Am I a Seventh-day Adventist?

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by Frank Zimmerman
This was the substance of a letter I wrote to a Seventh-day Adventist friend some years ago…

Yes, in the truest sense of the word, I am a Seventh-day Adventist. I am not ashamed of the name because of the truth it represents. However, I have not been a member of the denomination for many years now. Here is a brief explanation:

I joined the church in my early twenties, after attending some Prophecy Seminars, in which the consistency and value of the Scriptures were opened to my mind. Since my youth, I had always believed that there had to be a way in which all men could live together peacefully, and questioned why there was such strife in nations and families. The Seminars really convinced me that the Bible had the answer to these questions, so I followed the light as it shone upon my pathway.

As I put into practice the various reforms and changed my beliefs, I found after a while that certain inner sin problems still remained. Certainly, if I could not have freedom from strife, and freedom to obey God’s law from the heart in my own life, how could I present the gospel to others as the answer to their problems?

Education, p. 78, 79

What He taught, He lived. “I have given you an example,” He said to His disciples; “that ye should do as I have done.” “I have kept My Father’s commandments.” John 13:15; 15:10. Thus in His life, Christ’s words had perfect illustration and support. And more than this; what He taught, He was. His words were the expression, not only of His own life experience, but of His own character. Not only did He teach the truth, but He was the truth. It was this that gave His teaching, power.

I remember a number of incidents that occurred to set me searching for answers to this question.

One incident was meeting with some Protestants who urged upon me their gospel that Christ died for us on the cross, and that if we just believed in what He did for us, we didn’t have to worry about keeping the Law. They talked about the importance of salvation and not trusting to the “works of the law.” I knew that they were wrong in minimizing the Law, but did not know how to present what I believed regarding salvation. I thought to myself, well here is the key doctrine of Christianity, and I am quite confused about just what salvation is! It was embarrassing, but I determined to become wiser.

Another incident occurred when I was asked to lead out for one Sabbath school lesson, the topic which was on justification and sanctification. I studied all the Adventist material I could find on this topic, both from Ellen White and others, and the more I studied, the more confused I became! I could not clearly define these terms, and exactly what these two works accomplished in the soul.

I also found that when I asked others in the church what it meant to be “born again” they also gave hazy answers.

Around this time, I purchased some books by E.J. Waggoner and A.T. Jones, and about the 1888 message. These books impressed me. Ellen White had testified in her day that their message was the beginning of the loud cry, and they seemed to write in a way that was different than other Adventist authors. I knew there was something in their message, but could not put my finger on it.

It also alarmed me to hear some elders dismiss their message by saying that they had apostatized from the church (and therefore, by implication, it was dangerous to read their writings). I did not fear the danger, because truth is what I wanted, and if God had sent them with a message, then I wanted to know what it was.

Shortly after these thoughts were stirred within me, a church member gave me a sermon tape which dealt with “Christ within you, the hope of glory.” This tape was by an Australian named Fred Wright, whom I had never heard of before, even though I had studied all the Adventist history I could find. On the tape he explained that man is comprised of three natures (just as the sanctuary has three divisions: courtyard, holy, and most holy). These are: physical, mental, and spiritual.

The spiritual nature is called the “heart,” “spirit,” or “inner man.” It is this part that is the fountain from which flow our purposes, thoughts and actions. When human nature was corrupted by the fall of Adam, it affected all the parts of man’s being: spirit, mind, and body. So we receive a corrupted spiritual nature at birth. This nature is termed in scripture the “stony heart,” “evil tree,” “old man,” “filthy garments,” etc. This is also what makes us “children of disobedience” and like the Pharisees, “of your father the devil.”

This is not to say that Satan has the ability to have children, but simply that we reproduce his character of rebellion, and thus identify with him. The solution to this problem, as clearly taught in the sanctuary (in which sin is transferred), and in Christ’s healings (in which disease is eradicated), is to remove this seed of evil, and replace it with the seed of righteousness, which is the life of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3
29 And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Although it took me a while to understand these distinctions because my mind had become so confused by all the other attempted explanations that I had read, after a short time I understood that this was exactly my problem. I had been trying to bring good fruit from an evil tree. I needed to recognize that sin was not just an action, but it was a living principle within (or perhaps “dying” principle would be more accurate).

Therefore, confession of sin must involve more than just asking forgiveness for the actions of sin (the fruit), but must involve also asking for cleansing from sin (the root). This is where I had failed, and therefore I had to admit that, in spite of my good desires, my love for truth, my sacrifices for what I believed in, I was not yet a real Christian.

This understanding made a huge difference in my experience. The struggle over my imaginations, which had defeated me again and again, was finally broken. I finally knew the power of truth as described in these words:

2 Corinthians 10
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Naturally I wanted to know more about Fred Wright and why he had a message I had never heard anywhere else before. What I found out was that there was a revival of the 1888 message to the Adventist church in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, but that the message was ignored, rejected, and despised. I can’t go into all the history here, but men such as Robert Wieland and Donald Short, the Brinsmead Awakening, and Fred Wright were involved in trying to bring the 1888 message to the church.

Instead, the Adventist leaders went in an opposite direction, and held conferences with some Evangelical Protestant leaders (Donald Barnhouse and Walter Martin) in which they watered down and compromised the Adventist message so as to be recognized as “brothers in Christ” by the Evangelicals. This trend has continued since that day. I don’t know how it is where you are, but up here Ellen White’s books are moved to the back corner of the Adventist bookstore, almost hidden away, while all the popular Protestant preachers (Billy Graham, Max Lucado, Chuck Swindoll, etc.) books are sold at the front of the store.

It was during this time (the early 1960’s) that Fred Wright (who was a teacher in an Adventist college) had his membership in the Adventist church revoked for not complying with the request of the church that he cease teaching the message of righteousness that had brought deliverance to his soul and to many who listened to it. His message was squarely based upon the 1888 message, which of course, made it more dangerous in that time when the church was resisting the revival of that message.

After he was disfellowshipped, he wondered what to do next, but calls began to come in to present his message in other places, and the work grew from that point. And so did the message. As Adventists (I speak for my two years experience in the church), we always tended to believe that we had almost all the light needed for the last days. We had the prophecies, health reform, the Spirit of Prophecy books, the Sabbath, the Sanctuary truth, what more did we need?

But as the message of living righteousness grew, we saw vast fields of truth that we were wholly unaware of and that we needed to know in order to be prepared for the final work that the church is to do before Christ will return.

Ellen White said that the message of 1888 was just the beginning of the light which was to lighten the world. Therefore, the Adventist message, in all its bearings, has not yet been half understood. Here is one small example:

When the Adventists before 1844 came up to that period when they expected Christ to return, they clearly saw that their experience had been predicted in the first and second angel’s messages of Revelation 14. But they did not see that there was a third angel after the second, or did not see the importance of understanding it.

So likewise, we in our day have seen the importance of the third angel’s message, and some of us have even seen the importance of the fourth angel’s message…but what about the other three: the fifth, sixth, and seventh angel’s messages? Surely if the first four do a very important work, the last three must likewise be important? And yet how many Adventist books will you find on the “seven angel’s messages”? None!

Two years after I joined the Adventist church, I left it to follow the Adventist truth as I clearly saw that the message of Fred Wright was a continuation of the message of 1888, which was the “third angels message in verity”. The church that he started is now called the Sabbath Rest Advent Church.

So I still consider myself a “Seventh-day Adventist,” in the sense that I hold to the original foundation the church was built on. And I do believe that this is the only reliable sense in which to use this label.

In the time of the Reformation of the 16th century, when the Protestants separated from the Roman Catholic church, they were accused of breaking from the church. In their defense, they simply pointed to the truths of the apostles day, and explained that they were not a new church, but simply a continuation of the apostolic church, because they held to, and taught the same truths. They were the true church, whereas the Catholics, who had left the foundation, were the apostates.

So it is at all times. It is the truth that determines where the church of God is, and not the other way around.

Seek for the truth,
hunger after the truth,
cling to the truth,
live the truth,
and you will always be on safe ground.

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8 thoughts on “Am I a Seventh-day Adventist?”

    1. apl,

      I listened briefly to a few of the studies you linked to. The gospel taught there seems to be quite different. It seems to equate sin with modifications to the genetic makeup of the human body.

      While I do think sin does affect the body, sin itself is a spiritual entity. It cannot be measured by the instruments of carnal men (“spiritual things are spiritually discerned”), but can be observed by its effects in us and towards others (“by their fruits you shall know them”). The cleansing of sin therefore, does not involve a change in our fleshly genetic makeup, otherwise we would be in danger of adopting a kind of “holy flesh” error. It is not the flesh that needs to be changed before we can obey God, but the spiritual nature.

      Sin and Righteousness are moral and are established in the “heart” of man, that is, his spiritual nature. If it were simply a human genome problem, then we could determine who is a Christian and who isn’t just by running some medical tests!

      But a clear understanding and experience in the gospel does not require advanced human biological scientific knowledge. The lessons are clearly taught in the illustrations the Bible uses: the old and new man, the stony and living heart, the carnal and divine mind, the good and evil tree. The cleansing of moral pollution is taught also in the sanctuary service, by illustration and type. The mystery of God, which is reproduced in us through the gospel, is a union of humanity and divinity: two natures, or spiritual and fleshly. When we are “born” of Christ, we receive his new seed of life in the spiritual nature, in exchange for our old corrupted one. We become children of God through re-birth, not through manipulation of genetic switches in the human body.

      “If there had been a law which could have given life, verily righteousness would be by the Law.” Galatians 3:21. God does not manipulate the genetic laws in our flesh to make us righteous, he takes the old spiritual nature out and puts in a new one, with our consent, of course.

      The same lesson is taught in Christ’s healings, which are an illustration of the power of forgiveness. The disease, which occupies the body as a separate entity, was removed, and Christ’s healing power flowed into the sick.

      1. It is Satan’s constant effort to misrepresent the character of God, the nature of sin, and the real issues at stake in the great controversy. {GC 569.1}

        What is the gospel? The gospel is the power of GOD unto salvation, Romans 1:16. The power of GOD is shown in creating and upholding the earth; therefore the gospel is the creative power of GOD exercise for the salvation of man from sin. So the apostle says: “If any man be in CHRIST, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of GOD.” 2 Corinthians 5:17, 18. “For we are His workmanship, created in CHRIST JESUS under good works, which GOD hath before ordain that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10. see {June 15, 1893 EJW, BEST 202.7}

        Spiritual things are real:
        Isaac was born after the Spirit, yet he was as real and literal a child as Ishmael was. So the true seed of Abraham are only those who are spiritual, but that does not make them any the less real. God is Spirit, yet He is a real God. Christ had a spiritual body after His resurrection, yet He was a real, literal being, and could be handled the same as other bodies. So the bodies of the saints after the resurrection will be spiritual, yet they will be real. Spiritual things are not imaginary things. Indeed, that which is spiritual is more real than that which is fleshly, because only that which is spiritual will endure for ever. {1900 EJW, EVCO 76.3}

        Ellen White speaks repeatedly about our inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil. If it is inherited, where is it? It is in the genome. Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. What does a man pass to the next generation besides his experiences?

        Do we have a soul that is separate from out body? No. Our thoughts and feelings arise out of our bodies, the nerves of our brain. And our hardware if faulty because of sin. Christ came and took our nature and live a perfect life with our fallen flesh. As Waggoner would say, our sin filled flesh. Paul in Romans tells us we are at war with our flesh. Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

        The series points out how mobile genetic elements (MGE) are the cause of all disease, this includes mental illness and selfish behavior. To clarify, they give the propensities, but exercise the choice to participate in the sin. MGE are the root cause of all somatic illness that have been looked at, this includes cancer, heart disease, etc. Yes, our lifestyle often pulls the trigger, but the MGEs load the gun. MGE are why we age, and ultimately die. Again, much evidence is presented in the series. All things we know sin does. Satan is the “author” sin. What is his writing medium? Sin directly attacks that which God has made.

        Holy Flesh – as EGW writes, quoting from 2SM 32 forward:
        The teaching given in regard to what is termed “holy flesh” is an error. All may now obtain holy hearts, but it is not correct to claim in this life to have holy flesh. The apostle Paul declares, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). To those who have tried so hard to obtain by faith so-called holy flesh, I would say, You cannot obtain it. Not a soul of you has holy flesh now. No human being on the earth has holy flesh. It is an impossibility.  {2SM 32.1} 

                If those who speak so freely of perfection in the flesh, could see things in the true light, they would recoil with horror from their presumptuous ideas.

        In this work we are to be laborers together with God. Much may be done to restore the moral image of God in man, to improve the physical, mental, and moral capabilities. Great changes can be made in the physical system by obeying the laws of God and bringing into the body nothing that defiles. And while we cannot claim perfection of the flesh, we may have Christian perfection of the soul.

              When human beings receive holy flesh, they will not remain on the earth, but will be taken to heaven. While sin is forgiven in this life, its results are not now wholly removed. It is at His coming that Christ is to “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). . . .  {2SM 33.3} 

        The series confirms what EGW writes about the flesh and how one would “recoil in horror”. It also gives insight in to the cause of death, both the first and second, and shows how God is in no way responsible.

  1. apl,

    You wrote:

    >Ellen White speaks repeatedly about our inherited and cultivated
    >tendencies to evil. If it is inherited, where is it? It is in the genome.

    I agree that there are inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil within the fleshly human nature. This is precisely how Christ could “bear our sins in his flesh”, through connection with a fallen human flesh, which had all those weaknesses resident in its genetic code.

    However, sin is more than just the tendencies to evil within the flesh. It is also a spiritual power. While I don’t believe man has a soul that can live separate from his body, yet the Bible makes clear there is a spiritual nature, which is not composed of fleshly material. It may not live separate from the body, but it is there nonetheless. This is indicated in many places:

    John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
    Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,…
    1 Thess 5:23 I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless…
    Eph 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

    When Paul writes of the resurrection in 1 Cor. 15, he compares it to the sprouting of seed. The first man was made a living soul, and the last (resurrection) man a quickening spirit. If that new resurrection body is the fruit of the new seed that is planted in us in the new birth, then it is of a different nature than simply flesh and blood.

    There are also tendencies to evil that are to be controlled (those in the flesh) and other tendencies that are to be removed (those in the spiritual nature).

    RH April 24, 1900 – “As we partake of the divine nature, hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are cut away from the character, and we are made a living power for good.”

    4T 235 – “The greatest triumph given us by the religion of Christ is control over ourselves. Our natural propensities must be controlled, or we can never overcome as Christ overcame.”

    Some tendencies are “cut away” from the character, and others are “controlled.” Two different solutions for two different problems.

    At the beginning you quoted this: “It is Satan’s constant effort to misrepresent…the nature of sin.” If we only interpret sin to be actions, then the remedy is simply a legal forgiveness for things done in the past. Or if we look at sin as primarily a problem of the genomes, then the solution would be control (and perhaps a new body at the resurrection).

    But real forgiveness involves more than this, it involves cleansing away (1 John 1:9, Psalm 51). Since the flesh is not changed by forgiveness, there must be another nature, a spiritual one, in which sin or righteousness reside, and in which the cleansing takes place. It is this nature (before the new birth), that the man of Romans 7 struggles with, and not just the flesh.

    In this spiritual nature, God works by creation, and changes can be made instantly:

    “By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature. Love takes the place of hatred, and the heart receives the divine similitude. This is what it means to live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” This is eating the Bread that comes down from heaven.” (DA 391)

    If you do not distinguish this “spiritual nature”, then all the verses that speak about the new creation, new birth, etc. must apply to something else. If you apply them to the flesh, you end up with “holy flesh.” If you apply them merely to the mental nature (thoughts, ideas, emotions) then you have either a legal or an emotional religion.

    I don’t doubt that the fruits of the Spirit can have effects that extend into the body. “A merry heart does good like medicine.” But these effects are not the new birth. It goes much deeper than that, and is beyond the realm of man’s physical tools of scientific investigation.

  2. Thanks Frank for sharing this, I also know things about Fred Wright and him reviving the 1888 message. Fred was the one preached this message without intimidation while R.J. Wieland and D.K. Short refused to part with the SDA. I have an audio by Wieland when they met resistance from the SDA elders about the 1888 message and they wrote the book ‘1888 RE-EXAMINED’. Unfortunately after they presented the book to the elders they were told not to consider it again and they should preach what they are told by the elders.

    Am also a seeker of the truth but so far to me writers like EG White, A.T. Jones, EJ Weggoner, F.T Wright maybe more are making sense to me. according to my own understang they were truly sent by God the creator.

    Thanks

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