What do Seventh-day Adventists Believe?
Seventh-day Adventists are a Protestant Christian denomination who hold the Bible as their only creed, meaning that all their teachings and beliefs come straight from Scripture. They share many of their beliefs with other Christian denominations and look to Jesus Christ as humanity’s only hope.
Though the Church organized as the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in 1863, the members didn’t publish an official list of their beliefs because they wanted to remain open to whatever the Bible taught rather than being locked into people’s ways of expressing those doctrines. They never wanted to grow stagnant and close their minds to further truth.
But in 1872, they decided to publish a collection of statements that explains how they interpret and apply Scripture to their lives—collectively and individually.1
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 an informational document. This 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 to better reflect the church’s most up-to-date understanding of God’s Word.
Since 2005, the Church holds 28 Fundamental Beliefs. We’ll look at each of them briefly to give you a general idea of what Adventists believe.
- The Holy Scriptures
- The Trinity
- God the Father
- God the Son
- God the Holy Spirit
- The Nature of Humanity
- 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
Let’s take a brief look at each of them.
The Holy Scriptures
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, NKJV).
A commonly-used Latin phrase for this belief is sola scriptura, which means “the Bible only” or “Scripture alone.”
The Bible forms the Adventist view of the world and our place in it as humans. It also introduces us to our Savior, Jesus Christ, who came to this world to show us the loving character of God. The Scriptures are the framework for finding eternal life in Him.
Seventh-day Adventists believe in one God consisting of three coeternal persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 6:4, NKJV).
The word coeternal means that They all have existed together as one from 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 three-in-one God is like.
This eternal unity is often described as the “Godhead.” The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work in harmony for the salvation of all who want to be saved from sin and its consequences.
Adventists believe that this God is a personal God. A God who loves every single individual, as if each one of us was the only person alive (1 John 4:8, NKJV).
God the Father
God is the eternal Father, the King of the universe. But more than just creating the universe, He also upholds and sustains it (Genesis 1:1, NKJV), taking a personal interest in every aspect of it.
The Father is love (1 John 4:8, NKJV) and every other trait of His—His justice, holiness, mercy, and more—fit into this ultimate quality (Exodus 34:6). He loves us more than we could ever fathom.
His character—what He is really like—was most fully revealed through the life and death of His Son, Jesus (Hebrews 1:3, NKJV).
God the Son
The eternal God became a human being just like us to reach us and show us who God really is (John 1:14; 3:16, NKJV).
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, NKJV).
The Son is God in human flesh, walking our earth and living among humanity.
And He revealed His love for humanity by dying on the Cross, taking on our deserved fate, so that each and every person can have the promise of eternal life despite their unworthiness (Romans 3:23–24, NKJV). Though sin and evil separated humans from God (Isaiah 59:1, NKJV), He made it possible for God to reconnect with us.
He did this for each person, no matter who they are or what they have done.
God the Holy Spirit
God the Holy 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, NKJV; 1 Corinthians 2:10–11, NKJV).
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 lives, 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 14:16NKJV), or even the “breath of the Almighty” (Job 33:4, NKJV).
Seventh-day Adventists believe the Genesis account that God is the creator of everything that exists (John 1:1-4, NKJV).
Though He created the universe long ago, Genesis 1 and 2 teach that in six days, He created our earth and all life on it, including Adam and Eve and the rest of humanity.
The nature of humanity
We believe that God created humans “in His image” (Genesis 1:27, NKJV).
This image includes the gift of consciousness and freedom of choice. However, using the gift of free will, humanity made choices that were short-sighted and self-serving, rather than being in harmony with God’s will.
As a result, all people have been corrupted by sin, meaning our very nature tends toward selfishness and evil. We are unable to save ourselves from this tendency (Romans 3:10–19, NKJV).
For this reason, Jesus came to Earth to save us, live as our example, and finally restore us into the image of God. Though this process of restoration is already taking place now, it will be completed when Christ returns to 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, NKJV). We call this conflict “the great controversy.”
It was brought to Earth when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3, NKJV). 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.
The great controversy is the ultimate battle between good and evil, between perfect love and primitive selfishness. And this earth is the battleground (Revelation 12:12, NKJV).
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 is certain, and all who choose to follow Him can claim this victory. One day soon, this controversy will be over 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 prophesied in several places in the Old Testament.
Jesus lived on this earth to give us an example of how to live a life completely dependent on God’s power.
Then, He died as a sacrifice for our selfish choices (known as sin), which ultimately lead to evil and complete separation from God. Through His death on the Cross, He paid the penalty for every 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 by faith what Jesus has done can have the promise that just as death did not hold Him in the grave, it won’t be able to hold us there either.
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 salvation and eternal life in Jesus through faith in Him (John 3:16, NKJV; Luke 19:10, NKJV; Hebrews 9:28, NKJV).
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 we can claim God’s promise of eternal life. And this eternal life comes not by how many good things we do but by sincere faith in Jesus Christ, whose perfect life is given 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, NKJV).
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, NKJV).
Though aware of their sinfulness and their need to repent and confess their sins, Adventists live with the hope and assurance of salvation because of what Christ has done for all humanity on the Cross (Romans 8:1).
Growing in Christ
After we receive by faith the gift of Jesus’ life in place of our own, we begin a journey of growth in Him.
His death on the Cross gives us victory over the evil forces and sinful tendencies that seek to control us in the conflict between good and evil. We have been freed from our past, and now “we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6.4, NKJV). Our lives will then reveal to others the love and character of God (Mark 5:16, NKJV).
This growth in our lives happens as we spend time in prayer and in the Bible, coming to God with an attitude of humility and surrender.
In the New Testament, there is a lot of talk about “the church.” This refers to those who believe in God and have accepted Jesus as their Savior. Not a specific group of them, but all of them (Matthew 16:18, NKJV). They are united in worship, ministry, and mission.
And this church has grown and spread. Today, the church covers the entire globe. Not every person of this church is a member of a physical congregation, but they are part of God’s body of believers nonetheless.
Believers seek to support each other and together reveal Jesus and His love to the world. Though salvation is not found in church membership, God’s people are called to fellowship with one another for support, encouragement, training, and furthering the mission of the church (1 Corinthians 12:13, NKJV; Hebrews 10:24–25, NKJV; Matthew 28:16–20, NKJV).
(When it comes to the Seventh-day Adventist denomination specifically, we have local congregations worldwide, along with offices, ministries, schools, hospitals, and more. And our central headquarters is in Silver Spring, Maryland, in North America. And it is our mission to continue working together to fulfill Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20, NKJV).
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, NKJV).
This word remnant means something that remains, that is left over. The Bible describes the remnant as those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12, NKJV), even while the rest of the world turns away from God. Despite persecution and challenges, these believers remain.
Adventists identify their church with this remnant because they see being part of this group as a goal. We all want to be among the faithful people that follow Jesus’ teachings to the letter, all the way through the end of time.
And together, we support one another in our relationships with God so we can be strong and united under Him even in the most difficult circumstances. We know we are not the only ones who love and serve God faithfully, so we 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 body of believers consisting of many diverse nationalities, races, cultures, personalities, ages, and talents.
The term “the body of Christ” comes from an analogy used by the apostle Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament.
The idea is that the church has different parts, just like a human body. And each part is essential for the body as a whole, even though it may not do the same thing as another part.
Despite the vast differences found in the body of Christ, all are equal in Him and bonded together by love. They all share a desire to spread the love of Jesus to those who don’t know Him, offering them a place among the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23, NKJV; Galatians 3:28, NKJV).
Seventh-day Adventists believe in baptism by immersion as a way for individuals to 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, NKJV; Acts 16:31–33, NKJV).
Baptism is an outward expression of our union with Christ, our acceptance of His forgiveness, and our new life in Him and His church (Romans 6:4, NKJV).
Like Baptists, we believe that only those old enough to make a conscious decision for Christ should be baptized, and not until then. We value informed freedom of choice, just as God did when He created humanity.
The Lord’s Supper
In obedience to Christ’s direct command, Seventh-day Adventists celebrate the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, in which the bread and the wine symbolize Christ’s body broken for us and His blood shed for us (Luke 22:19, 22, NKJV).
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, NKJV).
As with all works, these are expressions of faith rather than a means of gaining salvation.
Spiritual gifts and ministries
God gives spiritual gifts to every member of His church. These gifts include faith, healing, prophecy, teaching, administration, and charity. God intends these gifts to be used in selfless service for others in the church and in the world (1 Corinthians 12:4–11, NKJV).
Seventh-day Adventists believe that these gifts have continued in the church through the ages and continue to exist today.
We encourage everyone to serve with the gift the Holy Spirit has entrusted them with. No human should try to deny or suppress these gifts, whether in themselves or in someone else.
The gift of prophecy
Among the spiritual gifts is the gift of prophecy, which has special regard in the context of the end times. This reference is in the book of Revelation, which talks about “the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 12:17, NKJV; Revelation 19:10, NKJV).
Though many others can have this gift in many different situations, Seventh-day Adventists believe that this gift has been revealed in the life and ministry of Ellen G. White, who saw herself as a lesser light pointing to the greater light, the Bible.
Through her conscientious use of this gift, she was instrumental in forming the Adventist denomination. And she continues to be a blessing to the Church through her writings, which are sometimes referred to as “the Spirit of Prophecy” within the denomination.
The law of God
The Bible teaches that “sin is transgression [breaking] 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 reflection of His character of love (Romans 13:10, NKJV), is still the guideline for living a satisfying life (James 2:10–11, NKJV).
Obeying the law doesn’t arise out of an attempt to be saved. Instead, it’s the loving response to having already been saved by 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, known as the Ten Commandments, is educational because it teaches us how to regard God and how to treat others. It shows us the life that we were designed for so that we would thrive.
Jesus summed it up in the following words during His earthly ministry:
“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 highlighted in the fourth commandment (Exodus 20:8–11, NKJV).
The Sabbath, established by God in Eden before sin entered our world (Genesis 2:2–3, NKJV), serves as a weekly reminder that God is our Creator. And just as He rested from His works on the seventh day, He offers us that same privilege and blessing (Mark 2:27, NKJV).
As with the other nine commandments, Adventists don’t keep the Sabbath to be saved but as an expression of that salvation. They see it as a time of joy and freedom in which they can pause and connect more deeply with God and one another.
The biblical principle of stewardship is based on the idea of careful management or caretaking. It was introduced at Creation when God gave the first humans the job of caring for the earth.
This kind of Christian responsibility, rooted in love for God, acknowledges that He is the true creator, owner, and sustainer of everything. It encompasses how we care for our bodies, our time, our money, and much more.
The word “Christian” means “to be like Christ.” For this reason, Seventh-day Adventists seek to reflect His character of kindness, love, faithfulness, and self-sacrifice through the way we live our lives.
The life of a Christian is a journey in that direction, as we give Christ permission to work in us. The Bible gives us many principles to guide our lives, relationships, and decisions (Colossians 3:5–17, NKJV; Micah 6:8, NKJV; Galatians 5:13, NKJV; Galatians 5:16–17, NKJV; Galatians 5:22–26, NKJV; 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 created in Eden that still exists today (Genesis 2, NKJV).
For this reason, marriage and family are sacred gifts from God that need to be carefully nourished and cherished (Hebrews 13:4, NKJV).
Because of the sinful nature of humanity, all families fall short of God’s ideal in one way or another. But we seek God’s help to reveal His love, grace, and mercy in our 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 (Hebrews 8:1–2, NKJV).
Just as the earthly sanctuary—a model of the heavenly one—had two phases, Christ’s ministry in heaven also has two phases.
His first phase of ministry deals with the forgiveness of sin and is made possible by His death on the Cross. The second phase involves the judgment and the blotting out of the sins of those who have accepted Jesus’ forgiveness and power in their lives.
Christ’s ministry in the sanctuary is an important part of God’s process to eradicate sin once and for all.
The second coming of Christ
By our very name, Seventh-day Adventists show our belief in the Second Advent, or the second coming of Jesus, to this earth (Revelation 22:12, NKJV).
Unlike His first coming, Christ’s second coming will be a worldwide event. At that time, the dead in Christ will rise to eternal life and be taken from this planet to Heaven, while those that choose not to accept Christ will die along with Satan and his angels (Revelation 1:17, NKJV; 1 Thessalonians 1:17, NKJV).
Adventists believe that the Second Coming leads to the fulfillment of everything we hope for 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 to raise those who died believing in 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—people who decided not to follow Christ. This event will occur at another time, after a thousand years (Revelation 20:7, NKJV)—a period we’ll cover more thoroughly in the next section.
The millennium and the end of sin
The millennium is a thousand-year period after Christ returns to the Earth at the Second Coming and takes all His followers back to Heaven with Him.
During this time, God’s people will be able to see the justice and fairness of God in the way He judged the world. It will be a time of profound learning as we prepare for the New Earth. (Revelation 20:6, NKJV; 1 Corinthians 6:3, NKJV).
At the end of the millennium, those who chose sin and self over God will be raised from the dead (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
Seventh-day Adventists teach that after the millennium, God will re-create the earth and restore it to the Eden-like paradise that it was before the entrance of sin and evil (Isaiah 65:17, NKJV; Isaiah 66:22, NKJV).
There, all God’s people 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
Adventist beliefs are all rooted in Scripture. That’s the whole point!
To see more of this scriptural basis, you can read about each belief in detail by clicking on the linked pages in each section. These beliefs are also published on the official website of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
You may have noticed that many of the beliefs are similar to those of other denominations, except for five that are not quite as common in Christian circles. Even so, they are very biblical. They include our beliefs about the Sabbath, death, the heavenly sanctuary, the manner of Jesus’ second coming, and the foot washing aspect of Communion.
The ultimate purpose of these beliefs is to lead us to be Christ-centered, Bible-believing Christians who find their meaning and motivation in Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross.
Seventh-day Adventists desire our beliefs to impact every aspect of our lives. And by God’s grace alone, we seek to experience for ourselves and to share with others this promise from Jesus: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV).
For a deeper study of all these beliefs, sign up for our free online Bible studies below.
Didn’t find your answer? Ask us!
We understand your concern of having questions but not knowing who to ask—we’ve felt it ourselves. When you’re ready to learn more about Adventists, send us a question! We know a thing or two about Adventists.