Seventh-Day Adventist Church

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My Whole Life

I was born to reflect the image of a God who is powerful enough to create my universe, attentive enough to hear my prayers and loving enough to be defined by self-sacrifice. I find my greatest fulfillment on a journey toward purpose and wholeness.

Our Beliefs

Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are meant to permeate your whole life. Growing out of scriptures that paint a compelling portrait of God, you are invited to explore, experience and know the One who desires to make us whole.

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History of SDA Church

Its birthplace in the township of Washington, New Hampshire, in 1844, reveals three central truths about the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

1. Before it was "Adventist" or Sabbath keeping Adventist, it was "Christian."

2. It celebrates a history that has emphasized "freedom."

3. It welcomes and grows from diversity within its membership.

The Christian Roots of Seventh-day Adventism

The local church where "Christian," "Advent," and "Sabbath" combined was established by Christian Connection believers, a religious body that in the mid-nineteenth century was fifth in membership within the United States.

Members of the Christian movement sought biblical authority for every aspect of belief. They wanted "no creed but the Bible." Thus, if they were convinced from the Scriptures of the literal soon advent of Christ and the continuing validity of the seventh day Sabbath, their heritage demanded acceptance.

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Because William Miller, a well-known Baptist preacher, exhibited profound knowledge of the Scriptures as he lectured upon the literal soon advent of Christ, scores of Christian Connection churches and many of its ministers and leaders became "Adventist" in the late 1830s and 1840s. The Washington, New Hampshire, Christian Connection church by the early 1840s was an "Adventist" church.

Social, Organizational, and Theological Freedom

Another element of the Seventh-day Adventist heritage from "Christians" involves the Seventh-day Adventist emphasis upon freedom.

Washington, New Hampshire, was the initial town in the United States to name itself after George Washington, and it took that name in 1776, the year of the American Revolution. Its very birthplace seemed a call to personal freedom.

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"Christians," as did Seventh-day Adventists from their earliest days, actively sought freedom for all and worked toward abolition of slavery as well as roles for women in the church, and fostered a strong opposition to formalized church creeds.

Freedom was also emphasized through an orientation toward temperance and health reform. Proper care of the physical frame would yield a clear mind with which to perceive scriptural truths.

Thus within nineteenth-century Adventism one finds strong anti-slavery actions, women licensed as ministers, and health reform principles that included abolition of alcohol and tobacco within the membership.

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Religious freedom came to mean more than the separation of church and state. It also implied a right to read the Scripture for oneself and come to conclusions not bound by creedal presuppositions. The "present truth" perspective assumed that new insights would arise as Seventh-day Adventists continued to study the Scriptures. The prophetic guidance of Ellen White within the movement solidified this perspective of social, organizational, and theological freedom.

A Diverse Movement

The Washington, New Hampshire, roots also illustrate the diversity within the heritage of Seventh-day Adventists. It was Rachel Oakes, a Seventh Day Baptist, that convinced some of the members of the Washington church about the continuing validity of the seventh-day Sabbath. Not all mid-nineteenth century churches would give a fair hearing to the insights of a woman. Besides that, Thomas Preble, who attended that church and wrote an influential tract on the seventh-day Sabbath, was a Freewill Baptist. Frederick Wheeler, who served as their pastor, was a Methodist minister. We thus have substantial diversity within that original church. At least five different religious faiths formed the first Sabbath keeping Christian Adventist church. Within that diversity, however, unity over central issues prevailed.

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Shortly after settling on a denominational name in 1860, Seventh-day Adventists began to talk about a worldwide movement. After all, didn't Christ urge to "go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" and didn't Revelation talk of "the everlasting gospel" to be proclaimed to "them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people"? In 1861 it was discovered that at least five in Ireland were practicing Seventh-day Adventists. But how could a group of only a few thousand perform the task of worldwide evangelism? The denomination was officially organized on May 21, 1863, when the movement included some 125 churches and 3,500 members. By 1864 Michael Belina Czechowski, a former Catholic priest, decided to spread the Seventh-day Adventist message throughout Europe. In 1874 the church was ready to send abroad its first official missionary, J. N. Andrews, who left the United States for Switzerland. By the end of the century Seventh-day Adventism had become worldwide in scope.

Today some 10 million Seventh-day Adventists have established themselves in virtually every country of the world. Less than 10 percent of Seventh-day Adventists live in the United States. While ethnically diverse, they remain united over the everlasting gospel, the basic Christian message of salvation through faith in Christ. Unity prevails also over the other central teachings of their Christian heritage.

The Heritage Continues

While Seventh-day Adventists arose within an apocalyptic movement that stressed the nearness of the Second Advent, their "Christian" heritage emphasized the down-to-earth implications of the ministry of the Saviour. The tension between "today" and "later" gives a unique power to the way Adventists serve in their communities. It has focused the energies of church members into education, publishing, the healing arts, community service, and any other activities that allow them to talk about their faith while improving the lives of their neighbors.

One result of this desire to touch lives for God is that Adventists have built thousands of schools around the world. It also means that Seventh-day Adventist physicians and medical institutions serve individual needs in more than 98 countries, giving the highest possible quality of personal care whenever people hurt. These physicians, nurses, therapists, and other medical workers have dedicated their lives to providing physical healing so that each person can live the best possible life. Using modern medical knowledge and carefully developed skills, these workers touch thousands of lives each day, bringing healing and hope into families around the world.

Schools, hospitals, clinics, and health food factories are just one small corner of the Seventh-day Adventist commitment to improving lives. There is much more:

  • Wherever disaster strikes, ADRA, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, joins hands with other organizations to provide clean water, food, clothing, housing, and care.
  • Adventist publishing houses produce inspirational books, textbooks, Bible commentaries, health books, and dozens of specialized magazines in scores of languages each month. These are then delivered to millions of homes around the world, providing quality reading and information that improves lives.
  • Local Adventist churches serve their communities by providing recreational and social activities for children and teenagers, vocational and evening education programs for adults, and spiritual programming and health clinics for all.
  • On a worldwide scale, the church's mission activities are exemplified in the Global Mission initiative-to reach the unreached peoples of the world for Christ.
  • Summer camps offer all sorts of activities-from horseback riding and waterskiing to crafts and dozens of other youth activities in country environments in which children feel safe and loved. These activities are combined with a witness for God's message to make people whole-physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually.
  • Use of modern technology also describes Adventist commitment to mission and presence in the society with messages of "Good news." Numerous radio studios dot the Adventist broadcasting map around the globe. The same goes for production of television and other media programs. The church's interest is best exemplified in a satellite broadcast system with more than 14,000 downlink sites, and the television 24/7 global broadcasting network for homes, the Hope Channel.

Too often it's easy to see all of this as just activities of the institutions and organizations of the church. But the Seventh-day Adventist Church is far more than its organizational structure and institutions. The Adventist Church is people, individual members who have caught a vision and who have chosen to live out that vision for Christ, as His hands of hope.

Use of the Church Name

The name Seventh-day Adventist represents the Seventh-day Adventist Church, its institutions and organizations, its local churches and its members. The name and the logo are trademarked and registered identities.

As with all proper names, there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to spell, pronounce, abbreviate and otherwise use this name.

Spelling: Seventh-day Adventist, including the hyphen and a lower-case "d" for "day".

The pronunciation: Seventh-day Ad'-ven-tist with the accent on the first syllable.

The abbreviation: Adventist. In communication about the church, the preferred abbreviation of the name is that of "Adventist."

What Adventists Believe

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As a Christian church, Seventh-day Adventists are a faith community rooted in the beliefs described by the Holy Scriptures. Adventists describe these beliefs in the following ways:

God's greatest desire is for you to see a clear picture of His character. When you see Him clearly, you will find His love irresistible.

For many, "seeing God clearly" requires that they see God's face. However, how He looks is not the issue. Seeing and understanding His character is what's most important. The more clearly we understand Him, the more we will find His love irresistible. As we begin to experience His love, our own lives will begin to make more sense.

God most clearly reveals His character in three great events. The first is His creation of man and woman--and His giving them the freedom of choice. He created humans with the ability to choose to love Him or to hate Him! The death of Jesus Christ, God's only Son, on the cross as our substitute is the second great event. In that act He paid the penalty we deserve for our hateful choices toward God and His ways. Jesus' death guarantees forgiveness for those choices and allows us to spend eternity with Him. The third event confirms the first two and fills every heart with hope: Christ's tomb is empty! He is alive, living to fill us with His love!

Jesus' disciple John wrote that if everyone wrote all the stories they knew about Jesus, the whole world could not contain them. Our knowledge of God helps us understand His love, character, and grace. Experiencing that love begins a lifelong adventure in growth and service. This knowledge and experience powers our mission to tell the world about His love and His offer of salvation.

Scripture is a road map. The Bible is God's voice, speaking His love personally to you today.

The Bible speaks the Creator's directions to us, like a detailed road map that clearly shows the exit ramp directly into heaven. It is also much like an owner's manual for a life ready to be lived on the cutting edge of liberty.

Sometimes His voice speaks through stories, such as those of David and Goliath, Ruth and Boaz, Naaman's little servant girl, Christ on the cross, and fisherman Peter learning how to tend sheep. Some of these stories teach us how to handle the troubles we face each day. Others fill us with hope and peace. Each of them is like a personal letter from God to you.

Portions of Scripture are direct instructions and laws from God such as the Ten Commandments, recorded in Exodus 20. These tell us more about God and His expectations for us. When people asked Jesus to summarize these commands, He focused on the way God's love affects the way we live. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul," He said. "And love your neighbor as you love yourself."

On other pages the Bible gives God's practical advice and encouragement through parables, lists, promises, and warnings. Amazingly, though many different writers throughout thousands of years wrote the Bible, each page describes the same God in ways we can understand and apply in our lives today. This book is always His voice talking personally to anyone who is willing to read and hear.

God loves us even when we choose to reject His love. In those times He allows us to walk away into the life of our own choices. Yet He is still there, always ready to redeem us from the results of our decisions.

Jesus is the one who never changes in a universe that always does. Jesus is Creator, Sustainer, Saviour, Friend, God's Son, and God Himself!

Everything in this world is always changing, even our desires, interests, skills, and body shapes. But Jesus? He's consistent. He's always the same. Sure, He's always surprising us and touching our lives in thousands of new and different ways, but His character is unchanging. He's God's Son, the Creator, our Saviour, and Friend.

Jesus has promised to be all of that, and more, for each of us. We can trust His promises because He is God. When the words of Colossians say "in Him all things hold together" (1:17, NIV) that includes everything in our lives. He keeps us whole when the enemy is trying to make us fall apart.

Seventh-day Adventists believe that Jesus is one of the three persons, called the Trinity, who make up our one God. The Bible describes Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit as each being committed to our growth as Christians and to our salvation as their children. They made this salvation possible when Jesus came to Bethlehem as a human baby. He lived a life perfectly in accord with God's will and then died innocently for all of our sins. He was placed in a borrowed tomb, but He came back to life three days later. Now he is in heaven interceding with the Father for us, preparing for our deliverance from sin and death.

When everything may be falling apart, when you feel totally alone in the universe, Jesus is right there in the center of it all, offering personal peace and hope. Allow Him into your life. He immediately begins "remodeling" who you are and how you live. Jesus, in fact, is busily transforming His followers into accurate representatives of God's character.

Look to Jesus, and you'll be looking into the understanding and loving face of God.

God's vision for you is life as He lives it! God loves you, and wants to give you the highest quality of life imaginable.

No, not a second-rate existence somewhere on earth, but the highest quality of life imaginable, here and in eternity with Him! That's what God wants us to have. The best!

This is why He provides church families where we can belong. This is why He gives each of us special gifts and talents, so we can live life fully. Amazingly, this is why He's concerned about what you're doing, when you're doing it, and how you relate to Him. God doesn't want anything to get in the way of our friendship. He especially doesn't want us to get involved in anything damaging or hurtful. He's like a loving father or a good big brother. He's someone who loves you so much that He's always looking out for you.

When God designed you, He included special talents and skills that will help you become a uniquely valuable individual. These may be your ability to teach, your love for others, or your leadership skills. Still, whatever special gifts you have received, God has also provided all of the energy and wisdom necessary for you to use them well.

By the way, how God feels about death is part of the quality life He offers. For followers of Christ, death holds no fear. Remember, Jesus defeated death on Calvary and has given us freedom from death. Cemeteries, then, are filled with followers of God who are in the "peaceful pause before the resurrection." Yes, they are dead, but that death holds no power over their future. Jesus is coming to take them (and those of us who are still living) HOME! Death is almost like a wintery promise of spring.

The Seventh-day Adventist faith in today and in the future comes from seeing this life "overflowing" with hope!

Because love is the key aspect of His character, God is also deeply into gratitude. Before we even finish saying thank you, He's already busy sending more blessings.

In the heart of God is a place you can experience as home. God loves you, and wants to spend time with you personally, one on one, as two close friends.

Because you and God are friends, you will spend time together as friends do. Each morning you'll share a hello and a hug and discuss how you can face the day's events together. Throughout the day you'll talk with Him about how you feel. You'll laugh with Him at funny things and ache with Him over sadness and hurts. It's pleasant being God's friend, able to snuggle comfortably into the safety of your relationship. You can always trust Him to treat you well, because He loves you.

The seventh day (Saturday) is an extra-special part of the relationship. The Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, describes the seventh day as the one day God has set aside for focused fellowship with His people. God has named that day "Sabbath" and asked us to spend it with Him. "Remember the sabbath day," He says, "to keep it holy." The Sabbath is a whole day to deepen our friendship with the Creator of the universe! A day when we're together, Jesus with us and us with Jesus.

There's another great truth about friendship with God. It doesn't end in a cemetery, for God is planning a homecoming better than anything we can dream. A homecoming filled with angels, trumpets, Jesus, and resurrections! He's promised to bring His followers, those who have accepted the offer of His life-changing love, from this earth to His home, a place He calls heaven. A place where our friendship can go on growing forever, endlessly, joyfully!

  • God keeps a family album-and your picture is in it. God loves you and has a plan for your life.

God's love is about you. Personally.

God made you and has a very special plan for your life. It's a plan that will fill you with hope, love, peace, and activity. In fact, when Christ paid the penalty for sin on the cross, that gave Him the right to claim you as His own. As a result, you can experience His love and priceless salvation freely and fully without limit.

By the way, pictures of everyone fill that album: Nepalese, Brazilians, Nigerians, Yupiks, Germans, people of every nation, culture, background, gender, hair color, and foot size. In God's eyes all are equally "children of the King"!

Salvation? God cleans away all our sins and replaces them with His goodness. We don't have to be "good" for Him to accept us. Nevertheless, we must accept His promise and allow Him to clean out everything the enemy has left in us. Then we begin to experience the transforming power of His love. It's like a giant war: one side pulling us toward empty pleasure and destruction, and God urging us to accept His offer of peace and purpose.

Remember, Jesus has already won the war. He is victorious! We celebrate His victory in our lives when we participate in the Lord's Supper. This meal includes three symbols:

  • Foot washing (which symbolizes our commitment to love others as Jesus loves us),
  • bread ("This bread is my flesh," Jesus said, "which I will give for the life of the world," John 6:51, NIV), and
  • wine or grape juice ("Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." John 6:54, NIV)

To help us understand how God can transform us into His children, Jesus modeled the process of baptism for us. Baptism symbolized dying to self and coming alive in Jesus. Seventh-day Adventists practice full immersion baptism because by being fully buried beneath the water we symbolize that God's grace fully fills us with His new life for the future. Through baptism we are truly born again in Jesus.

Eternal life, peace, purpose, forgiveness, transforming grace, hope: Everything He promises is ours, because He's offering it and He's shown we can trust Him to do exactly as He promises. Accept His gifts, and you immediately become an active part of His family, and He joyfully becomes part of yours.