Are you still here, too? Are you still a Seventh-day Adventist?
Why do we stay? Why, when childhood friends and family members have left long ago? Why, with endless doctrinal disputes and interpersonal conflicts? Why stay an SDA when hypocrisy abounds? Why stay with so little net growth in North America? Why stay with a “peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9) when ecumenism is so popular and culture often trumps conviction?
Authentic, committed Seventh-day Adventists must find solid answers for such difficult questions. If they do not, they will chase “greener grass” until eternity. As for me, I have grasped this message and movement tighter over the years. I do not ever plan to leave, God helping me. I am still a Seventh-day Adventist because...
…the SDA worldview is a perfect fit.
“The great controversy,” “the latter rain,” “the narrow way,” “the entering wedge,” “the Sunday law,” and many more Biblical concepts are irrefutable. They explain and predict world events and guide evangelism strategy with divine accuracy. What my grandparents believed by faith, I now believe by visual fact. Straight ahead I see the imminent “mark of the beast” and the “millennium.” I still have this hope! Now is the time to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Now is the time to “run to and fro” (Daniel 12:4) in your Bible. Truth has never been so plain. Read this and dare to disagree.
…Canright's story warns me to stay with this truth.
I have heard and read much about Dudley M. Canright, a leading SDA minister in our early history. I know he left vacillated for years in his commitment to this church and its message. He wavered in his relationship with James and Ellen White. Yet, he admitted on multiple occasions that he had erred in leaving, and that he was a lost man. I recently heard this eyewitness account by his former secretary, Carrie Johnson, who revealed additional, sobering information about this pitiful man who put himself under Satan's control.
…the “new light” isn't.
I could tell you stories...I have seen a steady stream of “new light” proponents since childhood. One former California pastor declared himself Jesus, but later went to prison for indiscretions with minors. One member sent out letters about his “visions.” Mom showed us his errors from the Spirit of Prophecy. Some “historic” members left us for holier associates. In Arkansas, I find 2520 is a testing truth for some. 1844 is questioned. We have feast-keepers and lunar Sabbath observers...and many more! I notice that “new light” tends to remove its adherents from “the old paths,” (Jeremiah 6:16), then from SDA church membership.
Yet “God’s truth is marching on….Glory Hallelujah!” As Gamaliel said, the work “of men” comes “to nought” (Acts 5:38); keep watching, it will. The Seventh-day Adventist church grows; these divisive movements prove to be old darkness, “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men,” (Matthew 15:9). My Bible tells me the last battles will be over God's holy Sabbath and Satan's counterfeit. Other doctrinal aberrations are not testing truths, but deceptive distractions. We are forewarned in Matthew 24, Paul's epistles, Daniel and Revelation.
…I need my feet washed.
The combination of unfermented, unleavened bread preceded by foot washing is rare outside the SDA Church. I need these practices to remind me of Jesus' humility shown in His life of service, his death, and his ongoing intercession for us in heaven. Footwashing has given me opportunities to reconcile with difficult people throughout my life, opportunities to humble myself and learn to serve willingly. Jesus' words, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them,” (John 13:17) are true for me. There is a precious joy that comes from participating in these sacred rites.
…I found the only Way.
Many roads lead to Rome, and many ways seem right but lead to death, (Proverbs 14:12). Seventh-day Adventists teach the Biblical way back to God. The Psalmist says, “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary” (Psalm 77:13). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me” (John 14:6. I want to follow the right way, the narrow way that leads to life (Matthew 7:14). The sanctuary message encapsulates the entire plan of redemption, far beyond the events surrounding the cross. It is uniquely taught by Seventh-day Adventists. I dare not lose this Way!
…I want to prosper.
2 Chronicles 20:20 says, “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper.” I am still in the SDA Church because it emphasizes the gift of prophecy, demonstrated in Scripture and in the life, ministry and writings of Ellen G. White. If you are tempted to question, discount, set aside, upgrade, update or otherwise disregard God's prophetic gift, you have been reading the wrong books! The more I read the Bible and Mrs. White's writings, the stronger this conviction grows. The more I heed the counsel given, the more I prosper in a godly life.
…I’m a bookworm.
I grew up with a houseful of SDA titles. I read and reread them all. The Seventh-day Adventist truth and life were so attractively portrayed that I never considered being anything but an SDA. When I finally read The Great Controversy in my twenties, I couldn't put it down. Each E.G. White book I read deepened my love for Jesus and led to my addiction to Bible study. A.W. Spalding's Captains of the Host and Christ's Last Legion reaffirmed God's unmistakable leading in every step of the SDA movement, from its earliest beginnings.
I have devoured countless books on Reformation history and Bible translation history. From every angle, the Seventh-day Adventist movement is the culmination of God's truth in these times, the last-day remnant portrayed in Revelation. I am running “to and fro” through Scripture on many topics, which all point me to this church.
I am not naive. I know the Adventist message gets bad press, too. I have read critical books and articles attempting to tweak or deride our Adventist message. I read far enough to see that they tend to quote uninspired authors to bolster their views. Some misquote or misuse inspired sources. Let the reader beware! Knights in shining humor and impressive prose may exalt scholarly or conventional human wisdom over inspired writings and publish truth mixed with error. This bookworm chews carefully before swallowing!
…I love to welcome prodigals!
“There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” Luke 15:10. There is also joy when they return to church fellowship. Our country church has several returned prodigals, and I’m blessed by their zeal. I want to hold the door open for many more for whom I am praying. Will you help me?
…My character isn't finished yet.
How would I know there was a beam in my eye if I didn't see so many motes in fellow church members? (Matthew 7:1-5). How would I see my selfish heart if I didn't rub the wrong way against others also in the sanctification process? When I am gossiped about, misunderstood, ignored or ill-treated, I know I need to stay in the church. Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them...” and so must I.
I read that “great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). Nothing? But that church member hurt my feelings...the board voted against my idea...that sermon was pointed right at me! Nothing! “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). I realized long ago that a good “squirmon,” helps me grow. Those with itching ears (2 Timothy 4:1-4) may exit left or right. I will stay put.
Seventh-day Adventists believe “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing but that it should be holy and without blemish,” (Ephesians 5:25-27, emphasis mine). Godly leaders labor as did the apostles, to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28), praying that we may “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” Colossians 4:12). Our omnipotent God is able to finish the process (Philippians 1:6), as shown clearly in the sanctuary service. In contrast to false religions, SDAs believe we can't earn our way to heaven, but we must be perfect to enter. Only Christ can sanctify me wholly and preserve me blameless till He comes; He will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24)!
…I need the health benefits.
When I was little I thought carob tasted funny, charcoal was messy, my allergies were normal, being chubby was okay, and so on. Then I studied and worked in our lifestyle centers. I was immersed in our distinctive SDA health message. I saw the benefits immediately and embraced God's health principles wholeheartedly. I made friends with carob. Charcoal healed my spider bite. My allergies disappeared, and I lost weight easily! Hydrotherapy treatments built my immune system. As a bookworm, I devoured The Story of Our Health Message. I joined the Adventist Health Study 2. I benefit from SDA health professionals' continual research, writing and speaking. I have no other medical insurance at this time than that promised in Exodus 15:26. I take no medications. I am healthy and blessed.
…I found an outlet for my contrary nature in Testimonies for the Church, Volume 5.
When so many are fighting against God's truth and His remnant church, and would weaken our message to the world, I gather courage to swim against this tide. I reread “Laborers for God” and use my stubbornness in God's cause. I read on pages 136-137:
“Now is the time for God's people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason....The test will surely come....Which side will you be on?”
Truly, “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
So...I am still a Seventh-day Adventist because I have seen great light and would not exchange it for darkness. I am still an SDA because I believe our people live a better, more fulfilling life. I am still an SDA because every time I review our doctrines, my faith is strengthened. I am here because I read the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual and am informed, blessed and guided by its wise counsel. Review for yourself; go to adventbeliefs.com if you like. Then tell me your reasons. Why are you still an SDA?
Holly Joers is a lifelong SDA who was raised in Southern California and now is blessed to live in rural Arkansas with her husband Skip and son Elijah. She is a church pianist and is addicted to Bible study, gardening and bargain-hunting, among other things.