Presenting a Biblical response by concerned former Seventh-day Adventists to the Sabbath School Bible Study Guide.

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Commentary on "Mission"



Day 1: Sabbath Afternoon, June 20, 2009



“Mission is the heart of the church. The destiny of people, far and near, is at stake. Mission is not one among many programs of the church. It is the very reason for its existence. Each Christian is called to be a missionary.” [Quoted from “This Week at a Glance”]



I can’t disagree with this statement. On its face, it is true. What we will see throughout this lesson, however, is that truth and error are intertwined as only SDA theologians can intertwine them. Please know that I am not purposely nit-picking, but I see no other way to separate the two.

Here is the first example: “We, as followers of Christ, are fellow missionaries with Jesus. As He was sent to this world, so we are sent to represent Him and to preach the three angels’ messages to every person” (emphasis supplied).

As Christ’s body here on earth (see my comments on Lesson 12) we are representatives of Jesus. This is an almost unimaginable privilege. That He would choose the likes of us to share His gospel with the rest of the world is sheer lunacy, from the standpoint of human thinking, but that’s exactly what He did. And He provides the grace which enables weak humans, whose flesh is ruined by indwelling sin, to be who He has called us to be and do what He has called us to do. So far, so good.

So, how did “to preach the three angels” messages” enter the equation? Only if you know SDA church history can you understand why this responsibility has been equated to that of representing Jesus. I don’t have time to go into that history here. Here’s the short version.

Jesus did not come back on October 22, 1844. In order to hold onto that date, which had been arrived at by painstaking calculation, another explanation had to be invented. The “Investigative Judgment” was that invention. In order to make an investigative judgment enforceable, a standard was needed. The Ten Commandments were chosen as that standard. Since all Christians claimed to keep the Ten Commandments, the ex-Millerites needed a means of differentiating themselves. The Sabbath (4th commandment) was chosen as that differentiation. This was a stroke of genius, because the vast majority of Christians paid absolutely no attention to the Saturday-Sabbath connection. At the end of the three angels’ messages is this statement: “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” They claimed that the “commandments of God” equal the Ten Commandments. They claimed they were the only ones who kept them all, including the 4th. Ergo, they claimed they were the only “true church” and, voila, representing Jesus and preaching the three angels’ messages (which boil down to only one thing – Sabbath observance) became one and the same thing. They even picked a name that was short-hand for this very long and involved process – Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The only problem with this scenario is that none of it can be supported Biblically, at least not without some rather creative eisegeses (reading into the text). Since this proved to be insufficient, they also needed a final authority. Ellen White is that authority.

What we are left with is an untenable situation. We children of God absolutely are called to represent Jesus to the world around us, but we cannot do that if we’re weighted down with a complete misunderstanding of the gospel (more on that later in the lesson), and, therefore a complete misunderstanding of law and grace.

Anyone brought to Jesus the Adventist way is doomed to double-mindedness, and unstable in their beliefs (paraphrasing James 1:5-8).

There is an alternative. Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, mentioned later in the lesson, both convicts people of their state of spiritual death and provides the means and method of bringing them to eternal life.



  1. Mission is one of the most exciting and humbling aspects of a Christian’s life.
  2. For Adventists, mission is intertwined with their history and theology.
  3. Because their theology is so hopelessly flawed, their approach to mission is useless to engender the kind of changed lives God is looking for.
  4. Jesus is the solution.




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