What do Seventh-day Adventists Believe?
Seventh-day Adventists share the majority of their beliefs with most Christian denominations around the world. With the Bible as their only creed (meaning they hold no doctrine that does not come from the Bible), they worship together as a Protestant Christian denomination and look to Jesus Christ as their only hope.
When the church officially organized in 1863, it decided to publish a collection of statements that explain how they interpret and apply Scripture to their lives—collectively and individually. They called these the “Fundamental Beliefs” of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
These published statements are not a checklist of requirements to become an Adventist, but rather a document that describes how Adventists interpret the Bible as a denomination.
Throughout the Adventist Church’s history and growth, the church kept digging into Scripture in order to learn more. Periodically, it would modify these Fundamental Beliefs in order to better reflect the church’s most up-to-date understanding of the Bible.
Today, the official Seventh-day Adventists’ 28 Fundamental Beliefs are published on the denomination’s website. They were last updated in 2005. Here’s a quick overview to give you a general idea of what Adventists believe.
- The Bible is the Word of God
- The Trinity
- The Father
- The Son
- God the Holy Spirit
- The Nature of Man
- The Great Controversy
- The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ
- The Experience of Salvation
- Growing in Christ
- The Church
- The Remnant and its Mission
- Unity in the Body of Christ
- The Lord’s Supper
- Spiritual Gifts and Ministries
- The Gift of Prophecy
- The Law of God
- The Sabbath
- Christian Behavior
- Marriage and the Family
- Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary
- The Second Coming of Christ
- Death and Resurrection
- The Millennium and the End of Sin
- The New Earth
The Bible is the word of God
Seventh-day Adventists are Bible-believing Christians, accepting both the Old Testament and the New Testament as the word of God, the final authority on belief, doctrine, morals and lifestyle (2 Timothy 3:16).
A commonly-used Latin phrase for this belief is sola scriptura, which means “the Bible only” or “Scripture alone.”
Seventh-day Adventists believe that in the Bible, God has given humanity the framework needed to find eternal life in Jesus. The Bible forms the Adventist view of the world and our place in it as humans. The Scripture also introduces us to our Savior, Jesus Christ, who serves as our example of spiritual strength and loving character.
Seventh-day Adventists believe in one God consisting of three co-eternal persons: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 6:4).
This means that They all have existed together as one from all eternity past.
It can be a tricky concept to wrap our minds around. But in our finite efforts to understand an infinite God, we use the Bible as our guide to build a description of what our Triune God is like.
This eternal unity is often described as the “Godhead.” The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work in harmony for the eternal salvation of all who are willing to be saved.
Adventists believe that this God is a personal God. A God who loves each human being individually, as if each man or woman were the only person alive (1 John 4:8).
God is the eternal Father, the Sovereign of the universe. He not only created the universe, but He also upholds and sustains it (Genesis 1:1).
The Father is just, holy, merciful, and He loves humanity more than we could ever fathom (Exodus 34:6).
His character—what He is really like—was most fully revealed through the life and death of His Son, Jesus (Hebrews 1:3).
In order to reach us, the eternal God became a human being just like us (John 3:16).
That is, He took upon Himself human flesh just as we have it, and was a person just as we are. That Person is known to the world as Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).
The Son is God in human flesh, who walked our earth and lived among humanity.
And He revealed His love for humanity by dying on the cross, taking on humanity’s deserved fate, so that each and every person can have the promise of eternal life, despite their evil deeds and unworthiness (Romans 3:23-24). He makes our redemption to God possible.
This is a promise made to each person, no matter who they are or what they have done.
God the Holy Spirit
God, the eternal Spirit, exists within the Godhead along with the Father and the Son. And they are all equally God, even though they perform different functions (Acts 5:3,4; 1 Corinthians 2:10,11).
After His resurrection, Jesus returned to Heaven but left us the Holy Spirit on Earth.
Among other functions, the Holy Spirit works in our hearts to convict us of sin, to show us the difference between right and wrong, to guide us in our prayer life, and to lead us to Jesus.
Throughout the Bible, the Holy Spirit is referred to by many different names that help describe His character and purpose, such as the comforter or helper (John 14:16), and even the “breath of the Almighty” (Job 33:4).
Seventh-day Adventists believe the Genesis account that God is the creator of everything that exists (John 1:1-4).
Though the Lord had created the universe itself long ago, Genesis 1 and 2 teach that in six days, He created the foundations of our earth and all life on it, including Adam and Eve and the rest of humanity.
The nature of man
What do Seventh-day Adventists Believe about Sin and the Nature of Humanity? Seventh-day Adventists believe that we were originally created in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:27).
This included the gift of consciousness and the ability to choose—free agency, or freedom of choice. However, using the gift of free will, humanity made choices that were short-sighted and self-serving, rather than in harmony with God’s will.
As a result, all people have been corrupted by sin and are unable to save themselves (Romans 3:10-19).
For this reason, Jesus came to Earth to save us, live as our example, and to finally restore us into the image of God. Though this process of restoration is already taking place now, it will only be completed when Christ earth at the Second Coming.
The great controversy
Seventh-day Adventists believe that our world is involved in a conflict between God and Satan over the character of God, His law, and His government (Ephesians 6:12).
“Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12, NKJV).
This conflict was brought to earth when Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God’s command not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a result, the situation became exactly that: humanity then began to live among both good and evil, having to choose between them every day.
This “great controversy” is the ultimate battle between good and evil, between perfect love and primitive selfishness.
But all is not lost! There is still hope for humanity. Thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus (which you’ll read about in the next section), God’s victory (which we can claim when we choose to follow Him) is made certain, and one day this controversy will end forever.
The life, death, and resurrection of Christ
Just as the Bible tells us in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus, the Son of God, became human and came to earth as a baby. This truth was also predicted in several prophetic statements in the Old Testament.
And He did all this in order to be an example of what a perfect life could be like.
Then, He died as a sacrifice for our selfish choices (known as sin), which ultimately lead to evil. But as He died on the cross, He paid the penalty for any sinful thing anyone has ever done.
After His death, He was resurrected, showing that by His power, death doesn’t have to be our final fate. All who accept what Jesus has done by faith can have the promise that just as death did not hold Him in the grave, it will not hold us there as well.
Thus, through Jesus’ life of perfect obedience to God’s law, and then His death and resurrection, all human beings can have the promise of redemption and eternal life in Jesus through faith in Him (John 3:16; Luke 19:10; Hebrews 9:28).
The fact that Jesus did these things is central to the entire plan and experience of salvation, which is what the next section teaches.
The experience of salvation
Like most protestants, Seventh-day Adventists believe that we can claim God’s promise of eternal life. And this eternal life comes not by how many good deeds we do, but by sincere faith in Jesus Christ, whose perfect life is credited to us when we accept Him as our Savior.
Some refer to this concept by the Latin phrase sola fide, which means “by faith alone” (Romans 3:20).
At the moment we accept Him into our lives, we immediately have salvation in Jesus, who then sends us the Holy Spirit to work within us, refining our characters (Galatians 4:19).
Though aware of their sinfulness and the need to repent and confess their sins, Adventists live with the hope and assurance of salvation because of what Christ has done for them on the cross (Romans 8:1).
Growing in Christ
By His death on the cross, Jesus gives His people victory over the evil forces that still seek to control us while the great controversy rages on. But by daily feeding on the word of God, along with prayer, humility and surrender, we can grow in our knowledge and love of God.
We have been freed from our past life and now, “we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6.4). Our lives will then reveal to others the love and character of God (Mark 5:16, NKJV).
Seventh-day Adventists believe that God has raised up a community of Christians who are united in worship, ministry, and mission (Matthew 16:18).
The church is a body of believers who mutually support each other, and who seeks to reveal Jesus and His love to the world together. Though salvation is not found in church membership, God’s people are called to fellowship with one another for support, encouragement, training, and to work together for the mission of the church (1 Corinthians 12:13, Hebrews 10:24, 25, Matthew 28:16-20).
The remnant and its mission
The New Testament points to a specific group of Christians near the end of time, before Christ’s second coming. This group is often referred to as the “remnant” (Revelation 12:17).
This word “remnant” means something that remains, that is left over. This remnant is depicted in the Bible as those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12), even while the rest of the world turns away. Despite adversity toward Jesus’ followers, these believers “remain.”
Though Adventists identify their church with this remnant, it is in the way of a goal. Together, Adventists support one another in their relationships with God so they can be strong and united under Him, even under the most trying of circumstances. Adventists know they are not the only ones who love and serve God faithfully, and they strive to encourage all believers to take this goal to heart.
Unity in the body of Christ
Just as God is one, united in the three persons of the Godhead, His church is one, in that believers are one body, though consisting of many diverse nationalities, races, cultures, personalities, ages, talents, etc.
The idea of the body of Christ comes from an image that the Apostle Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament, uses.
The idea is that the church is made of different parts, just like a human body. And each part is still essential for the body as a whole, even though it doesn’t do the same thing as another part.
Despite the vast differences found in the body of Christ, of whom He is the head, all are equal in Christ and bonded together in love. They all share a desire to reach the lost in the world, offering them a place among the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23; Galatians 3:28).
Seventh-day Adventists believe in baptism by immersion of all who openly confess their faith in Jesus Christ as their Redeemer.
This means the person is completely submerged under the water as a symbol of their total surrender to God (Mark 4:1-5; Acts 16:31-33).
Baptism is an outward public expression of our union with Christ, of our acceptance of His forgiveness, and of our new life in Him and His church (Romans 6:4).
Seventh-day Adventists believe that only those old enough to make a conscious decision for Christ should be baptized, and not until then.
The Lord’s Supper
In obedience to Christ’s direct command, Seventh-day Adventists celebrate the Lord’s Supper, in which the bread and the wine are symbols of Christ’s body broken for us, and His blood shed for us (Luke 22:19, 22).
Adventists also practice foot-washing, following Christ’s example toward His disciples. This is a symbol of our willingness to humble ourselves and serve others (John 13:14-17).
As with all works, these are expressions of faith and are not as means to gain salvation.
Spiritual gifts and ministries
God bestows upon His church spiritual gifts, which members are to use in selfless service to each other and to the world (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
Seventh-day Adventists believe that these gifts have continued in the church through the ages and exist even to this day. Among these gifts are faith, healing, prophecy, teaching, administration, and charity.
Adventists feel everyone should be encouraged to serve with the gift they’ve been entrusted with by the Holy Spirit. No human should try to deny or suppress these gifts, whether in themselves or in another.
The gift of prophecy
Among the spiritual gifts is the gift of prophecy, which is especially mentioned in the context of the end times. This reference is found in the book of Revelation, which talks about “the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 12:17; Revelation 19:10, NKJV).
Though it’s possible for many others to have this gift in many different situations, Seventh-day Adventists believe that this gift has been made manifest in the life and ministry of Ellen G. White, who saw herself as a lesser light to point to the greater light, the Bible. Conscientiously using this gift, she was instrumental in the formation of the Adventist denomination.
The law of God
The Bible teaches that “sin is transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4, NKJV). Though Seventh-day Adventists believe in salvation by faith alone, they also believe that God’s law, a transcript of His character, is still to be obeyed by all who claim to believe in Jesus (James 2:10-11).
This obedience doesn’t arise out of an attempt to be saved. Rather, it’s the loving response to having already been saved in Jesus.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous” (1 John 6:3, NKJV).
The law is educational. Especially when referring to the Ten Commandments, which teach us how to regard God and how to treat others.
The law of God was summed up by Jesus during His earthly ministry:
“And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40, ESV).
Because Seventh-day Adventists believe in keeping the commandments of God, they also keep the seventh-day Sabbath commandment since it’s one of the commandments (Exodus 20:8-11).
This day which was first instituted in Eden before the entrance of sin serves as a weekly reminder that God is our creator. And just as He rested from His works on the seventh day, we are called to do the same (Luke 13:15).
As with the other nine commandments, Adventists don’t keep the Sabbath to be saved, but as an expression of that salvation.
The Sabbath commandment is one that can bring joy and freedom as we remember that we were created by a loving God.
Adventists see great importance in the biblical principle of stewardship. It’s a principle that can affect how we conduct our entire lives, as it has to be based on love.
The root meaning of stewardship is careful management, or caretaking. This is a biblical idea that was introduced at the beginning of Creation, when the first humans were given the job of caring for the earth and benevolently ruling over its living things.
This kind of Christian responsibility is also an acknowledgement that God is the true creator, owner, and sustainer of everything.
However, after the introduction of sin, selfishness, and fear into the world, stewardship has become much more difficult to practice than it is to understand. Which is also what makes it so important to emphasize.
The word “Christian” means “to be like Christ.” For this reason, Seventh-day Adventists seek to reflect the character of Jesus in their lives. Hence, they seek to be kind, loving, faithful, and self-sacrificing.
The life of a Christian will not be perfect, but it will be a journey in that direction, with Christ working in all who surrender to Him.
Fortunately, the Bible gives us many principles by which we can guide our lives, our relationships, and our decisions (Colossians 3:5-17; Micah 6:8; Galatians 5:13, 16-17, 22-26; Proverbs 3:5, 6, etc.).
Marriage and the family
Like most Christians, Seventh-day Adventists believe in the sanctity of marriage and family. Marriage (along with the seventh-day Sabbath) was one of the two institutions first created in Eden and that still exists today (Genesis 2).
Adventists believe that marriage and family are sacred gifts from God that need to be carefully nourished and cherished (Hebrews 13:4).
While recognizing that most families fall short of God’s ideal because of the fallen nature of humanity, Christian couples and parents are to reveal the love, grace and mercy of God in their family relationships.
Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary
The Bible teaches that there is a sanctuary in Heaven, where Jesus, our great high priest, ministers on our behalf.
“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a high priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” (Hebrews 8:1-2, NKJV).
Just as the earthly sanctuary which is a model of the Heavenly had two phases, Christ’s ministry in heaven also has two phases.
There is His first phase of ministry, which deals with the forgiveness of sin. And the second phase which deals with judgment and the end of sin in the universe. Christ’s death and high priestly ministry are all part of God’s process of eradicating sin once and for all.
The second coming of Christ
By their very name, Seventh-day Adventists reveal their belief in the Second Advent, the Second Coming of Jesus to this Earth (Revelation 22:12).
Unlike His first coming, christ’s second coming will be a world-wide event. At that time, the dead in Christ will rise to eternal life and be taken from this planet to Heaven, while those that did not choose Christ will die along with Satan and his angels (Revelation 1:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:17).
The Second Coming is the end of this phase of human existence on Earth. Adventists believe that His coming leads to the fulfillment of all their hopes as followers of Jesus.
Death and resurrection
Seventh-day Adventists understand the painful reality of death. But they see it as an unconscious sleep in the grave until Christ returns, who will then raise the dead. Those who died believing in Christ will then be taken to heaven with Him.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, NKJV).
The Bible also talks about the second resurrection, which is the resurrection of the lost. These are the people who made their decision not to follow Christ. This will occur at another time, after the millennium (Revelation 20:7), which will be covered more thoroughly in the next section.
The millennium and the end of sin
Known by the term “millennium,” this is a thousand-year period that occurs in Heaven after Christ returns to the Earth at the Second Coming and takes all the redeemed back to Heaven with Him.
During this time, those who chose sin and self over God will be fairly and justly judged for their choices. At the same time, God’s redeemed people will be able to see the justice and fairness of God in this judgment, including why some people are not in Heaven with those who are (Revelation 20:6; 1 Corinthians 6:3).
At the end of the millennium, the lost will be raised from death (the second resurrection), and be forever destroyed along with Satan.
After this sad but necessary act, sin will have been finally eradicated from the world.
The new earth
Based on this text and others (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22), Seventh-day Adventists teach that after the millennium, God will recreate the earth and restore it to the paradise that it had been originally before the entrance of sin and evil.
And on this Earth, the redeemed of all nations will live forever in a world without any of the things that make life so hard now.
The great controversy will be over, along with the pain and suffering it brought—and it will never arise again.
Seventh-day Adventist beliefs
This brief summary can help you understand an overview of how the Bible guides the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists. The ultimate purpose is to be Christ-centered, Bible-believing Christians who establish their meaning and motivation in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.
The Adventist faith strives to cover every aspect of human life now. And by God’s grace alone, Adventists seek to experience for themselves and to share with others what Jesus promised when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV).
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