Many Christians are shocked when they learn about the heresies of Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs). This is because the SDAs have a way of making the most unbiblical and heterodox doctrine sound Biblical and orthodox.
There are several areas of disagreements we have (on Biblical and historical grounds) with SDAs, but our objections to their doctrine of Christ is the most paramount. The first standard by which any religious body can be ascertained as true or false, godly or ungodly, is on the basis of what it teaches about Christ. Once a religious body holds to a defective Christology, their gospel message must be questionable.
SDAs derive their doctrines majorly from the visions and teachings of their prophetess, Ellen G. White. Therefore I will quote from her writings (which they hold as authoritative) to see what they say about Jesus.
Jesus the Archangel Michael
It’s an acknowledged fact that in the early days of the SDAs, they rejected the doctrine of the Trinity (they later accepted it). Wherever such doctrinal aberrations occur, there are often “leftovers” of it. This led to the teaching that Jesus was archangel Michael (an error also believed by Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Ellen White wrote:
“He [Jesus] was revealed to them as Angel of Jehovah, the Captain of the Lord’s host, Michael the Archangel” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 761).
“Moses passed under the dominion of death – but Christ the Savior brought him forth from the grave. Jude 9” (Desire of Ages, 379).
When you check this Jude vs 9 in the SDA’s Clear Word bible, you will see that they have wickedly changed the text to support this heresy. While the Bible says: “Yet Michael the archangel when contending with the devil…” their bible says “the Lord Jesus Christ, also called Michael the Archangel…”
In another place, where the Bible says “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel…” (1Thess. 4:17), their spurious paraphrase says: “When Christ descends from heaven, He, as the Archangel will…”
Why did they have to go to the extent of inserting words into the Bible? Because they too are aware that this heresy is not found in the Bible. I personally have no respect for a sect that adds to the words of God. Jesus created all things, including angels (Col. 1:16), so it’s ludicrous to suggest He was also created. God says of Jesus: “Thy throne O God is forever and ever” (Heb. 1:8). No archangel can ever receive that status. I’ve refuted this heresy elsewhere.
The Semi-Arian View of Christ
Ellen White denied Christ’s eternality by teaching that He was made equal to God at a certain point in time. This is similar to the “created Jesus” teachings of Arius, a heretic in the early church.
“The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that He might in the presence of all the angels confer special honour upon His Son. The Father then made known that it was ordained by Himself that Christ His Son should be equal with Himself.” (The Spirit of Prophecy, 1:17, 18).
On the contrary, the Bible presents Jesus as the eternal Word who is God (John 1:1) and in him all the “fullness of deity dwells” (Colossians 2:9). His throne is also an everlasting one (Hebrews 1:8). Both the Bible and Ellen White’s teachings can’t be right.
The Unsaving Christ
SDA doctrine denies the perfect work of Christ on the cross by teaching that He can’t save those who believe in Him:
“Those who accept the Saviour, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or feel they are saved. Those who accept Christ, and in their first confidence say, I am saved are in danger of trusting to themselves” (Christ’s Object Lessons, 155).
“Those who accept the Saviour however sincere in their conversion should never be taught to say or feel that they are saved. This is misleading. Everyone should cherish faith and hope, but even when we give ourselves to Christ and we know that He accepts us, we are not beyond the reach of temptation...” (Answers to Objections, 402)
But Jesus Himself said “I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed [present tense] from death to life” (John 5:24). He also says “He that believeth the son hath everlasting life…” (Jn. 3:36).
The moment a person believes the Gospel, he becomes saved. Paul said this is the gospel “by which also ye are saved” (1Cor. 15:2) and Christ “according to his mercy has saved us” (Titus 3:5). When a group preaches a “Jesus” that can’t save what type of gospel is it preaching? A false one.
Christ’s Substitutionary Work Denied
“It was seen, also, that while the sin offering pointed to Christ as a sacrifice, and the High Priest represented Christ as a mediator, the scapegoat typified Satan, the author of sin upon whom the sins of the truly penitent will finally be placed. Christ will place all these sins upon Satan,… so Satan will at last suffer the full penalty of sin” (The Great Controversy, 422).
Who bore our sins at Calvary, was it Jesus or Satan? Of course it was Christ (Isaiah 53:6, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1Peter 2:24). These passages also speak of Christ’s substitutionary work as an event that had already taken place at the cross. The idea that Satan will at some point in the future also bear the sins of Christians is totally biblical. Ellen White’s visions were clearly deceptive.
A Defective View of Christ’s Atonement
Ellen White claimed to receive a revelation that Jesus entered into the heavenly Holy of Holies in 1844:
“I was shown that…the door was opened in the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary, where the ark is … This door was not opened until the mediation of Jesus was finished in the holy place of the sanctuary in 1844. Then Jesus rose up and shut the door of the holy place...” (Early Writings, 42).
This theory that Jesus entered the holy of holies in 1844 is called “investigative judgement.” According to her, Jesus entered there “to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits” (The Great Controversy p. 480). Ellen White didn’t explain on what basis we are “entitled to the benefits” of this ‘investigative judgement.’ Such a notion denies the finished work of Christ.
SDAs defend this doctrine by citing the book of Hebrews where Jesus is called the “great high priest” who performs His function in the heavenly “sanctuary” (Hebrews 8:2; 9:1-2; 13:11). To dispel this confusion, the atonement needs to be properly understood. The dictionary defines atonement as a reconciliation that comes about by expiation of or satisfaction for whatever brought enmity between parties.
The Bible makes it clear that our sins have alienated us from God (Is. 59:2) and the “atonement” means “reconciliation with God” through forgiveness of sins. The OT priests “made reconciliation with [animal] blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel” (2Chr. 29:24).
These sacrificial animals were types and shadows of Christ whose shed blood reconciled/atoned for our sins (see Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14) Since His blood was shed on the cross, it was there atonement/reconciliation/remission of sins was accomplished. His blood is not being shed in heaven, so there can be no work of atonement going on there.
Contrary to the “visions” of Ellen White, atonement/reconciliation couldn’t have begun in 1844 in heaven, nor could it be in process now because it has been achieved once and for all by Christ on the cross. We have been “reconciled to God through the death of his Son” and we rejoice in God “through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:10:11)
As our High Priest, Jesus is not involved in the repetition of sacrifices as was the case of the priests under the old covenant (Heb. 7:27), rather, His priestly ministry in heaven is to ever live “to make intercession” for His own (Heb. 7:25, Rom. 8:34). He is our advocate with the Father and propitiation of our sins through the blood of his cross.
The complete redemption of mankind has been accomplished at the cross so why would He need to wait till 1844? If Christ didn’t enter into the Holy of Holies until 1844, that means He wasn’t the High Priest of the New Covenant for 18 centuries! (Heb. 9:11-23) So what happened to all the Christians who died between the cross of Christ and the investigative judgement of 1844?
The Christology of the Seventh Day Adventists is heretical and the Bible warns us against those teaching “another Christ” (2 Cor. 11:4). A set of teachings that misrepresents the nature or the work of Christ is eternally dangerous and must be rejected.