Seventh Day-Adventists believe that the Remnant, those who are saved, are marked by being the one Church that keeps the Ten Commandments. Specifically of course they mean the Sabbath that must be kept on Saturday. While they will say that “Sunday Keepers” today have a pass, when probation closes you have to be on the right side of Sabbath keeping to be saved.
Too harsh? Read some quotes I have assembled from Ellen White below to substantiate my claim:
“It means eternal salvation to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord.” – Ellen White, Testimonies Vol 6, Pg 356
“Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth.” The Great Controversy, Pg. 425 Ellen White
“The woman is a symbol of the church, and the remnant of the church represents the Christians of the last generation of men, living just prior to the second advent. The dragon makes war on these for keeping the commandments of God, Sabbath and all, and having the testimony of Jesus Christ” – Ellen White, Spirit of Prophecy, Vol 3, Pg 26
“Look at the world, and see what they are doing. There is only a remnant who are keeping the Sabbath and who are explaining its importance to the people and urging them to keep the very day that God has specified.” Ellen White, MS 106 1906, Par 9
“I was shown in regard to the remnant people of God taking a name. Two classes were presented before me. One class embraced the great bodies of professed Christians. They were trampling upon God’s law and bowing to a Papal institution. They were keeping the first day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord. The other class were but few in number, and were bowing to the great Law-giver. They were keeping the fourth commandment. The peculiar and prominent features of their faith were the observance of the seventh day, and waiting for the appearing of our Lord from Heaven.” – Ellen White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol 4b, Pg 51
The first thing that stands out to me is that SDA don’t even meet their own definition of the remnant faith simply by the fact that they commit murder (abortions) in their hospitals for money. If you want details on that click HERE. In this post though I am mostly going to zero in on Sabbath keeping.
If keeping the Sabbath is a salvation level issue then it is fair to ask SDA how to keep the Sabbath. If I am doing it wrong then that would mean I am going to burn for it so let’s see what they say I have to do.
“The gracious Creator, after the six days of Creation, rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God’s unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of delightful communion with God and one another. It is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God’s kingdom. The Sabbath is God’s perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people. Joyful observance of this holy time from evening to evening, sunset to sunset, is a celebration of God’s creative and redemptive acts.” SDA Fundamental Belief #20
Notice how vague the above confession is on actually keeping the Sabbath. To help clear it up I attempted to highlight all of the verbs they confess as being necessary.
Rest: This is consistent with the language of the Commandment
“8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11 ESV
When you get down to it this is a commandment to do nothing. I can understand their difficulty in ascribing verbs to that.
Worship: There is no specific command to worship on the Sabbath. Traditionally this is what was done of course as the Jews would meet in the Synagogue for Liturgical worship on the Sabbath. But there is no such command here, SDA have added that in. Even though Worship is not commanded specifically in the Sabbath commandment, SDA do command it in their fundamental beliefs. So it begs the question as to the nature of worship.
Does it have to be traditional worship or is contemporary okay? Does it specifically have to be worship addressed to the non-trinitarian deity they confess or is it okay to worship God in Trinity? Do you worship only at church or all day long? This is law we are talking about, some specifics are needed.
Ministry: This is another thing SDA have added to the Sabbath commandment. What kind of ministry are we talking about? Is this a command for the pastor only or for everyone? Is this to be done at Church only or all day? What specific things do SDA command as a function of ministry? This isn’t stated it’s left open to interpretation.
Joyful Observance: This seems to mean that you have to like it. If a child is crying in church does that mean they are sinning? Will that give them the mark of the beast after probation closes? What exactly consists of observance that one must be joyful about anyways?
How do you Keep it?
Clearly SDA have proclaimed that keeping the Sabbath is of utmost importance. It is a salvation issue, without it you won’t be sealed and won’t survive the end times. But when it comes to actually keeping the Sabbath we have something that is wide open to interpretation.
Imagine if you had vague directions like this for flying and landing and airplane. Just for fun let’s say it’s raining and you have to land in a war zone. I don’t know about you but I would literally freak out, I am not a pilot and if I am expected to do something like that I am going to need specifics. SDA have placed Sabbath keeping in the realm of eternal consequences and have given vague directions on how to do it.
The logical conclusion is that they either don’t care about the people they are confessing this belief to or they don’t even believe in the importance of keeping the Sabbath at all.
Culture of Moralism
Ask any SDA or former SDA and you will find that the rules of the Sabbath vary on region, congregation, and specific family. If you grew up in California like me the rules are generally going to be a little more lax. If you grew up in a more conservative area you had specific depth limits on where wading became swimming and thus transformed into a sin.
These vague rules manifest in strange ways because the language in the Bible just honestly doesn’t apply today. For example, when the VCR was invented everyone had to debate on whether or not recording TV shows on the Sabbath was the same as having a maid servant or man servant work for you. Of course not all congregations and families agreed so the rules varied.
Apply just a bit of logic to that, both cannot be correct. Either it is okay to use a VCR on the Sabbath or it is not. That means, if it is not all the congregations that ruled in favor were at risk of getting the mark of the beast. If it is okay then all the congregations that denied VCR use are guilty of lying and adding to the Word of God. One way or another huge percentages of Adventists are breaking the law and excluding themselves from their own remnant faith. Now multiply that out by every single thing that has been invented in the past 30 years, now nobody is the remnant.
Essentially what you have here is not a confession of Biblical law, but a prescription for cultural legalistic moralism. Everyone is allowed and encouraged to set their own bar on what Sabbath keeping is. Some have extensive and nuanced rules and others are more laissez-fair. Just think about it for a second, not only do you get to choose the standards of righteousness for yourself in this, but that also means you get to set the standard for others when it’s convenient.
What you are left with is the fact that SDA do not keep the Sabbath that they claim is a critical component of salvation in the end times. Instead what they have is a legalistic construct by which members can make rules for others and exceptions for themselves.
By failing to provide any specifics in their corporate confession the General Conference has enabled this. In doing so they lie to the public and to their own flock at the same time. The public can gloss over the language and see Christian piety, while the members have the wiggle room to insert either a conservative or liberal approach to Sabbath keeping.
In my opinion the SDA confession of the Sabbath in modern times is nothing more than a political statement with the intent to keep the doctrinal house of cards together. In this manner the leadership can keep the retirement check at the end of the day. Why else would someone lie about what they believe?