The SDA teaching on Sabbath keeping being the seal of God came from the early Adventist founders...
The only thing we can do to receive this seal is to decide whether or not to accept it.
Now, for if we believe that Christ is our righteousness unto salvation, we have been given the seal, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cannot be earned or bought.
Ellen White wrote several times that one cannot say “I am saved”:
No man can say I am saved until he has endured test and trial, until he has shown that he can overcome temptation (The Kress Collection, Pg.120).
This class claim that Christ came to save sinners, and that He has saved them…such teaching is a gross deception (Bible Echo, vol. 12, No. 6, 1897).
Those who accept the Savior, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or feel that they are saved. This is misleading…Those who accept Christ, and in their first confidence say, I am saved, are in danger of trusting to themselves. They lose sight of their own weakness and their constant need of divine strength (Christ’s Object Lessons p. 155).
Many, if not most Christian teachers use the term “seal of God” to mean “certified for salvation” or having received salvation. The Bible teaching on this is very clear--we are sealed by the Holy Spirit as a gift of grace through Jesus Christ when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior (Ephesians 4:30 , 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22 ).
Ellen White wrote and taught differently:
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 (Testimonies vol. 5, p. 214).
All who receive the seal must be without spot before God--candidates for heaven (Testimonies vol. 5, p. 216).
Not all who profess to keep the Sabbath will be sealed (Testimonies vol. 5, p. 213).
These statements were made in the context that Sabbath keeping is a requirement to be sealed by God.
I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question, to unite the hearts of God's dear waiting saints. And if one believed, and kept the Sabbath, and received the blessing attending it, and then gave it up, and broke the holy commandment, they would shut the gates of the Holy City against themselves, as sure as there was a God that rules in heaven above (A word to the Little Flock pp.18-19).
In describing one of her “visions from God”, Ellen White said this about the Sabbath and those who have obtained salvation:
Then I was shown a company who were howling in agony. On their garments was written in large characters, "Thou art weighed in the balance, and found wanting." I asked who this company were. The angel said, "These are they who have once kept the Sabbath and have given it up." … I saw that they had drunk of the deep waters, and fouled the residue with their feet--trodden the Sabbath underfoot-- and that was why they were weighed in the balance and found wanting (Early Writings p.37).
Adventism's fundamental belief No.24, Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary: “There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry.”
I have been convinced by studying the scriptures only that the Bible clearly teaches that the atonement for our sin is complete and has been completed in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Heb. 1:3 and 8:1 say:
The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Heb. 1:3).
The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (Heb. 8:1).
Nowhere does the Bible say that Christ got up again and went somewhere else as Adventists teach in their 1844 investigative judgment doctrine.
Fundamental belief No.24 continued: “It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement.”
Adventist teaching on the part of the Day of Atonement ceremony regarding the Scapegoat is this. They identify Satan as the scapegoat who, in the end, at the second coming of Christ will suffer for all mankind’s sin. This would actually make Satan the one who ultimately pays the penalty for the sin of mankind. Ellen White confirms that teaching in Early Writings:
Satan bore not only the weight and punishment of his own sins, but also of the sins of the redeemed host, which had been placed upon him; and he must also suffer for the ruin of souls which he had caused (Early Writings p. 294-5).
This would make Satan our redeemer instead of Christ but Gods Word clearly teaches that Jesus suffered and died for our sin (see Isaiah 53:5, Hebrews 13:12, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Corinthians 15:3). Perhaps this is why Adventists teach (as long as they hold onto Ellen White as their authority) that one cannot be sure of their salvation, because their sin has not been dealt with until Satan is cast into the lake of fire. Does that sound like true Christianity? Fact is, the Bible teaches that Christ has already finished resolving the sin issue, and paid the full price for sin Himself. This can be seen in the texts bulleted below.
Ellen White’s teaching on the scapegoat and earning salvation is well documented, for example:
When the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, then the sins of the repentant soul who has received the grace of Christ and has overcome through the blood of the Lamb, will be removed from the records of heaven, and will be placed upon Satan, the scapegoat, the originator of sin, and be remembered no more against him forever (Signs of the Times, May 16, 1895).
When the conflict of life is ended, when the armor is laid off at the feet of Jesus, when the saints of God are glorified, then and then only will it be safe to claim that we are saved, and sinless (Selected Messages, 355).
Fundamental belief No.24 continued: “In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus.”
Vindicate: 1. to clear, as from an accusation, imputation, suspicion, or the like: to vindicate someone's honor, 2. to afford justification for; justify.
The terms: to clear, accusation, and justification, all imply judgment. So to take this statement at face value it means that God is being judged, that humans are actually judging the almighty God and clearing Him of any wrongdoing. I don’t think there are words to describe the audacity taken here to usurp God’s sovereignty and position as the true judge of all creation. This statement totally undermines the sovereignty of God. Isaiah states this quite clearly:
Let the wicked forsake his ways and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:7-9).
God needs not to explain his ways to us nor is He accountable to any sinful creature for any kind of vindication. Job 38:1-4, 40:1-4 testifies to that: “Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: ‘Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.’… The LORD said to Job: ‘Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!’ Then Job answered the LORD : ‘I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.’” Job finally got the picture, when will SDA’s understand who God is and what He has done. It is sinful mankind who are vindicated to God through Jesus Christ. Satan is the accuser, see Job 1:6.
Fundamental belief No.24 continued: “It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.”
So ultimately, if one takes for truth what Adventists actually teach about salvation, the ministry of Jesus Christ has not yet been completed. The Adventist explanation given to me is this: our salvation is complete in Jesus Christ, it just has not yet been completed, but that will happen at His second coming.
Below is what the Bible actually teaches about salvation, its completeness, and its timing through Jesus Christ our Lord:
“The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration through holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to man the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God's acts in history” (SDA Fundamental belief No.1 Holy Scriptures)
Adventists state that they believe that scripture is true and authoritative --“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). The evidence above clearly shows that Adventist teaching does not follow Biblical teaching, so why do they teach what Ellen White taught instead?
Let’s look at God's word one more time:
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him (Jn. 3:36).
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life (Jn. 6:47).
In review, Ellen White taught and official Adventist teaching does not refute it: “no man can say I am saved until he has endured test and trial, until he has shown that he can overcome temptation”. Ellen White also wrote and taught: “Jesus has purchased redemption for us. It is ours; but we are placed here on probation to see if we will prove worthy of eternal life“(Testimonies vol. 1, p.198).
Do we still have work to do before we can claim salvation? Only Jesus Christ himself can answer that, and He has:
Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" ( John 6:28-29).
“For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation’” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Seventh-day Adventists believe and teach that Ellen White is a present “authoritative” source of truth:
The Gift of Prophecy: One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White . As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction (Fundamental belief No.18).
This clearly shows that Adventist doctrines as supported by Ellen White and straight Biblical teachings are not congruent. One who says that they are an Adventist but do not believe all of what Ellen White taught are being disingenuous because the Adventist Church's hold to her teachings as their fundamental beliefs. If Ellen White is a true prophet/messenger of God then all of what she said must be believed. It is all or nothing.
Many Adventists accuse churches that follow the mainline evangelical biblical teaching of salvation as taught by Jesus, Paul and others as “cheap grace” and say that they aren’t concerned about obedience to Biblical teaching. This accusation is disingenuous and inaccurate. I used to make the same accusations before I studied the subject sincerely and without the Ellen White/Adventist influence. There may be some reading this who also call the biblical gospel "cheap grace". I question those who do as to their true understanding of the gospel and the new covenant.
Every evangelical church that I have attended over the last five years has been very clear on the the security of salvatioon and teach regularly that we are to be obedient to God’s word and live a changed life. A clear understanding of what that means and how it relates to the gospel and the new covenant (see Romans, Hebrews, Galatians, and Colossians) settle the accusation of "cheap grace". It is all in the scriptures—no other teaching is needed. Unfortunately, Seventh-day Advnentist teachings do not include in-depth new covenant instruction because it would refute some of their pillar beliefs.
GOOD NEWS everyone--there is no doubt--the Bible teaches that NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME TO CLAIM SALVATION!
Copyright 2010 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Glendale, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised June 14, 2010. Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Mike Meharry