Adventism's Main Contribution to Christian Thought and Theology
The concept of Present Truth is based on 2 Peter 1:12, which speaks of being "established in the present truth," or truth applicable to that present time. "The Church has ever had a present truth," James White wrote in 1849. "The present truth now, is that which shows present duty," he continued, "and the right position for us who are about to witness the time of trouble."
This concept is further developed by the Apostle Peter in 1:19. "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts..." White explained that "the Word as a lamp shines brightly where we stand, and not so plainly on the path in the distance."
This does not mean that Truth changes as we know that the truth of the Word of God never changes. (1 Peter 1:25) It means that there is dynamic nature of Present Truth. We can see this in that Prophets who lived earlier in Biblical times, did not fully comprehend the purposes of God. This can be seen in the knowledge of Adam and Eve had prior to the Flood. Noah's message was for His generation. The same for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who lived their lives based on their knowledge of God in their days.
Truth continued to progress and build upon the past experiences of God's dealings with His people but never contradicting previous revelations. We see this in the ministry of Moses and Joshua. The Prophets that followed continue to receive more revelations from God. In fact, Amos 3: 7, NIV, declares: "Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets."
The greatest revelation of God's Truth was embodied in the Person of Jesus Christ. "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17, NIV) Jesus decalred, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6, NIV)
Jesus entered our earthly reality to restore the truth of God which had been distorted by the ancient Jews of His days. He tuaght that "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth." (John 4:24, NIV) "Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God." (John 3:21 , NIV) "...You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, NIV)
After His ascension into heaven, He promised to remain with us through His Spirit. "...When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." (John 16:13, NIV) Here very clearly teaches that His prophetic Spirit will continue to guide the Church. This is the reason why He gave the Church the gift of Prophecy.
The Book of Revelation reveals that Jesus places a blessing on those who read, and do what is written in the prophecies. "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near." (Revelation 1:3, NIV) Obviously, to ignore prophecy and to excuse our lack of knowledge of Biblical prophecy places us at a disadvantage. Moreoever, there are curses for those who would add or take away from the teaching of Biblical prophecy. (Rev. 22:18, 19)
Finally, the Angel who guides the Apostle John through his vision of heaven and things to come reminds us: "Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus." Truth then is connected to the message of the three angels of Revelation 14:6-13. “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
The dynamic progression of biblical truth takes us from Eden and beyond to the Second Coming of Jesus and eternity. To claim that one has arrived at all the truth contain in Scripture fails to recongnize that not even the disciples of Jesus could not understand future events until after the death and ascension of Jesus. Even then, they all thought that Jesus would return in their days.
It's been about 2000 years since the establishment of the Church and Jesus still has not return. This in itself ought to be a reason why we must continue to depend on future revelation and understanding of His Word and purpose. Only by our fruits, we will know if our understanding of Scripture is of God or not.
It is for this reason that in an age of a splintered Church with thousands of denominations claiming to "have" the truth, one must question with our Bibles open, and our minds ready to allow the Spirit of Truth to lead us to all truth.
The Mosaic and Heavenly Sanctuary
The Mosaic Santuary presents to us a tangible picture of God's love for His people and His longing desire to live among them. God desires that His people walk blameless and live holy lives above the reproach of the world. The message of the Sanctuary points to Jesus as Saviour, Lord and King. It give us an intimate look at a Holy God Whose desire is to imprint on repentant sinners His perfect and holy character of love.
The Book of Hebrews, as well as the rest of Scripture, expounds on the inner workings of God's grace, giving us a clear understanding that repentant sinners are saved by grace alone by faith in the only substitutionary sacrifice, better than goats and rams, in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Sanctuary gives us a graphic picture of the love and grace of God and points us to Him are Creator, Redeemer, Provider, Sustainer and soon Coming King. The Sactuary Message opens the veil of the Most Holy Place and allows us to visualize the presence of God in all His glory, between the Cherubim and embracing His Eternal Law as the center of His government and authority.
Lastly, the Levitical Feasts and other sacred symbols disclose the future of God's Church, giving the Christian certain hope that the return of Jesus is emminent; that the testimony of Patriarchs and Prophets, the living Testimony of Jesus and the Witness of His Apostles, are sure and trustworthy; and that all that God has promised, He has already fulfilled, is currently fufilling and will soon be fulfilled in the scheme of human history.
The Sabbath and God's Eternal Law
Adventists take seriously the Genesis account of creation. God created the world in six literal days and rested on the seventh day and made it holy. Since God never changes, His blessing on the seventh day has never been removed as there is no command in all of Scripture that indicates that God has withdrawn His blessing from the Seventh-day Sabbath and has blessed any other day.
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:1-3)
The observance of the Sabbath day for all humanity and the marriage between Adam and Eve are two institutions that God gave to us at creation. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus declares that He is the Lord of the Sabbath and that God created the day for man to rest in it, meaning all mankind regardless of culture or religious belief.
The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. (Mark 2:23-28)
The Sabbath was made for mankind. The Genesis account and Mark's faithful recollection of Jesus words, are two very strong arguments against the opinion that most of the Christiandom world holds in regards to the Sabbath being only for the Jews. The Hebrew word Sabbath means, literally, "rest" within the context of the seventh-day. Jesus then was saying, the seventh-day was made for mankind to rest because He rested on that day and pronounced an eternal blessing that can never be removed. No other day of the week --a weekly cycle which God invented and is not subject to the movement of celestial bodies-- has ever been attibuted a blessing like that of the seventh-day.
Moreover, God included the observance of the seventh day in His immutable and eternal law. No one can deny that the Ten Commandments are eternal, especially when the Psalmist declares, "All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal." (Psalm 119:160) It is impossible to read the Book of Genesis and ignore the fact that idolatry, murder, adultery, covetousness are seen by God as evil. It would be foolish to conclude that the moral law of God was not binding until the time of the Exodus, giving man free reign to do evil.
Even though the Ten Commandments first appear in the Book of Exodus, each of its ten principles were binding prior to the Hebrew exodus from Egypt; from the sin of idolatry of Adam and Eve to attemp to be like God to their expulsion from Paradise because of sin, from the murder of Able at the hands of his brother Cain to calling on the sacred name of God by the descendants of Seth; from the sin of Canaan in dishonoring his father Noah to the restriction of idolatry placed on Abraham, from the eternal blessing of the Sabbath to the warning given to Abimelech not to commit adultery; from the command not to take that which God has not given permission for anyone to appropriate to the obligation of return a tenth of our gain; from the false witness of the lying serpent to Eve's coveting that which God had declared off limits; the Ten Commandments are clearly at the core of God's character which He seeks to restore in all of humanity.
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20, NKJV)
The Law of God is a synopsis of God's inseparable connection between His righteousness and love for His creatures. This is why sin is defined by the Apostle John as "the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4, NKJV) Sin is an act against God and His sovereingty.
The Apostle Paul insightfully reminds us: "for where there is no law there is no transgression." (Romans 4:15, NKJV) How could the anti-delivians or the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah have known what sin is unless the will of God was clear in their minds? Therefore, based on the evidence that the principles of the Law of God were common knowledge in the civilization prior to the Exodus, one can safely conclude that the divine judgment was just and righteous.
The letter to the Hebrews chapter 4 concludes:
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”
Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
The Lord's Day, as declared by the Scriptures, was blessed at creation, was kept by Jesus who declared Himself to be the Lord of the Sabbath. Our Lord honored the Sabbath by resting in the tomb according to the commandment; His disciples followed their Lord's example immediately after the crucifixion and rested on the seventh-day (Luke 23:56). There is no evidence in the New Testament of another command to observe any other day; even Paul, as was his costum, worshipped in the seventh-day day. Why should we assume that God has withdrawn His blessing from the Seventh-day which commemorates Him as Creator and Redeemer.
If we admit that God has changed a law He declared to be eternal, then we must admit that God who claims to be eternal speaks Words that are not eternal -- a heretical contradiction! The fulfillment of prophecy does not give us any room for interpreting Scripture to change anything that God has established.
The Apostle Paul puts forth a clear argument for the perpetuity of the Law.
"Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law." (Romans 3:27-31)
How can one be forgiven of transgressing the law, and then assume that the very law that condemned us is now nulified? The very life our Lord Jesus Christ is a testimony that He paid for our sins so we may be free from the condemnation of the Law and not our obligation to uphold it.
Finally, the true Church of God is clearly identified in Revelation 12:17; 14:12 as "those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus" and "the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus."
The Theme of the Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
The Nature of Sinful Humanity
The Nature of God's Revelation and the Spirit of Prophecy
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