JOURNEY: What you should know. Part Two

"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (I Tim. 4:16).

Tyler Ramey

Many are persuaded that Seventh-day Adventism is just another Christian denomination. This is not the case. Outreach events, whether prophesy seminars or Christmas and Easter programs, these endeavors have greater purposes behind them than is evident to most. They are regarded as evangelistic outreaches targeting all who attend, both the churched and unchurched. While it may not be universal that all Adventists are focused on persuading participants to “come to the truth” (Adventist language for arriving to the truth of Adventism), it is true that Adventist doctrine and practice are committed to convincing people that their relationship with God is dependent on commandant keeping. Note: “Seventh-day Adventist” is not just a denominational label. YOU will not be found worthy of the kingdom of God if you do not keep the sabbath. Commandment keeping, especially the fourth, is a test of “loyalty to God,” and if you fail, you will not enjoy the presence of God for all eternity. That is according to SDA doctrine, not opinions.

Seventh-day Adventist outreaches are attractive. And, they are deceptive. I’m confident that most Christians reading this have not examined closely any Adventist doctrines, but most who either know wonderful Adventists—I do—or who participate regularly in their public events, don’t have any idea that they are “evangelistic targets,” and that includes Christians who attend churches throughout their communities. Further, many church leaders are unaware of this, too. It’s my hope that leader and laity alike will regard well the attention to detail honored herein. I’ve had the occasion to help several understand the gravity of the doctrinal issues at stake; those who take the time to either listen or simply read these short briefs understand the import. Believers need to be apprised that Adventist doctrine, not people, is the focus here, and that adopting Adventist doctrine in faith and practice jeopardizes saving faith.

Now, regarding Sabbath keeping. Is failing to keep the Sabbath a violation of the fourth commandment? Seventh-day Adventism teaches it is. Why is this issue important relative to fellow Christians and in this context? Well, Seventh-day Adventists teach (remember, there is reason for the name “Seventh-day Adventist,” which is to draw a distinction between SDAs and non-SDAs) . . . they teach that keeping the sabbath is the “seal of God.” Those without the seal of God will be cast into the lake of fire, destroyed, annihilated. Note: Annihilation is a position that denies immortality of the soul to anyone other than those who have demonstrated loyalty to God through commandment keeping, especially the fourth. To the question:  

First, let’s address what’s implied in the question above. The question implies that there is not only a fourth commandment for the Christian to obey, but nine others as well.  We discover in Scripture that the fourth commandment, as well as the other nine, is one portion of a unitary Law of God that includes both moral and ceremonial laws.  “You shall not steal” would be an example of a moral law while ritual cleansing and animal sacrifice would be examples of ceremonial.

Now, with regard to the fourth commandment, the Sabbath (the seventh day of the week, or Saturday) was a day that was set apart for God and for rest.  For the Jew, no work or travel was permitted on this day and by Jesus’ time the labor restrictions had grown to extend far beyond anything for which the day was reserved.  We observe Jesus opposing the man-made regulations attached to the fourth commandment in his response to the Pharisees noted in Matthew 12:1-14.   

While it may be a popular notion to regard the Ten Commandments and, hence, the fourth, as a set of rules to be followed, we learn from Scripture that they are part of a unitary Law that was “put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24).  The Apostle Paul tells us that the Law (which included the Ten Commandments, dietary laws, and animal sacrifice) was set before man as a demonstration of his inability to save himself; it served—and serves—to reveal sin and show the need for salvation.  If you are a Christian, the Law has done its job and is no longer operative upon your life.  Now, how does all this relate to whether or not failing to observe the Sabbath is a violation of the fourth commandment?  

Well, Jesus said that following God’s Law hinges on just two commandments.  They’re found in Matthew 22:37:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

And there we have it!  Jesus said that if we love God with every fiber of our being and love our neighbor as ourselves that “all the Law (moral and ceremonial) . . . hang[s] on these two commandments.”  But we even fail to follow just two commandments, don’t we?  Praise God that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law and that he is our righteousness!  In Christ we succeed in exercising the “royal law of love” (James 2:8).  You see, only in and through Jesus Christ can we obey the only law by which we’re bound—love.  “Let no debt remain outstanding, except to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). 

The Sabbath day was a shadow of Jesus; we rest in him.  Thank God that we are no longer obligated to regard the shadow of Christ in the fourth commandment any more than we are obligated to sacrifice a lamb for the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus Christ is the Christian’s Sabbath rest.  In Him we labor no more for the forgiveness of sins.

So, in answer to the question, “Is failing to keep the Sabbath a violation of the fourth commandment?” the answer is yes and no.  Yes, because the Christian technically “violates” the fourth commandment when he fails to keep it according to Old Testament prescription,  No, because the Christian isn’t obligated to keep the Ten Commandments since they were given to lead us to Christ.  Therefore, the Ten Commandments and, hence, the fourth, are simply not an issue for Christians who are now obligated to keep the “royal law of love” and exercise “Sabbath rest” in Jesus Christ.

Seventh-day Adventism is a very dangerous set of beliefs. While there are many wonderful Adventists and Adventist institutions, people are different than the doctrines they hold. Seventh-day Adventist outreaches are designed to attract. You will not discover the details of Adventist doctrine until you have chosen to “come to the truth” of Seventh-day Adventism . . . or until you discover yourself or a loved one trapped in a system where commandment keeping and many other rules are required in order to be saved.

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (I Tim. 4:16).