Seventh-Day Adventists/5 Questions


I attended church on Saturday just to visit and see what Adventist's believe. I came away with five questions.

(1)   Why is there such a focus on education?
(2)   How does your missionary program work?
(3)   How is your church organized?
(4)   Tell me about the beginnings of the Church.
(5)   How do you ordain deacons, elders and pastors?

Thanks for your answers!

I attended church on Saturday just to visit and see what Adventists believe. I came away with five questions.

(1)   Why is there such a focus on education?
Seventh-day Adventists  focus on education because they see Jesus as the great educator. Jesus told His disciples to go and teach, and we believe this should include our young people. Thus, Seventh-day Adventists seek to educate their young people for usefulness in this life and to be prepared for eternity.

John 17:3: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

(2)   How does your missionary program work?
Seventh-day Adventists have many different kinds of missionary programs. There are missionaries who work in various functions in countries that already have schools and hospitals in them, and there are missionaries who work in countries that do not. If you would like to know more about the second group of missionaries, you will find it helpful to Google "Adventist Frontier Missions."

(3)   How is your church organized?
Seventh-day Adventists are organized somewhat like Methodists. Local churches belong to conferences. Conferences are grouped into unions, unions into divisions, and divisions into the General Conference. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a president, vice-presidents and various other leaders in different ministries. (See www.­adventist.­org/­world-­church/­facts-­and-­figures/­structure/­index.­html for more.)

(4) Tell me about the beginnings of the Church.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has its roots in the Advent Movement of the 1830s-1840s (which is what makes it "Adventist"—its members believe in the nearness of Jesus' return). It was a movement whose focus was the prophecies of Scripture that predict Jesus' return. What gave the movement special focus were the prophecies in Daniel 7 and 8 that point to judgment at the end of world history with a "cleansing of the sanctuary." Chapter 8 of Daniel contains a time prophecy of 2300 days/years that, linked with a starting point in the events in Daniel 9, which are known to scholars of ancient Persia, ends up in 1844. Connecting the statement about the "cleansing of the sanctuary" of Daniel 8:14 to the end of the world, "Adventists," such as Baptist preacher William Miller, taught that Jesus would return to earth in 1844. (I am simplifying the account.) Those who questioned their belief about 1844, rarely countered their calculations. What they generally argued was that Jesus' coming wasn't literal (a teaching the Adventists easily countered from Scripture) or that Jesus said that no one knows the day or the hour of Jesus' return. To the latter concern, they would say that Jesus said that not even He knew the day or the hour at that time (Mark 13:32), but that He certainly would be advised of His own coming some time before He returned to earth and, thus, so could God's people be advised of the time of His coming before He returned.

Suffice it to say, Jesus did not return in 1844 and those who thought they had figured out the time of His coming were disappointed. These "Adventists" were fragmented in several ways. Some gave up belief in the Bible as a whole. Others simply renounced their belief in the immediate return of Jesus and continued attending whatever church they had attended prior to their enthusiasm for Jesus' return. Still others set new dates for Jesus' return. One other group, who were the forebears of Seventh-day Adventists, set no new date but restudied Daniel 8 in light of the cycle of the sanctuary service of ancient Israel. Seeing that Passover, Firstfruits, and Pentecost were fulfilled with Christ's death, His ensuing resurrection, and the harvest of believers 50 days after the Passover, they concluded that Israel's fall festivals (Trumpets, Atonement, and Feast of Booths) must also be fulfilled in their order before Jesus' return. They recognized that the "cleansing of the sanctuary" on Yom Kippur is a day of judgment as a second phase of the sanctuary service. They also looked to statements in Revelation that pointed to the continuance of the "Testimony" within the New Covenant. The book of Revelation is set in the "holy places" in heaven. Adventists saw the imagery of the furniture of the earthly "holy places" in Revelation's descriptions. There are candlesticks, an altar with incense, and a door that opens into another room, which contains the ark of the testament (chapter 11).  Revelation 12:17 and 14:12 speak of those who keep the commandments of God and possess the gift of prophecy.

Recognizing that the new covenant requires God's putting His laws in the believer's heart and mind (Heb 8:10) and that the imagery of Revelation portrays the "Testimony" or Ten Commandments as being in the heavenly sanctuary, the question of whether Christians were keeping all the Ten Commandments led to consideration of the overlooked fourth commandment. The fourth commandment talks about the day that God blessed and sanctified after creating the world. The blessed and sanctified day is the seventh, and that is what added the "Seventh-day" to the "Adventist" designation.

As this group of Adventists studied the Bible together and developed a Scriptural platform of beliefs, they began publishing to encourage those who believed in the nearness of the Advent, and they gradually broadened their focus to proclaim their Scriptural beliefs to larger and larger circles of people. Needing legal standing to hold property, such as the publishing concern and churches, they eventually chose the name "Seventh-day Adventist" and were incorporated. This took place in the midst of the American Civil War, from 1860-1863.

(5)   How do you ordain deacons, elders and pastors?
The New Testament describes ordaining men to carry out the practical and spiritual functions of the church. The term "deacon" or diakonos means "one who serves." Elder comes from the word presbuteros and it has to do with persons of age and experience who are selected to lead the church. We add to this the role of "pastor" which corresponds to the "overseer" episkopos function as found in the New Testament. Deacons and elders are ordained for service by the local church, by the laying on of hands. Pastors are also ordained by the laying on of hands, but under the acknowledgement of local conference leadership as the pastor has given evidence of his calling.

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Kevin L. Morgan


Questions regarding Seventh-day Adventist doctrine and history, especially pertaining to Ellen G. White.


26 years pastoral experience; edited two books on Seventh-day Adventist history; published articles on theology; published one book on Adventist doctrines and one on Ellen G. White

Pastor Warrensville Seventh-day Adventist Church

Ministry magazine

BA Theology, with minor in Biblical languages MA homiletics

Awards and Honors
Graduated magna cum laude Distinguished preaching award

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