Seventh-Day Adventists/SDA view on forgiveness of sins
QUESTION: I know there are some differences in views b/w SDA's and other Christian denominations... But the forgiveness of sins and how accomplished seems to be pretty basic...
With your deep knowledge of Seventh Day Adventism please help me understand
do SDA's believe that when we confess our sins, are our sins literally laid upon Jesus before they are transferred to the heavenly sanctuary?
Does this mean that Jesus is yet taking upon Himself fresh sins when we confess them to Him still today???
ANSWER: Advent Movement Started Protestant, Ended Up Legalistic
The Adventists started out fully Protestant. Miller, a Baptist, rejected the popular Holiness Movement of his day, embracing the Gospel of Luther where sinners are declared righteous by faith, instantly and forever, so long as they maintained belief in Christ.
In spite of the growing holiness movement, Miller did not allow the doctrine of sanctification to trump Justification by Faith, which is the hallmark of Roman Catholic error. He correctly understood that there was no such doctrine as perfection until after the 2nd Coming, which is to say that there were not ever going to be any “sinless” people in the church as many were teaching.
However, as the SDA’s went on to uphold the Moral Law and promote the 7th day Sabbath in place of Sunday, they became very legalistic, even perfectionist. Consequently, they embraced a false Gospel where Justification by Faith was applied only to past sins, even as obedience to the law, and living without sin, became required.
Such theology is essentially Roman Catholic, not Protestant.
The SDA’s taught that Sanctification, which is obedience to the Moral law, was necessary for salvation. Justification by Faith was not enough; one also had to reach an acceptable level of obedience and good works or they could not be saved at the 2nd Coming. Thus, victory over sin was the point of life. Big sins and little sins, with the Sunday keeping being a very great sin.
The more the SDA’s promoted the Law and the Sabbath, the more legalistic they became. Soon Character perfection, including strict Sabbath observance, was required. This is the background for the infamous 1888 Gospel debates, which have never been fully understood or resolved by the Adventist Community.
The Gospel and AT Jones
Sanctuary Doctrine Confuses SDA’s
The SDA’s have made a great mistake to become so obsessive about the details of the Old Covenant sanctuary service. Their views of Daniel have never been fully correct, and they are making fools of themselves for trying to defend so much false doctrine.
The SDA view that personal “sins” are being sent to the heavenly sanctuary to be “cleansed” and disposed of, is wrong. And so too their teaching about the Investigative Judgment, which is designed to examine one’s sanctification to see if they are “safe to save.”
Such false views about the sanctuary only re-enforce their incorrect views about sin and salvation, making the Gospel difficult to understand. Sins are not sent to heaven, much less into special holy places. Nor is there any Celestial Judgment taking place to examine our level of sanctification and law keeping. All such false doctrine must be repudiated.
Do the sins of believers ever enter the heavenly sanctuary?
There is not a single Bible verse anywhere in the Old or New Testament that says that confessed sins are transferred into the holy sanctuary or defile the sanctuary in any way.
In the Old Testament, the sins of the penitent believer were laid upon the sacrificial animal and the innocent animal was killed. This sacrificial act cancelled out the sins of the sinner, and those sins ceased to exist.
This is proven by the fact that the sin offering then became "most holy" (Num. 18:9). It did not carry sin, for the sin was eradicated by its death. The Bible teaches that the blood sanctifies or makes holy (Heb. 9:13). Jesus said his blood gives "life" (John 6:53). His blood is never described anywhere in the Bible as a transportation mechanism to move sins from sinners into the heavenly sanctuary.
There is not a single word in the New Testament indicating that Christ would move from the Holy to the Most Holy Place in 1844 or at any other point in human history. On the contrary, all the Biblical evidence points to Christ fulfilling the symbology of the Day of Atonement when He died on the cross and then ascended into heaven:
1. Christ came as a High Priest to His temple (Heb. 9:11).
2. He entered by His own blood (Heb. 9:12).
3. He purified the heavenly copies with His blood (Heb. 9:23).
4. He appeared in the Most Holy Place before the presence of God (Heb. 9:24).
5. His blood cleansed His people from their sin (Heb. 9:14).
6. The atonement is a finished work and Christ "sat down on the right hand of God" (Heb. 10:12)
By His sacrificial death and ascension into the heavenly sanctuary Christ fulfilled every one of the aspects of the Day of Atonement as described in Leviticus 16!
His work of atonement is complete and finished "for ever", and to symbolize the completeness of His task, Hebrews says that Christ "sat down on the right hand of God." It is finished!
Ellen White & Legalism
As the SDA’s focused on promoting the 7th day Sabbath, they lost sight of the Gospel. Before 1888, no SDA, including Ellen White, correctly understood the Gospel. Their confused views about the sanctuary and the law prevented them from comprehending the Gospel of Luther, which was their original pedigree.
In fact, it was only after E J Waggoner started reading Luther’s Commentary on Galatians in 1885 that he understood the SDA’s to be wrong about the Gospel and the Law, as well as the sanctuary. Thus Waggoner started the infamous 1888 debate, which was all about the difference between the Old and New Covenants.
Here is where Ellen White matured and embraced the Protestant Gospel. By viewing her changed positions, we can not only see this remarkable transition, but also better understand how to define the Gospel today.
For anyone familiar with the old SDA books or magazines, it is easy to find legions of legalistic passages from the Ellen White, as well as from Smith, Canright, and Butler, etc. They were all flaming legalists.
However, after 1888, Ellen White turned her back on legalism and changed her position on the law in Galatians, even as she repudiated the normative SDA understanding of the Two Covenants and character perfection.
After 1888, Ellen White embraced the Protestant Gospel with both hands, but the Denomination has never followed her example, much less told the truth about her changed views.
While Ellen White clearly promotes Character Perfection prior to 1888, after that time she changed, claiming that Christ's character replaces our character in the Judgment. Thus she did a total about face on this critical Gospel point. But the White Estate hid this part of the 1888 debate from the public and the scholars. To this very day they refuse to tell the truth, preferring to defend their legalistic myths and historic falsehoods.
Before 1888, both Ellen White and Uriah Smith agreed that salvation was a conditional process. No one could ever think, much less declare, that they were saved. Thus the SDA’s taught that Obedience to the law and character perfection, combined with a high level of Sanctification, were all necessary for salvation.
Here is some classic, pre-1888 SDA theology:
"Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement." (5T 214)
And again in COL, page 428, in the chapter called "In The Holy of Holies" Ellen White writes:
"This work of examination of character, of determining who are prepared for the kingdom of God, is that of the investigative judgment, the closing work in the sanctuary above."
Uriah Smith agrees: "Forgiveness is conditional, the condition being that we comply with certain requirements upon which it is suspended, till the end of our probation. If we fail, we stand at last, unforgiven, and no atonement can be made for us."
(Uriah Smith, The Sanctuary, 1877, page 280)
During the 1888 debates, E. J. Waggoner, who had been reading Luther, challenged this Roman Catholic view of the Gospel, and so too did AT Jones and Ellen White.
Listen to Smith summarize the SDA Gospel, that Ellen White was now repudiating:
"The whole object of Christ's work for us is to bring us back to the law, that its righteousness may be fulfilled in us by our obedience, and that when we at last stand beside the law, which is the test of the judgment, we may appear as absolutely in harmony with it, as if we had never belonged to a sinful race who had trampled it in the dust."
Review & Herald, Uriah Smith. 1889.
Smith then goes on in this Review Editorial to directly attack Waggoner, Jones and Ellen White by claiming that the Righteousness of Christ is NOT SUFFICIENT for salvation.
"There is a righteousness we must have, in order to see the kingdom of heaven, which is called 'our righteousness'; and this righteousness comes from being in harmony with the law of God."
So the Battle Creek gospel formula went like this: Forgiveness (via the doctrine of Justification by faith) was only for PAST sins. The present was a time of Sanctification, when people were expected to obey sufficiently so as to develop a righteous character BEFORE their name was called in the IJ above, and BEFORE the time of trouble and the seven last plagues ravaged the earth.
This linking of character perfection with salvation became the standard, pre-1888 Gospel of the SDA's. But after 1888, Ellen White backed away and repudiated this error, and so too should we all.
Ellen White’s change can be readily seen in her post-1888 book Steps To Christ, (1892) Chapter 7; A Test Of Discipleship:
"We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. But Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet.
He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous.
Christ's character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned."
This view of salvation is the OPPOSITE of what she, and all the SDA’s had previously taught. It was the opposite of what Uriah Smith, and the Denomination would always teach.
No wonder Steps to Christ was not published by the Review. This book was printed by non-SDA’s because it contained the Protestant Gospel instead of SDA legalism. The Review could not be trusted to print or distribute this work.
The White Estate should be ashamed of itself for covering up the 1888 Gospel debate. To this very day they refuse to confess this great cover-up and tell the truth about Ellen White’s changed Gospel views. This is not only dishonest and very wrong; it has also ruined the Denomination for all to see.
Listen again and understand that Ellen White CHANGED her views on the law and the Gospel after 1888. It is no use for the SDA’s to continue this charade of denial and suppression.
The pre- 1888 Ellen White says:
"Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement." (5T 214)
The post 1888 Ellen White says:
"Christ's character stands in place of your character"
STEPS TO CHRIST. 1892.
Here is another example, from the compilation COL. This quote comes from page 311 and was written in 1893;
"Only the covering which Christ Himself has provided can make us meet to appear in God's presence. This covering, the robe of His own righteousness, Christ will put upon every repenting, believing soul. "I counsel thee," He says, "to buy of Me . . . white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear." Rev. 3:18."
"This robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has in it not one thread of human devising. Christ in His humanity wrought out a perfect character, and this character He offers to impart to us. "All our righteousness are as filthy rags." Isa. 64:6."
Listen again to the post 1888 Ellen White writing to a woman who was struggling with doubts about salvation. See Ellen White take the correct Protestant position:
"The message from God to me for you is 'Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out' (John 6:37).
If you have nothing else to plead before God but this one promise from your Lord and Saviour, you have the assurance that you will never, never be turned away.
It may seem to you that you are hanging upon a single promise, but appropriate that one promise, and it will open to you the whole treasure house of the riches of the grace of Christ.
Cling to that promise and you are safe. 'Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.'
Present this assurance to Jesus, and you are as safe as though inside the city of God" (Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 175).
After 1888, Ellen White taught that we can know we are saved, a heretical view for SDA’s at that time, and even for today:
"Each one of you may know for yourself that you have a living Saviour, that He is your helper and your God. You need not stand where you say, 'I do not know whether I am saved.' Do you believe in Christ as your personal Saviour? If you do, then rejoice."
(General Conference Bulletin, April 10, 1901).
There can be no question that Ellen White changed her view of the Gospel after 1888. The facts are overwhelming. Here is more dramatic evidence between Ellen White’s view of the Gospel in 1860 versus her post 1888 view.
“The Lord loves those little children who try to do right, and He has promised that they shall be in His kingdom. But wicked children God does not love. He will not take them to the beautiful City, for He only admits the good, obedient, and patient children there.”
“One fretful, disobedient child, would spoil all the harmony of heaven. When you feel tempted to speak impatient and fretful, remember the Lord sees you, and will not love you if you do wrong. When you do right and overcome wrong feelings, the Lord smiles upon you.”
“Although He is in heaven, and you cannot see Him, yet He loves you when you do right, and writes it down in His book; and when you do wrong, He puts a black mark against you.”
“Now, dear Willie, try to do right always, and then no black mark will be set down against you; and when Jesus comes He will call for that good boy Willie White, and will put upon your head a wreath of gold, and put in your hand a little harp that you can play upon, and it will send forth beautiful music, and you will never be sick, never be tempted then to do wrong; but will be happy always, and will eat of rich fruit, and will pluck beautiful flowers. Try, try, dear boy, to be good. Your affectionate Mother.”
—Ellen White, An Appeal, pp. 62-63. 1860
After 1888, Ellen White would say the OPPOSITE about God's love and the law:
"Do not teach your children that God does not love them when they do wrong...." “His [Jesus] heart is drawn out, not only to the best behaved children, but to those who have by inheritance objectionable traits of character.
Many parents do not understand how much they are responsible for these traits in their children. . . . But Jesus looks upon these children with pity. He traces from cause to effect.”
(The Desire of Ages, p. 517, " Signs of the Times, February 15, 1892).
Had the White Estate not covered up the history of the 1888 debate, all would have been able to easily explain this remarkable contradiction as well as many of the other theological contradictions that are so obvious within the EGW database.
But to explain things correctly, a confession about fraud and spoliation would have to be made. So rather than do the right thing and confess that there was a massive cover-up in the White Estate, those that knew better continued to promote a false and misleading history about Ellen White and Battle Creek.
20th Century SDA’s
In fact, the White Estate still promotes deceitful apologetics in a futile attempt to keep up this worn out scam that Daniel's, Arthur White, Froom, and some others put in motion so many years ago. Rather than explain such anomalies from Ellen White, they can only say: "Just as we must consider some difficult Biblical texts within the total Biblical context, we must do the same with Ellen White."
In other words, such contradictions cannot be explained. The White Estate pretends to be mystified about these contradictory views. (See: "Messenger of the Lord, The Prophetic Ministry of Ellen G. White, Herbert E. Douglass, 1998.)
But there is no longer any mystery. There are two phases of Ellen White. And the pre- 1888 version is not at all like the post 1888 person that was shunned and exiled from Battle Creek.
Not only that, the mature writings of Ellen White were hidden and suppressed by the 20th century White Estate, even as the leaders falsified her eschatology as well as her Gospel position.
Thus it was Smiths legalistic, pro-IJ views of eschatology that became the norm for the Takoma Park SDA’s. Not Ellen White’s post 1888 Gospel views.
Listen to Andreason, a legalists, speak about the last generation within the context of crass perfectionism. He was not inventing something new, but rather, he represented the false theology of Uriah Smith, and the other Battle Creek legalists that Ellen White had fought against in 1888. Thanks to the White Estate, many think that Ellen White embraced Smith’s view when she had actually repudiated it after 1888.
"The final demonstration of what the Gospel can do in and for humanity is still in the future. Christ showed the way. He took a human body, and in that body demonstrated the power of God. Men are to follow his example and prove that what God did in Christ, he can do in every human being who submits to him. The world is awaiting this demonstration..."
"They will demonstrate that it is possible to live without sin—the very demonstration for which the world has been looking..."
The Sanctuary Service, By M. L. Andreason, pp. 299, 302. Review and Herald publishing, 1937, 1947, paperback version 1969.
This last generation legalism engulfed 20th century Adventism like a flood. It swept everybody along to the great sin of Glacier View, where such false views became official doctrine. But Ellen White did not approve as the White Estate claimed. She did not support Glacier View or what the Review and the White Estate were teaching in her name. Nor does she today.
The 20th century SDA’s repeated the same legalistic mistakes as their Battle Creek fathers. They too embraced the false views of Uriah Smith, which influenced the church to act very legalistic and strict.
During the 1970’s, a debate about the definition of Righteousness by Faith broke out, culminating in the Glacier View trial of Dr. Ford in 1980. The issues were about the definition of the Gospel and the mechanics of salvation, as well as the fact that the IJ was wrong. It was really a replay of 1888, with the same sad outcome.
Just as the 1888 debates resulted in a great schism and error, so too Glacier View in 1980. History is repeating itself for all to see, but the SDA’s are still too dull to understand and repent.
I hope this helps you better understand the real issues about the doctrine of forgiveness of sin within the SDA community. Unless the doctrine of the IJ is repudiated, along with this “process” Gospel that subordinates JBF to the past and to Sanctification, the SDA’s will never be able to comprehend the genuine Gospel.
Those who are Protestant minded understand that we are not under the Moral Law, but the under law of Christ, which is to say his teachings about salvation.
Moreover, to be in Christ, by faith, is to have all our past, present and future sins forgiven and removed. There is no maybe about it. They are gone. They are not transferred anywhere, much less to heaven. We are declared righteous and sinless, even though we are not.
Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom. 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
Rom. 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Rom. 5:11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Salvation is not a process that is “conditional” on our obedience to Law. Christ is our Righteousness and our Sanctification, even as Eternal life is our inheritance. Christ’s perfect life is credited to our account, by faith, and God views us as sinless, our names written in the Lambs book of Life.
1Cor. 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
1Cor. 1:31 so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”
Phil. 4:3 Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rev. 21:27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Listen to Luther and understand that Justification saves fully:
"Note, Paul everywhere teaches justification, not by works, but solely by faith; and not as a process, but instantaneous. The testament includes in itself everything--justification, salvation, the inheritance and great blessing. Through faith it is instantaneously enjoyed, not in part, but all. "
To embrace Christ as savior, is to have all personal sins forgiven; past, present, and future, -instantly and forever. The result is Eternal Life. Thus faith in Christ destroys sin. It does not preserve or transfer sins into heaven as the SDA’s absurdly teach. Away with such childish, and legalistic error!
Mic. 7:19 He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all their sins
Into the depths of the sea.
Heb. 8:12 “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES,
AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”
Acts 10:43 “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
Acts 26:18 I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
Eph. 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
Col. 1:13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
Col. 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
John 6:40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
John 6:47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
I hope this answers your question.
Tom Norris for All Experts.com & Adventist Reform
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Excellent reply,
You have given me a lot to think about and a perspective on SDA history I haven't heard before.
Thank you for taking the time to reply... You rightly addressed the underlying issues involved in the questions I asked.
And you plainly marked out your positions and backed them up with scripture evidence... Just one question, When was "The Great Controversy" written and which Ellen G White does it's views represent?
Thank you again
The Great Controversy went through a number of enragements and updates, the last one taking place in 1887, which was published in the spring of 1888. So the basic eschatology of the SDA’s had been developed BEFORE the leaders fully understood the Gospel. I fact, the 3rd Angels Message was developed by 1847, --before the IJ, which was invented in 1857.
Had the early SDA’s fully understood the Gospel, they would not have developed the IJ, nor would they have fallen into Old Covenant Sabbath keeping and tithing and Jewish food laws. Why did they makes such mistakes?
The SDA’s were not focused on the Protestant Gospel. Rather, they were focused on eschatology and the law. This fact explains why there was such a big fight in 1888 when Luther’s Gospel was injected into SDA theology. Most all the SDA leaders assumed their version of the Gospel and eschatology was faultless, beyond the need for revision or correction. It was solid truth they thought.
However, Ellen White was NOT one of those who thought SDA theology was without error. She was very open to the examination and study of doctrine to see if it was correct. She should be praised for rejecting the status quo and promoting study and debate about doctrine.
However, the leaders did not appreciate Waggoner’s new theology that threatened to overturn a number of their doctrinal views, --even what they were teaching about the Sabbath. Uriah Smith and George Butler were stunned and angry with Waggoner because they did not understand the Gospel correctly. But yet they thought they did. So they concluded Waggoner must be wrong, when really, they were in error. (The same thing happened to Dr. Ford at Glacier View.)
Rather than pay close attention to the Word and make changes to their law based eschatology, the leaders opted to defend their traditions and fight the Protestant Gospel, which Waggoner was promoting from Luther’s Galatian Commentary.
The SDA’s & the Gospel
The SDA’s represented the 3rd Angels Message, which featured the Sabbath and the Tribulation. Their contribution to Adventist theology was not focused on the Gospel, which is the first pillar in the 1st Angels Message, but on eschatology and the law.
The SDA’s became experts about the Law, not the Gospel, and they soon embraced a Roman Catholic viewpoint without realizing it. This was confronted and debated at 1888, but the pro Gospel side lost the debate and the thus the SDA’s have never been fully Protestant or correct about the Gospel.
Regardless of their many errors, the SDA’s also taught that a better understanding of the Gospel would take place in the last days, and so it has, thanks to Dr Ford. This end time focus on the Gospel was always a part of SDA eschatology and it should not be overlooked or marginalized. Adventism started out with a Protestant Gospel and that is how it will end up.
In fact, the Pioneers taught that the Advent Movement would one day move forward to what they called the 4th Angels Message, associated with Rev 18. This would be a time when the Protestant Gospel would be clearly understood and powerfully proclaimed, - just before the Great Tribulation.
What a pity that the 1888 Gospel debates failed to move the Denomination forward. In fact, the results were catastrophic for the church as the Battle Creek Empire self-destructed, sending the leaders in full retreat to Takoma Park, where they would try once again to better understand, and prepare for, the 2nd Coming. But they failed once again to understand the Gospel and thus the 4th Angels Message still eludes them. The modern SDA’s still do not understand nor embraced the Gospel or Prophecy correctly.
Today, there is no excuse for not understanding how to reform the Advent Movement. It is clear where they went wrong and why they went wrong, - in both the 19th and 20th centuries.
It is clear how to make the necessary reforms in the 21st century that will transform Old Covenant Adventism into a New Covenant movement that features Gospel based, credible eschatology. Such Gospel Reform is part of prophecy, soon to become history.
The present teachings of Adventism are not true or sustainable. The SDA's must repent and embrace the correct doctrine of the Gospel and Sabbath, as well as the Pre-Advent Judgment and church organization, etc., rejecting such errors as the IJ, tithing, and Sunday laws.
The time has come for the Advent Movement to go forward to the 4th Angels Message. The final events are closer than ever.
Tom Norris for All Experts.com & Adventist Reform