This is my 9th post in a series, for the previous post please click HERE.
Before getting started I want to define some terms. If you have ever heard anyone quote a verse to back up a belief then they are using a proof text. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but such proof texts must be supported by sound hermeneutics. Both of the below definitions come from dictionary.com.
- The practice of using isolated quotations from a document to establish a proposition. Using discrete quotations is generally seen as decontextualized. Critics note that such quotes may not accurately reflect the original intent of the author, and that a document quoted in such a manner may not in fact support the proposition for which it was cited when read as a whole.
- science of interpreting texts: the science and methodology of interpreting texts, especially the books of the Bible
- theology of religious concepts: the branch of theology that is concerned with explaining or interpreting religious concepts, theories, and principles
Some SDA Proof-texts are presented in the KJV as that is the only version that can be used to read favorably for an SDA when misunderstood. Cross reference with a recent translation and much of your study will be done for you. That said, I will be addressing them in the KJV to demonstrate that my understanding isn’t dependent on any particular translation of scripture.
Jesus Kept the Sabbath
One of the first things that a Seventh Day Adventist will hit you with is that our Lord and Savior kept the Sabbath. This is absolutely true.
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.” Luk 4:16 ESV
This poorly divides the word of God for a few reasons:
- descriptive narrative,
- Jesus was also circumcised,
- happened early in Christ ministry before ceremonial laws started to fade.
Paul Kept the Sabbath
There are numerous verses where Paul attended services in the Synagogues just as Jesus did, in this case after the cross. Let’s see what Paul says about it:
“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” 1 Cor 9:20-23 ESV
It should be noted that every observance of Sabbath in the New Testament is connected with Jewish usage. In the above passage we see that Paul does not identify with the Law associated with the Jews but rather with the Law of Christ. He also clarifies that when he does anything associated with the Jews it is for the purposes of “become[ing] all things to all people, that by all means I might save some”. With that in mind I believe Paul has spoken for himself just fine, so let’s move on.
Definition of Sin
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 Jn 3:4 KJV
Below is a quote from Samuel Fisk addressing this Proof Text in Dialogue with a Seventh-Day Adventist on page 9
First let’s look at “Romans 2 where it speaks of those who ‘have sinned without the law,’ verse 12; and verse 14 speaks of ‘the Gentiles which have not the law.’ And Romans 5:13 says that ‘until the law sin was in the world.’ So sin does not depend upon the law”…”Furthermore, in 1 John 3:4, there is no definite article in the original before law, so it can be properly rendered, “sin is transgression of law.” What law? It could be any law or command then in vogue. I see most of the scholarly translations now render it, “sin is lawlessness.” But anyway, today we are told that we are under “the law of Christ”
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal 6:2 ESV
Commandments Last Forever
“The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.” Psa 111:7-8 KJV
Other translations actually say “precepts”. But if one wants to press it this way that would include everything, even the laws of the temple, feast days, and death penalty for breaking the Sabbath. Such an interpretation would clearly be bad hermeneutics as it would cause multiple contradictions, for example; with the verses that says the “letters of stone” are “brought to an end” (2 Cor 3:5-14) and “obsolete” (Heb 8:7,13).
Clearly David is referring to either the moral law only or “forever” is used in a similar sense as the Lamstands that were said to be forever, yet do not exist today. Sometimes forever simply means a very long time. (Exo 27:20-21)
Keep the Commandments
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” 1 Jn 2:3-4 ESV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Jhn 14:15 ESV
“Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.” Rev 12:17 ESV
With the Ten Commandments being made obsolete at the CROSS these must specifically be referring to the Commandments and teachings of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, each does use the Greek word “Entole” consistent with the teachings of Jesus as explained HERE.
Below is a quote from Samuel Fisk addressing these Proof Texts specifically in Dialogue with a Seventh-Day Adventist on Page 11 and 12:
“what commandments? It doesn’t say the Ten Commandments; it doesn’t say keeping the Sabbath. But Revelation 12:17 combines keeping of the Commandments of God with having “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Similarly, chapter 14:12 combines keeping the commandments with “the faith of Jesus Christ.” So it must be Jesus’ New Testament Commandments, like that to love one another, etc. And as to those references in Revelation, a number of Bible students believe they refer to the 144,000, as in that 14th chapter v. 1 and 3. Early in their history, the SDAs believed they were to be the 144,000. But as their number grew, they saw they were increasing beyond that figure, so they had to abandon that interpretation. But in abandoning it, they failed to abandon that which was tied in with it! However, the Ten Commandments are not in any of these references. Once more, it could include ceremonial ones. It would be just as logical for a Jew to start offering animal sacrifices today in order to “keep the Commandments of God.”
Sabbath in Heaven
The argument goes like this, since the Sabbath will be kept in heaven that means it should also be kept today. The verse SDA will use is found in Isaiah.
“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 66:23 KJV
The most obvious problem here is their inconsistency. For example, this verse includes “New Moons” with the Sabbath so by their logic we should be keeping those too.
An even more glaring issue is that this is actually a very long prophecy by Isaiah. Most theologians agree that this verse and its surrounding context is about the millenium mentioned at the end of Revelation. Even though many disagree on where to put the millennium or how literally it should be understood, everyone I have read identifies this prophecy in Isaiah as speaking of that period of time. The reason this doesn’t work for SDA is that in the same prophecy Isaiah states that people will be dying.
“There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” Isaiah 65:20 KJV
So, contextually if you are going to argue that (Isa 66:23) is about the age to come then you must also accept that death exists in the age to come (Isa 65:20). All major schools of thought do believe that death exists in the millennium, except for SDA of course.
Another common prooftext for SDA is a passage in Isaiah where he makes a declarative statement about the “law and the testimony”.
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20 KJV
This one clears right up if you just put it in the ESV but rather than do that I’ll address their argument on the terms that they present it. When I see SDA use this verse what they mean by it is that if you don’t keep the Sabbath that means there is no light in you and they don’t have to intellectually address any arguments you present. It’s not just twisting God’s Word but it’s also an intellectual cop out.
The problem is that the Old Testament writers frequently refer to the “Torah” as the law. Especially when he is saying “the law and to the testimony” the only logical meaning in our terms today would be “the Bible” or “the Word of God”. There is no logical reason to assert that the law and testimony in view here is only the ten commandments. In the context what I am saying here works, look at the preceding texts.
“13 Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. 16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. 19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:13-20 KJV
Contextually there is a war going on with the Assyrians. It is a troubling time for Israel and during this conflict there are two groups. One is holding to the covenant and the Word of God and the other is not and is instead turning to familiar spirits and wizards etc. One group enjoys the Sanctuary where as another will stumble and fall.
This prophecy is rather specific to a particular group of people in a particular time. The principles however certainly apply today. If you submit to the Word of God and accept the New Covenant of grace that has been richly poured out in the Blood of Christ then you have his sanctuary, the Holy Spirit of promise which dwells within you. Conversely if you want to reject God’s Word and embrace the mutterings of a seer, like Ellen White for example, then the curses of this passage can certainly be applied in that you will stumble and fall and be taken in a false Gospel (Gal 1:8) (1 Cor 15:1-4).
Here a little there a little
Many SDA have told me that the following verse gives them the direction to pick and choose which verses in the Bible that they will believe and ignore the ones that contradict the teachings of Ellen White.
“But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; …” Isaiah 28:13 KJV
There is a fundamental flaw with using this prooftext for that conclusion. First of all it is a rather absurd notion just on the face of it. Second in spirit with the spoken principle it ignores the rest of the verse. Notice I only quoted half of the verse, the portion which SDA quote. Let’s read the rest of it.
“But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” Isaiah 28:13 KJV
Forgive me, but it appears that this verse is actually giving us a warning. It is saying we shouldn’t do precisely what SDA are claiming this verse says were are to do. How bizarre, the only people who could fall into this one are those who won’t actually look it up and read the whole thing.
I feel confident stating that proper hermeneutics can clarify any and all SDA proof texts. Coming out of theology that was based on cherry picking proof texts and into theology that is based on a plain reading of scripture I find it easier to make sense of the Bible as a whole.
If your still not satisfied and want a sermon on this topic please click HERE.