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Dear Adventist Family and Friends,

 

Can Jesus return at any time?

 

My discussions with you, and my understanding of the Adventist end-time scenario, lead me to conclude that Jesus cannot return at any time, according to SDA eschatology. Why? Adventists believe that there must first be an international Sunday law (mandating worship on Sunday), that the judgments of Revelation must fall, and that the Adventist message must go to all the world before Christ can return. Therefore, according to Adventists, Jesus’ return can’t possibly be imminent because of the time it would take to accomplish the events that supposedly precede His appearing.

 

But what if you’re wrong? What if Ellen White’s end-time predictions aren’t any more precise than her prophetic record up to this point?

 

What if there is a fixed day and hour for the return of Christ? What if there is to be no “delay” due to the failure of Adventists to spread the three angels’ messages? “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37).

 

Could many Adventists, whose very name should denote eagerness for the return of Christ, possibly be found among the foolish virgins of Christ’s parable—all because they are looking for a Sunday law instead of a soon-returning Bridegroom?

 

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (I Pe. 4:7).

 

“Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mk. 13:33).

 

“Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching…. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not” (Lk. 12:37a & 40).

 

Love,

 

Joe

August 23, 2015

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Dear Adventist Friends and Family,

 

Some of you become upset if I am not able to affirm that I believe you are saved. I don’t know if you are saved, and that’s the best I can say when pressed on this issue.

 

In bringing up this point, I don’t want to be accused of judging. Believers are not to judge regarding other people’s salvation, but we still need to embrace those who are part of the family of faith while recognizing situations in which someone may still need our witness…. Spirit-led discernment is not judgmentalism. So, when I lovingly tell you that I don’t know if you are saved, I am trying to be discerning without engaging in the judgmental spirit that Jesus warned against.

 

Your unhappiness at my uncertainty regarding your salvation strikes me as ironic – for two reasons. First, if you were able to ask Ellen White if she thought you were saved, she would certainly tell you exactly what I have said: that she doesn’t know. Then, she would add that one should never consider  himself or herself saved, and I haven’t said THAT to you.

 

The second irony regarding the question of salvation is that you probably do not consider me—a former Adventist—a saved person. After leaving the Adventist Church, I placed my full trust in Jesus Christ for my salvation. I believe I am saved by grace through faith alone, and I praise Jesus for His sacrifice on Calvary. I rest in Him.

 

Is a simple faith in Jesus as my Savior enough for me to be saved, or do I need to return to the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, which is considered by Adventists to be the Seal of God? (Please see Eph. 1:13 for the biblical teaching regarding the Seal of God). If you believe that I need the seventh-day Sabbath along with Jesus Christ in order to be saved, then I must be lost if I hold to Christ alone without returning to your version of the Sabbath….

 

If you believe that I need the seventh-day Sabbath in order to be saved, and I believe I need only Jesus, then you and I have a different gospel. Isn’t that why we are concerned about one another’s salvation?

 

Let me offer all Adventists a deal: IF you can affirm that I can be saved in Christ alone, regardless of whether I return to the Adventist faith or not, AND if you can affirm that you rest in Christ alone for your salvation, completely apart from the seventh-day Sabbath and all other works of the law, THEN I will affirm my belief that you are a brother or sister in Christ—saved by God’s grace.

 

May Christ’s blessing rest upon you, and may you ever rest in Him!

 

Joe Rector, August 16, 2015

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Ellen G. White and the Apocrypha

 

In 1850, Ellen G. White wrote, “I saw that the Apocrypha was the hidden book, and that the wise of these last days should understand it” (16 MR 34). Mrs. White’s statement is quite clear in its recommendation of the Apocrypha as an important source of instruction for God’s end-time people. She claims to have directly received this information from her vision, given that she prefaces her comment with the words, “I saw.”

 

It appears that the early Adventists were using the Apocrypha as an authoritative source of truth, along with the Bible and the visions of Ellen White. For instance, in an 1847 pamphlet entitled A Word to the “Little Flock,” James White inserted references from the Apocrypha along with scriptural texts in Ellen White’s account of an early vision (this vision is now found in edited form in Early Writings). Why would James White cite the Apocrypha alongside scripture? Could it be that James, with the concurrence of his wife, valued the Apocrypha as a source of truth that could be called upon to validate or further explain Mrs. White’s teachings?

 

Mrs. White never again mentioned the Apocrypha in her writings (see 15 MR 65-67).

 

So, what are we to conclude? We know that James and Ellen White were using the Apocrypha as a source of prophetic truth for at least the first five years of Ellen White’s prophetic ministry. We know that Ellen White claimed to have a vision from God that endorsed the Apocrypha as a source of “hidden” truth that the followers of God should embrace. And then the Apocrypha disappears from Ellen White’s writings.

 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, in harmony with Protestantism, does not consider the Apocrypha an authoritative revelation of God’s will. The Apocrypha could explain aspects of Jewish history and culture, but it is not an inspired spiritual authority for the Christian.

 

Clearly, Mrs. White’s 1850 vision endorsing the Apocrypha creates a dilemma for Adventist believers. If this vision is a revelation from God, then the Adventist Church should  follow the teaching contained in the vision. If the vision is of God, then the Apocrypha is the “hidden book” for these last days. But if Adventists continue to maintain that the Apocrypha is not inspired, then the logical conclusion is that the 1850 vision endorsing the Apocrypha did not come from God. And if a prophet prophecies falsely, the prophet must be rejected. 

 

Joe Rector, June 27, 2015

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The Peril of the Progressive Adventist Gospel

 

Sabbatismos has recently been asked why we don’t particularly rejoice when progressive SDA pastors ignore the perfectionistic comments of Ellen White and present a grace-based gospel.  The answer to this question boils down to the process by which the gospel is being introduced by progressive SDAs. 

 

It is hard to overlook the fact that Ellen White teaches a gospel focusing on works of the law.  For Ellen White, faith is a means of producing good works rather than a means of obtaining the imputation of Christ’s righteousness apart from works.  Because of the need to ignore many works-based quotes, progressive SDAs contend that EGW grew and changed in her understanding of her visions.  They hold that God merely gave her thoughts, and that she struggled to understand those thoughts even as she was writing her messages.  Therefore, even an “I saw” EGW comment could be incorrect if she misunderstood what she “saw.” 

 

The theory of thought inspiration, combined with a low view of the prophetess’s ability to comprehend God’s message, enables progressives to ignore large portions of her writings.  By quoting selectively, liberal SDAs can turn Ellen White from a legalistic perfectionist into a little lady who merely loved to talk about the grace of Jesus.  Now, we are not saying that Ellen White didn’t love Jesus, but thousands of quotes could be produced to show that she did not have a Protestant understanding of salvation by faith through God’s grace.

 

Because they refuse to admit that Ellen White was clearly a false prophet, progressives contend that EGW’s frequent confusion regarding her prophetic messages must correspond to the experience of the Bible prophets, meaning that the Bible writers could have misunderstood various portions of God’s revelation to them.  So, to save Ellen White, the authority of the Bible must be thrown overboard.

 

The idea that inspired prophetic utterances can contain a variety of errors—even theological errors—leads to great confusion within Adventism.  We would like to emphasize three of the many problems emanating from the doctrine of thought inspiration:

1) Does anyone know what the real Adventist gospel is?  What consistent message does Adventism have for the world regarding the most important question:  How we are saved?

2) If inspiration is inexact, with prophets teaching a range of ideas, then how would we even know that Paul's view of the gospel is correct?  If prophets can be wrong when they speak/write prophetically, then doesn't that require believers to judge scripture rather than humbly submitting to the authority of inspiration?  Doesn’t the doctrine of thought inspiration make spirituality human-centered rather than God-centered?

3) Finally, the SDA Church's failure to acknowledge and identify Ellen White's gospel mistakes leaves many SDAs highly confused regarding their own beliefs about how people are saved. 


Many former SDAs are uncomfortable with grace-based SDA gospel presentations because SDA progressives take such a flexible view of inspiration in order to get around the legalism of Ellen White.   But once inspiration is downgraded to the level of spiritual insight, what will happen to certainty in the Christian faith?  The problem with “evangelical” Adventists is that they have to minimize the authority of scripture in order to reclaim the gospel from Ellen White’s legalism.  They trade short-term gain (the gospel) for long-term confusion, essentially throwing out the only authority by which we can obtain the true gospel.  Unmoored from scriptural authority, many Adventists will fall for postmodern, human-centered “gospels.”  All in a vain attempt to save Ellen White from her prophetic errors . . . .

 

We believe in verbal-plenary inspiration because it allows the Bible writers to speak in their own voices while still maintaining that God miraculously guided the entire process to preserve the authority of His word.

Adventism was built upon the sinking sand of Ellen White's gospel confusion.  No matter how many gospel features are built upon the sand, the effort will be futile because the foundation is false. 

 

Joe Rector, July 22, 2011

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Note:  The SDA Church explains, "We do not believe that the quality or degree of inspiration in the writings of Ellen White is different from that of Scripture."   Source:  http://www.whiteestate.org/issues/scripsda.html 

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The Responsibility of Knowledge


Many Adventists, including a large number of Adventist leaders, reject a variety of vital SDA doctrines.  They love the culture of Sabbath rest, potlucks, summer camps, campmeetings, Pathfinders, and vegetarianism.  They find great comfort in certain doctrines such as the state of the dead and the annihilation of the wicked.  They may derive great satisfaction from their involvement with the local church, treating Adventism as a huge part of their personal identity.  At the same time, many of these cultural Adventists blithely ignore certain inconvenient teachings of Ellen White.  (They say, “I base my beliefs on the Bible alone, not on Ellen White.”)  But whenever they need to win an argument at a church board meeting, they amass a small compilation of EGW quotes to trump their less-prepared adversaries.

 

They understand that there are certain issues or problems with the writings of Ellen White, but they contend that she wrote a lot of good things, too.  Some of these Adventists have thoroughly researched the inspiration of Ellen White and have concluded that there is absolutely nothing to fear from violating the commands of Ellen White because she was not a prophet.  But they love their faith community and most of its beliefs, so they remain, hoping to bring change from within by quietly ignoring her teachings. 

 

But what does God think of those who would subvert the beliefs of the Adventist Church while tacitly supporting Adventist doctrine?  Will God judge these people kindly because they have rejected the legalism of Ellen White and tried to rephrase the SDA gospel in evangelical terms?  Are they any better than those fundamentalist Adventists who insist that Ellen White’s teachings are always correct?  The Bible says, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression . . . .” (Is. 58:1).

 

Friends, truth is truth.  Error is error.  Matthew 7:15 exhorts us not to follow false prophets:  “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”  A wolf will never lead the sheep to the Shepherd.  Never.  So, will God exonerate the liberal Adventist who knows that Ellen White can be ignored with impunity—but who keeps this knowledge quiet?  Let’s put it another way.  Who will be most accountable before God?  The person who follows the false prophet in ignorance, or the person who goes through the motions while quietly rejecting the troublesome visions?  Those who refuse to “cry aloud” now may find themselves crying when it is too late.

 

“The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:46-48).

 

Joe Rector, June 15, 2011

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Enjoying Our Sabbath Rest

(written by Pastor Matt Peterson of Awake Church, shared by permission)

 

Under the Old Covenant, written on tablets of stone for Moses and the twelve tribes was the commandment Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex 20:8).  Just as with everything the Father does and says, the intent behind this was to help us; in this case, giving us a refreshing pause from continual effort.  Observing the Sabbath was also a sign of God’s covenant with His people.  Slaves, servants, sons and daughters all got to participate in a day of rest from their labors, and while they rested, it demonstrated that they were God’s people.  

 

Around 1,400 years later as Jesus Himself walked the earth, on Sabbath days He was often found sharing the good news of the kingdom, performing miracles, healing many, providing rest and freedom from torment, while the Pharisees looked on in utter disgust.  The Pharisees missed the motive behind the gift of the Sabbath and had turned a restful day into a heavy burden, demanding compliance separate from mercy, viewing Jesus as a violator of the law.

 

Undeterred, Jesus shed light on an even greater “Sabbath rest” than the 24-hour time period that the Law had provided.  He said that He Himself was the Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5), and invited everyone to Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).  Later, when He said It is finished” while hanging on a cross, Jesus had just completed all of the work that would ever be required to satisfy the Old Covenant, while simultaneously providing us a brand new covenant.  The Old Covenant had been written on stone for the 12 tribes, and the New Covenant was written in blood by the Stone that the builders rejected for every tribe.  This beautiful New Covenant doesn’t require a single day of the week to show that we are God’s people or to remember Him, instead we have the person of Jesus to perpetually rest in and remember 7 days a week, 365 days a year from here throughout eternity. 

 

Jesus gave the Sabbath a significant upgrade.  Each moment of the day is a celebration of rest waiting to happen, whenever we remember and consider the sensory overloading love and lavish kindness that Jesus has for us.  Instead of sacrificing lambs for our sin, He became the one sacrifice for all time.  Instead of me trying to please God through keeping laws and days and dietary rules, He brought me into His family and I am now a son, purchased and adopted.

 

Our Sabbath is a Holy Person to be enjoyed moment by moment.  Resting in, abiding in, and believing in Him demonstrates that we are His people forever. 

 

This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”  John 6:29



Pastor Matt Peterson, May 28, 2011, AwakeWS.org

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Creeping Compromise

 

For the past several years, an Adventist man named Ernie Knoll has supposedly received many dreams from God. Since these visions lauded the Spirit of Prophecy (Ellen G. White’s writings) and conservative Adventist values, many SDAs agreed that the dreams were most likely from God, as Mr. Knoll claimed.  After hearing about this from an Adventist friend in December of 2007, I became very interested, so I looked up his Website, which at that time was 4hispeople.  Joe and I read through many of his dreams, and the interesting thing was that God’s favorite book seemed to be Creeping Compromise by Joe Crews, founder of Amazing Facts!  As we recall, one of the most interesting dreams featured Knoll’s angel taking him into an Adventist Book Center and sweeping all the materials off the shelves, except for the Ellen White writings and the King James Version of the Bible.  The angels then filled the remaining shelves with Creeping Compromise, elevating it to a level of divine approval heretofore reserved for the Spirit of Prophecy and the KJV.

 

On his Website, Mr. Knoll also shared an e-mail he had received from a prostitute-turned-Adventist by the name of Candace.  She shared a story of miraculous intervention by God that led her to accept Mr. Knoll’s dreams as being from God and led her out of her life of sin.  In the meantime, Knoll continued to receive and write out his dreams and even launched a ministry where he traveled to SDA Churches to share his dreams in person.  At one point, he even shared how Satan’s angels had tried to strangle him in order to stop his heaven-sent dreams from going out to God’s people.  After the initial fascination, I did not return to the 4hispeople websiteuntil today.  Apparently, about a year ago, the web of lies unraveled and Mr. Knoll was finally forced to admit that he had made up “Candace.”  He initially suggested that “Candace” could have been an evil spirit sent to deceive him, but then it was discovered that her e-mails traced back to Ernie himself.  Ernie finally confessed that “Candace was a hoax” fabricated to validate his revelations, and he also conceded that his dreams were not of God.  His ministry board apologized and requested that his published book of dreams be thrown away because it contains “mind control elements.” 

 

Sadly, in Ernie Knoll’s apology for making all of this up, he states, “On a positive note, we are glad that the Creeping Compromise book has gone out to many people.”  One wonders if in his mind the end really justifies the means.  For all his promotion of Joe Crew’s legalistic work denouncing everything from “mixed swimming” to meat-eating, cosmetics, jewelry, and virtually all forms of music, Mr. Knoll seems to have truly compromised.  Is lying and deceiving thousands of people really okay as long as you are getting them to read a book you believe to contain truth?  Mr. Knoll did not engage in a merely creeping compromise but rather in a deeply disturbing compromise.  His allegiance to legalistic dogma pushed him to falsely promote those beliefs in the name of Jesus Christ. 

 

Despite the fact that many well-meaning SDAs charge former-SDA Christians with antinomianism, we focus on being sealed with and led by the Holy Spirit rather than looking to the letters of stone for assurance of salvation.  Seeking to obey the Ten Commandments as a means of sanctification will always lead to failure—in this case, the 9th commandment was violated, but that isn’t the real issue.  The real issue is that conservative Adventists seeking to be sanctified by law-keeping will perpetually fail to attain righteousness (Rom. 10:1-4).  They are under a curse because the law cannot be kept (Gal. 3:10).  We pray that Mr. Knoll will listen to the Holy Spirit, renounce his dependence upon law, and accept the forgiveness that is only found by receiving Christ’s gift of sanctification (I Cor. 6:11).

 

Click here to read a series of short letters of apology/explanation from Ernie Knoll and his ministry’s board of directors.

 

Ernie's new Website features "An appeal to all Seventh-day Adventists" on the homepage.  We recommend that all read this because it illustrates the spiritual agony many EGW-reading SDAs face on a daily basis. In one of her most famous works, The Great Controversy, Mrs. White teaches that the remnant must achieve sinless perfection of character before Jesus can return.  Furthermore, at that time Jesus will cease to intercede for them and they must stand faultless before God to show the universe that God's law can, indeed, be kept by fallen man.

 

Jennifer & Joe Rector, July 6, 2010

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A Remnant of Law or a Remnant of Grace?

 

We congratulate Remnant Publications for its audio recording of all nine volumes of Ellen White’s Testimonies.  The product is entitled The Testimonies for God’s Last-Day People, and it features the voices of many well-known Adventists such as C. D. Brooks, Lonnie Melashenko, Doug Batchelor, and Shawn Boonstra in a readers' theater format. 

 

The series advertisement asks, “Does God have a messenger for His people now? Who can His people turn to when fearful events transpire in the world?”  The answer they promote is clearly Ellen White. 

 

 

Sabbatismos encourages all Adventist believers in Ellen White to obtain the Testimonies and seek to obey themALL of them.  Most Adventists are utterly unfamiliar with the requirements for salvation as outlined in the Testimonies.  While we believe that the Testimonies are a heretical addition to scripture, we respect Adventists who seek to fully follow the teachings of Ellen White.  And when Adventists get tired of trying and failing day after day, we pray that they will fall on the Rock in total brokenness, give up their struggle, and accept the Sabbath rest (sabbatismos) already accomplished on their behalf. 

 

“So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day" (Rom. 11:5-8, NIV).

 

Joe Rector, June 22, 2010

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At the Right Hand of God

(written by Ane Edwards, friend of Sabbatismos)

 

There are so many aspects of the Investigative Judgment that contradict Scripture, for example:

 

Here is what we are told in Hebrews about Christ’s ascension into heaven:

 

"Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away the sins.  But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God" —Hebrews 10:11-12.

 

Note the contrast between a standing priest and a sitting priest in that passage.  The Levitical priest always stood because his work was never finished.  But Christ, our High Priest, sat down at the right Hand of God.  Why?  Because His work was finished! 

 

Why would He need to get up again and deal with sin, when it had already been dealt with at the cross?

 

 

Ane Edwards, June 13, 2010

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Sabbath Rest or Fire Drill?

 

An Adventist recently asked me to listen to a sermon by Pastor Ivor Myers entitled “The Oil Crisis Part 3: God’s Fire Drill.”  In this sermon, Myers, a popular conservative Adventist speaker, attempts to define the sabbatismos, or Sabbath rest, of Hebrews 4:9 as a perfect rest of obedience prefiguring a believer’s heavenly rest.  Therefore, entering God’s sabbatismos requires believers to achieve heavenly perfection prior to the second coming because, as Ellen White teaches, character is the only thing one takes to heaven.  Below is an excerpt from a partial transcript of Pastor Myers’ sermon:

 

“Did you know that the Sabbath is heaven’s fire drill? . . . .  [E]very week, every Sabbath day we spend, it is a miniature prophetic scenario!!!


“Every seventh day that God has created allows us to see what it is like to prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ. . . .  Many of us are waiting until we see the sun set before we say it is time to get ready. Just like we do it for Sabbath, we will find that we are not ready when Jesus comes. . . .

“Not only [does] Sabbath show whether we are ready to enter into his rest, it shows what our disposition would be in his rest [heaven]. 

 

“There is a parable in Mathew 22:11 that talks about this man that was invited into a wedding feast of God. But when he came in, he was not properly dressed. In order to enter the sabbatismos of God, we must be properly dressed. We and our character must represent a character fit for heaven.


“What do we really do and think during the very Sabbath hours? What we are thinking on the Sabbath hours is what we would be thinking in heaven!!! If we were in heaven and if were to think those thoughts, the instant we thought them, we would be disintegrated.”

 

Throughout his 61-minute sermon, Pastor Myers never mentions the robe of Christ’s righteousness that makes believers perfect before God.  Somehow, the idea of instant disintegration for a wrong thought doesn’t sound very restful.  Thank God we have the covering of Christ’s righteousness guaranteed for eternity!

In this sermon, Pastor Myers is addressing an Adventist youth conference, but he never shares the true gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ; instead, he claims that the rest of Hebrews 4 is only achieved by resting in Christ so perfectly that believers completely cease to sin. They only enter the rest if they become perfect, developing a character “fit for heaven” while still on earth.  It seems that for Pastor Myers, the “good news” of the gospel is that God graciously gives us a weekly “fire drill” to check our readiness for heaven.  If we can pass the “fire drills” and thus obtain the seal of God, we will never have to be incinerated for thinking a wrong thought in heaven.

 

The real sabbatismos of Hebrews 4:9 speaks of our security in Christ when we are resting in His completed work on our behalf.  The ancient Hebrews did not enter that rest “because of their unbelief” (Heb. 3:19, NIV). By his apparent rejection of the free gift of salvation through faith, Pastor Myers is teaching a false gospel.  His promotion of character perfection through works of the law places him in the same camp as the Israelites who kept the Sabbath and the sacrifices but didn’t trust the coming Lamb to bear their sins and impute righteousness apart from works of the law (Rom. 4:1-8). 

 

Jesus has secured the salvation of those who trust in Him; our faith in His sacrifice is what makes us perfect before God, not actual character perfection this side of heaven. The only way for us to “be perfect . . . as your heavenly Father is perfect” is by putting on the robe of Christ’s righteousness (Matt. 5:48).  That’s the point Pastor Myers has missed in his interpretation of the wedding parable of Matthew 22.  I urge Pastor Myers and those who listen to him to consider the following Bible verses, which are a mere handful of what could be quoted:

 

“The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God” (Heb. 7:18-19).

 

“By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear” (Heb. 8:13).

 

“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves” (Heb. 10:1).

 

“He sets aside the first [covenant] to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:9b-10).

 

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son” (John 3:16-18).

 

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

 

God’s true sabbatismos is no fear-inducing, perfection-producing fire drill—it is a state of perfect peace wherein believers rest daily in His saving grace.

 

Jennifer Rector, June 16, 2010

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3ABN's “Pillars of Our Faith”

 

We would like to comment on a number of YouTube videos from the Three Angels’ Broadcasting Network (3ABN) 25-year celebration called “Pillars of Our Faith,” held at the Battle Creek Tabernacle (Nov 5. 2009).  Many of the songs highlight the distinctive doctrines of Adventism.


“I Have Fixed My Mind on Another Time” - http://www.youtube.com/user/garyzw#p/u/8/MQBkBIvKK2A

 

A week after the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844, William Miller wrote, “Brethren hold fast; let no man take your crown.  I have fixed my mind on another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light, and that is to-day, to-day, and to-day, until he comes” (Sylvester Bliss, Memoirs of William Miller, 278).  “I Have Fixed My Mind on Another Time” was written to commemorate the roots of Adventism in the Millerite Movement.  Unfortunately, the early Seventh-day Adventists didn’t take Miller’s advice.  For several years, they continued setting dates for Christ’s return.


“The Language of Canaan” - http://www.youtube.com/user/garyzw#p/u/7/2m4EYmMjMc8

 

Trying to describe one of her early visions, Ellen White wistfully exclaimed, “Oh, that I could talk in the language of Canaan, then I could tell a little of the glory of the better world” (1T 69-70).  The middle of this song, celebrating Ellen White’s ministry, features a dramatic monologue from the vision of the heavenly Canaan.


“Take Time To Be Holy/Be Thou My Vision” - http://www.youtube.com/user/garyzw#p/u/15/JCSsjafrhnY

 

This song celebrates the Adventist understanding of sanctification, which can only be achieved through a lifelong effort to trust perfectly in the power of Christ to perfect the believer.  As Ellen White stated, “The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity.  The honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people” (DA 671).  She also taught, By faith in Christ and obedience to the law of God we may be sanctified, and thus obtain fitness for the society of holy angels and the white-robed redeemed ones in the kingdom of glory” (SL 83).


“Written in Stone” - http://www.youtube.com/user/garyzw#p/u/12/nRLrR0DPpes

 

The lyrics of this song show how Adventists emphasize the eternal role of law—it is “forever sure.”  The chorus promises the impossible: “I will follow His commandments / I’ll abide in Him alone / For His law is my delight / It’s written down in stone.”  According to the Bible, it is impossible to be spiritually married to both the law and Jesus Christ: 

 

“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom. 7:1-4).

 

For Adventists, the law is still written in stone because they do not understand that the new covenant made the ten commandments “obsolete” (Heb. 8:13, NIV).  According to Exodus 34:28, the ten commandments are literally the words of the old covenant, so the ten commandments are actually and literally obsolete.  But for Adventists, the law remains in stone, negating life in the spirit (II Cor. 3:6).


“The Sabbath” - http://www.youtube.com/user/garyzw#p/u/6/63coB0Qg6wM

 

“Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy / Honor the day / That our Lord commands us to cease our toiling / And we obey.” 

 

It’s ironic that this song emphasizes honoring the day.  When I was an Adventist, I basically worshipped the Sabbath rather than knowing the Lord of the Sabbath.  To its credit, the song goes on to emphasize the importance of knowing God, but how does Sabbath-keeping accomplish the relationship envisioned by the songwriter?  According to scripture, the old covenant law (the ten commandments) represents bondage, so the law must be cast out.  The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from the law that brings sin and death:

 

“Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. . . .  Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? ‘Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son.’ Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman” (Gal. 4:21-31, NIV).

 

If the law from Mount Sinai brings slavery, how can the Sabbath ever lead to the relationship that God offers in the power of the Spirit?

 

“The Sanctuary” - http://www.youtube.com/user/garyzw#p/u/10/RiWsWYmB0-s

 

Lyrics to “The Sanctuary” include, “Investigating, He clears the record / Of those redeemed by His own blood / He’s blotting out my sin / In the sanctuary.”  It sounds so comforting until one reviews the teachings of Ellen White regarding the Investigative Judgment….

 

The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement . . . .  Then by virtue of the atoning blood of Christ, the sins of all the truly penitent will be blotted from the books of heaven. Thus the sanctuary will be freed, or cleansed, from the record of sin” (PP 357-58). 


"All who have ever taken upon themselves the name of Christ must pass its searching scrutiny. Both the living and the dead are to be judged ‘out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.’ Sins that have not been repented of and forsaken will not be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but will stand to witness against the sinner in the day of God” (GC 486).

 

“Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (GC 490).

 

In light of the teachings of Ellen White, it might be overly optimistic to state, “He’s blotting out my sin / In the sanctuary.”  The bad news is that the Investigative Judgment evaluates the works of believers (GC 486) to determine if these believers have forsaken every sin, leaving them without spot or wrinkle.  In contrast to Ellen White’s picture of Christ continually ministering His atoning blood, the Bible states,

 

“[W]e have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb. 10:10-14, NIV).

 

“Marvel Not” - http://www.youtube.com/user/garyzw#p/u/14/a0ruZK1WUH8

 

“Marvel Not” is about the SDA doctrine of soul sleep, which is part of the reason Adventists don't really understand life in the Spirit.


Jay Gallimore’s Homily - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3bJ_Me3tis&feature=related

 

In addition to the music, Jay Gallimore’s presentation was quite saddening but predictable.  Gallimore, president of the Michigan Conference of SDAs, is one of the leading conservatives in Adventism, and we commend him for his fidelity to the original doctrines of the church (so many Adventists deny or soften the fundamental SDA teachings).  He stated that the Investigative Judgment is the “greatest rediscovery of truth that the Seventh-day Adventists have given to the world.”  He concluded by saying, “The real issue and the message that the Seventh-day Adventist Church wants to send and appeal to you is: What will you do with the Heavenly High Priest, our Savior, who stands before the Ark of the Covenant and the law of God?  Jesus is coming soon.”  For Adventists, the law of God is central to salvation, and central to the message they intend to bring to the world.

 

“The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill” (GC 488).

 

Is this really the “good news” Adventists have for the world?  The Bible has much better news:

 

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:4-13).

 

Joe Rector, June 4, 2010

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New Bible for SDA "Remnant"

Yesterday I learned that Thomas Nelson has published The Remnant Study Bible with E. G. White Comments in collaboration with Remnant Publications.  It comes in a variety of styles and features all the bells and whistles one would expect in a top-of-the-line study Bible.  As the title indicates, the words of prophetess Ellen G. Whitewho is for the Seventh-day Adventist church “a continuing and authoritative source of truth”appear on the page beside the biblical text of the New King James Version.  A chain graphic system identifies proof texts for key SDA doctrines.  Now anyone will be equipped to lead non-Adventist Christians into the “Sabbath truth” and even the difficult-to-explain doctrine of the Investigative Judgment.  This special Bible also features prophetic maps and color pictures representing the sanctuary and 2300-day prophecy of Daniel 8.  According the Mrs. White, understanding this doctrine is “the foundation of our faith.”  Maybe with this new Bible, the average SDA will finally be able to understand this vitally important belief!  Click on the link to watch an informative 3-minute commercial for The Remnant Study Bible. http://theremnantstudybible.com/  (Special thanks to Teresa Beem for reporting the release of this Bible on her blog).

Jennifer Rector, May 24, 2010

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Father Law

 

In the Michigan Memo of May 10, 2010, Jay Gallimore, president of the Michigan Conference of SDAs, has written a piece entitled "Father Law and Mother Gospel."

Gallimore claims that the two title entities are married to form the plan of salvation.  He goes on to assert, "Without [Father Law's] commandments life could not exist!"

For Adventists, the Sabbath is the seal of Godthey keep it as a sign of their loyalty to God and membership in the remnant.  As such, it is a modern spiritual counterpart to the rite of circumcision which signified membership in the (old) covenant community.

Could Paul's teaching on circumcision and law apply to the Sabbath?

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace" (Gal. 5:1-4).

"But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law" (Gal. 5:18).


You see, we cannot have both Mother Gospel and Father Lawwe must choose whom we will serve.  Paul's point is that once a person sets out to keep the law, he or she is beginning an impossible journey.  It can only end in the spiritual death of the failed legalist, who has made Christ of no effect.  We must literally choose between law and Christ.  If Adventists want to be under any part of the law (e.g. Sabbath), they must keep it allperfectly.

"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse:  for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith . . . ." (Gal. 3:10-12).

Father Law was nailed to the cross of Christ because under Father Law's strict commandments, eternal life could not exist.

 

Joe Rector, May 15, 2010

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What Is Adventism All About?

 

The following was written by Van G. Hurst, president of the Indiana Conference of SDAs:

"[Young people] must learn, through association with us, the relationship with Jesus that is treasured within the five 'S's of Adventism:  Sabbath, second coming, state of the dead, sanctuary and the spirit of prophecy.  Yes, friends, Adventism is ultimately not about doctrine.  It is about people . . . ." (Van G. Hurst, "We Can't Revitalize Churches Without Rescuing Our Youth," Conference Connection, vol. 19 no. 2, p. 2).

My heart cries out to God for Adventists, including Elder Hurst, whom I do not know.  I know that so many Adventists are so sincere, but I must ask, do the 5 "S"s really lead to a relationship with Jesus?  And what is Adventism all aboutthe 5 "S"s, or people?

"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Cor. 2:2).

 

Joe Rector, May 15, 2010

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The New Birth
 
Kenny Chesney’s song “Baptism” contains the following lyrics:

“And it was down with the old man, up with the new
Raised to walk in the way of light and truth
I didn't see no angels, just a few saints on the shore
But I felt like a new born baby, cradled up in the arms of the Lord.”

When I left the SDA Church, I requested rebaptism as a symbol of my new-found walk with Jesus.  I literally emerged from the water a new man in Christ—a man dedicated to truth over convenience, reputation, and tradition.  I thank God for the wonderful saints standing around the baptismal tank—my new family in the body of Christ!  I will never leave the arms of my precious Savior!

Shortly after my baptism, I was visiting Lincoln Berean Church in Lincoln, NE, and Pastor Bryan Clark mentioned that the new birth symbolism is a powerful indication of the assurance we have as believers in Christ—after all, we cannot be unborn once we are spiritually born again.  When a person makes a genuine faith-response to the love of Christ, he or she passes from death to life (John 5:24) and is seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6).  Just as we cannot be unborn physically, we cannot be unborn spiritually.  A saved person will never go back to the “old man” of sin.

We recommend Pastor Clark’s sermons.

 

Joe Rector, May 15, 2010

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Hell
 
The subject of hell is difficult for me because I cherished the SDA understanding of annihilation (I actually called annihilation the greatest doctrine of Adventism). I couldn’t imagine loving a God who would torture people in endless flames of wrath.

Since leaving Adventism, I’ve been on an interesting journey with respect to the fate of the wicked. I was singing “You Are God Alone” during church, and I suddenly realized that God is God—I am nothing, and I must submit to His sovereignty. That doesn’t mean I understand the mystery of God’s wrath and His dealings with unrepentant sinners, but I trust Him completely, and I firmly believe that when we get to heaven, we wouldn’t change a thing about hell. God is God, and His ways are perfect; that means that hell is perfect.

I have two speculations about hell that I would like to share. If you disagree, that’s okay, but I just want to explore two possibilities. First, is it possible that even lost sinners in hell get what they prefer? Might they actually prefer hell over heaven?

My second speculation is that the fire of hell may actually be an attribute of God’s character—after all, “God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). If so, hellfire is not designed as torture. The lost are simply tormented with the presence of God (which pervades the universe). Thus, the presence of God may sustain the righteous and torment the wicked at the same time. What if God’s justice is another aspect of His mercy—an aspect which we can’t fully understand?

These are just thoughts, and they may be completely incorrect, except for the essential fact that God’s ways are perfect. We need not understand now; we only need to trust.

 

Joe Rector, May 15, 2010

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Law or Christ?

 

Many moderate to liberal SDAs assure us that Adventism doesn’t teach that people must keep the law to be saved. Salvation is by faith alone, they insist.

However, traditional Adventism teaches that human beings must attain perfection by means of their faith. In other words, a person who fails to perfectly keep the law (and that’s all of us) must be a faith-failure as well. Adventists refuse to accept the biblical teaching that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:4), and that the law is a curse borne for us by Christ because we could not keep it (Gal. 3:13). Thank God for imputed righteousness! (Rom. 4:3-8).

A recent Adventist periodical contains the following statement illustrating the centrality of the law in Adventismthanks for sending this, Ane!:

“Jesus, through His perfect sinless life, gives humanity hope that we too can observe the law of God by relying on Him. It is thus that He destroyed Satan’s agelong insistence that the standard and the requirement of God’s law is higher than any creature can attain” (Jairyong Lee, “Amazing God-Man,” Adventist World, April 2010, p. 26; please note that the pagination is different in the online version—several pages are left out).

I would love to talk about the Christology of Adventism here, but I want to stick with law for now. Granted, Jairyong Lee stops short of stating that we must keep the law in order to be saved, but he is very close to it. Ellen White is more blunt, though. Here is what she says about the interaction of law, perfection, salvation, and grace:

“We are under obligation to use our powers aright that we may be qualified for eternal life in the kingdom of God. God demands perfection from every human being. We are to be perfect in this life of humanity, even as God is perfect in His divine character” (This Day with God, 318).

Notice that Ellen White is dealing with our qualification for eternal life. The qualification is perfection. Let’s keep reading from the pen of Ellen White:

“Perfection of character is attained through exercise of the faculties of the mind, in times of supreme test, by obedience to every requirement of God's law” (2SM 161).

“While good works will not save even one soul, yet it is impossible for even one soul to be saved without good works. God saves us under a law, that we must ask if we would receive, seek if we would find, and knock if we would have the door opened unto us” (1SM 377).

“Christ looks at the spirit, and when He sees us carrying our burden with faith, His perfect holiness atones for our shortcomings. When we do our best, He becomes our righteousness” (1SM 368).

“Man is given the privilege of working with God in the saving of his own soul. He is to receive Christ as his personal Saviour and believe in Him. Receiving and believing is his part of the contract. This means abiding in Christ, showing in Him at all times and under all circumstances a faith that works by love and purifies the soul from all defilement. Christ is the author of this faith, and He demands that it be constantly exercised. Thus we receive a constant supply of grace” (Notebook Leaflets, vol. 1, p. 91).

We must never allow Adventists to forget the centrality of the law in the Adventist gospel. People must be clear that the choice comes down to law or Christ. One cannot have law plus Christ, for “the law is not of faith” (Gal. 3:12).

 

Joseph Rector, May 15, 2010

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Cost Considerations

 

When I was a student at Andrews University, Steve Camp performed at a youth rally held at the fairgrounds across from the AU campus.  During his concert, Camp stated bluntly that the seventh-day Sabbath is a false gospel.  He basically called SDAs out, and I remember being offended by what I considered Camp's shocking rudeness.

 

I really like Camp's music, though, so I decided to put aside my pique; I contintued buying his music, including the album Consider the Cost.  One of the songs on the album is called "The Agony of Deceit," and it applies to all forms of theological presumption. I was pretty sure that SDAs were among the deceivers in Camp's opinion, but I chose to be big about it and not hold it against the poor man . . . .

 

The message of the album never really grabbed me until I began seeing the truth about Adventism, and then it made a big impression.  "The Cross Is a Radical Thing" reminded me that I could not get to "heaven on [my] own terms"; "For Every Time" assured me that that Christ's "blood covers me for eternity"He's done all the doing.

 

The title track says, "To love Him more than father or mother / To love Him more than even your own flesh / To give all that you are, for all that He is / This is the gospel according to Jesus."  Finally, I knew what I had to do.  I left the SDA Church and all my earthly security behind; I traded it in for all that He is.  If you're worried about the cost, I can assure you it was the best deal I've ever made.

 

Joe Rector, May 7, 2010

 

(If you have a similar story about music that helped you in your faith journey out of Adventism, please consider sharing in a response on the Sabbatismos Facebook Discussion Board, which you can access via our Homepage). 

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Principalities and Powers

 

"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ" (Col. 2:13-17, KJV).

 

What are the principalities and powers that Christ disarmed with a divine "nail" driven into His cross?

 

From the context, it is clear that Jesus nailed the whole law to the crossnot just the ceremontial lawsbecause verse 13 says that by this act, He forgave all our sins.  Therefore, He nailed all law to the cross in order to deal with all sin.

 

But what about those principalities?  I believe the principalities are satanic agencies, while the powers may be spiritually abusive powers on earth.  By removing the law with its demands that we could not keep, Christ spoiled Satan's accusations against God's people, as those accusations are now groundless.  There is no law with which to accuse believers!  Praise the Lord!

 

In addition, Christ disarmed powers on earth that promote law-law-law and add their own rules for sanctification when they apparently find the law too lenient:

 

"Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.  Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh" (Col. 2:18-23, KJV). 

 

My friends, let no one take your joy.  Don't listen to the lies of Satan and the legalism of human beings.  "And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."  The Son has set us free to live in Him!

 

Joe Rector, May 7, 2010

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Hoping vs. Knowing

 

When I was an SDA, I wrote a poem comparing my fluctuation between spiritual hope and hopelessness to the off-and-on exhibition of lightning bugs on a warm summer night.  I hoped I was saved, but I just didn’t know for sure.  However, I maintained faith (or maybe just hope) that God would give me abundant life in Christ to replace my otherwise dreary existence. 

                   To Fireflies

Descending cloak of gentle night
Drops ‘round my eyes, obscuring sight.
A haunt familiar’s changed into
A church complete with dew-y pew.

I solitary sit entranced
To see a sermon in the dance
Of lightning bugs that glow and fade 
Their message in my soul has stayed.

For hope, I know, cannot be grasped
As insect’s lost when light is past.
And though my hope I sometimes miss,
By faith I know it still exists.

                                   Joe Rector, 1995

I was a hard-core Adventist and a liberal Christian, meaning that I had a deep belief in the inspiration of Ellen G. White and a very flexible view of the inspiration of scripture.  I supported EGW by pointing out supposed flaws in scripture and using these supposed inaccuracies to obscure Mrs. White’s errors.  I was completely self-assured doctrinally, but I was scared to death in my spirit, even though I didn’t know I had a spirit.

Thank you, Jesus, for breaking the chains of Adventism and setting this captive free!  Thank you for giving me assurance—not just hope.

Joe Rector, April 30, 2010

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We've added this YouTube video titled "Which Goat bore your sin?" because Mrs. White teaches that the Azazel goat/the scapegoat of the Day of Atonement represents Satan, not Jesus Christ. (Special thanks to "Myhopeisinhim" for allowing us to post her video).