Testimony of 7th day Adventist
I am always really interested to hear people’s testimonies about leaving the SDA church. My family and I have made that journey too, with the Lord leading us out of that religion.
I was raised in a strongly Christian home by committed Bible-believing parents. My family was active in the Seventh Day Adventist church from the time of my birth. My father had been a Literature Evangelist (book seller who conducts Bible studies in people’s homes) and a church Elder for over twenty years. He’d led many people to salvation through Bible Studies and evangelical outreach.
My mother had operated children’s Sabbath School for years, had worked in SDA aged care facilities, and served the church in numerous other ministries. I had taught in Sabbath School myself, and served the SDA youth ministry through music and outreach. My sister and brother-in-law were active youth camp leaders, and were part of the SDA church’s international touring group, Talking Hands – a children’s puppet ministry.
I attended SDA schools all my life - at Taree, NSW, (a school my parents helped to establish) then at Lismore NSW and Avondale, NSW (at Cooranbong - which is known among Sevvies as "the holy city" - home to the Sanitarium Health Food factory, Ellen White's Australian estate - Sunnyside - and Avondale College).
In 1993, I left the SDA church after grappling with a number of the church’s theological teachings. I believed the church’s stand on these issues conflicted with key Bible truths. The main issues centred on the following doctrines:
- the “Investigative Judgment”, where Jesus opened the books (supposedly in 1844) to determine the eternal future of each person, according to their works.
- the elevation of the “prophetess” Ellen G White to equivalent Scriptural authority
- the questionable visions of the prophetess, and the alleged plagiarism of many of her literary works, which are considered as authoritative as Scripture in the SDA belief system
- works versus grace, in doctrines such as vegetarianism and Sabbath-keeping
Over the next decade, I attended various evangelical churches, and developed a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ than I had previously known within the SDA church. The distinction between religion and Christianity crystallised for me during these years and I sought to develop a doctrine of faith, based on Scripture alone (see attached). In 2002, after prayerful study and a great deal of soul-searching, I approached my SDA family to share my new faith relationship with Jesus, the foundations of which contradicted some of the teachings of the SDA church. God worked during this time in the hearts of my sister and brother-in-law (Andy), who were active youth ministers in the church. He directed them to address the same issues that I had been considering, and after lifelong belief in the SDA theology, the couple found that they were being led to have a closer look at their own beliefs.
During this time, they were attending an SDA fellowship on the Mid-North Coast of NSW, where Andy was the musical director. That day, he’d been invited to deliver a sermon. He felt that God had laid an important topic on his heart – encouraging members to join home cell groups for Bible Study, in order to build a strong Scriptural foundation in the church. As he stepped up to lead the worship prior to the sermon, he was electrocuted with 240 volts of power surging through his amplified guitar. As his hand touched the metal strings, the microphone literally leaped forwards and attached itself to his throat, in an electromagnetic reaction. The circuit remained for over fifteen seconds, and then he collapsed. The paramedics marvelled that he was still alive. He prayed for his life in the ambulance and believes that God healed him on the way to hospital. An extension cord had caused the incident – a well-meaning member had re-wired the plug, attaching the earth to the live input.
This incident literally shocked my brother-in-law into taking his search for Biblical truth further. He feels that the Devil didn’t want to hear that sermon preached – but it was eventually delivered a few weeks later.
Following these events, my sister and I approached our parents, praying that God would open their eyes to their need of a faith based only on Scripture and on Jesus Christ Himself. Again, God had been leading them into their own study (in the months leading up to our conversation) and by the time we spoke, had led Mum and Dad to the same convictions. When objections were raised at church about the teaching and studying of Scripture independent of the SDA published “lesson book”, the family had to make the tough decision to leave for good. And that’s the story of how we became Bible-believing Christians.
I am grateful for my SDA upbringing, as it is a very Bible-based church, in comparison to many modern denominations, and gave me a good foundation. I now feel that part of my personal ministry is to support those people who have been raised in legalistic, works based religions, and to testify that God can change not only an indoctrinated family, but an entire denomination – in His time and through His means. After we left the church, my parents struggled with the fear of becoming “Sunday worshippers” (which SDAs teach is the great apostasy and a tactic of the Beast). So we fellowshipped as a Home Group to help us make the transition. We also operated in a travelling music ministry, with our band, Red Letters. We conducted outreach through the inaugural Crossfire youth event (2004). We saw a number of non-Christian people find the Lord during this time.
Today, my whole family still struggle to find ourselves at home in a church fellowship. There always seems to be a compromise needed - mainly on doctrinal issues. We have worked hard to establish our own statement of beliefs - the SDA church certainly ingrained in us the importance of knowing where you stand in regard to doctrine, and we still feel that this is crucial for all believers. God has granted us the grace to accept that others do things differently and that most of the issues dividing us from others are not salvation-related.
I feel assured that the teachings of Ellen White are losing ground more and more these days in the church. In fact the move away from her writings has been countered by a stream of publications supporting her doctrines and re-hashing all the old controversies about her plagiarism and other arguments raised by Des Ford, Walter Rea, Walter Martin, Dale Ratzlaff, Sydney Cleveland, D.M. Canright and others.
In Australia, the church is unfortunately operating more as a business/corporation than a body of believers. There is widespread corruption (mainly sexual and financial) and a lot of compromise on Biblical truth (particularly in the realm of grace, creation, prophecy and end time events). These developments speak (to me) of a church whose believers are in crisis - only half-convinced of their "truths", and still missing the whole point of the Gospel. But I also know that there are faithful believers in the movement who are praying for change. I hope God leads those who are truly seeking His reality into new light free from the manipulations of James and Ellen White and their cronies.
Anyway, that's my story. I am convinced that this movement out of the church is being led by SDA youth today, and that it is God doing the leading.
I find it really disappointing that this false religion has caused many to throw God out with religion. Lose the religion, and examine Scripture for yourself to ignite a real faith in the real God whose message is that He really does love us, right where we’re at – in our hopelessly sinful state. I have learned not to trust my feelings, my experience, the teachings of others, books, programs, pastors or denominations - just God’s pure Word rightly interpreted.
His Word has never required me to leave my brain at the door yet. Any intellectually honest person can have their questions fully answered if they really want to know the truth. The science IS there, the philosophy stands up to scrutiny, and the entire world is out to prove the opposite – which is why it is sometimes hard to believe the Word. But it was established before any of us were around to disprove, or refute or “redefine” its meaning. And it has always meant the same thing – isn’t the truth inconvenient? Any Christian who hopes to find a kinder, more liberal, easier path to God than self-sacrifice and humility and obedience is just looking for a quick fix – and will be disappointed.
To all those ex-SDAs out there, I’d say – pray for discernment and don’t take the easy way out by just giving up on God. There’s a reason that He’s brought you into and out of Adventism. It’s a journey, and no single movement has it completely right. Focus only on accepting Jesus and making the tough decision to start obeying Him as best you can. Then you and God (yes – just the two of you) need to get together to iron out the small stuff.
All the best,