it interesting that this quality of a continuous stream of “learning” is described.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.  For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
2Timothy 3:1-7

False teaching is like junk food.  Once you start to take it in, you develop cravings and lose your taste for healthy food.  Broccoli and apples look boring and tasteless. (think…simple truth of the Gospel!)  The craving and addictions can become intense, but for all the quantity of food you consume, your body is not being nourished.  It seems the spiritual appetite can also be perverted in a similar way, with even worse outcomes.

In contrast, Jesus said..

Matthew 5:6  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

John 6:35  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

John 4:14  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Rev 21:6  And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.

Revelation 22:17  The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Who are we thirsty and hungry for?
So much deception plays on our desires.  We are led away by them.  Someone dangles a carrot and we blindly follow an empty promise, because they are offering something we want.  This isn’t the whole picture, but most of it.  Eve began in this error, and most of us walk in it too before we find the Narrow Way.

If what we want most in this world is anything but Jesus, we are our own worst enemy, and the world offers us so many appealing alternatives.  This is why the FIRST commandment is to LOVE the LORD with all your being.

When we want HIM with our whole heart, it won’t matter what else we have or don’t have.  We WILL seek Him and find Him.  He has promised this.   These teachers love to quote the Bible, and their books are full of verses to prove out what they say.  But unless you are willing to prayerfully take the Word by itself, verse by verse, passage by passage, to see for yourself – any false thing can be made to sound “Biblical”.

My collection of spiritual books I will actually read is narrowing down, as I find the Word of God itself has more treasure than any human teacher can offer.  I do enjoy what the Spirit has taught through many great brothers and sisters through the ages, and it always resonates with what He has shown me through His Word.  But if all I had was the Word, it would be enough.  Jesus is enough.  His Word is enough – through the Book and His Spirit.

My hope is that the owner of the collection I saw this week also found that peace and Living Water in Jesus Christ alone.

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I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this in my many years as a Sabbatarian, or how many times I may have said it.  Now I’m saying it again, because I still agree it’s true.  I may not put it on a bumper sticker like I’ve seen some do, but the next time I see one, I might honk and give them a thumbs up.  Just wish I’d have time to explain why I agree.  They won’t understand.

Most SDA Sabbatarians resolve to observe the correct Sabbath Day but hold the largely false presumption that all of Christianity has replaced Sunday with the 7th day Sabbath as the Biblical day of rest.  It’s true that some do, but this does not represent most Christians.  Most evangelicals don’t “keep” Sunday, they celebrate it.  Does anyone tell you to “keep” your birthday, or mother’s day?  Where is the law that demands you honor the people or events these days commemorate?  There isn’t one, but yet you love to anyway.

The fact is, most Christians have never even stopped to think about the correlation between the 4th commandment and their custom of worship on Sunday, which is why so many of them are easy prey for SDA Sabbath teaching, or other Sabbatarian groups.  And some others have been erroneously taught to see Sunday as a “sabbath” and for them as well as Sabbatarians I resound… “Sunday is NOT the Sabbath.”

Jesus is.

Just as the temple sacrifices pointed to the work of Christ’s atoning blood, the Sabbath was also a foreshadow of Christ’s work… HIS work and our rest in that work.  Jesus didn’t rest on the Sabbath during His ministry, and He infuriated the Jews because of it.

The Sabbath also represents our death with Christ on the cross.  The only way we cease from our own works is to die… reckon ourselves dead, as Paul says.  His flesh, our flesh, lay silent in the tomb on the Sabbath.  Every weekly and festival Sabbath pointed to this event.

Hebrews is a book showing the parallels between the Old Covenant pictures, and the New Covenant reality.  It invites us to walk in the reality, not the shadow.  Chapter 4 speaks to the shadow of the Sabbath showing specifically there is a rest for us in Christ… a rest that is every day… all day.  It’s our daily privilege, to rest (die) daily to our own works.

So what is Sunday if it’s not the Sabbath?  Why did the early Christians begin honoring this day as noted in the earliest Christian writings?  Because the most amazing thing to happen so far in human history occurred on that day!!  Their sorrow and total despair (because they had not believed His Word when He said he would rise again) was turned to unspeakable joy at the discovery that He had risen… just as He said!  Jesus honored this day with His presence among them on numerous occasions after His resurrection.  To stop at the Sabbath and not see the glory of Sunday would be like leaving the movie theater in the saddest part of the film and miss the happy ending!  We praise and thank Him for our rest, but we can’t walk in death.  We walk in newness of life… resurrection life!

“Therefore, if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will surely be united with Him in a resurrection like His….. So you must also reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. – from Romans 6

We find no written command anywhere in the New Testament to the church concerning any specific days or observances outside of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  To worship God on Sunday is to voluntarily rejoice and honor a risen Lord,  a freewill offering of love and corporate fellowship.  And through the Spirit, we can have this joy on any day as the church in Acts met in some form, daily.  It says, “With great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus…”  Acts 4:33

If you delve into the message of the apostles, you will find a big emphasis on the resurrection.  Sabbatarians in my experience as a whole, spend very little time on this event in their worship and discussion.  Most refuse to even gather to worship at the yearly celebration of this event… Resurrection Sunday during the Passover season.   We never saw the magnitude of a completed covenant, and the joy of the New one.. in a risen Christ.

Sunday is not the Sabbath, this is true.  The Sabbath pointed to a future rest the adherents of the Old Covenant could not truly enjoy, just as the sacrifices pointed to a future complete atonement the blood of animals cold not procure.  The first (or eighth) day points to something even greater we are looking to now; our own glorification and final union with our Lord in the coming resurrection, our Blessed Hope. Until then we have the seal and promise of His Spirit as we walk by faith, trusting He will do as He said.

He Lives

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today.  I know that He is living no matter what men say.  I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer.  And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.

Rejoice Rejoice O Christian, lift up your voice and sing Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!  The Help of all who seek Him the Hope of all who find.  None other is so loving, so good and kind.

He Lives, He Lives, Christ Jesus Lives today!  He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.  He lives, He lives, salvation to impart.  You ask me how I know He lives?  He lives within my heart.

Hymn by A.H. Ackley

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Wonderful article from JGIG!

The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended

In the last several months the Law of Christ has become clearer for me.  Not that I haven’t necessarily understood what is the Law of Christ, but expressing that understanding has been challenging, especially when in a discussion with those who believe that we, as believers in Christ, are commanded by God to keep Mosaic Covenant Law…  CONTINUE READING

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Yesterday I heard the testimony of a woman who realized she had a problem after twelve years in missions and ministry with a husband who preaches with a fire like John the Baptist.  I have seen this man preach in person and I don’t know how anyone leaves the building not saved.  The Holy Spirit is on this man like none I have ever heard.  But as hard as it is to believe, she says that in those first twelve years, she herself was not converted.  She had grown up in a Christian home and raised her hand for Jesus at a meeting once in the Christian school she attended.  She did all the churchy things, along with her friends.  They were all good kids and she married a missionary.  She says people try to tell her, “Well, you really were saved, but you have just had this experience of coming closer to God.”  Her reply was, “I live in here… and I know where I was, and I know what happened.” (paraphrased from my memory)

She goes on to describe how over the course of three years God began to deal with her about her heart.  During the “How to know if you are a Christian” sermons, she would squirm in her seat and struggle SO HARD to do the things that seemed to come naturally to others.  She performed, following the Christian “to-do list” but that was where her motivation to seek God began and ended.  She could not overcome known sins in her life and grow more like Christ.  One day God opened the door for her to spill her heart to her husband, who told her the honest truth.  (He specializes in the honest truth.)  He said, “Based on what you are telling me… I can’t tell you that you are a Christian.”  She had come clean and stopped putting on the act, an act so convincing no one around her knew the truth, deceiving even her own eyes for many years.  A pivotal moment came when she saw a prostitute on the street and she knew in her heart that even though she looked good on the outside, on the inside she was no different than her.  We are all that kind of woman (or man) if Adam is still our father.  She tearfully said she realized she did not have the strength to keep up the act and took that new honesty to God in prayer.

Does this story sober you?  Does it raise questions?  She said reading 1 John convicted her deeply.  The tone of this letter seems to be encouragement for those having their assurance threatened by a false teaching or obligation.  John is telling them, “Look, this fruit is the evidence of your true faith in Jesus, not what these other people are claiming.”   He warned them earnestly against false teachers, told them how to spot them, and affirmed, “I write to you because you know the truth.”  He was encouraging them not to waver from the foundation they had been given in Jesus.  But for someone who has not yet received a new birth from God, this book can be difficult to understand, or read.  Religion has many external tests to determine who is a Christian.  But God has always looked on the inside when men are evaluating the outside.  We can fit the outward mold while our hearts are trying to figure out how to find the point in going through the motions.

John deals with the most crucial fruits of faith, the ones we can’t fake.  God knows if we lust after the world, hate our brother, hide habitual sins, or feel little or no conviction for them.  We might be able to hide all that from others and even lie to ourselves, but God sees the real us.  The greatest gift we can receive from God is to see ourselves as we really are.  John is definitely not talking about being perfect, but he IS saying true salvation has fruit, just as James explains.  The New Creation DESIRES God, despises sin even though tripped up by it from time to time.  It loves, simply because it is an extension of God Himself in this world, a residing place of His Spirit.  It’s not about doing, but being.

The two biggest lies of false religion are:  You are okay just the way you are OR  You are not okay and it’s up to you to fix it, or keep it fixed. The TRUTH is, in your natural born state, you are NOT okay and there is NOTHING you can do to fix it.  In the absence of this revelation, we have owned a mental historical fact only, and have not entrusted our whole being into God’s hand – to die with Christ on the cross and be raised to New Life (represented by our water baptism).  If we do not at some point come to terms with both of these truths about ourselves, we will keep trusting in either our own innate “goodness” or our ability to become good, or uphold God’s work in our own efforts.  This deception can invade any heart in any pew of any Bible-teaching church.  False teachers capitalize on these two tendencies, but we don’t need them to believe these lies.  We believe them very well on our own, which explains why we so easily follow them.  We would rather go either direction than face our own helplessness and depravity.

People who leave cults often see the exodus as exchanging wrong facts for true ones, but some don’t realize what they really need – to fall helpless before God to save them and give them a brand new heart.  Thankfully most I know have also been broken by the truth they have found, but if we leave it on the intellectual level and do not “examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith” as Paul exhorted, we can still be terribly deceived.  This wife of a powerful preacher knew “the truth” but until she made it HER truth, she was not actually free.  I am SO thankful for the helpless brokenness God has brought me through, first to trust Him to save me, and also to continue to change me.

As you read this, if you have any doubt whatsoever, read 1 John in prayer and ask God to reveal your heart, not just doctrinal facts.  If John’s message does not bring you comfort and assurance as a child of God, then I urge you to take that honesty to God.  He knows exactly what to do about it.  Some evangelists like to use the Ten Commandments to confront people with their sin.  True confrontation goes much deeper than wrong behaviors.   The Words of Christ Himself along with this short letter both expose our true nature and desires.  The problem of Adam’s children isn’t that we do bad things, but rather at the core of our identity, we are enemies of God.  Does a tree branch strain to pop out an apple?  It simply does, as a result of being connected to the tree.  This is why you can’t try harder to be a Christian.  You are one, or you aren’t one.  No middle ground.  Is it time to find out for sure where you are abiding?

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One wise man said…

“The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it,

but to lay a straight stick along side it.”

Most Christians, and Seventh-day Adventists would agree the straight stick is the Word of God.

BUT… What if you are testing with a crooked stick?

“We are not to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of Scripture, and pile it as proof around their asserted theories. This has been done over and over again during the past fifty years. And while the Scriptures are God’s word, and are to be respected, the application of them, if such application moves one pillar from the foundation that God has sustained these last fifty years, is a great mistake.” Ellen White – Councils to Writers and Editors, p. 28-32

If the Bible is not allowed to be seen as contradicting Mrs. White or the traditional SDA doctrines at any point, your stick is crooked and you will not be able to discern truth in any area where she has strayed from the truth.   Every person must test truth of human teachers for themselves.  Ellen White was convinced her truth had already been tested to a level of authority that no one else from this point on was allowed to come to any different conclusion.  This means you have to blindly trust those who went before you instead of digging in for yourself.

This does not sound like Paul who commended the Bereans for scrutinizing his teachings with the Scripture to see if he was telling them the truth or not.   Truth invites you to test it rather than warning you had best not ever disagree.

The sad situation however is that someone who has been born and raised with the Ellen White filter can’t even see the straight stick when they read the Bible.  They “hear” what they have been told it means through the lens of her interpretations, EVEN IF they have never read her writings for themselves.  Only by the Grace of God does a person come to the place where they can read the Bible and see a very different picture than the one which has been presented to them since birth.  I know many who have, from a deep hunger for truth, been given this gift as they have availed themselves of the Bible alone in earnest prayer.  It’s a very hard journey to lay down what you thought was true, to wrestle with God and His Word to dig out what it really says.  We have to be willing to accept that truth at all costs, and follow it.  When our eyes are finally opened, the grieving process begins as we unravel and rebuild everything we thought we knew and realize it will affect our family, our church relationships, and possibly even our careers.  I know those who have given up much to follow the straight stick.  Evidently they have found something of great value to make these sacrifices!

If someone from ANY group or any teacher will not allow you to question… please know this is one of the largest and loudest red flags that something false needs to be protected.   I beg you… learn to discern.

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Many followers of Old Covenant Law really love and enjoy their lifestyles.  They don’t see it as drudgery or duty so much as a privilege.  I have heard some claim that to give it up would be equal to losing a family member; or they could possibly question all their other doctrines, but never under any circumstance would they give up the Sabbath. I can readily appreciate their love and enjoyment of obeying what they believe God wants them to do. I did not come to my present position because I got tired of the Sabbath or Festivals. I enjoyed them greatly and saw no reason why I would ever cease walking that path.

Nowhere does the New Testament forbid observing these things (although it strongly warns multiple times from making them obligatory to others, or presenting them as a way of righteousness before God, either as a means of salvation or a required fruit of it.)  In the New Covenant, you are free to love God through the shadow if you wish. It is your liberty.

Often in Law-keeping circles we heard the following emphasis about the Messiah:

Jesus came to (among other things):

  • Demonstrate the Law
  • Make it possible for us to keep the Law
  • Clear up misunderstandings from the Rabbis about the Law
  • Reinforce and glorify the Law

While we acknowledged His role as Redeemer and Savior, this was not our area of focus.  Now I do not see His chief mission as being to point us back to Sinai, but for the sake of this challenge – I will ask… IF THESE PRINCIPLES ARE TRUE.. then should we not look very carefully at all Jesus said and did rather than just simply turn right back around and look to Moses? As a law-keeper, have you ever given equal weight to the words of the Messiah Himself?

Carefully consider the following verses

What the Torah commands:

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. Deuteronomy 18:18 , 19

How Peter used this scripture from Torah on the day of Pentecost:

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Acts 3:22-26

Question: If they had the Torah already, and great teachers of the Torah (scribes and Pharisees) who knew it backwards and forwards, in what way did Jesus come to turn them away from their wickedness?

What God the Father says:

He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Matthew 17:5-8

What Jesus says:

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. John 15:10

For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  Luke 9:26

Question: Based on the previous verses, when Jesus speaks of His own commandments, does He mean for us to only open the Torah or to pay attention to the words from His own mouth?

What the Apostles say:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1,2

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own. (Paul, speaking of his good standing in Judaism and training in the Torah) Philippians 3:8,9

To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 1 Corinthians 9:21

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….   Colossians 3:15, 16

The Challenge

I have often heard it said, “The Law is a representation of the character of God” yet Jesus said “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” When was this ever said of the Law? I agree the Law is an expression of the heart of God, but Jesus IS God. The Law is limited, but in Jesus, the fullness of the Godhead was present on Earth!

My challenge to you as Sabbath keeper or Torah Observant believer is not to abandon what you love, but to seek Jesus and HIS WORDS on equal terms with the Law you love already. One way I would suggest is to take a notebook and read through the gospels, writing down all that strikes you as important from the mouth of the Messiah, or record actions that demonstrate a principle or truth you can apply to your life. Tradition says the Torah has 613 commands. Those who enjoy making lists have found over 2000 in the New Testament. My hope is even if you never give up the shadow which points to the Messiah, in this investigation you will see Him as never before.

(My New Covenant readers will not like the part about making lists of New Covenant commandments but trust me on this… :D)

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I would like to present some real-life examples which illustrate the parable I wrote a few weeks ago,  Deceitful Duck Logic.

A very common practice in  Adventism in order to gain converts is to rent a public facility for meetings and send invitations in mass mailings to the community.  The colorful invitations include promises to explain Biblical topics relating to end times and other subjects people may have questions about.  What they don’t include is any mention of who they are.  Most who attend these meetings are already Christians attending other churches, as these are the people with the most interest in prophecy subjects.

I heard the following account from a person directly involved.   Feel free to check out the facts of this if necessary.  In July 2009 the Adventist  “It Is Written” ministry rented the Performing Arts Theater in Lancaster, California for three weeks, at the cost of thousands of dollars a night.  They sent out over 200,000 invitations to the community and named the series of meetings  “Countdown to Eternity”.  An ex-Mormon and other concerned Christians decided that someone needed to at least inform the attendees about the identity of their hosts and their key beliefs.  After the meetings ended they passed out fliers to those leaving the building.  They delivered more than 500 in the first couple of meetings and many expressed their gratitude for the information.  Observers of the first meetings reported no one would have suspected they were not mainstream evangelical.  They promised to help their audience “understand prophecy better”.  No church affiliation had been indicated.

I have seen this method in action myself, on a smaller scale.  When our own small local SDA church organized similar meetings at the local college,  we were asked to lie in response to questions about the speaker – that our SDA pastor teaching the series  “may be the pastor of a church in the area in a few months”.  We did not agree to lie for him.

Recently another former SDA I know in Nevada received a brochure at her door.  She immediately recognized it as having the Adventist flavor, but no name was listed.  She called the number provided and this is what transpired:

I called the phone number on there.  When the lady answered I told her I had this brochure.  I asked what church was sponsoring it.  She said, “No church.”  I could not stand the lie, so I told her I was a former SDA and I recognized SDA doctrine when I saw it.   She  did a LOT of protesting and I kept on telling her she was not telling the truth.  That is when she admitted she was SDA.  I told her it was a lie to say she did not know what church sponsored this,  and that they had given it to the wrong person.  – Diana R. Lopez

A couple who are in the process of leaving the SDA denomination recently confronted the church’s practice of initially hiding their identity in evangelistic outreach activities.  The following is a response to this issue, a direct quote from the associate pastor of the high-profile Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary, Andrews University.

The discussion of whether our evangelistic advertising should include the church name has been a live discussion in the church ever since I can remember. Many agree with you that
all of our evangelistic advertising should always include the Adventist name. Most of our evangelistic meetings are held in our own churches because it’s less expensive than renting public facilities, and in these cases the advertising does include the church name by necessity. The other argument is that surveys indicate that the average person on the street confuses us with Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc., and to include the Adventist name would not be communicating truthfully to such people.  I won’t claim that there is never an  attempt to deceive, but I think it’s safe to say that that is rare. Other motivations are involved. – Skip MacCarty

So we see the line of logic is “honesty requires us to not tell the truth.”  Of course the REAL question is, “Why do people confuse you with the other two cults?”  And another, “Why is it okay to lie in order to teach people they should keep the 4th Commandment?”

In spite of their fear of being associated with JW and LDS, Adventism has done an amazing job in the last few decades of presenting itself as a mainstream Christian church which simply meets on Saturday.  I meet so few Christians who know what Adventists actually believe, or that they also have a prophet like the Mormons.   Evangelical factions exist within the denomination who do not hold to the historic precepts which launched the church into existence.  Yet the official stance from the organization remains unchanged in crucial areas that deviate from the tenets of orthodox Christianity.  For an overview of these differences, an excellent Evangelical Resource is “The Truth About Adventist Truth” – by Dale Ratzlaff, former SDA pastor.

Truth does not need to hide or deceive.  It is not afraid of being questioned or tested.  This practice alone tells me there is something wrong with Adventist “truth.”  I dearly love Adventist people.  I know many believe their message is so important it justifies the means.  But I also have a burden for unsuspecting prospects to not take the bait, but to be aware and discerning.

I have been given permission to share both the exit letters and church response which contain the above quotation. (links below) The church requested this couple always include its response with copies of their own letters.  While this couple is under no obligation to do so,  we are in agreement that the church response says much than their exit letters ever could have.

Dana Kendall’s Exit Letter

Scott Kendall’s Exit Letter

Pioneer Memorial Church Response

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