Archive for the 'Seventh Day Adventist' Category

No Sabbath-worship for Christians

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Image result for Christian worship clip art public domain

(image courtesy hdwalls.xyz )

By Spencer D Gear

Is it ever possible to get through to Christians that there is no need to keep the Saturday Sabbath? Or, to put it another way, are all of the Bible-believing Christians who go to worship on Sunday contravening the Scriptures? I’ve had discussions online and in person with people who are Seventh-Day Adventists who push and push for Sabbath worship. See this example of one of my encounters: Sunday or Saturday worship for Christians?

I was engaged in another such discussion online with a Sabbath-keeping Christian. These are some of his statements:

In commending Jim Parker’s post (See Appendix), I wrote:[1] Acts 20:7 states, ‘On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight’ (NIV). A response was, ‘You should know that some new Bible versions translate Acts 20:7, “On the SATURDAY NIGHT, the disciples came together…”’[2]

My reply was:[3]

One of the foremost N T Greek grammarians of the 20th century was the Dr A T Robertson. He focusses on the issues in Acts 20:7. This is from A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (1930. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, pp 338-340, available at: StudyLight.org),

Acts 20:7 [Greek characters deleted & transliterated]

Upon the first day of the week (en de miai twn sabbatwn). The cardinal – miai used here for the ordinal protei (Mark 16:9) like the Hebrew ehadh as in Mark 16:2; Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1 and in harmony with the Koiné’š idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 671). Either the singular (Mark 16:9) — sabbatou or the plural — sabbatwn as here was used for the week (sabbath to sabbath). For the first time here we have services mentioned on the first day of the week though in 1 Corinthians 16:2 it is implied by the collections stored on that day. In Revelation 1:10 the Lord‘s day seems to be the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the grave. Worship on the first day of the week instead of the seventh naturally arose in Gentile churches, though John 20:26 seems to mean that from the very start the disciples began to meet on the first (or eighth) day. But liberty was allowed as Paul makes plain in Romans 14:5.

When we were gathered together (sunegmenown hemown). Genitive absolute, perfect passive participle of — sunagw to gather together, a formal meeting of the disciples. See this verb used for gatherings of disciples in Acts 4:31; Acts 11:26; Acts 14:27; Acts 15:6, Acts 15:30; Acts 19:7, Acts 19:8; 1 Corinthians 5:4. In Hebrews 10:25 the substantive  — episunagwgen is used for the regular gatherings which some were already neglecting. It is impossible for a church to flourish without regular meetings even if they have to meet in the catacombs as became necessary in Rome. In Russia today the Soviets are trying to break up conventicles of Baptists. They probably met on our Saturday evening, the beginning of the first day at sunset. So these Christians began the day (Sunday) with worship. But, since this is a Gentile community, it is quite possible that Luke means our Sunday evening as the time when this meeting occurs, and the language in John 20:19 “it being evening on that day the first day of the week” naturally means the evening following the day, not the evening preceding the day.

To break bread (klasai arton). First aorist active infinitive of purpose of klaw The language naturally bears the same meaning as in Acts 2:42, the Eucharist or the Lord‘s Supper which usually followed the Agape. See note on 1 Corinthians 10:16. The time came, when the Agape was no longer observed, perhaps because of the abuses noted in 1 Corinthians 11:20. Rackham argues that the absence of the article with bread here and its presence (ton arton) in Acts 20:11 shows that the Agape is referred to in Acts 20:7 and the Eucharist in Acts 20:11, but not necessarily so because ton arton may merely refer to arton in Acts 20:7. At any rate it should be noted that Paul, who conducted this service, was not a member of the church in Troas, but only a visitor.

Discoursed (dielegeto). Imperfect middle because he kept on at length.

Intending (mellow). Being about to, on the point of.

On the morrow (tei epaurion). Locative case with hemerai understood after the adverb epaurion If Paul spoke on our Saturday evening, he made the journey on the first day of the week (our Sunday) after sunrise. If he spoke on our Sunday evening, then he left on our Monday morning.

Prolonged his speech (Pareteinen ton logon). Imperfect active (same form as aorist) of parateinw old verb to stretch beside or lengthwise, to prolong. Vivid picture of Paul‘s long sermon which went on and on till midnight (mechri mesonuktiou). Paul‘s purpose to leave early next morning seemed to justify the long discourse. Preachers usually have some excuse for the long sermon which is not always clear to the exhausted audience.

Therefore, Dr Robertson, based on his understanding of the Greek grammar, disagrees with the view you espoused here.

 A.T. Robertson

Dr A T Robertson (image courtesy ccel.org)

 

What kind of reply could I expect to this? This was the beginning of his reply (you can check out the rest by following the endnote):

Thanks for joining us. “The man who speaks first seems right until another answers him”, so I’d like to answer Mr. Robertson.

For the first time here we have services mentioned on the first day of the week…”

There are no “services” mentioned here, but one post-Sabbath “get together” (the subjective implication is that this was some official, precedent-setting event) which took place as the Sabbath sun set and the beginning of the first day of the week began – what we would refer to as “Saturday evening”. Mr. R is attempting to use what he knows is an evening meeting as Biblical justification for the practice of Sunday morning church observance.

…though in 1 Corinthians 16:2 KJV it (church observance on the first day of the week) is implied by the collections stored on that day.”

All honest scholars know that 1 Corinthians 16:2 KJV means “in storage at home” and not the ever popular but false teaching of “in storage in a collection plate at church on Sunday morning”.[4]

Note what he does:

1. He relegates Dr A T Robertson to Mr Robertson. Dr Robertson was an eminent Greek NT scholar of the 20th century who wrote a 1454 page grammar of the Greek NT, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (1914. New York: Hodder & Stoughton; Internet Archive, University of Toronto).

2. He is a KJV only man.

3. He is pro-Sabbath-keeping, so listening to Dr Robertson’s exegesis was not on his agenda. It was a waste of time even raising it.

From Saturday to Sunday worship

Image result for clipart Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy public domain

I responded to this person’s promotion of the Sabbath:[5]

Christian historian, the late Martin Hengel, wrote of ‘the transfer of the celebration of divine worship from the sabbath to the Lord’s day, which is already demonstrable in Paul, is a partial analogy’ (2000:119). Hengel particularly referred to 1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7ff; Rev. 1:10 to support this claim (Hengel 2000:281, n. 481).

These verses do not state in any way that indicates that these early Christians were meeting and worshipping on the wrong day of the week. Not a word of pro-Saturday Sabbath worship is mentioned:

  • 1 Cor. 16:2: ‘On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come’ (ESV).
  • Acts 20:7: ‘On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight’ (ESV).
  • Rev. 1:10: ‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet’ (ESV).

Christians are not to observe days and even Sabbath days according to the following Scriptures: Romans 14:5ff, Galatians 4:9-11; 5:1-15 and Col. 2:16-17. These Scriptures indicate that the promotion of Sabbath-keeping is contrary to these biblical injunctions.

Therefore, exaltation of Saturday Sabbath worship is not in accord with NT Christianity.

Here is some historical information about Lord’s Day, Sunday, worship:

See the article, ‘Is the Sabbath required for Christians?

In the early second century vague references to observing the “Lord’s Day”–Sunday–began to appear. Then the voices for Sunday worship grew more strident. Ignatius of Asia Minor and Barnabas of Alexandria both condemned Sabbath-keeping. Although considered Gnostic heresy, Marcion’s anti-Sabbath views were widely promulgated throughout the churches. By 150, Justin Martyr clearly indicated that the day of the sun was the day of rest for Christians. Sunday worship had become a widely accepted practice among these people who professed to follow Christ (“What did the early church Believe and Preach after Jesus’ death?” Available from: http://www.biblestud…istianity1.html).

‘There is a series of articles by Bob Deffinbaugh that refutes the promotion of the Sabbath for Christians and supports the view that New Covenant believers meet for worship on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day. See:

  1. The Great Sabbath Controversy“;
  2. The Lord of the Sabbath“;
  3. The Meaning of the Sabbath“;
  4. The Sabbath Controversy in the Gospels“;
  5. Super-Sabbath: Israel’s Land and its Lord“;
  6. The Sabbath in Apostolic Preaching and Practice“.

Keep the Ten Commandments #

The predicted reply came, ‘To the contrary, we are to observe the Ten Commandments which are written on the hearts of New Covenant Christians, and if not, then which of the Ten are we at liberty to freely break?’[6]

My rejoinder was:

Where does it say that in the NT? Where are we told to ‘remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy’ in the NT?

A requirement to keep the Sabbath of Exodus 20:8 for NT believers would conflict with Colossians 2:16-17, ‘Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come but the substance belongs to Christ’ (ESV).[7]

He could not let it lie there, so he was back again:

Thus saith the Lord Jesus, “pray that your flight be not in winter, neither on the Sabbath day”.  He fully expected His people to continue observing the Sabbath when the Romans came in 66 A.D. else He would have never told them to pray such a prayer. Before you answer, “But that was because the gates to Jerusalem would have been locked”, do not ignore the previous verses where we find Jesus commanding the whole of Judea, not just those in Jerusalem, to pray about not having to flee on the Sabbath, and there were no gates around Judea.

Along with the Sabbath commandment, every other one of the Ten Commandments is repeated in the N.T.  It is a historical fact that the change from Sabbath to Sunday was made my man and happened over a period of centuries, and is not found anywhere in Scripture. If you have a verse which you believe does command such a change, I’d be happy to study it.

BTW, Colossians is speaking in the context of the ceremonial law of offerings and sacrifices (meat offerings, drink offerings, moon observances, Jewish “sabbath” feast days which are called such in Leviticus 23, etc.)  Colossians is speaking of the “law that was against us” and Deuteronomy 31:26 KJV says that law was the Law of Moses which contained ceremonies and sacrifices.  Paul would never teach that the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments no longer existed any more than he would say that “thou shalt not kill” no longer existed.[8]

I replied:[9]

That is not an answer to what I asked at #306, ‘Where are we told to “remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy” in the NT?’

In Col 2:16, the three terms, festival, new moon, and sabbath often occur together in the OT (see the LXX of Hos 2:13; Ezek 45:17; 1 Chron 23:31; 2 Chron 2:3; 31:3). To keep these ‘holy days’ was evidence for OT Israelites that they obeyed God’s law. What was happening at Colossae was the keeping of these holy days for ‘the elemental spirits of the world’ (Col 2:8).

Therefore, Paul’s instruction was: ‘Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath’ (Col 2:16). To require that Christians keep the Sabbath is to do what Paul instructed not to do – to pass judgment on the need to keep the Sabbath for NT believers.

I will not fall for the judgment line that NT Christians should keep the OT Sabbath. That is a passing of judgment that does not meet with the Lord’s approval.

The response was predictable:

In answer to #306, the Fourth commandment is not explicitly repeated verbatim in the N. T., but I find it curious that you demand of me an explicit text which repeats the Fourth commandment verbatim to support the Sabbath in the N. T. while you exempt yourself from such austerity, seeing that you know full well that there is absolutely no commandment or directive in the N. T. authorizing a change from the seventh day to the first day – this change that you claim has taken place is based not on anything explicit, but solely on what you think is implied by John 20:19, Acts 20:7, and 1 Corinthians 16:2.

OK, you still haven’t explained to me why Jesus told His followers who would decades later have to flee from Judea (around which there were no gates) to pray that their flight would not have to take place on the Sabbath day if He did not expect that His followers would still be observing the Sabbath.

Also, why do you force Paul to refer to the weekly Sabbath in Colossians 2:14-17 KJV when the preponderance of evidence suggests he was referring to the yearly sabbath Feast Days of the Law of Moses?  According to Paul’s own words:

  • Paul says what was blotted out was “against us” which Deuteronomy 31:26 KJV tells us was the ceremonial Law of Moses, not God’s Law written by His finger.
  • Paul says this handwriting of Moses was nailed “to His Cross” – you can nail paper books all day long but you can’t nail stone to anything.
  • The ceremonial Law of Moses dealt with “meats, drinks, new moons, holy days and “sabbath days” (yearly “Feast Days” according to Leviticus 23), while God’s Law written by His finger in stone dealt with no such ceremonial laws.
  • Though the yearly ceremonial Feast Day “sabbaths” of the Law of Moses were indeed a shadow of Christ’s mission, the weekly Sabbath of creation was not shadow of anything – it was created as a memorial to Creation when all was light.

By insisting that Paul refers to the weekly Sabbath in Colossians 2:16 KJV, you are forcing an interpretation to support your position that the weekly Sabbath has been done away with, when the preponderance of evidence suggest that Paul is not speaking of the weekly Sabbath at all, but of the yearly ceremonial sabbath Feast Days, which were nailed to the Cross.  At best, we should agree that it is unclear if Paul meant to teach that the weekly Sabbath was part of what he said was nailed to the Cross and allow other Scriptures to decide the issue.  Such as the fact that Jesus expected His followers everywhere to be keeping the Sabbath decades into the future because He commanded them to pray that they would not have to flee from Judea on that day.  What say you?[10]

The New Covenant makes the Old Covenant obsolete

(image courtesy covenantsovereign)

This was my final reply to this resistant KJV Sabbath-keeping legalist.[11]

The apostle Paul made it clear that the Old Covenant was superseded by the New Covenant: ‘For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’ (Rom 8:3-4 ESV).

Hebrews 8 is clear that God promised for the houses of Israel and Judah that a new covenant was coming (Heb 8:8-12 cited from Jer 31:31-34). What did that mean for the Old Covenant? ‘In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away’ (Heb 8:13).

The obvious conclusion was that the requirements of the OT Law which were now abolished meant that the OT sabbath was also abolished because it was ‘obsolete’ and was to ‘vanish away). Therefore, there is no need for the NT to say, ‘Thou shalt not worship on the Sabbath’ because that law from Sinai had been made obsolete because of the cross of Christ. Golgotha and Christ’s shed blood made sure a new covenant without OT legal requirements came into effect. Since the OT law is obsolete, to enforce OT Sabbath-keeping is to legalistically force on people what the New Covenant abolished.

What do we find in the NT? People like the apostle John could say, ‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day’ (Rev 1:10). There are significant reasons why early Christians worshipped on the first day of the week and not the Saturday Sabbath, the most important being that the first day of the week was the one on which Jesus rose from the dead.

The early church confirmed that the Christians met on the Lord’s Day and not the Saturday Sabbath.

  • The Didache (The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, early 2nd cent), ‘But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure’ (ch 14:1).
  • The Epistle of Barnabas (ca. AD 130), ‘He says to them, Your new moons and your Sabbath I cannot endure [Isaiah 1:13]. You perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens’ (ch 15).
  • Tertullian (b. ca. AD 160), ‘It follows, accordingly, that, in so far as the abolition of carnal circumcision and of the old law is demonstrated as having been consummated at its specific times, so also the observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary….. Whence it is manifest that the force of such precepts was temporary, and respected the necessity of present circumstances; and that it was not with a view to its observance in perpetuity that God formerly gave them such a law’ (An Answer to the Jews, ch 4). Who was Tertullian addressing about the abolition of the old law and its temporary Sabbath? Jews!

In your response to me, you seem to be missing a fundamental: The Old Covenant has been superseded by the New Covenant. This means that the OT law has been abolished, made obsolete, vanished away and has been replaced by the New Covenant in Christ. When did these New Covenant Christians meet for worship? The first day of the week, the Lord’s Day.

But there’s a another fundamental that we must not forget: All of life is worship to the glory of God! (John 4:21-23)

Appendix A

Image result for New Covenant clipart public domain(image courtesy Polyvore)

 

Jim Parker[12] provided this excellent rebuttal of the statement: “We keep the Sabbath in the same way Jesus and the apostles did”.

Do you do all of these?

EX 16:29 Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

Don’t travel on the Sabbath. A Sabbath’s journey was limited to approximately one mile.

EX 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

1. Don’t you or anyone in your household do any work on the Sabbath.

2. It also includes animals which have been replaced by cars, trucks, tractors, buses, airplanes, trains, etc., So don’t work and don’t use any sort of motorized vehicle on the Sabbath. (Which means you don’t drive to whatever meeting you might attend on Saturday.)

EX 31:14 ” `Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. 15 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’ ”

1. The seventh day is for rest; do not work on the Sabbath.

2. Israelites are to observe the Sabbath. (not gentiles, Israelites)

3. The Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel. (Again: Israel; not gentiles)

4. God abstained from work and rested on the 7th day and Israel is to do the same.

EX 35:1 states that Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do: 2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. 3 Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

1. The command concerning keeping the Sabbath Holy came from the LORD not from Moses.

2. Rest on the Sabbath and do no work.

3. Do not light a fire in your dwelling on the Sabbath. (Furnace, oven, light bulb)

LEV 23:3 ” `There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD.

DT 5:12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.

Don’t use any utility (electricity, gas, internet, telephone, etc.) or public service (roads, police, radio, TV, bus, etc.) that requires anyone to work on the Sabbath in order to provide the service.

<<You keep Sunday today as an obedient and slavish devotion to a tradition that had its roots in Mithra>>

ROLF!!!!!!   That’s beyond ridiculous. Where do you get that baloney?  Find another deli!

We celebrate the Lord’s resurrection on the first day of the week (Mar 16:9) just like the church (not the Jews) always did.

Justin Martyr : The First Apology of Justin  C.100-162 AD

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples,…

The Teaching of the Apostles. (1st Century)

The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and the oblation: because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the place of the dead and on the first day of the week He arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week He ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week He will appear at last with the angels of heaven.

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians C. 50-117 AD, Bishop of Antioch

Chapter IX.—Let Us Live with Christ.

If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day[1]

…And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]. Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, “To the end, for the eighth day,” on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ, …

At the dawning of the Lord’s day He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord’s Day contains the resurrection.

It has absolutely nothing, zero, zip, nada, to do with Mithras.

<<If Paul taught that the laws of God (the Ten Commandments) had been abrogated, or that the Sabbath in particular was no longer to be observed, how could he claim the above without the Jews coming down on him like the proverbial ton of bricks?>>

Hello-ooo!!!  Paul WAS A JEW. Most Christians are not.

In that passage, Paul was talking to JEWS.

But in Acts 15 he specifically argued, and the JEWISH APOSTLES agreed, that the gentiles were not required to keep the law and be circumcised.

Some other writings

Some of my other writings on this topic include:

Works consulted

Hengel, M 2000. transl J Bowden. The four Gospels and the one Gospel of Jesus Christ: An investigation of the collection and origin of the canonical Gospels,. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International.

Robertson, A T 1934. A grammar of the Greek New Testament in the light of historical research. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.

Notes


[1] Christianity Board, ‘Sabbath-keeping’, OzSpen#299, available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/20839-sabbath-keeping/page-10 (Accessed 27 April 2015).

[2] Ibid., Phoneman777#300.

[3] Ibid., OzSpen#301.

[4] Ibid., Phoneman777#302.

[5] Ibid., OzSpen#304.

[6] Ibid., Phoneman777#305.

[7] Ibid., OzSpen#306.

[8] Ibid., Phoneman777#307.

[9] Ibid., OzSpen#308.

[10] Ibid., Phoneman777#310.

[11] Ibid., OzSpen#311.

[12] Ibid., Jim Parker #298.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 October 2016.

Sunday or Saturday worship for Christians?

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

(courtesy Google public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

I asked a Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) on a Christian Forum: ‘According to SDA doctrine, will I, a person who worships on the first day of the week, be annihilated in the lake of fire?[1]

Why would I ask this? I had a very good reason. It was because of this SDA teaching:

The beast described in Revelation 13:1-10 is the church-state union that dominated the Christian world for many centuries and was described by Paul as the “man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:2-4) and by Daniel as the “little horn” (Dan. 7:8, 20-25; 8:9-12, KJV). The image of the beast represents that form of apostate religion that will be developed when churches, having lost the true spirit of the Reformation, shall unite with the state to enforce their teachings on others. In uniting church and state they will have become a perfect image to the beast—the apostate church that persecuted for 1260 years. Hence the name image of the beast.

The third angel’s message proclaims the most solemn and fearful warning in the Bible. It reveals that those who submit to human authority in earth’s final crisis will worship the beast and his image rather than God. During this final conflict two distinct classes will develop. One class will advocate a gospel of human devisings and will worship the beast and his image, bringing upon themselves the most grievous judgments. The other class, in marked contrast, will live by the true gospel and “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:9, 12). The final issue involves true and false worship, the true and the false gospel. When this issue is clearly brought before the world, those who reject God’s memorial of creatorship—the Bible Sabbath—choosing to worship and honor Sunday in the full knowledge that it is not God’s appointed day of worship, will receive the “mark of the beast.” This mark is a mark of rebellion; the beast claims its change of the day of worship shows its authority even over God’s law (Ministerial Association General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists 1988:167).

His response was consistent with this teaching on ‘The remnant and its mission’:

NO. No one has the ‘mark of the beast’ yet.  When the time comes for it to become law, then the mark will be seen. and then, yes, Heb. 6;23 comes into effect.  When people are given a choice between wordhipping (sic) God on His Holy sabbath day and the ‘venerable day of the sun’, God then can see who is on His side and who is not. Read your Bible. How many days did God set aside for Holy Purposes?  One.  Just who said that people should only worship on sun day?  As Peter said, “it is better to worship God than man.”

Acts 5:29.  For more thought, just what day did Jesus worship God on? On what day did HE go to church?[2]

My response was:[3]

This is another example of how the SDAs invent theology. This is what is wrong about your theology of the Sabbath:

1. Lord’s Day Sunday and not Sabbath

Christian historian, the late Martin Hengel, wrote of “the transfer of the celebration of divine worship from the sabbath to the Lord’s day, which is already demonstrable in Paul, is a partial analogy” (2000:119). Hengel particularly referred to 1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7ff; Rev. 1:10 to support this claim (Hengel 2000:281, n. 481).

These verses do not state in any way that indicate that these early Christians were meeting and worshipping on the wrong day of the week. Not a word of your SDA theology is mentioned:

1 Cor. 16:2: ‘On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come’ (ESV).

Acts 20:7: ‘On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight’ (ESV).

Rev. 1:10: ‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet’ (ESV).

Christians are not to observe days and even sabbath days according to the following Scriptures: Romans 14:5ff, Galatians 4:9-11; 5:1-15 and Col. 2:16-17. These Scriptures indicate that your song and dance about Sabbath-keeping is contrary to these biblical injunctions.

Therefore, the SDA church is promoting error in its exaltation of Saturday Sabbath worship.

Here is some historical information about Lord’s Day, Sunday, worship:

In the early second century vague references to observing the “Lord’s Day”–Sunday–began to appear. Then the voices for Sunday worship grew more strident. Ignatius of Asia Minor and Barnabas of Alexandria both condemned Sabbath-keeping. Although considered Gnostic heresy, Marcion’s anti-Sabbath views were widely promulgated throughout the churches. By 150, Justin Martyr clearly indicated that the day of the sun was the day of rest for Christians. Sunday worship had become a widely accepted practice among these people who professed to follow Christ (“What did the early church Believe and Preach after Jesus’ death?” Available from: http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/early-christianity1.html).

See the article,Is the Sabbath required for Christians?

‘There is a series of articles on the www by Bob Deffinbaugh that refutes the promotion of the Sabbath for Christians and supports the view that New Covenant believers meet for worship on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day. See:

  1. The Great Sabbath Controversy“;
  2. The Lord of the Sabbath“;
  3. The Meaning of the Sabbath“;
  4. The Sabbath Controversy in the Gospels“;
  5. Super-Sabbath: Israel’s Land and its Lord“;
  6. The Sabbath in Apostolic Preaching and Practice.

2. Predictable response

The SDA Harold’s reply was unsurprising:

>>1 Cor. 16:2: “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.”>>

What day of the work week do you have the most money to spare? Mine is usually the first day. That is what Paul is telling them. Notice that there is no mention of worship, church, God or anything else religious.

>>Acts 20:7: “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”>>

Put that in context and what you have is a going away party for Paul. Again, no mention of worship,, church, God or anything else religious. Back in Acts two, the Apostles were mentioned as breaking bread DAILY.  We do, too. We usually eat two meals a day in our house.  That is what ‘breaking bread’ means. To eat.

>>Rev. 1:10: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet”>>

What day was that?  Let’s look at who wrote it.  John was Jesus ‘beloved’ apostle. So, what day would that apostle be in the Spirit?  What does the Bible call the ‘Lord’s day’? In mine, it is ALWAYS the Sabbath of the forth commandment.  Who is “Lord of the Sabbath”?  Jesus Christ. What was the Sabbath made for?  Man.  Who has the authority to change ANY of God’s holy ten commandments?

When you can honestly read and answer those points, you will probably have to agree that the Seventh Day Sabbath is STILL the seventh day Sabbath of the forth commandment.  No where in my Bible is there any mention of change to another day. Up until the third century AD, most Christians were still keeping The Lord’s’ day, the Sabbath. It wasn’t until Rome took control of all chuches (sic) that the change began.  Do a little history of the church and see for yourself.[4]

3. Refutation of substance

That is the kind of denial that Harold, the adamant, unchangeable, SDA gets into: ‘No where in my Bible is there any mention of change to another day’. My response was pointed: This is a lie. I provided him with 3 Scriptures (see above and below) that demonstrate that the first century church met, not on the Saturday Sabbath, but on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, Sunday. Why? That was the day of the Lord’s resurrection and the apostles taught and affirmed that the Christian church would celebrate this by meeting for worship, Lord’s supper, and teaching on the first day of the week.

This was my comeback:[5]

Your attempts to rationalise against 1 Cor 16:2; Acts 20:7 and Rev 1:10 do not work.

Your points against Sunday (first day of the week; Lord’s Day) worship by the church of the first and continuing centuries have been refuted over and over.

D M Canright (1840-1919;courtesy Ellen White Exposed) See also D M Canright (Wikipedia)

One to the best refutations of your SDA anti-Sunday worship view is by a Christian minister who was associated with the SDAs for a number of year. I’m writing of Rev D M Canright (1916), The complete testimony of the early fathers: Proving the universal observance of Sunday in the first centuries (online).

Rev Canright begins on p. 5 with ’80 facts about Sunday keeping’. They annihilate Harold’s SDA views with biblical exegesis and historical evidence from the early church.

No matter how the SDA tried to defend his position, Canright’s facts refuted his view. And what is the basis for his refutation of the SDA views? The Scriptures! These 64 pages by Canright (1916) send the SDA Sabbatarian theology packing – on the authority of Scripture as practised by the first century church and the early church fathers.

Canright was an SDA for many years and he demonstrated that Lord’s Day, first day of the week, worship by the church did not begin with the pagans or the Roman Catholic Church, but with the apostles. See also his book, D M Canright (1915), The Lord’s Day from neither Catholics nor pagans.

The origin of worship on the Lord’s Day, first day of the week, Sunday, can be accounted for on one ground and one ground alone – the apostles made the change to honour Christ’s physical, miraculous resurrection from the dead. We are no longer under the Old Covenant and its sabbatical teaching about worship. We are under the New Covenant, thanks to Christ’s passion-resurrection.

For Harold the SDA and the SDA denomination to want to remain under the Old Covenant’s form of Sabbatarian worship is to fly in the face of the New Testament evidence. The demonstration is that the church of the first century, thanks to the teaching of the NT by the apostles, met on the first day of the week to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.

4. An SDA retort to an evangelical Protestant

How do you think Harold, the SDA promoter would respond to the above information? Here it is, word-for-word:

>>Your points against Sunday (first day of the week; Lord’s Day) worship by the church of the first and continuing centuries have been refuted over and over. >>[6]

In what Bible?  Your futile attempts to show that anyone worshipped on sun day in the Bible falls far short of convincing anyone.  You have three examples of somone (sic) meeting on the sun day. You try to twist them into days of worship. It just ins’t (sic) there.  You are attempting to cover up for the RCC who claims, loudly, that THEY changed the day from the 7th to the 1st. So, who are you going to obey?

I don’t know who pointed you to Canright, but he was ejected from the church shortly after he started his tirade.  No one in our church calls himself ‘reverand’ (sic).  No one.  The only articles in the Bible having anything to do with what day of the week we keep as Sabbath are the only ones we use.  Anyone can go outside that Bible and find all sorts of excuses to keep from obeying God. Lets start at the beginning:

Genesis 2:2,3  “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3  And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

Go through the rest of the Bible and find me one other day that God has blessed and set aside for Holy Purposes. Remember, stick to the Bible.
Next:

Exodus 20:8, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

Ever wonder why that is the only commandment that begins with the word, “REMEMBER”?  Could it be that God knew that most of the ‘so called’ Christian world would forget it? Or at least try to forget?
Next:

Ezekiel 20:12, “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.”
I put that one in there just to show you WHOSE Sabbath we are talking about.  Do you KNOW who sanctifies YOU?

Finally:
Mark 7:27, “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28  Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

So, do you still insist that sun day is the Lord’s day?  Where is your Biblical proof???

There are hundreds more texts that show what day God has given us for His Sabbath.  These were enough to convince me.[7]

5. An evangelical Protestant rejects SDA false  doctrine

Here is my reply as a Protestant evangelical who upholds the authority of Scripture:[8]

<<In what Bible?  Your futile attempts to show that anyone worshipped on sun day in the Bible falls far short of convincing anyone.>>[9]

Not in the SDA eisegesis Bible! I read it in the real Bible, whether it be KJV, ESV or NIV. Sunday, first day of the week, Lord’s Day worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10) is a direct result of the teaching of the apostles in the NT and it is based on the fact that Jesus’ resurrection was on the first day of the week and NOT the last day of the week.

What is eisegesis? It’s a technical word from the theological discipline of hermeneutics (biblical interpretation). ‘Eisegesis is the substitution of the authority of the interpreter for the authority of the original writer’ (Mickelsen 1963:158). Simply put: Eisegesis is reading one’s own meaning into a text. So in the case of the SDAs and Harold they have read their own meaning into Revelation 13:1-10 when it is not there. See the article, ‘Exegesis or Eisegesis’. ‘Ex’ is from the Greek preposition, ‘ek’, which means ‘out of’ and ‘eis’ is the Greek preposition, ‘eis’, which means ‘into’. So exegesis is obtaining the meaning out of the text, based on the intent of the original author. To the contrary, eisegesis is the interpreter reading his/her own meaning into the text. Michael Houdmann provides this definition that eisegesis ‘is the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading. The word eisegesis literally means “to lead into,” which means the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever he wants’ (Houdmann 2013).

This is what happens when the SDA church (with Harold, the SDA’s support) invents meaning in Scripture. Let’s take a read of SDA official doctrine in their official teaching (Chapter 12: The Remnant and its Mission):

The beast described in Revelation 13:1-10 is the church-state union that dominated the Christian world for many centuries and was described by Paul as the “man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:2-4) and by Daniel as the “little horn” (Dan. 7:8, 20-25; 8:9-12, KJV). The image of the beast represents that form of apostate religion that will be developed when churches, having lost the true spirit of the Reformation, shall unite with the state to enforce their teachings on others. In uniting church and state they will have become a perfect image to the beast—the apostate church that persecuted for 1260 years. Hence the name image of the beast.

The third angel’s message proclaims the most solemn and fearful warning in the Bible. It reveals that those who submit to human authority in earth’s final crisis will worship the beast and his image rather than God. During this final conflict two distinct classes will develop. One class will advocate a gospel of human devisings and will worship the beast and his image, bringing upon themselves the most grievous judgments. The other class, in marked contrast, will live by the true gospel and “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:9, 12). The final issue involves true and false worship, the true and the false gospel. When this issue is clearly brought before the world, those who reject God’s memorial of creatorship—the Bible Sabbath—choosing to worship and honor Sunday in the full knowledge that it is not God’s appointed day of worship, will receive the “mark of the beast.” This mark is a mark of rebellion; the beast claims its change of the day of worship shows its authority even over God’s law (Ministerial Association General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists 1988:167, emphasis added).

This is an invention by the SDAs, imposed on Revelation 13:1-10. There is NOT ONE SINGLE WORD in those 10 verses that mentions Sunday observers as false worshippers. This is an example of SDA eisegesis, which is an interpretation imposed on the text. It is an invention by the SDAs and Harold, the SDA, the audacity to ask me: ‘In what Bible?’ At least my Bible is the KJV, ESV, NIV or any other committee translation. It is not an SDA invented bible. Harold’s objection was: ‘I don’t know who pointed you to Canright, but he was ejected from the church shortly after he started his tirade.  No one in our church calls himself ‘reverand’ (sic).  No one’.

My response was that I am a researcher who is currently writing a PhD dissertation (dissertation-only in the British system), so I’m capable of discovering that Mr Canright was an SDA pastor and member for 28 years. He exposed the false teaching of the SDAs in regard to Sabbath worship and other SDA doctrines, by appealing to Scripture. I gave the SDA promoter links to his books where he gave the biblical evidence. Yes – BIBLICAL EVIDENCE. This evidence is from the Bible and not from SDA eisegesis.

And have a guess what? Canright became a Baptist pastor when he saw the false teaching of the SDAs and exposed them in his writings. D M Canright was an SDA pastor for 22 years before leaving the denomination. There are biographical details about him here: D M Canright.

How the SDA official doctrine imposes on the meaning of Revelation 13:1-10 to get the ‘mark of the beast’ for Sunday worshippers is an example of how the SDA denomination invents its own theology. In the teaching from official sources (see above), I have given an example of how it created doctrine outside of the Bible and then imposed it on Revelation 13:1-10.

Of course, Ellen White also invented a false view of the atonement with her ‘Investigative Judgement’ ideology, a view that is found nowhere in the Bible.[10]

But the SDA on a Christian Forum insists on living under the OT regime and without taking into account the passion-resurrection of Jesus. This is seen in his comments:

Mark 7:27  “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28  Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

So, do you still insist that sun day is the Lord’s day?  Where is your Biblical proof???
There are hundreds more texts that show what day God has given us for His Sabbath.  These were enough to convince me.

When will this SDA get it? Matthew 7:27-28 is PRE Jesus’ resurrection. It refers to the Old Covenant, which is where he wants to live as an SDA promoter. His denomination invents a meaning of Revelation 13:1-10 that is not in the text. He wants to live under the Old Covenant (Matt 7:27-28) when the passion-resurrection of Jesus created a New Covenant for NT believers.

Yet he has the audacity to ask me: ‘In what Bible?’

It is time that the SDA, Harold, got back to the Bible, instead of peddling his SDA eisegesis on a Christian Forum.

6. The SDA failure as Bible scholars

Seventh-Day Adventist Church logo.svg

(Image courtesy Wikipedia)

I do not find the SDAs to be good Bible scholars in certain areas where they have serious theological blind spots. These are some examples:

  1. Their promotion of the Sabbath. For a refutation, see,The Sabbath & Sunday‘;
  2. Their teaching on soul sleep. Here is my expose of their teaching: Soul Sleep: A Refutation;
  3. They also have other false teaching about what happens at death that I have addressed in my article: Refutation of Seventh-Day Adventist doctrine of what happens at death;
  4. Their view of the atonement is unorthodox in ‘The Investigative Judgment’. The atonement was incomplete at the cross. See, ‘Investigative judgment made simple‘, by Robert K Sanders. My response to this false doctrine is HERE; see alsoSeventh-day Adventism Teaches That Jesus’ Blood Defiles‘;
  5. Their error about the thief on the cross that I address in: Did the thief on the cross go to Paradise at death – with Jesus?
  6. Etc.

Works consulted

Canright, D M 1915. The Lord’s Day from neither Catholics nor pagans (online). New York: Fleming H Revell Company. Open Library, available at: https://openlibrary.org/books/OL22885651M/The_Lord%27s_day_from_neither_Catholics_nor_pagans (Accessed 15 December 2013).

Canright, D M 1916, The complete testimony of the early fathers: Proving the universal observance of Sunday in the first centuries (online). New York: Fleming H Revell Company. Available at: http://www.exadventist.com/Portals/0/Repository/Complete%20Testimony%20of%20the%20Early%20Fathers%20by%20DM%20Canright.pdf (Accessed 15 December 2013).

Hengel, M 2000. transl J Bowden. The four Gospels and the one Gospel of Jesus Christ: An investigation of the collection and origin of the canonical Gospels,. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International.

Houdmann, S M 2013. What is the difference between exegesis and eisegesis (online)? GotQuestions?org, available at: http://www.gotquestions.org/exegesis-eisegesis.html (Accessed 16 December 2013).

Mickelsen, A B 1963. Interpreting the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Ministerial Association General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists 1988. Seventh-Day Adventists believe. At Issue (online). Hagerstown, Maryland :Review and Herald Publishing Association. Available at: http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/books/27/index.htm (Accessed 15 December 2013).

Notes:


[1] Christian Fellowship Forum, The Fellowship Hall, ‘Acknowledging of the truth!’, ozspen #141, 13 December 2013. Available at: http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=136&nav=messages&webtag=ws-fellowship&tid=122530 (Accessed 15 December 2013).

[2] Ibid., Harold #145.

[3] Ibid., ozspen #148.

[4] Ibid., Harold #156.

[5] Ibid., ozspen #162.

[6] This is a quote from my post at: ibid., ozspen #162.

[7] Ibid., Harold #170.

[8] Ibid., ozspen #172.

[9] I am citing Harold from ibid., Harold #170.

[10] See: ‘Seventh-day Adventism Teaches That Jesus’ Blood Defiles‘.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 April 2016..

Refutation of Seventh-Day Adventist doctrine of what happens at death

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Seventh-Day Adventist Church logo.svg

courtesy Wikipedia

By Spencer D Gear

What happens to human beings at death? Do unbelievers go to Hades (“hell” in some translations of the New Testament) and believers go into the presence of the Lord at death? This has been traditionally known as the doctrine of the intermediate state – where human beings go between death and the final resurrection.[1]

The late John Stott, evangelical stalwart from the UK, stated in an interview with Christianity Today,

In Evangelical Essentials, I described as “tentative” my suggestion that “eternal punishment” may mean the ultimate annihilation of the wicked rather than their eternal conscious torment. I would prefer to call myself agnostic on this issue, as are a number of New Testament scholars I know. In my view, the biblical teaching is not plain enough to warrant dogmatism. There are awkward texts on both sides of the debate.

The hallmark of an authentic evangelicalism is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh biblical scrutiny and, if necessary, reform.[2]

Since Seventh-Day Adventists believe in soul sleep[3] for the believer and annihilation[4] for the wicked, they regularly promote this view on forums on the www. Here I encountered one example on Christian Fellowship Forum (I’m ozspen).

Harold is an active Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) who promotes SDA doctrine on this Forum. Here is one example of Harold’s response after I challenged his method of proof-texting. He wrote:

“And you will continue to listen to anyone else who agrees with you instead of reading your own Bible.

Why do you think God gave such a warning about talking to the dead?  Why is He so insistant (sic) on staying away from any hint of spiritualism?  Simply because He knows that the dead are dead and the only other entities you can talk to are Satan’s angels.

What is wrong with using texts??  Here:  refute these:

Ecc. 9:5  “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6  Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” How dead is dead?

Ecc. 9:10  “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”   Isn’t that where we all are going?????

Just try to reinterpret those”.[5]

I responded to him directly[6] when he stated: “And you will continue to listen to anyone else who agrees with you instead of reading your own Bible”.

I am a long-term student of the Scriptures and believe it or not, Harold, I interpret in context and I do not spout forth what your SDA denomination has told you about these verses. You stated:

“What is wrong with using texts??  Here:  refute these:
Ecc. 9:5  “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6  Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” How dead is dead?
Ecc. 9:10  “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”    Isn’t that where we all are going?????
Just try to reinterpret those.”

Let’s try an excellent, contemporary translation of these three verses from Ecclesiastes 9:

5For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun…..10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” (English Standard Version)

Of verses 5 & 6 of Ecclesiastes 9, you ask, “How dead is dead?” On the surface these verses could be thought of as saying what you want them to say that there is nothing or annihilation after death. What do these verses say?

  • We need to remember that the Book of Ecclesiastes is not as Gospel savvy as the Gospel of John. Why? Because the Scriptures teach progressive revelation. Much more is revealed in the NT about salvation and the after-life than the OT. Remember that the Book of Ecclesiastes is written to people “under the sun” (1:3) and is explaining life and death from a human perspective.
  • Eccl. 9:5 states that “the living know that they will die”. This is nothing profound, but the application is that a living person has a distinct advantage that he/she knows that death is coming and can arrange many things in life to prepare for that event.
  • But for those who have died, they “know nothing”. So for them, any opportunity to arrange anything for life after death is gone. Their human knowledge has ceased as they are no longer on the earth. From your perspective, you think that this is a flat denial of any conscious existence in the intermediate state. That IS NOT what this verse teaches. This book is written for those “under the sun” (those in this world). It is not a statement about the state of the dead in the intermediate state after they die. It is only expressing the relation of the dead to this world (as is also stated in 9:6). The limitation of knowledge for the dead is based on the limitation expressed by the context of 9:3, “in all that is done under the sun”. 9:6 interprets 9:5 as the love, hate and envy also have perished. The dead are not able to love, hate and envy anybody “under the sun”. And do you know what, Harold? v. 6 says that “forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun”. That’s the interpretation of 9:5 – the “dead know nothing” of what is happening in this world, “under the sun”.
  • When you proof-text on this Forum, you do yourself a disservice in your own attempts to accurately interpret a verse. But even worse, you force this false interpretation onto others who don’t agree with you. Eccl. 9:5 & 6 DO NOT teach what you want them to say. A good course in hermeneutics would teach contextual biblical interpretation, which you have not done. Instead, you want to proof-text and take verses in isolation from the context.

Taking isolated verses from Ecclesiastes as you do (and with other OT passages on Christian Fellowship Forum) and pushing them to the limits of what you think they mean, is not satisfactory exegesis of the text, especially when there are hefty statements like Eccl. 12:7 that contradict what you want to say about life after death, “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (ESV).

Because the Bible gives a non-contradictory message throughout, your interpretation of Eccl. 9:5-6, 10 MUST agree with Eccl. 12:7. Your teaching does not cause this to happen. Why? Because your SDA presuppositions are being imposed on the text and making it say what it does not say. You stated,

So, I have refuted your views no Eccl. 9:5-6. Please don’t ever get back to me and say that I don’t take seriously the verses you give.
Now to Eccl. 9:10. You ask: “Isn’t that where we all are going?????”

Verse 10 states, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going” (ESV).

This verse makes these emphases:

  • It affirms what nobody should question that during this life there are certain things available to us with certain results. When this life is over and death comes, have a guess what? There is no way that you, I or anybody else could make up for what we did not do in this life?
  • Jesus affirmed this in John 9:4, “We must work the works of him who sent us while it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (ESV).
  • Eccl. 9:10 and John 9:4 both confirm that earthly activities, what is done “under the sun”, cannot continue into the intermediate state when we die.
  • There is no attempt to describe from all angles what will happen after death with a person’s experience in Sheol. So, for you to use this verse to attempt to prove annihilation or soul sleep is completely outside of what Eccl. 9:10 is saying.

What is Sheol? Bob Deffinbaugh in, “A Hell to Shun“, accurately states that, “ Sheol seems to refer primarily to the abode of the dead, righteous or wicked, leaving the matter of their bliss or torment largely unspoken in most instances”.[7] He states:

In the Old Testament, the principle word employed for the abode of the dead is Sheol. Unfortunately, of its 65 occurrences in the Old Testament, the King James Version translates Sheol “hell” 31 times, “grave” 31 times, and “pit” 3 times. The result is that Old Testament saints, who had a sure hope of life beyond the grave (cf. Hebrews 11), seemed to fear or experience hell:

The cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me (2 Samuel 22:6).

If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there (Psalm 139:8).

… and he said, “I called out of my distress to the Lord, And He answered me. I called for help from the depth of Sheol. Thou didst hear my voice” (Jonah 2:2).

On the other hand, Sheol was also the place where the wicked would go:

The wicked will return to Sheol, Even all the nations who forget God (Psalm 9:17).

Let death come deceitfully upon them; Let them go down alive to Sheol, For evil is in their dwelling, in their midst (Psalm 55:15).

The translation “hell” seems inaccurate and unfortunate in most, if not all, of the Old Testament passages where the word Sheol is encountered. Sheol seems to refer primarily to the abode of the dead, righteous or wicked, leaving the matter of their bliss or torment largely unspoken in most instances. Occasions of imminent danger are sometimes described as though death were certain, and thus they were facing Sheol (e.g. 2 Samuel 22:6).

This does not mean, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain, that the Old Testament did not speak of judgment after death. It simply was not described by the term Sheol.

Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits (Isaiah 26:19).[8]

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).

We must conclude, then, that in the Old Testament the term “hell” was a poor choice of words with which to render the Hebrew term Sheol.

So for you, Harold, to ask, “How dead is dead?” of vv. 5-6 and to ask  of v. 10, “Isn’t that where we all are going?????”, you want to make it mean that there is no knowledge in the afterlife. You want Eccl. 9:5-6, 10 to teach your view of deadness after death and that there is no knowledge where the dead are. This is absolutely false teaching. Your view is NOT what these verses mean.

You do what many false teachers do. You make verses state what they don’t say. You proof-text without interpreting in context. I believe in careful exegesis in context. I have done that for you here and the verses you quote do not mean what your SDA teaching forces them to say.

Appendix A

How did Harold respond to the above refutation of his doctrine?[9]

1.  We need to remember that the Book of Ecclesiastes is not as Gospel savvy as the Gospel of John.

Spencer, are you saying that what you say is more important than what Paul says?  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: ”   That does not say, “some scripture”.

My response:

This is what happens when you don’t quote the context of what I said. This is exactly what I wrote in context:

“We need to remember that the Book of Ecclesiastes is not as Gospel savvy as the Gospel of John. Why? Because the Scriptures teach progressive revelation. Much more is revealed in the NT about salvation and the after-life than the OT”.

Perhaps you didn’t understand my use of “savvy” (“savvy” is a verb meaning to “know, understand“), but the context of that word clearly states what I meant – we know more clearly what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in the Gospel of John than in the Book of Ecclesiastes. God unfolds more of the specifics of the Gospel in the NT than he does in the OT. This is known as progressive revelation.[10]

You quote the classic Scripture from 2 Tim. 3:16 of the inspiration/authority of Scripture. What I wrote does not in any way deny the authority of Scripture as stated in this verse. Progressive revelation is a fact of what we see in the inspired Scriptures. God tells us more of his unfolding plan of redemption in the NT than he revealed in the OT.

2. On the surface these verses could be thought of as saying what you want them to say that there is nothing or annihilation after death.

I don’t think that we are told, anywhere, to read between the lines.  Could that be the problem?

My response:

Don’t you know the difference between “on the surface” and “to read between the lines”? I did not say the latter. This is your going off at a tangent! What did I really say in context? This is how I put it: “Of verses 5 & 6 of Ecclesiastes 9, you ask, ‘How dead is dead?’ On the surface these verses could be thought of as saying what you want them to say that there is nothing or annihilation after death. What do these verses say?” Then I provided 4 points of exposition [see above].

You have a very bad habit of pulling a sentence to make it say what you want it to say, but that is not what I stated in context. This is a major problem that you have with biblical interpretation. You are a whiz at pulling a verse here and there to say what you want it to say – on this topic or annihilation or soul sleep. But when it comes to interpreting in context, which I tried to do with Eccl. 9:5-6, 10, you did what you often do with the scriptural interpretation. You create a straw man logical fallacy by making a sentence say what I did not state in context.

3. Their human knowledge has ceased as they are no longer on the earth. From your perspective, you think that this is a flat denial of any conscious existence in the intermediate state.

What gives you the idea that there is any consciousness after death?  There is only one text that even hints at that, and that text is a parable. I have sent over sixty texts that state, clearly, that the dead are dead. Sleeping is what it says.  Jesus said the same thing.  Doesn’t what He says count?  Study the story of the death of Lazarus.  Martha knew where her brother was.  She knew about the resurrection.  What has happened in the last days?  I’ll tell you.  Someone has changed the idea so there would be a better reception for spiritualism. What did God say about that?   NO.  Why?  Because the dead are dead and can not talk to anyone.
What would be the point of having a resurrection if you weren’t even dead?  Why would all the Bible writers speak of the ‘saints’ sleeping in their graves?

My response:

You stated that the teaching on consciousness after death comes from only one parable and you state that you have over 60 texts to demonstrate that the dead are dead – they are sleeping.

Now let’s check only a sample of Scriptures.

The Old Testament gives us little indication of a glorious hope for life after death and beyond the grave and what will happen to unbelievers after death. We have more comprehensive theology about such in the NT.

However, we do have some pointers in the Old Covenant, one of which you have mentioned.

We do know that the OT teaches life after death. All people, whether believers or unbelievers, went to a place of conscious existence called Sheol (a word in the original Hebrew of the OT. These are examples of the use of Sheol: Unbelievers were there (Psalm 9:17; 31:17; 49:14; Isaiah 5:14), as were the righteous (Genesis 37:35; Job 14:13; Psalm 6:5; 16:10; 88:3; Isaiah 38:10).

However, we do not need to go only to the OT to determine the nature of life after death (the intermediate state) for both believers and unbelievers under the Old Covenant. We do need to remain under the OT dispensation to know the fate of saints and sinners. The NT also has details.

The NT equivalent of Sheol is Hades. In the OT era, prior to Christ’s death and resurrection, we know from Luke 16:19-31 (the story of the rich man and Lazarus) that Hades is divided into two places. Lazarus, the poor man, was in a place of comfort (Luke 16:22-23) called “Abraham’s bosom/side” (Lk. 16:22). The rich man was in a place of torment in Hades. The word hell (some translations) in Lk. 16:23 is not “Gehenna” (place of eternal torment) but “Hades” (place of the dead). But it is important to notice that Lazarus’s place of comfort is elsewhere called Paradise (Luke 23:43). Between these two districts of Hades is “a great gulf fixed” (Luke 16:26).

We know from Luke 16:23, the unbelieving rich man was in Sheol/Hades, “being in torment” (ESV) and there is no way, after death, to be able to move from Abraham’s bosom/side to the torment side of Hades occupied by unbelievers. For unbelievers in Hades we do know that it is a place of “anguish in this flame” (Lk. 16:24). “Anguish” is also the word used in v. 25.  Since this is a parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the “flame” is a metaphor to give a pointed description of the seriousness of punishment in Hades for the unbeliever.

There are a few points (based on Hendriksen 1978:874-785) to note about this parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31):

  1. Even though it is a parable, it does teach clear truth about the afterlife and what happens at death.
  2. Some of the language may not be taken literally, but it nonetheless teaches truth about the afterlife. Let’s look at some specifics:
  3. The popular view that Hades is the place of the dead for both believers and non-believers is incorrect according to the Gospels, and this parable speaks of Hades as the place of torments and flame (hell, if you like) for the unbelieving rich man. In Matt. 11:23 and Luke 10:15, Hades is sharply contrasted with heaven.
  4. What happens at death. In this parable, truths are communicated that the departed at death are not asleep (the opposite of soul sleep) but are very much alive. Also, some are saved and others are suffering.
  5. Once a person dies and his/her soul is separated from the body, the condition of being blessed or doomed is forever. It is fixed and there is never any second chance.
  6. The rich man is in torment and in the flame. Is this literal or metaphorical? We know that hell is a place of fire or the flame in other passages from OT and NT: Isa. 33:14; 66:24; Matt. 3:12; 5:22; 13:40, 42, 50; 18:8, 9; 25:41; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 3:17; Jude 7; Rev. 14:10 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15; and 21:8. This fire is unquenchable and devours forever. We know that this is figurative language because …
  7. The abode of unbelievers at death also is described as “outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). Evil spirits are kept there “in everlasting chains under darkness” (Jude 6; cf. Jude 13).
  8. If Hades is a contrasting place of light (fire) and darkness, we are talking metaphorically of what it is like. We know this kind of distinction on the human level when we hear of people who have been seriously burned by a certain kind of radiation even though they were in a dark room when they received it. Hendriksen recommends not speculating on how this happens – torment in flames and darkness.
  9. We also know that the everlasting fire is prepared “for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41) who are spirits. This should be enough to convince us that the language of fire, darkness and torment for unbelievers at death should not be taken literally. However, the truth should be very clear. For unbelievers at death, these pictures indicate “the terrors of the lost in the place [Hades] from which there is no return” (Hendriksen 1978:785).

The Scriptures, although not detailed, are clear that at death a person’s spirit “returned to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7 ESV) – I’ll give more on the interpretation of this verse below. According to John 11:17-26, to live and believe is followed by never dying. Jesus was crystal clear that everyone who lives and believes in Him shall never ever die ultimately. Death for the believer does not interrupt this eternal life that began at the point of commitment to Christ while on earth.

Paul stated that “we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). To the thief on the cross, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

The SDAs & JWs want to shift the comma to say, “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise,” meaning that Jesus said it to the thief on that very day and that it had nothing to do with the thief being with Jesus in Paradise on that very day.

There were no punctuation marks, breaks between words, or clearly defined sentences (as we understand them in English) in the original Greek of the NT. Therefore, how do we interpret this statement? Greek scholars have called the SDA/JW interpretation various things, including “grammatically senseless” (Lutzer 1997:49) because it was obvious that Jesus was speaking to the thief on that very day. Jesus could not have been saying it in the past or in the future. Christ was giving assurance to the thief that on that very day they would both meet in Paradise.

Why is the final destiny of the redeemed variously described in the NT as heaven (Col. 1:5), Paradise (Luke 23:43), and Abraham’s bosom/side (Luke 16:22)?

We have no difficulty referring to a house as a residence, mansion, dwelling, and perhaps a palace for some. God has no difficulty referring to heaven by these various designations that mean the same place (see also 2 Cor. 12).

There is a need in the church for clear teaching on the nature of heaven and hell, but your view is contrary to Scripture, even though you want to believe otherwise.

What about the souls of unbelievers at death?

Jesus stated in the story (parable) of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 that the rich man, the unbeliever, went to “Hades, being in torment” (v. 23). The “wicked servant” will go to the place where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 24:51).

What is the conclusion?

For believers and unbelievers, when they die, the soul and body are separated. The souls go to their respective places and are alive. For believers, they go immediately into the presence of the Lord.

Immortality means the eternal, continuous, conscious existence of the soul after the death of the body (Lorraine Boettner).

4. When you do proof-texting on this Forum, you do yourself a disservice in your own attempts to accurately interpret a verse.

I don’t interpret a verse. I post it.  When the Bible says that the dead are sleeping in their graves, I do not try to change anything.  Why would I?  Nobody has taught me a thing about the Bible. I started reading it at about 55 years of age.  I didn’t ask anyone what it said. I comparred text with text until it became clear what the Word was telling me.  I will not back down from that.  The Bible is full of clear texts that state what happens to you when you die.  You can post all sorts of statements from someone else, but if it does not agree with what the Bible says, I will ignore it.

My response:

Harold, you are kidding yourself when you say, “I don’t interpret a verse. I post it”. On this forum you have continuously interpreted verses to support your theology of annihilation and soul sleep.

Your idea of people sleeping in the grave at death is taking a metaphor for what the body looks like at death and making it relate to what happens in the intermediate state – between death and the final resurrection at Christ’s second coming. God’s word tells us something quite different from your interpreted conclusions. Please don’t try to deceive us that you don’t interpret verses. You do and you need to be truthful and own up to it.

5. That’s the interpretation of [Ecclesiastes] 9:5 – the “dead know nothing” of what is happening in this world, “under the sun”.

Where else would they be?  They are dead.

My response: Again, your presuppositions are driving you. Your SDA view of what happens at death (annihilation for the wicked and soul sleep for the believers) is driving your view of “they are dead”. I showed you the meaning of Eccl. 9:5 with this statement:

  • Eccl. 9:5 states that “the living know that they will die”. This is nothing profound, but the application is that a living person has a distinct advantage that he/she knows that death is coming and can arrange many things in life to prepare for that event.
  • But for those who have died, they “know nothing”. So for them, any opportunity to arrange anything for life after death is gone. Their human knowledge has ceased as they are no longer on the earth. From your perspective, you think that this is a flat denial of any conscious existence in the intermediate state. That IS NOT what this verse teaches. This book is written for those “under the sun” (those in this world). It is not a statement about the state of the dead in the intermediate state after they die. It is only expressing the relation of the dead to this world (as is also stated in 9:6). The limitation of knowledge for the dead is based on the limitation expressed by the context of 9:3, “in all that is done under the sun”. 9:6 interprets 9:5 as the love, hate and envy also have perished. The dead are not able to love, hate and envy anybody “under the sun”. And do you know what, Harold? v. 6 says that “forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun”. That’s the interpretation of 9:5 – the “dead know nothing” of what is happening in this world, “under the sun”.

You don’t refute this, but you give me your presuppositions again, “They are dead”, reinforcing your understanding of “the dead are dead”. I provided an exposition of these relevant passages in Eccl. 9 but you have not refuted these.

6. Eccl. 12:7, “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (ESV). Because the Bible gives a non-contradictory message throughout, your interpretation of Eccl. 9:5-6 MUST agree with Eccl. 12:7.

And it does.  WHAT is spirit?  BREATH.  That is the only thing God gave Adam at creation. “Adam BECAME a living soul.” Period.  He didn’t get one.  He WAS one.

My response: Why is it that your favourite KJV does not translate it your way? Eccl. 12:7 reads, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (KJV). Other translations read: “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (ESV); “and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (NIV).

Not one of these main translations provides a translation of “spirit” as “breath”. Why? Because that is not what the word means in context. You engage in what you claim you don’t do – you interpreted Eccl. 12:7 according to your SDA doctrine of soul sleep/annihilation. You do not want it to mean what it states in context, so you invent what it doesn’t mean, “breath”.

How do we know that “spirit” in Eccl. 12:7 does not mean “breath”? (1) Take a look at the context in Eccl. 12:5 states what is happening at death, “Man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets” (ESV). What happens at death as breath ceases is not what is stated in Eccl. 12. It is referring to human beings going to their “eternal home”, which means at death, “The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (ESV). How do we know?

Eccl. 3:21 asks, “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” (KJV). The implication is that the spirit of beasts perishes with the body (goeth downward to the earth), but the human spirit survives death (as in Eccl. 12:5-7). It is inaccurate contextual interpretation to say that “the breath of man goeth upward”. Why? Because at death, the breath ceases but the person lives on.

Psalm 104:29 also emphasises that the breath ceases at death: “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust” (KJV). Cf. Gen. 3:19; Job 10:9; Ps. 90:3; 103:14; and Eccl. 3:20.

You have a very limited understanding of what God gave Adam at creation. In Gen. 25:8, according to the KJV, the Lord told Abram (he was not yet Abraham) that he would be “gathered to his people” and that he would be buried in a designated cave “old … and full of years”. The phrase, “gathered to his people” means more that simply “going to the grave”. We know from Scripture that the body returns to dust at death and the soul/spirit is “gathered to” a person’s loved ones.

You stated, “‘Adam BECAME a living soul.’ Period.  He didn’t get one.  He WAS one”.

Gen. 2:7 states, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (ESV). The phrase for a human being, “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”, indicates that the Creator provided the vital breath for the first human being and continues to give that breath until the moment of death. You want to emphasise that the distinctive aspect of human beings is “breath” (Eccl. 12:7) but this cannot be maintained consistently in Scripture.

Also, you claim that Adam WAS a living soul and did not become one. We need to remember that in Gen. 2:7, the author of Genesis is reporting that lifeless clay became animate by the breath of God. In Gen. 2:7, the word “soul” or “living being’ is the Hebrew nephesh because the nephesh is the animate thing in a human being. “God’s Spirit animates the soul, though in a higher sense than it the case with the soul of beasts…. Koenig correctly defines: ‘According to 2:7 the soul is that portion of the spirit which is breathed into man”” (Leupold 1942:117).

7. Eccl. 9:10 and John 9:4 both confirm that earthly activities, what is done “under the sun”, cannot continue into the intermediate state when we die.

Who fed you that word, “intermediate”??  It isn’t in MY Bible.

My response: You are being hypocritical here, Harold. Who fed your denomination the words, “Investigative Judgment”? The words, “investigative judgement” are not in the Bible. They are the words of one of your founders, Ellen White. For a refutation of investigative judgment, see, “Seventh Day Adventism profile“.

I have very briefly explained the biblical doctrine of the intermediate state above.

8. There is no attempt to describe from all angles what will happen after death with a person’s experience in Sheol.

Of course there isn’t.  Small wonder.  You are dead.  There are no experiences.

Now. Everything you have posted, I have answered.  Does it make any difference?  Probably not.  YOu are sold on the immortality of the soul, not taught in any Bible, and you will probably go on believing that lie.  I don’t know what to do about it.  If you don’t believe Jesus, then who can you believe?

John 3:”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  There are dead people and there are people who receive eternal life.  You can NOT have it both ways.  Somebody in there perishes.

My response: I am sold on what the Bible teaches. As explained above, when the last breath leaves my body and I am dead, that is not the end of the story. I have shown you from Scripture over and over the biblical teaching on the immortality of the soul. See my brief article, The immortality of the soul. I have explained some of this material many times for you on Christian Fellowship Forum but you have such a fixation with the SDA teaching that you don’t seem to be open to what the Bible actually teaches. Sadly, you will have to wait to death before you find the truth.

You quote John 3:16 and then add your interpretation:

“John 3:”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  There are dead people and there are people who receive eternal life.  You can NOT have it both ways.  Somebody in there perishes”.

But you don’t read the rest of the Bible for you to make that kind of statement. You have forgotten these verses:

  • John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (KJV). So, the unbeliever is experiencing the wrath of God at death. What is that like?
  • Matthew 25:31-46 states it in terms of the final judgment, the sheep (believers) will be placed on the right and the goats (unbelievers) on his left. What will happen finally to these goats and sheep? “And these [the unrighteous goats] shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt. 25:46). So the length of the punishment for the unrighteous is as long as the life for the righteous at death – eternal. It goes on for eternity.

What is the meaning of “perish” in John 3:16? It will be consistent with: to lose one’s life (John 12:25) and to be doomed to destruction (John 17:12, which uses a cognate of “to perish”). Leon Morris states with regard to “perish”,

“Neither here nor anywhere else in the New Testament is the dreadful reality behind this word ‘perish’ brought out. But in all its parts there is the recognition that there is such a reality awaiting the finally impenitent…. John sets perishing and life starkly over against one another. He knows no other final state” (1971:230).

We know from the verses that follow John 3:16 that to perish is the opposite of being saved (3:17); it is to be judged (3:18); it is to be reproved or convicted (3:20). Thus, “to perish” is denoting utter rejection of God (it is the aorist subjunctive, in 3:16) and the middle voice is used, indicating a person is doing that himself/herself. John 3:17 explains what it means, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (KJV).

To perish does not indicate the end of physical existence, the ceasing of the breath. As John 3:17 confirms, it is the everlasting experience of God’s condemnation; being banished from the God of love and experiencing the God of wrath – forever, eternally. While the unbeliever experiences a dimension of this in the present life, body and soul will experience it at the consummation of all things at the end of the age for eternity.

N. T. Wright (2003:xix), in his magnificent exposition on The Resurrection of the Son of God (817 pages), has stated: ‘When ancient Jews, pagans and Christians used the word “sleep” to denote death, they were using a metaphor to refer to a concrete state of affairs. We sometimes use the same language the other way round: a heaver sleeper is “dead to the world”‘.

Works consulted

Norman Geisler 2005. Systematic Theology: Church, Last Things (vol. 4). Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House.

William Hendriksen 1978. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

H. C. Leupold 1942. Exposition of Genesis (vol. 1). London: Evangelical Press.

Erwin W. Lutzer 1997. One Minute After You Die: A Preview of Your Final Destination. Chicago: Moody Press.

Leon Morris 1971. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

N. T. Wright 2003. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Notes:


[1] Of the intermediate state, Norman Geisler has written that “the Bible teaches that between death and resurrection, the human soul/spirit survives consciously apart from its body. This is neither a state of annihilation nor a state of conscious ‘sleep’; this is an eternal state of conscious bliss for the saved and conscious anguish for the lost” (2005:253).

[2] John Stott’s interview with Roy McCloughry 1996, “Basic Stott”, in Christianity Today, 8 January 1996, available at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/septemberweb-only/9-1-51.0.html (Accessed 15 August 2011).

[3] The Seventh-Day Adventists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are prominent promoters of the doctrine of soul sleep. Proponents of soul sleep “claim the dead are not conscious between death and resurrection” (Geisler 2005:247). For my refutation of soul sleep, see, “Soul sleep: A refutation“.

[4] “Annihilationism is the doctrine that the wicked will not suffer an everlasting conscious hell. Annihilationism is also called conditional immortality…. [It] holds that unbelievers, who will not have received God’s gift of salvation, will be snuffed out of existence after the final judgment; accordingly, they will experience no eternal conscious torment forever. It is alleged that this view of the unsaved’s destiny most fully upholds God’s mercy, that nonexistence is the best alternative for the unrepentant sinner. Annihilationists argue that while the lost cannot enjoy everlasting bliss with the righteous, they aren’t deserving of conscious eternal wrath” (Geisler 2005:390). See my article, “The immortality of the soul“, which incorporates a refutation of annihilationism.

[5] Christian Fellowship Forum (CFF), Contentious Brethren, “Side topic: Annihilation”, #16, available at: http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=1&nav=messages&webtag=ws-fellowship&tid=120786 (Accessed 15 August 2011).

[6] My response is at #25 on CFF. I have edited some of my CFF response for this article. I have incorporated some content from H. C. Leupold 1969. Exposition of Ecclesiastes. London: Evangelical Press, pp. 211-218.

[8] Ibid.

[9] My statements are in bold. Harold’s statements follow the bold, are indented, and then I give my response.

[10] Article V of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy defines progressive revelation this way: “We affirm that God’ s revelation in the Holy Scriptures was progressive. We deny that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings”.

Copyright (c) 2012 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date: 9 October 2015.

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Is the Seventh-Day Adventist atonement doctrine orthodox?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Sealed  Seventh-Day Adventist Church logo.svg
Courtesy ChristArt                                            Courtesy Wikipedia

By Spencer D Gear

Does the Seventh Day Adventist church represent an orthodox, evangelical church in its teaching on Christ’s atonement? Let’s check out the evidence.

This discussion began on Christian Fellowship Forum. Harold, a Seventh Day Adventist, commented to another poster, “If you can’t find any examples in your own Bible, don’t bother. I don’t read fiction”.[1]

I (ozspen) responded: “But you do read Ellen White and promote the Investigative Judgment!”[2] Harold’s response was, “Pick up your well used Bible, find the passages that disprove that and send them to me.  She has never contradicted the Bible”.[3]

My more lengthy response to Harold was as follows:

Concerning Ellen G. White’s false teaching, including the Investigative Judgment, you wrote: ‘Pick up your well used Bible, find the passages that disprove that and send them to me.  She has never contradicted the Bible.’ I have done that and this is a glimpse of what I find.[4]

Ellen White wrote this falsehood: “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty” (Ellen G. White 1903, ms 150, SDA Commentary V, p. 1129). This is clearly false doctrine. Jesus said, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30).

Egw1899.jpg(Ellen G White 1899, courtesy Wikipedia)

Ellen White wrote in The Great Controversy (pp 6, 422):

“As in typical service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ’s work for redemption of men is completed, there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the sanctuary.  This is the service which began when the 2,300 days ended (according to Mrs. White this was in the year 1844!  Evidently the nineteenth century was more wonderful than we had imagined!-Ed.).  At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our high priest entered the most holy to perform the last division, of his solemn work to cleanse the sanctuary … in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ, and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary … so the actual cleansing to cleanse the sanctuary… in the new covenant the sins of removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded.  But, before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement.  The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation–a work of judgment.  Those who followed in the light of the prophetic word saw that, instead of coming to earth at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844 (as Prophet William Miller had so dogmatically and widely proclaimed.—Ed.), Christ then entered in the most holy place of the heavenly, to perform the closing work of atonement preparatory to his coming.”

The Investigative Judgment is a fantasy, a heresy. Of Jesus crucifixion, it is stated in Scripture:

“Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28-3- NIV).

In “What Adventists believe”, which is a statement of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, it states, “Through baptism we are truly born again in Jesus”. This is clearly false doctrine. The Scriptures state: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 ESV). Baptism is a statement about discipleship and obedience (Matt. 28:18-20). It has NOTHING to do with entrance into the Kingdom of God by being born again. (Note: Mark 16:16, which is often used to support baptismal regeneration is not in the oldest MSS and is not considered to be part of Scripture but a later addition.)

I said to the person online: Your mind is not open to disproof, from the Bible, of Ellen White’s false doctrine.  That’s why I don’t waste my time, generally, in replying to you. Your mind is so closed that no matter how often I refute your false doctrine, you continue to come back with the worn out phrase:

‘She has never contradicted the Bible’.  She contradicts the Bible over and over, but Harold the indoctrinated SDA, doesn’t want to hear it.

Harold’s retort was:[5]

‘Ellen White wrote this falsehood: “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty” (Ellen G. White 1903, ms 150, SDA Commentary V, p. 1129). This is clearly false doctrine. Jesus said, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30)’.

I don’t know what commentary you have, but the one on my lap right now says: “But although Christ’s divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did NOT cease to be God when He became man.  The human  did not take the place of the divine, nor the divine of the human.  This is the mystery of godliness. …. Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the God head was still His own.” Page 1129 paragraph 3, on Matt 27:54 and 1 Tim. 3:16.

I went through all her writings with the phrases ‘the man Christ Jesus’ and Lord God Almighty and found nothing like you posted.

>>The Investigative Judgment is a fantasy, a heresy. Of Jesus crucifixion, it is stated [this is an excerpt from a statement I made]:>>

You can twist that one, too.  I guess if you want to make the RCC [Roman Catholic Church] happy, you will.

Harold.

I countered:[6]

Harold,
When you are challenged about Ellen White’s false teaching, what do you do?

  • She does not believe in the deity of Christ;
  • Christ’s atonement is not enough; it needs an Investigative Judgment.

You come up with your standard line: ‘You can twist that one, too.  I guess if you want to make the RCC happy, you will’.

I am a Protestant and will never ever be a Roman Catholic. When you are shown that the Investigative Judgment is fantasy, fiction, falsehood, you trot out your logical fallacies and create straw man arguments.
Enjoy your falsehood!

Sincerely, Spencer

In my further investigation, I found, on the official Ellen G. White website, an electronic copy of Ellen White’s The Great Controversy[7]:

In Ch 23 it reads:

“For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record. As in the typical service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ’s work for the redemption of men is completed there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2300 days ended. At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our High Priest entered the most holy, to perform the last division of His solemn work–to cleanse the sanctuary.

“As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary (emphasis added). And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation–a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people (emphasis added); for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works. Revelation 22:12.

“Thus those who followed in the light of the prophetic word saw that, instead of coming to the earth at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844, Christ then entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to perform the closing work of atonement preparatory to His coming (emphasis added) (pp. 421-422).[8]

This is an example of Ellen White’s fiction when compared with the Bible. When Christ died on the cross to obtain atonement for sin, it was not enough in Ellen White’s SDA teaching. Further work was needed to be performed in atonement prior to the second coming of Christ. This is the heresy of SDA teaching: Further “cleansing of the sanctuary” by way of an Investigative Judgment is needed after Christ’s death on the cross to “redeem His people”. This must be done “prior to the [second] coming of Christ”.

This is the false teaching of Ellen White. In At Issue, an SDA site, ‘Seventh-Day Adventists Believe. . .‘, it is stated what SDAs believe about Christ’s atoning sacrifice and its association with the peculiar SDA doctrine of Investigative Judgment:

There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.—Fundamental Beliefs, 23

See here for a brief explanation of The Investigative Judgment by Ellen G. White.

This is the kind of false teaching that Ellen White and the SDAs promote: The atonement is not yet finished, they say. The atonement through Christ’s death on the cross was only a commencement and it needed an Investigative Judgment that began in 1844, according to false prophetess, Ellen G White.

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What does the Bible teach?

1.  When Christ had paid the full penalty in atonement for the sins of all people, he said from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
2.  Because Christ had paid the full penalty for sin when he died on the cross, no further sacrifice or additional work was needed. Paul to the Romans was able to say, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1 ESV).

3.  Absolutely nothing more was needed, in contrast to the SDA false teaching, to achieve atonement for sin. The Book of Hebrews confirms the finality of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross and no Investigative Judgment of “atonement preparatory to His coming” (Ellen White).

Hebrews 9:25-28 states:

25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (NIV).

4.  This is as clear as crystal: “[Christ] has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself”. There is no hint of an Investigative Judgment here. There is not a word about the blood shed on the cross as only the beginning and the atonement isn’t finished yet. John 19:30 clearly refutes such wavering with, “It is finished”.

The New Testament emphasis is that Christ’s once-for-all, one time sacrifice for sin was final. No Investigative Judgment was needed. No repetition or continuation of Christ’s sacrificial death is required. It is a heresy to emphasise any teaching that requires an addition to Christ’s one-time atonement for sin on the cross.

There is no need for anything else to be done to assure us that the penalty for sin has been paid. The penalty for all sin for all time has been paid by the once-only death of Christ on the cross. There is no need to fear condemnation for sin or further punishment for sin that had been redeemed – through Christ’s ONE death on the cross.

The SDA Investigative Judgment is a false doctrine that is condemned by the teaching of Scripture.

See, ‘Investigative judgment made simple‘, by Robert K Sanders.

A Quick Introduction to Seventh-Day Adventism: The cultic doctrines of Seventh-Day Adventism


Notes:

[1] Christian Fellowship Forum, The Fellowship Hall, “Advent – Do you or don’t you?”, Harold, #22, available at: http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=21&nav=messages&webtag=ws-fellowship&tid=120418 (Accessed 21 November 2010).

[2] Ibid., #23.

[3] Ibid., #24.

[4] Ibid., #27.

[5] Ibid., #30.

[6] Ibid., #33.

[7] Ellen G. White The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. The Ellen G. White Estate Inc., 1999, available at: http://www.whiteestate.org/books/gc/gc.asp#23 (Accessed 21 November 2010). This is the 1911 edition.

[8] Ibid., ch. 23, “What is the sanctuary?”, available at: http://www.whiteestate.org/books/gc/gc23.html (Accessed 21 November 2010).

 

Copyright (c)  2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 January 2016.

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