A Response to a Seventh-Day Adventist

The following response was precipitated by a mass e-mail a “DrSalmonLazarus” sent to many e-mail lists designed for members of churches of Christ. His intent was to direct people to his discussion board, which may be accessed here. The following response was made in the desire to prove the hope that is in me (1 Peter 3:15), and to strengthen and encourage us in the truth of the Gospel of God. His original post will be quoted and in regular type, and my response will be in bold.

The Response

It began:

A QUESTION CHURCH OF CHRIST REFUSE TO ANSWER!

It is very true that the saints of God worship Him in spirit and in truth during the Days of the Apostles (John 4:23, 24). It is equally true that they were a visible and numerous branch in the Days of the Apostles (1 Corinthians 1:2, Revelations 1:11, Acts 2:41, Romans 16:16, Acts 9:31). Is it not true that the Church of Christ today worships God in spirit and in truth, is a visible and numerous branch likewise? So where is this middle group of people in the pages of history between the Days of the Apostles to 1826 A.D.? Where are they to be found a straight line of people who called themselves “The Church of Christ”? Or did the “Church of Christ” come into existence only between 1826 to 1906 A.D. leaving one to wonder that there is no true lineage of “The Church of Christ”?

We have been told in Matthew 28:20 that Jesus will be with us until the end of the age, and further confirmation is given in Matthew 16:18 where He establishes that the gates of Hades will never prevail against His Church. It is my belief that there were always Christians who obeyed the New Testament, even if they were not always documented by history, although there is possible evidence provided by Keith Sisman at http://www.traces-of-the-kingdom.org that would establish proof of Christians obeying the Gospel message back as far as the thirteenth century CE.

The person continued:

And why would Jesus need to Restore His Church in the 1800s, when Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18. that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”? If the “Church of Christ” was restored in the 1800s, does that then make God a Liar? Does that then also imply that no such body of believers existed between the days of the Apostles to the 1826 A.D. (nearly 2000 years), the beginning of the renown Restoration Movement headed up by James O’Kelly, Abner Jones, Elias Smith, Barton Stone, Thomas and Alexander Campbell?

“Restore” means to bring back into existence. Look it up in the dictionary! So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that God never left this world without a witness, right?

Although I recognize that historically the movement has been deemed the “Restoration Movement,” I personally have difficulties with that concept for the reasons you describe; therefore, it is my position that there has always been the true Church that has obeyed the New Testament since the day of Pentecost.

The person continued:

The Jewish Nation founded by God (Acts 7:38) can be traced as a spiritual vessel from the Time of Abraham to Jesus Christ without a single missing link in God’s Holy Word; so therefore the body of believers who are called “The Church of Christ” should be able to trace their church lineage from the Days of the Apostles to the Enlightenment of 1826 A.D., right? Or would you say God left “men” in total darkness without a witness and opportunity for the truth for nearly 2000 years sealing their fate for eternal damnation in Hell without a chance for Heaven? Or would you believe in all honesty and truth that God in His Love and Zeal would never allow his promise in Matthew 16:18.that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” to be a lie? Or would you honestly admit that God cannot lie therefore something is wrong with the theology of the denomination, cult or sect of believers called “The Church of Christ” compared to Noah & The Ark. You know the story of the Flood; and if you don’t, it can be read in the first several chapters of the book of Genesis.

While the “Jewish nation” might still be in existence, this by no means proves that they are the Jews that obeyed God in the Bible. First of all, it is well-proven by history that the Jewish sect that survived the destruction of Jerusalem was the sect of the Pharisees, and Rabbinic Judaism (with some development, the prevalent form of Judaism throughout the past two millennia, albeit having waned in the past two centuries) is the direct descendant of Pharisaic Judaism. Was it not the same group of Jews whom Christ chided for their legalism and hypocrisy (Matthew 23)? Did not Jesus say that they were condemned for their misdeeds and their murder of the Messiah (Matthew 23:33-35)?

Further, does the New Testament establish that the Jews in their Judaism would continue to inherit the Kingdom after the coming of Christ? We have the witness of Paul in Ephesians 2:11-18:

Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the
commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh: for through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father.

Paul establishes clearly that in order for Jew and Gentile to unite in the Kingdom of God, Christ was forced to tear down the wall between the two which was the Law of Moses. This harmonizes well with the message of Hebrews 7:11-14 and Hebrews 9:15:

Now if there was perfection through the Levitical priesthood (for under it hath the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should arise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be reckoned
after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are said belongeth to another tribe, from which no man hath given attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord hath sprung out of Judah; as to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priests.

And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Finally, Paul in Romans 11:16-23 uses the example of the olive tree and the branches to explain what has occured with the nation of Israel:

And if the firstfruit is holy, so is the lump: and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive, wast grafted in among them, and didst become partaker with them of the root of the fatness of the olive tree; glory not over the branches: but if thou gloriest, it is not thou that bearest the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; by their unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by thy faith. Be not highminded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee. Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, God’s goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And
they also, if they continue not in their unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.

Therefore, the truth of the Gospel is evident: the Jews who believed in Christ and obeyed Him were left on the tree yet those Jews who continued in their traditions and did not heed Jesus were broken off. In their place the Gentiles who believed and obeyed were grafted in, and the message is now proclaimed– as it has been proclaimed for almost 2,000 years now– that salvation has come to any who will accept it through Jesus Christ, be they Jew or Gentile.

The person continued:

So did God leave men to drown in error for nearly 2000 years, after dying the cruelest death known to man on Calvary’s Cross? Since the “Church of Christ” places great emphasis as being the One True Church, I am only asking 1 question on Church History; so where is a straight line of people who called themselves “The Church of Christ” from the Days of the Apostles to 1826 A.D.? Please give me a written response. God Bless!!!!

I will say it again: I have faith in the fact that there have always been those who have obeyed the truth, and there is a strong possibility that there is some evidence of this being true as far back as the thirteenth century CE.

I would also ask, since from the below materials you seem to be allied with the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination, where your evidence is in history for a group of Christians who adhered to the particular concepts of Seventh-Day Adventism from the beginning until Ellen White? Thanks.

The person continued:

It’s in the Will! It’s in the Will & Testament of Jesus Christ Chapter 17 — Final Chapter of “The Sabbath”
This is the final chapter to this superb book put together by Andrel T. Johnson compiled by a immaculate collection of works that help to express the mind of my Seventh-Day Adventist thinking and theology. What is the “Testament” or the “Will” of Jesus Christ (before he died on Calvary’s Cross and was resurrected from the grave)? And can a “will” or “testament” be reversed, after the death of the testator? Or when you die, can you reverse your very own “will” or “testament”? (Hebrews 9:14-22)

The passage you have cited is very significant to our discussion:

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him that made it. For a testament is of force where there hath been death: for it doth never avail while he that made it liveth. Wherefore even the first covenant hath not been dedicated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses unto all the people according to the law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded to you-ward.”
Moreover the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry he sprinkled in like manner with the blood. And according to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission.

We see in this passage that the shedding of blood was the significant act that initiated the force of law. All of the principles of the law of Christ were established by His blood.

We must first establish the fact– and it is fact, not opinion– that Jesus’ death on the cross was the end of the Law of Moses. We have already seen Ephesians 2:11-18 above that by His death He broke down the “wall of partition” between the Jews and the Gentiles, notably, the Law of Moses. It should be noted also that earlier in the Hebrew letter in Hebrews 7:12 the Hebrew author established that the law changed with the change of priesthood, from the order of Aaron to the order of Melchizedek, as established in Hebrews 7:18-28:

For there is a disannulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness (for the law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in thereupon of a better hope, through which we draw nigh unto God. And inasmuch as it is not without the taking of an oath (for they indeed have been made priests without an oath; but he with an oath by him that saith of him, “The Lord sware and will not repent himself, Thou art a priest for ever);”
by so much also hath Jesus become the surety of a better covenant. And they indeed have been made priests many in number, because that by death they are hindered from continuing: but he, because he abideth for ever, hath his priesthood unchangeable. Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Therefore, the death of Christ represents the tearing down of the old law, the Law of Moses, and the establishment of the New. We have to realize, however, that the power contained in the New Testament is under the authority of Christ– and He only gained this authority after having died on that cross, as evidenced in Matthew 28:20 and Philippians 2:5-11. Remember Jesus’ blessing to Peter and the disciples in Matthew 16:19:

“I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Realizing of course that in the Greek Peter and the disciples are commissioned to bind and loose what was already bound and loosed in Heaven, we recognize that the establishment of the guidelines of New Testament living come after the death of Christ when the Kingdom is established on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. It is also profitable to mention Jesus’ promise to the disciples in John 14:25-26:

“These things have I spoken unto you, while yet abiding with you. But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.”

Therefore, Jesus established that after His death the Holy Spirit would inspire His disciples to proclaim the message of the Kingdom of God which was established in His blood. His death and acceptance of authority has created the change from the Law of Moses to the law of Christ.

The person continued:

Can you show me in the Holy Bible where Christ (the testator) changed the 7th Day Sabbath & The Holy 10 Commandments to another day, before He died as the testator?

He changed them by removing the foundations of their authority by breaking down the “wall of partition” through His death (Ephesians 2:8-11, Colossians 2:14-16).

Remember Matthew 5:17-18:

“Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.”

And John 19:30:

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished:”
and he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.

He came to fulfill the Law, and He fulfilled the Law in His death. Therefore, any practice that will be performed by any Christian who desires to obey God will find his authority in the New Testament.

The person continued:

Can you show me in the scriptures where Jesus (the testator) proclaimed the 1st Day of the week holy, before he died as the testator?

We may see the continuation from our comments immediately above. If Jesus established the end of the Law by the cross and promised the Holy Spirit to the disciples to bring into remembrance the things He had taught, and we see these same disciples, now the Apostles, meeting on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:1), and speaking of a day deemed the “Lord’s Day,” (Revelation 1:10), a reference to the day of the resurrection of Jesus.

The person continued:

*Remember, the books of Acts and beyond is after the death of Jesus Christ’s testament.
The Lord’s Supper is in the will and testament of Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:26-30) to start this at His Resurrection would have been 3 days too late!

While the works of Acts and beyond might be after the death of Jesus Christ, they contain the information regarding the nature of the Kingdom He established through the shedding of His blood and the doctrines which He taught His disciples before His death, remembered via the Holy Spirit.

The Lord’s Supper was certainly inaugurated by Jesus before His death with the commission to continue it, and those same disciples did this on the first day of the week. If it is true that the Holy Spirit would give them the remembrance of all things which He spoke, there should be no reason to deny the importance of the first day of the week.

The person continued:

Matthew 19:17 is in the will and testament of Christ.
John 14:1-3 is in the will and testament of Jesus Christ.

I am sure you mean Matthew 19:17-19:

And he said unto him, “Why askest thou me concerning that which is good? One there is who is good: but if thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He saith unto him, “Which?”
And Jesus said, “Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

…no mention of any Sabbath, but we do see principles that are maintained in the New Covenant.

There is also no dispute of John 14:1-3, but what of John 14:26-27? If Jesus’ words are true, then the rest of the New Testament is enforced through the testament of Jesus Christ just as much as the documented sayings of Jesus we have in the Gospel records.

The person continued:

The Holy 7th Day Sabbath is also in the will and testament of Jesus Christ according to John 14:15 and Mark 2:27 along with all the 10 Commandments of Exodus 20:3-17. Matthew 5:17-19 is further proof of this! “Fulfill” means the same as in the Matthew 3:15.

Mark 2:27-28:

And he said unto them, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: so that the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath.”

This is a great passage, for Jesus in it shows that He is Lord of the Sabbath. His authority even stretches to that day of rest.

John 14:15:

If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.

Whose commandments will the disciples keep– those of Jesus or Moses? Who commanded the Sabbath? Who did not?

Matthew 3:15:

But Jesus answering said unto him, “Suffer it now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”
Then he suffereth him.

Matthew 5:17-19:

“Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.”

All righteousness was fulfilled by Christ, and by this He was able to overcome death and gain all authority. If Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, He has the power to abrogate that Law, and it is made obvious in Ephesians 2:11-18, Colossians 2:14-16, and Hebrews 7:12, 9:15 that He does so.

I find it thoroughly interesting that you have not even mentioned Hebrews 4:1-9:

Let us fear therefore, lest haply, a promise being left of entering into his rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good tidings preached unto us, even as also they: but the word of hearing did not profit them, because it was not united by faith with them that heard. For we who have believed do enter into that rest; even as he hath said, “As I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest:”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he hath said somewhere of the seventh day on this wise, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works;”
and in this place again, “They shall not enter into my rest.”
Seeing therefore it remaineth that some should enter thereinto, and they to whom the good tidings were before preached failed to enter in because of disobedience, he again defineth a certain day, “To-day,” saying in David so long a time afterward (even as hath been said before), “To-day if ye shall hear his voice, Harden not your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God.

The Hebrew author explains clearly that the Sabbath rest which God gave to Israel is not the same Sabbath rest which remains for the people of God. There certainly is a Sabbath which Jesus instituted for His followers by the testament of His death, and that Sabbath rest is the Heavenly reward which we diligently seek. The Sabbath of the Jews is insufficient for such a rest.

The person continued:

So therefore we can conclude that anything done thereafter that are not according to the teachings of Jesus Christ “by the traditions of men” are not according to Jesus Christ’s Will & Testament. Paul and all the Early Church believers never had an issue nor one complaint in scripture over which day is the Holy 7th Day Sabbath. Why? Because it was in the Will and Testament of Jesus Christ. That is why throughout the book of Acts you find Paul and all the other believers worshipping on the Sabbath Day. It never was an issue to them because they knew which day to keep holy of the 7th Day Sabbath. Not one complaint is recorded in scripture to the schgrin of those who try to say that Paul used the synagogue for keeping and preaching of Sunday in which there is never the such and would have been against the testament further proving this lie. Remember the books of Acts and beyond is after the death and enforcement of Jesus Christ’s testament!

Where is the evidence that Paul or anyone assembled with Christians specifically on the Sabbath day?

Acts 17:1-3:

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his custom was, went in unto them, and for three sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, opening and alleging that it behooved the Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom, said he, I proclaim unto you, is the Christ.

It appears from this text that Paul uses the opportunity of the congregation of the Jews on the Sabbath day to reason with them about how Jesus is the Christ. This also fits well with the message of Romans 16:1, that it was Paul’s habit to preach “to the Jew first, and then to the Greek.”

It would be difficult indeed to prove that Paul was performing any form of worship by being present in the synagogues, and it ought to be of interest to us also that in Colossians 2:16, this very Paul demonstrates that judgment is not to be made against a Christian on the basis of Jewish rituals, one of them being the Sabbath.

The existence of Hebrews 4:1-9 and Colossians 2:16 completely destroys your position that there was never a complaint concerning the Sabbath within the pages of the New Testament, and the discussion of observing days in Romans 14:6 would also probably factor in to the discussion also.

There is still no evidence from the New Testament that the Sabbath rest of the Jews is still present for the Christian to observe, and plenty of evidence to the contrary.

The person continued:

How do you even begin to explain lawlessness without a law? “For sin is a transgression of the law.” The only issue that Nominal Christianity has with the 10 Commandments is only the 4th Commandment of the Sabbath. In fact, why else would people wish for the 10 Commandments (with the 4th chopped up as: “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy”— like a Catholic Catechism or Baltimore Catholic Catechism) to be placed in schools, courts, and in public places everywhere?

I am completely opposed to the posting of the Ten Commandments anywhere since they do not accurately represent the guidelines of a Christian life, although it will be granted that 9 of the 10 are present within the pages of the New Testament.

And again, you assume that without the Jewish Law of Moses that there is no law. What, then, do we do with Hebrews 7:12, Galatians 6:2, and James 1:25?

For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing.

There is certainly law in effect today, and that law is the sum of the guidelines given to us for living in the New Testament.

The person continued:

The Fallacy of “Church of Christ’s”
Command/Example/Penalty Presentation

“Command/Example/Penalty?” I know of no one in the church of Christ who teaches as much. If you do, I need to speak with them. Please let me know exactly who has told you this, and I guarantee that I will discuss with them the process of interpreting the Scriptures. Thanks!

The person asked:

Can you give me a command, penalty and example in the Word of God (presently not future) for the name “Church of Christ”?

There is no command or example of the name “Church of Christ.”

There is, however, a description of the various bodies of believers spread throughout the world in Romans 16:16:

Salute one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ salute you.

By this example we use the words “church of Christ” to describe the body of Christians which assemble in a local area and also as the description of the universal body of believers.

The person asked:

Can you give me a command, penalty and example in the Word of God (presently not future) for Women not being ministers?

1 Timothy 2:11-12:

Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness.

Preaching is both a form of teaching and a form of dominion, and therefore a woman who preaches would violate this command.

The person asked:

Can you give me a command, penalty and example in the Word of God (presently not future) for Layby or collection?

1 Corinthians 16:1-2:

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.

We have here the example of the churches in Galatia and in Corinth who, when assembled on the first day of the week, made a collection of funds.

The person asked:

Can you give me a command, penalty and example in the Word of God (presently not future) for going to church on Sunday?

Acts 20:7 and Hebrews 10:25:

And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight.

Not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh.

We receive the commandment from the Hebrew letter to not forsake assembling together, and we have the example of the Apostles of having an assembly on the first day of the week.

The person asked:

Can you give me a command, penalty and example in the Word of God (presently not future) for playing or singing music without instruments?

Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, James 5:13:

Speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.

Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise.

We see here that Christians are commanded to sing and there is no mention of any instruments that are necessary to perform such singing.

The person concluded:

And the same principles for the penalty can also be used in all fairness by Seventh-Day Adventists, or are you being biased or unfairin this presentation of Command/Example/Penalty? You cannot bend the rules for one party, and hold them to a nettle point to the other!

The same principles that we use to interpret the Bible– which happen to be the same principles used by the New Testament authors and characters themselves– are applied to all doctrines to see if they are from God or from man. The Seventh-Day Adventist doctrines of the Sabbath day, the dietary restrictions, and eschatology can all be shown to not follow the commands and examples present in the New Testament writings.

These very doctrines are exposed as being the doctrines of men at A Study of Denominations: Seventh-Day Adventism.

Thank you for the opportunity of providing the defense of the hope that is in me, and it is my desire that it is found helpful for all those who have been exposed to this person’s article.

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