Kindgoms Apart “Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective” Pre-release….


Kingdoms Apart
Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective

Ryan C McIlhenny

There is a portion of this book that has been made available and downloadable. I heartily recommend you download it and read it. Dr. Venema’s part is most excellent. It correctly and clearly brings David VanDrunnen’s views and interpretation of Calvin’s Two Kingdom / Natural Law Theology into question.

After you open the link just click on ‘Sample Chapters: PDF’
Then click ‘save page as’ in your browser so you can retain a copy. I will buy the book as soon as it is made available.  It is suppose to be available Oct. 2012.

There are three broad topics that are considered in Venema’s critique of Van Drunnen’s interpretation of Calvin concerning Two Kingdom’s / Natural Law.

First, Does Calvin view them (the two kingdoms) primarily in terms of two separate realms? Does he make clear identification of the spiritual kingdom with the institutional church and the natural kingdom with the remainder of human life and culture?
Second, Is there a strict correlation between the natural kingdom, which is governed by Christ as Mediator of Creation through natural law, and the spiritual kingdom, which is governed by Christ as Mediator of redemption through moral law as it is set forth in scripture?
Third, What is the relation that Calvin emphasizes between God’s purpose and work as Creator and as Redeemer. How does Calvin construe the relation between God’s purposes in creation and redemption?

Please sit up and take notice of this issue.  I couldn’t agree more with the assessment of Gideon Strauss, Senior Fellow, Center for Public Justice, Washington, DC, “This is not only an academic debate. The outcome of the debate will have broad implications for Christian schools, colleges, seminaries, and churches and for Christians in the academy, politics, business, the arts, and other realms of cultural activity.”

I venture to even go a bit farther and state that this effects our understanding of Christ (Christology) and how we live our life inwardly as well as outwardly.

The download to this might be rather short lived so get it while you can.


Covenant, Testament, Works, Grace, Love, and Communion.

This little portion is so good I just have to put it somewhere for others to read.  So please just bare with me and tolerate my love for things simply put down in a simple matter.  I am a bear of very little braiin as A. A. Milne’s Edward Bear.  (Winnie ther Pooh)   Please enjoy this little tidbit.


 Richard Sibbes


Volume 6 pp. 3,4.

I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee. — Gen. XVII. 7.

God having framed man an understanding creature, hath made him fit to have communion and intercourse with himself; because he can by his understanding discern that there is a better good out of himself, in communion and fellowship with which, happiness consists. Other creatures wanting understanding to discern a better good out of than in themselves, their life being their good desire only the continuance of their own being, without society and fellowship with others. But man, having the knowledge of God, the Creator of heaven and earth, but especially of God the Redeemer, providing for him a second being better than his first, understandeth that his best and chiefest good dependeth more in him than in himself; and because his happiness standeth in acquaintance and fellowship with this God, which is the chief good, he desireth a communion with him, that he may partake of his good.

This communion and fellowship of man with God, was first founded on a covenant of works made with Adam in paradise. If he did obey, and did not eat of the forbidden fruit, he should have life both for himself and his posterity; the which covenant, because God would not have forgotten, he afterward renewed in the delivery of the ten commandments, requiring from man obedience to them in his own person, exactly, at all times, perpetually: promising life on the obedience, and threatening death and cursing if he continued not in everything the law required to do. But this fellowship being placed in man’s own freedom, and having so weak a foundation, he lost both himself and it, so that now by the first covenant of works, Adam and all his posterity are under a curse; for we cannot fulfil the law that requireth personal obedience, perfect obedience, and exact obedience. He that continueth not in all is cursed, Gal. iii. 10. The law then findeth us dead and killeth us. It findeth us dead before, and not only leaves us dead still, but makes us more dead.

Now after this fall, man’s happiness was to recover again his communion and fellowship with God; and therefore we must have a new covenant before we can have life and comfort. God must enter into new conditions with us before we can have any communion with him.

God therefore, loving man, doth after the breach of the first agreement and covenant, when Adam had lost himself by his sin, and was in a most miserable plight as ever creature was in the world, falling from so great a happiness into wondrous misery; he raised him up and comforted him by establishing a second, a new and better covenant, laying the foundation of it in the blessed seed of the woman, Christ the Messiah, who is the ground of this new covenant, and so of our communion and fellowship with God, without whom there can be no intercourse between God and us in love. And because this covenant was almost forgotten, therefore now in Abraham’s time God renewed it to Abraham in this place:  I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed after thee,’ &c.

There are four periods of time of renewing this covenant: first, from Adam to Abraham; and in those first times of the world, those that were under the covenant were called the ‘sons and daughters of God, ‘the children of the promise,’ and the covenant of grace was called a promise of the blessed seed.

Secondly, From Abraham to Moses; and then it was called a covenant, and they the children of the covenant. ‘I will establish my covenant. ‘A covenant is more than a promise, and a more solemn thing, because there be ceremonies.

The third period of renewing the covenant of grace was from Moses to Christ; and then it was more clear, whenas to the covenant made with Abraham, who was sealed with the sacrament of circumcision, the sacrament of the paschal lamb was added, and all the sacrifices Levitical; and then it was called a testament. That differeth a little from a covenant; for a testament is established by blood, it is established by death. So was that; but it was only with the blood and death of cattle sacrificed as a type.

But now, to Christ’s time to the end of the world, the covenant of grace is most clear of all; and it is now usually called the New Testament, being established by the death of Christ himself; and it differs from a covenant in these respects:

First, A testament indeed is a covenant, and something more. It is a covenant sealed by death. The testator must die before it can be of force. So all the good that is conveyed to us by the testament it is by the death of the testator, Christ. God’s covenant with us now, is such a covenant as is a testament, sealed with the death of the testator, Christ; for ‘without blood there is no redemption’ Heb. ix. 22; without the death of Christ there could be no satisfaction, and without satisfaction there could be no peace with God.

Secondly, A testament bequeatheth good things merely of love. It giveth gifts freely. A covenant requireth something to be done. In a testament, there is nothing but receiving the legacies given. In covenants, ofttimes it is for the mutual good one of another, but a testament is merely for their good for whom the testament is made, to whom the legacies are bequeathed; for when they are dead, what can they receive from them? God’s covenant now is such a testament, sealed with the death of Christ, made out of love merely for our good; for what can God receive of us? All is legacies from him; and though he requireth conditions, requireth faith and obedience, yet he himself fulfilleth what he asketh, giveth what he requireth, giveth it as a legacy, as we shall see afterward.

Thus you see that the communion and fellowship of man with God, must either be by a covenant of works or by a covenant of grace. And we must distinguish exactly between these two covenants and the periods of them.



Truth, Intolerance, and Motive. Is Doctrinal Truth more Important than Motive?


Certainly with regard to Paul himself there should be no debate; Paul certainly was not indifferent to doctrine; on the contrary, doctrine was the very basis of his life. His devotion to doctrine did not, it is true, make him incapable of a magnificent tolerance. One notable example of such tolerance is to be found during his imprisonment at Rome, as attested by the Epistle to the Philippians. Apparently certain Christian teachers at Rome had been jealous of Paul’s greatness. As long as he had been at liberty they had been obliged to take a secondary place; but now that he was in prison, they seized the supremacy. They sought to raise up affliction for Paul in his bonds; they preached Christ even of envy and strife. In short, the rival preachers made of the preaching of the gospel a means to the gratification of low personal ambition; it seems to have been about as mean a piece of business as could well be conceived. But Paul was not disturbed. “Whether in presence, or in truth,” he said, “Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Phil. 1. 18). The way in which the preaching was being carried on was wrong, but the message itself was true; and Paul was far more interested in the content of the message than in the manner of its presentation. It is impossible to conceive a finer piece of broadminded tolerance.

But the tolerance of Paul was not indiscriminate. He displayed no tolerance, for example, in Galatia. There, too, there were rival preachers.  But Paul had no tolerance for them. “But though we,” he said, “or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1. 8). What is the reason for the difference in the apostle’s attitude in the two cases? What is the reason for the broad tolerance in Rome, and the fierce anathemas in Galatia? The answer is perfectly plain. In Rome, Paul was tolerant, because there the content of the message that was being proclaimed by the rival teachers was true; in Galatia he was intolerant, because there the content of the rival message was false. In neither case did personalities have anything to do with Paul’s attitude. No doubt the motives of the Judaizers in Galatia were far from pure, and in an incidental way Paul does point out their impurity. But that was not the ground of his opposition. The Judaizers no doubt were morally far from perfect, but Paul’s opposition to them would have been exactly the same if they had all been angels from heaven. His opposition was based altogether upon the falsity of their teaching; they were substituting for the one true gospel a false gospel which was no gospel at all. It never occurred to Paul that a gospel might be true for one man and not for another; the blight of pragmatism had never fallen upon his soul. Paul was convinced of the objective truth of the gospel message, and devotion to that truth was the great passion of his life. Christianity for Paul was not only a life, but also a doctrine, and logically the doctrine came first.

But what was the difference between the teaching of Paul and the teaching of the Judaizers? What was it that gave rise to the stupendous polemic of the Epistle to the Galatians? To the modern Church the difference would have seemed to be a mere theological subtlety. About many things the Judaizers were in perfect agreement with Paul. The Judaizers believed that Jesus was the Messiah; there is not a shadow of evidence that they objected to Paul’s lofty view of the person of Christ. Without the slightest doubt, they believed that Jesus had really risen from the dead. They believed, moreover, that faith in Christ was necessary to salvation. But the trouble was, they believed that something else was also necessary; they believed that what Christ had done needed to be pieced out by the believer’s own effort to keep the Law. From the modern point of view the difference would have seemed to be very slight. Paul as well as the Judaizers believed that the keeping of the law of God, in its deepest import, is inseparably connected with faith. The difference concerned only the logical—not even, perhaps, the temporal—order of three steps. Paul said that a man (1) first believes on Christ, (2) then is justified before God, (3) then immediately proceeds to keep God’s law. The Judaizers said that a man (1) believes on Christ and (2) keeps the law of God the best he can, and then (3) is justified. The difference would seem to modern “practical” Christians to be a highly subtle and intangible matter, hardly worthy of consideration at all in view of the large measure of agreement in the practical realm. What a splendid cleaning up of the Gentile cities it would have been if the Judaizers had succeeded in extending to those cities the observance of the Mosaic law, even including the unfortunate ceremonial observances! Surely Paul ought to have made common cause with teachers who were so nearly in agreement with him; surely he ought to have applied to them the great principle of Christian unity.

As a matter of fact, however, Paul did nothing of the kind; and only because he (and others) did nothing of the kind does the Christian Church exist today. Paul saw very clearly that the differences between the Judaizers and himself was the differences between two entirely distinct types of religion; it was the differences between a religion of merit and a religion of grace. If Christ provides only a part of our salvation, leaving us to provide the rest, then we are still hopeless under the load of sin. For no matter how small the gap which must be bridged before salvation can be attained, the awakened conscience sees clearly that our wretched attempt at goodness is insufficient even to bridge that gap. The guilty soul enters again into the hopeless reckoning with God, to determine whether we have really done our part. And thus we groan again under the old bondage of the law. Such an attempt to piece out the work of Christ by our own merit, Paul saw clearly, is the very essence of unbelief; Christ will do everything or nothing, and the only hope is to throw ourselves unreservedly on His mercy and trust Him for all.

Paul certainly was right. The differences which divided him from the Judaizers was no mere theological subtlety, but concerned the very heart and core of the religion of Christ.

“Just as I am without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me”

—that was what Paul was contending for in Galatia; that hymn would never have been written if the Judaizers had won. And without the thing which that hymn expresses there is no Christianity at all.

J. Gresham Machen.
Christianaity and Liberalsim.
pp. 16-18


From Samuel Rutherford’s letters concerning the passing of children.


I know the language is tough but it is from the 17th Century Scottish Pastor Samuel Rutherford who bore the burdens of his parish deeply in his heart. I take comfort in his insight. His ability to comfort came at a cost.  He knew what it was to suffer loss and experience much pain and sorrow.  He also knew that our Children are not ours fully as they are God’s.

You can read a biography that I wrote about him here.

Here are a few small portions of The Letters of Samuel Rutherford to comfort the afflicted upon the loss of life on this side….

‘Take no heavier lift of your children, than your Lord alloweth; give them room beside your heart, but not in the yolk of your heart, where Christ should be; for then they are your idols, not your *bairns. If your Lord take any of them home to his house before the storm come on, take it well, the owner of the orchard may take down two or three apples off his own trees, before midsummer, and *ere they get the harvest sun; and it would not be seemly that his servant, the gardener, should chide him for it. Let our Lord pluck his own fruit at any season he pleaseth; they are not lost to you, they are laid up so well, as that they are coffered in heaven, where our Lord’s best jewels lie.’

‘The child hath but changed a bed in the garden, and is planted up higher, nearer the sun, where he shall thrive better than in this out-field moor ground’

‘Go on and faint not, something of yours is in heaven, beside the flesh of your exalted Saviour, and ye go on after your own.’

‘He (she) is not lost to you who is found to Christ. If he (she) hath casten his bloom and flower, the bloom is fallen in heaven in Christ’s lap; and as he (she) was lent awhile to time, so is he now given to eternity, which will take yourself; and the difference of your shipping and his (hers) to heaven and Christ’s shore, the land of life, is only in some few years, which weareth every day shorter, and some short and soon reckoned summers will give you a meeting with him.’

*bairn [bɛən (Scot) bern]
Scot and northern English a child
[Old English bearn; related to bearm lap, Old Norse, Old High German barn child]

*ere [ɛə]
conj & prep
a poetic word for before
[Old English ǣr; related to Old Norse ār early, Gothic airis earlier, Old High German ēr earlier, Greek eri early]

(2Co 1:2) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2Co 1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

(2Co 1:4) who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

(2Co 1:5) For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

(2Co 1:6) If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

(2Co 1:7) Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

Sometimes the most simplest of things say the most profound…


Jesus Loves Me this I know,

For the Bible Tells me So

Little Ones to Him Belong

They are weak but He is Strong.

“Jesus Loves Me” was a poem written back around 1860.  It was a poem written in a Novel  called Say and Seal by Susan Warner and used to comfort and dying child in the setting.  It was simplistic and quite profound.   It was the favorite hymn of one of America’s finest Biblical Scholars named Francis Schaeffer.  He realized that the simple truth conveyed in this song applied to the intellectual adult as well as the youngest child who could comprehend the comfort of a hug.  Also the great Irish missionary to India, Amy Carmichael, was converted to Christ after hearing this hymn at a children’s mission in Yorkshire, England.

Sometimes the most simplest of things can convey the most profound.

Preach the Gospel all the Time.  Use Words because they are necessary.

I learned about some of this tonight while driving home from Dayton, Ohio.  I was listening to an audio series that Focus on the Family puts out called Adventures in Odyssey.  I am always amazed at some of the things we can learn in some of the strangest places.

(Mat 18:1) At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

(Mat 18:2) And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them

(Mat 18:3) and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 18:4) Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Be Very Encouraged, Jesus Loves us!



Just thought this was interesting and I was blessed knowing that something so simple can be so profound.  Sometimes I complicate things more than they need to be.  Oh that I had eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit says to the church.  It would definitely ring loudly with his Word and the simplicity found in Christ.

The Teachings of Seventh-day-Adventism by Dr. John H. Gerstner



From retired Pastor Joe Gwynn,

A project of mine this summer has been to type four out-of-print works by the late Dr. John H. Gerstner. They are critiques of four prominent cults that ensnare thousands of unwary people. They (the booklets) are carefully footnoted and therefore can be defended with confidence. In them you will learn things (especially about their founders and history) that many of their proponents who come knocking at your door either do not know or will not admit. My purpose was to make these booklets (25-30 pages each) available for free downloading and distribution. 

They are: 
· The Teachings of Mormonism
· The Teachings of Seventh-day Adventism
· The Teachings of Christian Science
· The Teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses

John H. Gerstner (1914–1996), M.Div. and M.Th. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Gerstner was Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for thirty years. After retiring, Dr. Gerstner, the favorite teacher of Dr. R.C. Sproul, was a frequent speaker at Ligonier Conferences before his death in 1996. An excellent historian and Reformed theologian, Dr. Gerstner also wrote several excellent books, including my favorite “Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth”, an excellent critique of Dispensationalism. 

In the one true God and his Son, Jesus Christ,
Joe Gwynn 

If you want this in Word format email me.

The Teaching of

Seventh-day Adventism

John H. Gerstner

John H. Gerstner (1914–1996), M.Div. and M.Th. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Gerstner was Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for thirty years. After retiring, Dr. Gerstner, a favorite teacher of Dr. R.C. Sproul, was a frequent speaker at Ligonier Conferences before his death in 1996. An excellent Reformed theologian, scholar and historian, Dr. Gerstner wrote many good books.
Introduction …………………………………………………………. Page 1
1. Description and History of Seventh-day Adventism …………. Page 2
2. Doctrines of Seventh-Day Adventists …………………………. Page 11
3. Terms Frequently Used by the Seventh-day Adventists ……. Page 15
4. For Further Reading ……………………………………………………. Page 16
5. Summary of Traditional Christian Doctrines …….……….…..………… Page 18
6. Brief Definitions of the Sects ……………..…………..………………… Page 21


The abundance of literature on various “sects” shows that there is great interest in the subject. But what is a sect? We must make our definition clear, for there is wide difference of opinion on its meaning. 

Evangelicals generally use sect when referring to those denominations which do not hold to fundamental biblical principles … especially the deity of Christ and His atonement. This booklet is written from the evangelical perspective.

The teaching of Seventh-day Adventism is designed as a ready reference booklet. It is meant to be a quick guide to the wealth of literature on this subject, and it includes a valuable table and glossary.

The general exposition in the first chapter gives an easily-grasped overview of the sect. The following chapter, “Doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists” provides the reference material which summarizes the first chapter and adds some more technical data. Chapter two contains the basic theological structure of Seventh-day Adventists stated objectively and concisely. The text itself gives a fuller exposition of some of the cardinal points outlined in the first chapter. 

Chapter three. “Terms Frequently Used by Seventh-day Adventists,” gives some of the most common terms in the vocabulary of this sect. Sects often have their own precise definitions for common religious words, and the glossary makes this immediately evident.

Chapter four, “For Further Reading,” lists both primary and secondary sources for further study of the theology and practice of the sect.

A summary of the essential teachings of traditional Christianity appears in chapter five. This summary is included to provide a basis for comparison with the doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists. This chapter is designed to be used as a frame of reference.

To make the theologies of different sects clearer, their teachings have been summarized in the “Chart of Comparative Doctrines” at the end of chapter six. This tabular outline classifies the doctrines of Seventh-Day Adventists, and continuing with the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Christian Scientists, this chart allows the reader to see at a glance the position of each group on various Christian doctrines.

1. Description and History of Seventh-day Adventism*

In the mid-nineteenth century, feelings that men were experiencing the Last Days were rife:

This was the grand clue – of the seventy weeks as the first segment of the 2,300 years, cut off for the Jews and climaxing with the Messiah – that burst simultaneously upon the minds of men in Europe and America, and even to Asia and Africa. This was the great advance truth that led to the emphasis upon the 2,300 years from 457 B.C. to A.D. 1843 or 1844 which we have surveyed. Clearer and clearer became the perception in the first four decades of the nineteenth century, until it reached its peak in America in the summer and autumn of 1844, contemporaneously with the predicted time of the prophecy.[1]

This is the historical setting which the outstanding Adventist scholar, Leroy Froom, in his massive and erudite volumes of The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, finds for the work of William Miller, whom he seems to regard as the first of the Adventists. Sears in Days of Delusion, Minnigerode in The Fabulous Forties, and others also seemed award of the fact that “in no other period in American history were ‘the last days’ felt to be so imminent as in that between 1820 and 1845”[2] Froom’s work shows us that this phenomenon was by no means restricted to this continent. 

William Miller

It was on the crest of this eschatological wave that William Miller was borne, and in its trough Seventh-day Adventism followed. Miller was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on February 15, 1782. A reputable farmer, good soldier, and captain in the War of 1812, and apparently an outstanding citizen, he did not become famous until religious vicissitudes led him to a closer study of the Scriptures. At first, he was a rather typical, earnest member of the local Baptist church, but some skeptical friends of his eventually swept him into a frigid deism. After he had found his religious faith again, he applied himself much more earnestly to the study of the Bible. (Some would say that he applied himself too earnestly.) This pious farmer utilized every spare moment for sixteen years with his Bible and his concordance. Still, it is understandable that such a person, being unprotected by the corrective of church tradition, might very well fall into some naïve and extreme notions. Miller showed admirable restraint when, feeling that he had made a great discovery of the very imminent return of his Lord, he was able to say:
My great fear was, that in their joy at the hope of a glorious inheritance soon to be revealed, they would receive the doctrine without sufficiently examining the Scriptures in demonstration of its truth. I therefore feared to present it, lest by some possibility I should be in error, and be the means of misleading any.[3]

Still, one wonders why this untrained farmer did not hesitate to take the platform and announce to the world with bold certainty the outcome of his calculations about obscure prophetic predictions. As William Biederwolf said, “We was as ignorant of Hebrew as a Hottentot is of the Klondike.[4] That fact could have given him some reason for holding back from ex cathedra deliverances about the meaning of the 2300 days that are not supposed to be days and the seventy weeks that are not weeks. But after being asked to speak at a little church in Dresden, and there to continue for a week of services, it was not long before Miller was writing to his friend, Hendrys, “I devote my whole time, lecturing.”

The Growth of Adventism

By 1840 Adventism was becoming a significant religious movement. It was in that year that the influential Adventist periodical, The Signs of the Times, made its appearance to spread the imminency message far and wide. But more important still, the number of preachers and lecturers of the rousing message that Christ was due in 1843 had so increased that they quite naturally began a loose organization – always the first step toward a new sect. On October 13, 1840, a conference was held at the Reverend Joshua V. Hines’ Chardon Street Chapel, Boston. Great camp meetings began to characterize the ever-widening reach of the Adventist push. 

Finally, the great year of Millerite expectation, March 21, 1842 to March 21, 1843, came and went, but Christ was nowhere to be seen. Miller waited in vain – a disappointed man aware that he had made a mistake but was incapable of finding it. Six weeks later he wrote to his disillusioned followers:

Were I to live my life over again, with the same evidence that I then had, to be honest with God and man I should have to do as I have done. Although opposers said it would not come, they produced no weighty arguments. It was evidently guesswork with them; and I then thought, and do now, that their denial was based more on an unwillingness for the Lord to come than on any arguments leading to such a conclusion. [This was a most uncharitable remark, for many of these critics were lovers of the Lord and His glorious appearing who simply did not expect Him in 1843.] I confess my error, and acknowledge my disappointment: yet I still believe that the day of the Lord is near, even at the door; and I exhort you, my brethren, to be watchful, and not let that day come upon you unaware.[5]

Millerite hopes were now down but not out. 1844 dragged on flatly. Meetings went on flatly. At Exeter, New Hampshire, on August 12th, a camp meeting was dragging on when, rather suddenly, as if driven by the silent demand of a grieving multitude, one of the brothers announced that the return of Christ would be in the seventh month of the current Jewish year. The proposal caught on. The fading hopes lived again. A fixed date was set and once again, more fervently than ever before, the Millerites set out to warn the world; only this time Miller was to catch the fire rather than start it. October 22: The end of the world!

In then weeks the great day was at hand. In a Philadelphia store window the following sign was displayed: “This shop is closed in honor of the King of kings, who will appear about the 20th of October. Get ready, friends, to crown Him Lord of all.”[6] A group of two hundred left the city, just as Lot had left Sodom before impending doom. Most of the Millerites gave up their occupations during the last days; farmers left their crops in the fields. But the usual meetings in which believers gathered were surprisingly orderly and free of fanaticism. The sober Adventist research reveals that the stories of the Millerites climbing up mountains and poles and clothing themselves in white ascension robes were tall tales; the charges of Adventist insanity are reversed by sober, critical investigation.[7] Be all this as it may, the excitement was naturally very great and the second disappointment shattering. 

But hope seemed to spring eternal among the Adventists. Their basic Christian faith would not be crushed. And though they were no longer adjusting their timetable for the Lord’s return, they did keep their Adventist hope alive. On April 29, 1845, they assembled at Albany to take inventory of their hopes and state their faith. This meeting held them together.

Five years after Christ did not come to Miller, Miller went to be with Christ. “At the time appointed,” his tombstone at Low Hampton reads, “the end shall be.” 

Mrs. Ellen G. White

Miller was succeeded in the leadership of the Adventist movement by a person who was in every respect different from him. One obvious difference was that she was a woman – Mrs. Ellen G. White. She was a visionary where Miller had been a rather sober student. Miller always attempted to ground his witness on his exposition of the Bible, but Mrs. White went beyond the Bible with her numerous “revelations.” When Miller was mistaken he admitted it, but Mrs. White denied any error. While Miller was frankly disappointed, Mrs. White turned defeat into victory by reinterpretation.

Her very first vision was the cue: in 1844, right after the grand disillusionment, Mrs. White “saw” the Adventists marching straight to heaven. Mrs. White had a job for life as seer, and the Adventists had new assurance. Until her death in 1915, she was the outstanding Adventist leader. And, judging from Jan Van Baalen’s remark, though her teachings sometimes caused embarrassment, she still holds sway:

… it will not do for officials of this church to invite the present writer to forget about Mrs. White and to read current S.D.A. publications, while these same current publications state, “For her emphasis of Bible truth, for her application of specific doctrines, for her simplification of the deep things of God … the S.D.A. denomination and the world in general owe a great debt to Ellen G. White.”[8]

The Theology of Seventh-day Adventists

There is every indication that Seventh-day Adventism holds many of the catholic Christian doctrines. Miller, for example, 1n 1822 wrote a brief creed. As Francis Nichol says, “Any Calvinistic Baptist would probably subscribe to all except one of them, with scarcely a change of a word. In fact, if we eliminate from his creed Calvin’s dour doctrine of predestination, and the Baptist statement on the mode of baptism, virtually all conservative Protestant bodies would subscribe to the views set down”[9] Later Seventh-day Adventists have done very little to alter these views: they have merely modified Miller somewhat, held to the general Arminian system, and added several distinctive positions (especially pertaining to the atonement, the Sabbath, and the future). 

The Adventists accept the inspiration and authority of the Bible. Unfortunately, they also accept the inspiration and authority of Mrs. Ellen G. White. As a matter of fact, it seems highly doubtful that the Seventh-day Adventists would ever have come into existence but for the notion that in 1844 Christ entered into the heavenly sanctuary and they could never have become sure of such an idea without the visions of Mrs. White. The Adventists held their prophetress in high esteem. Biederwolf, however, was not so impressed by her abilities as a seeress. He lists a long number of unfulfilled visions, such as the following:

In one of her visions her accompanying angels told her that the time of salvation for all sinners ended in 1844. She now claims the door of mercy is still open.

In another vision she discovered that women should wear short dresses with pants and she and her sister followers dressed this way for eight years. But the ridiculous custom has now been abandoned … [10]

It is not in the realm of theology that Adventism deviates so greatly from the catholic Christian tradition, nor with respect to the person of Christ, but in its view of the atonement. “ ‘We dissent,’ they say, ‘from the view that the atonement was made upon the cross as is generally held.’ ”[11] The atonement was begun then but it was not ended then. For, “by a life of perfect obedience and by His sacrificial death, He satisfied divine justice, and made provision for atonement for the sins of men …”[12] Christ’s work as an atoning priest, according to Adventists, is not yet complete. He has yet to make the great atonement for sins. The formal blotting out of sins is still in the future. What delays Him? What is He doing now? In 1844 He entered the heavenly sanctuary and presumably is still there. He will complete the atonement when He comes out of the sanctuary and lays the sins of His people on Satan, who, like ancient Azazel, bears them away forever. 
Adventists hold to a rigorous system of sanctification in which a strict conformity to divine commands is appropriately enjoined. Characteristic of the group is an Old Testament legal favor to their laws. This is undoubtedly an outgrowth of their vigorous defense of the Jewish Saturday as the continuing Christian Sabbath. In their eagerness to show that the lay is still binding, there is proportionately high regard for other Old Testament laws (generally thought by other Christians to be abrogated). 

The following reasons refute the Adventist insistence on the perpetual obligation to observe the Lord’s Day on Saturday. First, although the Sabbath Day is perpetually binding as a part of the moral law, it does not follow that ancient legal features of that day are likewise necessarily binding – certainly not if there is evidence that they have been altered by later revelation. The particular day of the week is surely unimportant. A seventh day may be essential, but which seventh day could not possibly be essential. Just as Saturday could not have originally been most appropriate as symbols of the day of rest after creation, so Sunday became most appropriate as the day of rest after redemption. The Hebrew word for “Sabbath” means “rest,” not “Saturday.” Saturday was shown to be the intended Sabbath, when god gave a double portion of manna on the preceding day. In the new dispensation Sunday was shown to be the intended Sabbath when God raised His Son on that day.

Second, the New Testament does indicate that just such a change was made. Christ arose on Sunday, appeared on Sunday, the disciples assembled on Sunday, offerings were made on Sunday, and John was in the Spirit on Sunday.

The third reason grows out of the second and serves as a distinct confirmation of it. The practice of the early church revealed an early observation of Sunday as the new Sabbath, although the old Sabbath was observed when the church was still a part of Israel. Biederwolf has conveniently gathered the statements from the early Fathers:

The Epistle of Barnabus (A.D. 100) says, “Wherefore also we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead.” 

The Epistles of Ignatius (A.D. 107), a pupil of the apostles, whose writings were recommended by Polycarp, a friend of St. John’s, says, “And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s day as a festival, the resurrection day, the queen and chief of all days.”

Also from Ignatius: “Those who were concerned with old things have come to newness of confidence, no longer keeping sabbaths, but living according to the Lord’s day, on which our life as risen again through Him depends.” 

In the Writings of Justin Martyr (A.D. 145), it is said, “But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our communion assembly, because it is the first day of the week and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.” 

For some time Jewish Christians continued to keep both the Sabbath and Sunday, but such were accommodated as weaker brothers. According to Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 47: “But if some through weakmindedness, wish to observe such institutions as were given by Moses, along with their hope in Christ, yet choose to live with the Christians and the faithful, as I have said before, not inducing them either to be circumcised, like themselves, or to keep the Sabbath, or to observe any other such ceremonies, then I hold that we ought to join ourselves to such, and associate with them in all things as kinsmen and brethren.” 

Apostolic Constitutions (Second Century): “On the day of the resurrection of the Lord, that is, the Lord’s day, assemble yourselves together without fail, giving thanks to God and praising Him for those mercies bestowed upon you through Christ.” 

Dionysius of Corinth (A.D. 170), in an epistle to the Church of Rome, wrote: “Today we kept the Lord’s holy day in which we read your letter.” 

Melito of Sardis (A.D. 175) wrote a treatise on “The Lord’s Day.” 

Irenaeus (A.D. 160-200) says: “The mystery of the Lord’s resurrection may not be celebrated on any other day than the Lord’s Day and on this alone should we observe the breaking of the Paschal Feast.” 

Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 174) wrote: “The old seventh day has become nothing more than a working day.” 

Bardesanes (A.D. 180) says in his book of The Laws of Countries: “On one day, the first of the week, as we assemble ourselves together.” 

Tertullian (A.D. 200) says in his Apologeticus: “In the same way we devote Sunday to rejoicing, from a far different reason than sun-worship, we have some resemblance of to some of you ‘The Jews’, who devote the day of Saturn (Saturday) to ease and luxury.” In another of his works he wrote: “He who argues for Sabbath keeping and circumcision must show that Adam and Abel and the just of old times observed these things … We observe the day of the Lord’s resurrection laying aside our worldly business.” 

Origen (A.D. 185-255) says: “John the Baptist was born to make ready a people for the Lord, a people fit for Him at the end of the Covenant now grown old, which is the end of the Sabbath.” He further wrote, “It is one of the marks of a perfect Christian to keep the Lord’s day.” 

Victorianus (A.D. 300) says: “On the Lord’s day we go forth to our bread with the giving of thanks. Lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews, which Christ himself the Lord of the Sabbath in his body abolished” (On the Creation of the World, section 14). 

Peter, Bishop of Alexandria (A.D. 306), says: “But the Lord’s day we celebrate as the day of joy because on it He rose again.” 

Eusebius (A.D. 324) of the Ebionites says: “They also observed the Sabbath and other discipline of the Jews just like them, but on the other hand, they also celebrate the Lord’s day very much like us.” (Ecclesiastical History, pages 112f.).

A fourth argument is the inherently inconsistent position of the Adventists on the Saturday Sabbath. For one thing, they are obliged to abandon some of the strict Jewish regulations, such as the one forbidding the picking up of sticks to make a fire. Unfortunately, some Adventists actually regard all who observe Sunday as having received the mark of the beast.[13] They say that “evangelical churches that do not observe the seventh day are the ‘false church’ …”[14] The United States government becomes a dragon when it makes Sabbath laws; the Adventists work earnestly against laws that protect the American Sunday.[15] One evangelist goes so far as to make refusal to observe Saturday the “unpardonable sin.”[16]

This defensive spirit developed early in the movement when it was found that most of the evangelical churches were not sympathetic to the Millerite expectation. First, Fitch told Adventists of their obligation to come out of other churches, Protestant no less than Romanist.[17] This sentiment spread rapidly. But Miller himself was able to say as late as 1844: “ ‘I have not advised anyone to separate from the churches to which they may have belonged, unless their brethren cast them out, or deny them religious privileges … I have never designed to make a new sect …’ “[18] Joshua Himes came over to the separatist viewpoint finally, but Miller held out, though rather silently, to the end. Present-day Adventism requires would-be members to confess that the “Seventh-day Adventist Church is ‘the remnant church’ “[19] This remnant and only true church (as they say) practices baptism by immersion, observes the Lord’s Supper, and follows a congregational organization. 

Unquestionably, the outstanding distinctive of the Adventist church is its eschatology. Its doctrine of the intermediate state – soul sleep – it shares with some other sects. (“The state to which we are reduced by death is one of silence, inactivity and entire unconsciousness.”[20]) But, its doctrine of the Second Coming is uniquely its own. After Miller was disappointed in 1843 and again in 1844, one of the Adventists, Hiram Edson, claimed a vision of Christ entering the heavenly sanctuary. So Christ had returned – only not to earth, but to heaven. Mrs. White later gave this vision her imprimatur and filled out the various details.
How did the Adventists conclude that Christ would return in 1844? Basically they accepted Miller’s calculations. Miller reasoned this way: Daniel 8:14 says that the sanctuary would be restored in “two thousand and three hundred days.” Miller believed that a prophetic day equals one year. So he calculated that it was two thousand and three hundred years before the sanctuary was to be cleansed by Christ’s return. But what was the date from which we are to calculate? Miller saw that there was the seventy weeks’ passage in Daniel 9. He figured this meant seventy weeks of years; that is, seventy times seven years or four hundred ninety years, Four hundred ninety years, the prophecy said, until the Messiah be cut off. When was Christ cut off? A.D. 33. Four hundred ninety years earlier brought us to the date of 457 B.C., and that was the date of the determination of the decree allowing Ezra to return. Now add to this date the twenty-three hundred years of Daniel 8:14. The result is 1843. 

History has demonstrated conclusively that Miller was wrong. And Miller was wise enough to admit it, although he could detect no error in his calculations. But when Edson revealed that “the sanctuary to be cleansed is heaven,” and Crozier found him a proof text in Hebrews 8:1-1, Mrs. White canonized the discovery.[21] It does behoove us, however, since history must needs be silent on such a claim, to investigate whether this fanciful rendering is made out of a whole cloth like the alleged ascension robes of the Adventists. 

First, then, let us note what Hebrews 8:1-2 has to say: “ … we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord.” It does surely indicate that there is a heavenly sanctuary, and that Christ is its priest. But it also indicates that He has already sat down (presumably, having completed His work of atonement). It is clearly taught in Scripture that Christ cried out on the cross, “It is finished”; that the veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies tore from top to bottom (indicating that Christ made possible a new way of access to the throne of God): and that Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies and types of atonement, making further sacrifices unnecessary. Had the Adventists not been driven to despair and disappointment, they probably would not have denied all these things.

According to Adventists, now that Christ has entered the heavenly sanctuary, He makes an “investigative judgment,” to use Mrs. White’s term; that is, He investigates the professed believers to see who are really in the faith. When this is completed, He will return to the world. At His return, the righteous who are living will be translated to heaven, and the righteous dead will be resurrected and taken to the same place. There they will spend the millennium – and not on the earth. The earth will be desolate during the whole period. But, meanwhile, the punishment of the wicked will be determined. After this unique millennium, Christ will return to the earth with the righteous “where eternity will be spent.”[22] Satan and the wicked will be annihilated.

2. Doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventists

Doctrine of the Bible

The Bible is inspired, but not verbally and infallibly so. The prophetess, Mrs. Ellen G. White, apparently regarded her interpretations on a par with the Bible. “When I send you a testimony of warning and reproof, many of you declare it to be merely the opinion of Sister White. You have already insulted the Spirit of God (Ellen G. White, Testimonies, Vol. V, pp. 661, 664). The Seventh-day Adventists have acknowledged her authority and continue to maintain it today, as this official statement of the General Conference reported in the “Seventh-Day Journal, The Advent Review and Herald, shows: “Seventh-Day Adventists hold that Ellen G. White performed the work of a true prophet during the seventy years of her public ministry … as Samuel was a prophet … As Jeremiah was a prophet … as John the Baptist …, so we believe that Mrs. White was a prophet to the Church of Christ today” (October 4, 1928). Such a statement places Mrs. White in the category with the recognized inspired agents of the Bible; the following does the same by condemning a person who accepted some parts of her testimonies and not others with these words: “This is precisely the attitude taken by the ‘higher critics’ toward the Bible. They single out certain parts of the Bible and assert that these are not inspired. But no more subtle nor effective method can be employed than this to break down all faith in all inspired writings … The Ellen G. White books are a tower of spiritual power … a guiding light to the Adventist people” (The Advent Review and Herald, April 4, 1957). T. E. Rabok summarized the whole matter: “The Bible is not verbally inspired; and neither are the writings of Ellen G. White (BHP, p. 194) – yet both are inspired. The Articles of Faith affirm the Bible to be the “unerring rule of faith and practice” (1957 Yearbook, p. 4, italics mine).

Doctrine of God

God is tri-personal and His essential attribute is love. “It is the supreme revelation between Himself and all created life – yes, the supreme revelation between the Persons of the ever-blessed Trinity” (A. S. Maxwell, Your Friends the Adventists, p. 18). Only God is immortal, according to the Adventists (Ochat, TB, p. 42). 

Doctrine of Man

The Seventh-day Adventists differ very little from most Protestant churches in their teaching concerning the nature of man. This is clear from the official statement: “Mortal man possesses a nature inherently sinful and dying. Eternal life is the gift of God through faith in Christ” (1957 Yearbook, p. 4). Nevertheless, one writer (Ochat) says: “If man had never sinned, he would have lived eternally.” This seems in keeping with Mrs. White’s conception that “his [man’s] nature was in harmony with the will of God. His mind was capable of comprehending divine things. His affections were pure; his appetites and passions were under the control of reason. He was holy and happy in bearing the image of God, and in perfect obedience to his will” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45). She goes further, saying “So long as they [Adam and Eve] remained loyal to the divine law, their capacity to know, to enjoy, to love, would continually increase” (ibid., p. 51). The first parents had “no bias toward evil” (p. 49), but nevertheless they did have a “desire for self-indulgence, the fatal passion” (p. 48). Man’s very freedom required his ability to transgress God’s commands and this he did. Though Adam was holy and growing in holiness, still “it was possible [italics mine] for Adam before the fall, to form a righteous character …” (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 65).

Doctrine of Sin

A clear definition of the imputation of Adam’s guilt is not to be found in Seventh-day Adventist teaching. Mrs. White says that Adam could have formed a righteous character, “But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our natures are fallen, and we cannot make ourselves righteous” (SC, p. 65). “The unaided human will has no real power to resist and overcome evil” (Ellen G. White, Ministry of Healing, p. 429). There is apparently an exception in the case of unbelief, for belief may and must precede regeneration. This implies fallen man’s ability to believe. 

Doctrine of Christ

“Jesus Christ is very God, being of the same nature and essence as the Eternal Father (1957 Yearbook, p. 4). Deviating from Christian orthodoxy, the Adventists teach that Christ took a polluted human nature: “In His humanity Christ partook of our sinful fallen nature. If not, then He was not ‘made like unto His brethren,’ was not ‘in all points tempted like we are,’ did not overcome as we have to overcome, and is not therefore, the complete and perfect Saviour man needs and must have to be saved” (Bible Readings for the Home Circle, 1915 ed., p. 115). Our Saviour took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 117). Some writers believe that the Adventists no longer hold this doctrine of the Incarnation. Their latest official statement neither affirms nor denies it: “While retaining His divine nature He took upon Himself the nature of the human family, lived on earth as a man, exemplified in His life as our Example the principles of righteousness …” (1957 Yearbook, p. 4). The handling of the classical text on this point, Hebrews 4:15, in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary is significant. With reference to Christ’s being tempted “in all points,” the Commentary says: “In some mysterious way that we can not understand, our Lord experienced the full weight of every conceivable temptation the ‘prince of this world’ (John 12:31) could press upon Him, but without in the least degree, even by a thought, responding to any of them.” Christ’s being “without sin” is explained thus: “Herein lies the unfathomable mystery of the perfect life of our Saviour. For the first time human nature was led to victory over its natural tendency to sin.” This last statement assumes that Christ possessed a “natural tendency to sin,” which He conquered. 

Doctrine of Redemption

Though God is just, He has mercifully provided a way of salvation through Christ. All have an opportunity to be saved. Those who reject Christ are not damned but annihilated. Those who do believe receive the greater benefit of reconciliation. The Adventist theory of the atonement is as follows: (1) Christ who lived “in blameless obedience to His own eternal law of righteousness offered up a complete, perfect, and all-sufficient sacrifice for the sins of men” (A. S. Maxwell, Your Friends the Adventists, p. 19). This was not the atonement, however, for, say the Adventists, “we dissent from the view that the atonement was made upon the cross” (Fundamental Principles, p. 2). (2) In 1844, “attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the Holy of Holies … to there make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to his benefits” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 308). This is Mrs. White’s reference to the “investigative judgment” which Christ is thought to have made in the Holy of Holies in heaven. (3) “Before He [Christ] takes His throne as King, He will make the great atonement … and their sins will be blotted out” (FP). The completion of the atonement comes when Christ, emerging from the Holy of Holies, lays the sins of those who have been found to be true believers upon Azazel (or Satan), who carries away the sins of the world into the wilderness. 

The Seventh-day Adventists (who are not especially articulate on this point) consider justification to be an infused, rather than imputed, righteousness. As Mayer observes, “Faith takes hold of Christ’s divine power, inducting the believing into the covenant relationship where the Law of God is written on his heart, and through the enabling power of the indwelling Christ his life is brought into conformity with the divine precepts” (Religious Bodies of America, p. 435). Though often charged with legalism, the Seventh-day Adventists insist that salvation is by faith in Christ and not based on the works of the law, though those are always present. They attempt to avoid both antinomianism and legalism.

With the power of Christ within, the Seventh-day Adventist is to work out his own sanctification by strict conformity to the law of God. The law as given in the Old Testament remains largely unchanged for the Adventist. He believes that the sixth commandment requires abstinence from war, tobacco, alcohol, and other detrimental social or personal practices. “The Seventh-day Adventists make the use of intoxicants and tobacco in any form the ground for exclusion from church fellowship” (R. S. Howells, His Many Mansions, p. 36). By far the greatest concern is with the fourth commandment. “Sabbath” in the commandment is taken to mean Saturday rather than the day of rest. It is therefore taught that the holy day could never be changed to another day in the week without overthrowing the fourth commandment. Saturday Sabbath was founded at the creation and Adam’s fall was caused by his violation of it, according to some Adventist interpretations of Hosea 6:7. This command is the center of the whole law. “in support of this assertion they say that of 497 words which make the Decalog in the English form (AV) the word ‘is’ of the Sabbath Commandment (‘This is the Sabbath of the Lord’) is the 249th word, or exactly in the center of the Decalog” (Carlyle B. Haynes, The Christian Sabbath, p. 34). Sunday observance is the mark of the beast referred to in Revelation 16:2, which mark is on the harlot of Babylon, according to Revelation 14 (cf. White, The Great Controversy, 1911 ed., p. 449). Sunday worship was, according to the Prophets, the abomination which had to be cleansed from the Holy of Holies when Christ entered in 1844. The evangelist D. E. Venden, The Chaos of Cults, p. 188). 

Doctrine of the Church

The general Christian interpretation of the New Testament church in relation to the Old Testament Israel is that it is the same in “substance” (all are believers in the mercy of God) and different only in the “accidents” (the mode of worship, etc.). The Adventists tend to reject even the modal differences between the Old Testament and New Testament church. Thus, the very day of worship must not be changed; dietary laws are still in force; Jerusalem is still the proper center of worship; the payment of the tithe is required; circumcision and the Passover are still observed (cf. Paul Scheurlen, Die Sekten der Gegenwart, p. 20). 

A tendency to separate from professing Christendom, since she is the harlot of Babylon with the mark of the beast, was to be anticipated. Separation occurred in spite of the advice of the original leader of the movement, William Miller (Signs of the Times, Jan. 31, 1844, p. 196). “S.D.A. requires for baptism a confession that the S.D.A. Church ‘the remnant Church’ (excluding all others!)” (Van Baalen, CC, p. 188). The papacy is Anti-Christ (Dan. 7:25), the first beast of Revelation. Since “followers of Christ will be led to abstain from all intoxicating drinks, tobacco, and other narcotics, and to avoid body and soul defiling habit and practice,” vast masses of professing Christians are implicitly unchurched. This principle does not spear to prevent cooperation with some other denominations.

The organization of the Seventh-day Adventists is rather Baptistic. A group of believers may form a local, autonomous congregation which is supervised by one or more elders. Local congregations join to form larger unions. A General Conference is convened quadrennially. Seventh-day Adventists are not only Baptistic in their practice of baptism of adults only and that by immersion. Also practiced at their quarterly meetings is the rite of foot-washing (Howells, His Many Mansions, pp. 351.; Questions on Doctrine, p. 24). 

Doctrine of the Future

(1) Christ entered into the heavenly Holy of Holies. William Miller, on the basis of Daniel 8:14 (interpreting 2300 days as 2300 ye4ars), concluded that 2300 years were to elapse prior to the return of Christ. But 2300 years from what date? Miller thought it was 457 B.C. (AD, chap. II) from which the following calculation was made … ( – 457 B.C. + 2300 years = 1843 A.D.), the date of the return. Later he modified his calculation to 1844, then repudiated the whole scheme when Christ did not return. The Seventh-day Adventists adopted the view that Christ did come, but not to earth – rather to the heavenly Holy of Holies to purify it and instigate the Investigative Judgment. (2) Investigative Judgment. Christ entered the heavenly Holy of Holies and began the searching of hearts to see who were true Christians. “This work of judgment in the heavenly sanctuary began in 1844. Its completion will close human probation” (1975 Yearbook, p. 5). (3) Christ will come out of the Holy of Holies and lay the guilt of His people on Azazel. (4) Imminently He will come to the earth to annihilate the wicked and resurrect His people, living and dead (the souls sleep at death until this resurrection [Fundamental Principles, p. 12]). He will take them with Him to heaven for the millennium, leaving Satan on the desolate earth. (5) Christ will return to earth to accomplish three purposes: a. Destroy Satan; b. Purify the earth by fire (II Peter 3:10); Live with His resurrected saints (the 144,000) on the regenerated earth for eternity.

3. Terms Frequently Used by the Seventh-day Adventists

Annihilation: The doctrine that unbelievers will not be eternally punished but will be destroyed.

Armageddon: Impending battle in Palestine between the hosts of Christ and Antichrist, which will issue in the destruction of the latter.

Azazel: The name of the scapegoat used in the sacrifice on the day of atonement. Mrs. White taught that Azazel was a type of Satan, who was the scapegoat for the sins of God’s people.

Great Controversy: Mrs. White’s most basic writing, describing the great historic struggle between God and the devil.

Investigative Judgment: Refers to the activity of Christ, which began in 1844 when He entered the Holy of Holies. Until His second advent, He will examine the hearts of all professing Christians to ascertain their sincerity.

Liberty: A magazine expressing Adventist principles of the Sabbath and advocating separation of church and state.

Midnight Cry: The announcement which immediately precedes the return of Christ; the term is based on the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13). 

Millennium: The coming visible reign of Christ on earth during which an effective enforced peace will prevail and evangelization will be accelerated. 

Patriarchs and Prophets: One of the more important of the many writings of Mrs. Mary Ellen White.

Signs of the Times: An Adventist periodical.

Soul-sleep: At death, the soul of the Christian passes into a state of unconsciousness until the return of Christ.

2300: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Daniel 8:14). This is taken to mean 2300 years from the defiling of the temple in 457 B.C. ( – 457 B.C. + 2300 years = 1843 A.D. ). 1843, therefore was the date calculated by William Miller to be the time of Christ’s return. Later he figured it at 1844. Still later, the movement adopted Mary Ellen White’s interpretation that Christ did return in 1844, but not to earth – instead, He entered the heavenly Holy of Holies to present the blood of the atonement. 

4. For Further Reading

Andross, Mrs. MatildaStory of the Adventist Message. Washington, D. C.; Review and Herald Publishing Co., n.d.

Bible Readings for the Home: A Topical Study in Question and Answer Form. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Co., 1947.

Bliss, SylvesterMemoirs of William Miller, Generally Known as a Lecturer on the Prophecies, and the Second Coming of Christ. 1853. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, n.d.

Froom, LeRoy EdwinThe Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers. 4 vols. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Co., 1950.
______ “Seventh-day Adventists.” In the American Church of the Protestant Heritage, edited by Vergilius T. Ferm. 1953. Reprint. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, Inc., n.d.

Hoekema, Anthony ASeventh-day Adventism. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974.

Lewis GordonThe Bible, the Christian, and Seventh-day Adventists. Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1966.
______ Confronting the Cults. Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1966.

Lindsell, Harold. “What of Seventh-day Adventism?” Christianity Today, March 31, 1958 and April 14, 1958.

Loughborough, J. N. The Great Second Advent Movement, its Rise and Progress. 1905. Reprint. New York: Arno Press, n.d.

Martin, Walter R. The Truth About Seventh-day Adventism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1960.
_______ The Kingdom of the Cults. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965.

Nichol, Francis D. “The Growth of the Millerite Legend.” Church History, vol. 21, no. 4 (1952, pp. 296 ff.
_______ The Midnight Cry. A Defense of the Character and Conduct of William Miller and the Millerites, Who Mistakenly Believed that the Second Coming of Christ would take place in the Year 1844. 1944. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, n.d.

Olsen, M. Ellsworth. A History of the Origin and Progress of Seventh-Day Adventists . 1925. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, n.d. 

Sears, Clara Endicott. Days of Delusion. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1924.

Seventh Day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Co., 1957.

Smith,Uriah. The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. Nashville: Southern Publishing Association, 1949.

Talbot, Louis T. What’s Wrong with Seventh-day Adventism? Findlay, Ohio: Dunham Publishing Co., 1956.

White, Ellen G. The Desire of Ages; the Conflict of the Ages Illustrated in the Life of Christianity. Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Publishing Assn., 1940.

5. Summary of Traditional Christian Doctrines.

In the following chapter we present views which are held by the church without exception (unless so indicated). There are three main branches of the catholic (universal) church: Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic. These have differences among them, but there is a remarkable consensus of viewpoint on the basic structure of Christian doctrine. This fact is justification for use of the term “the catholic church.” We have chosen quotations from official creeds of these branches to illustrate the various doctrines.

Doctrine of the Bible

The catholic church believes the sixty-six books of the Old Testament and New Testament to be the plenarily inspired Word of God. The Roman Church adds to this number some of the apocrypha. The Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches seem to give ecclesiastical tradition virtually equal authority with Scripture. The Protestant churches, however, hold tosola scriptura. Thus, the Lutheran Formula of Concord affirms: “We believe, confess, and teach that the only rule and norm, according to which all dogmas and all doctors ought to be esteemed and judged, is no other whatever than the prophetic and apostolic writings both of the Old and of the New Testament.” The French Confession of Faith says of the Bible that “inasmuch as it is the rule of all truth, containing all that necessary for the service of God and for our salvation, it is not lawful for men, nor even for angels, to add to it, to take away from it, or to change it.” The American Revision of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England states: “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.” 

Doctrine of God

The Athanasian Creed, accepted as an ecumenical creed by all branches of the church, reads: “ … we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance (Essence). For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible (unlimited or infinite), the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal … so the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God … the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches: “There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” 

Doctrine of Man

Again we may use the Westminster Shorter Catechism, for it expresses what all catholic churches believe about man. “God created man, male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.”

Doctrine of Sin

The Roman Catholic statement made at the Council of Trent contains a catholic affirmation: “ … Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and … he incurred, through the offense of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through the offense of prevarication, was changed , in body, and soul, for the worse … this sin of Adam … [is] transfused into all by propagation, not by imitation … “ All catholic churches say at least this much; some, such as the Reformed, make more of the consequences of the Fall. 

Doctrine of Christ

We may use the historic confession of the Council of Chalcedon (A. D. 451), for this has been recognized through the ages by all branches of orthodox Christendom as a true statement concerning the person of Jesus Christ. “ … our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [coessential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one. Person and Substance, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ …”

We note that the expression, “Mary, the Mother of God,” is a genuinely catholic expression. It does not mean that Mary was the genetrix of God, but that the human nature which was begotten in her womb was united with the eternal Son of God. So Mary was the mother of the child who was God; i.e., the mother of God.

Doctrine of Redemption

The satisfaction view of the atonement is the truly classic view of the catholic church. This could be shown from Protestant, Roman, or Eastern Orthodox creeds. We will show it by a citation from “The Longer Catechism” of the Eastern Orthodox Church: “Therefore as in Adam we had all fallen under sin, the curse, and death, so we are delivered from sin, the curse, and death in Jesus Christ. His voluntary suffering and death on the cross for us, being of infinite value and merit, as the death of one sinless, God and man in one person, is both a perfect satisfaction to the justice of God, which had condemned us for sin to death, and a fund of infinite merit, which has obtained him the right, without prejudice to justice, to give us sinners pardon of our sins, and grace to have the victory over sin and death.” 

There is a great difference among the three divisions of Christendom concerning the appropriation of this redemption achieved by Christ. The Protestant churches teach that it is by faith alone; the other branches incline to the view that it is by faith and works, or by faith considered as the beginning of works. 

All branches of the church teach that the Christian has an obligation to endeavor to keep the moral law of God and that a person who does not do so is a reprobate. There is a doctrine in the Roman Church which is inconsistent with this, but nevertheless she teaches the above explicitly. 

Doctrine of the Church

The Westminster Confession of Faith contains a definition of the church shared by all bodies of Christendom which accept the notion of the invisibility of the church. “The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those, throughout the world, that profess the true religion, and of their children, and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.” 

Doctrine of the Future

While there has been less defining of the doctrine of the future by the catholic church than has been true of other doctrines, what has been stated is unanimously affirmed. All branches of Christendom are agreed that there is a place of eternal felicity, called heaven, where redeemed men and unfallen angels dwell in the gracious presence of God. It is also taught that there is a place of eternal misery, called hell, where all unredeemed men and fallen angels dwell in the wrathful presence of God. The Roman Catholic Church maintains, in addition, the existence of purgatory, the limbus patrum, and the limbus infantum. Universal salvation has been taught by various individuals, but no church recognized by catholic Christianity has affirmed it.

6. Brief Definitions of the Sects

Seventh-day Adventism teaches that salvation is attained by faith in the atonement made by Christ in 1844. This faith must be expressed in obedience to the ethical teachings of the Bible (including the Saturday Sabbath) and in acceptance of the doctrinal teachings of the Bible (including the imminent premillennial return of Christ).

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be the only consistent Bible students. They find the vindication of Jehovah to be the fundamental aim of history. This vindication of Jehovah is accomplished by the atonement of the first-born creature, Jesus, and expressed by the witnessing to an impending Armageddon. At this battle Jehovah and His witnesses will be vindicated and the final consummation of things will begin.

Mormonism is built on a revelation subsequent to the Bible, called the Book of Mormon. According to this book, the church is to be recognized on the basis of a creed which teaches a plurality of created gods, repudiates justification by faith, and teaches a salvation achieved by the merit of obeying divine laws.

Christian Science is a formula for health and wealth by right thinking, but its thinking denies the reality of poverty and sickness. 

Doctrines Traditional Christian Mormonism Seventh-day Adventism Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian Science
Bible Verbally inspired Inspired Bible and Book of Mormon Reluctant to affirm verbal inspiration; vague about status of Mrs. White Verbally inspired Bible inspired andScience and Health is its inspired interpretation
God Three Persons in one essence Polytheism Approximately traditional Christian view Uni-personal Impersonal and pantheistic
Man Body & soul created good Pre-existent soul takes body at birth in this world Body-soul creature; created neutral or with inclination to evil Body; soul not distinguishable from body Soul only; body is an illusion
Sin Result of Adam’s disobedience; corruption of nature and action It was necessary for Adam to sin. This brought mortality without guilt No clear doctrine of imputation of Adam’s sin; man now polluted Adam’s sin brought liability to temporal death “There is no sin” – it is an illusion
Christ One divine person in two distinct natures (divine-human) Called creator but only pre-existent spirit who took body at incarnation Like traditional view but represents human nature as having tendency to sin First born creature; changed into man at birth in this world Christ is a divine idea; Jesus is mere human


Faith in atonement as expressed by holy life Atonement gives man chance to earn salvation Believing in atonement made in heaven plus holy living including observance of the Saturday Sabbath Christ’s ransom gives man chance to earn salvation Salvation is casting out idea of sin
Church Mystical union of all true believers; visible union of all professed believers Other churches apostate; efficient hierarchical organization Seems to regard itself as true remnant church Traditional church rejected; 144,000 witnesses make up Church A denomination like Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish
Future Eternal heaven, eternal hell, temporary purgatory (R.C.) Pre-millennial reign at Independence, MO; tends toward universal salvation Annihilation of the wicked; millennium in heaven and eternity on new earth Earthly millennium during which final probation leading to annihilation or eternal life Universal salvation in future when idea of sin gradually dies

*There may be a difference of opinion as to whether the Seventh-day Adventists should be classified as a “sect.” Dr. Walter Martin classifies them as an evangelical group and makes a strong case for his view in his book, The Truth about Seventh-day Adventism. We would urge all interested students to secure Dr. Martin’s book and reread this booklet in the light of that book.
[1] L. E. Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. III, p. 749.

[2] Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, p. 101.

[3] William Miller, Apology and Defense, p. 16, cited by Francis D. Nichol, Midnight Cry, p. 34.

[4] Nichol, Midnight Cry, p. 57.

[5] Bliss, Memoirs of William Miller, p. 256, cited by Nichol, Midnight Cry, p. 171.

[6] Cf. Nichol, Midnight Cry, pp. 238 ff., 362f., 413.

[7] Cf. Francis D. Nichol, “The Growth of the Millerite Legend” in Church History, vol. XXI, no. 4, December 1952, pp. 296 ff.

[8] Jan Karel Van Baalen, The Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 2224.

[9] Nichol, Midnight Cry, p. 36.

[10] Biederwolf, Seventh-day Adventism, pp. 8f.

[11] Fundamental Principles (S.D.A. tract), p. 2, cited by Biederwolf, Seventh-day Adventism, p. 24.

[12] What Do Seventh-day Adventists Believe? (S.D.A. tract), p. 6, cited by Van Baalen, Chaos of Cults, p. 173.

[13] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 1911 ed., p. 449.

[14] “Are You on the Right Bus?” in Signs of the Times, Nov., 1945, cited by Van Baalen, Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 229.

[15] Blakely, American State Papers on Freedom, pp. 260 ff. and passim.

[16] Cf. Van Baalen, Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 229.

[17] Nichol, Midnight Cry, p. 148.

[18] Signs of the Times, Jan. 31, 1844, cited by Nichol, Midnight Cry, pp. 159f.

[19] Cf. Van Baalen, Chaos of Cults, 1956 edition, p. 229.

[20] Fundamental Principles, p. 12.

[21] Loughborough, The Great Second Advent Movement, p. 192.

[22] Clark, The Small Sects in America, 2nd edition, p. 42.

Sundry Quotes from Solid Reformed Men on Law and Gospel



Thomas Boston, Works, 3:377:

The doctrines of the gospel believed with the heart, teach us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world. As Christ is the end of the law, so I may say, the law is the end of the gospel; for it is the great design of the gospel revelation, to bring back sinners to that righteousness and holiness which the law requires. The gospel never gains its end among a people, till a strain of piety and holiness run through their whole lives.


David Clarkson (Works 1:315):

The righteousness of Christ turns the law into gospel to a believer, and of a doctrine full of dread and terror, renders it the most acceptable message that ever was brought to the world. The law, which stands as the angel with a flaming sword, to bar all flesh out of paradise, when the righteousness of Christ is applied, it becomes an angel to carry every believer into Abraham’s bosom; Christ’s righteousness added, it loses its name, and we call it gospel. The way in both seems to be the same for substance; perfect obedience is requisite in both. They differ in the circumstances of the person performing this obedience. In the law it was to be personal, in the gospel his surety’s performance is sufficient.

However, if there be any terror, dread in the law, Christ’s righteousness removes it; if any grace, comfort in the gospel, Christ’s righteousness is the rise of it. Take away Christ’s righteousness, and the gospel can give no life; take it away, and the law speaks nothing but death; no life, no hope of life without it, either in law or gospel.

Thomas Goodwin (Works, 6:261):
As faith turns the commands of the law into gospel in a regenerate man’s heart, so conscience, in an unregenerate man, turns the gospel into law. As faith writes the law in the heart, and urgeth the duties of it upon evangelical grounds and motives—as the love of Christ, conformity to him, union with him, and the free grace of God—so in a man unregenerate, gospel duties are turned into legal, through the sway and influence of conscience, and that dominion which the covenant of works hath over him.

Samuel Rutherford (The Covenant of Life Opened, 198-199).

The obedience of faith, or Gospel-obedience, in the fourth place, hath less of the nature of obedience than that of Adam, or of the elect angels, or that of Christ’s. It’s true we are called obedient children, and they are called the commandments of Christ, and Christ hath taken the moral law and made use of it in an evangelic way, yet we are more (as it were) patients in obeying gospel-commands. Not that we are mere patients, as Libertines teach; for grace makes us willing, but we have both supernatural habits and influences of grace furnished to us from the grace of Christ, who hath merited both to us; and so in Gospel-obedience we offer more of the Lord’s own and less of our own because he both commands and gives us grace to obey. And so to the elect believer the Law is turned in Gospel, he by his grace fulfilling (as it were) the righteousness of the Law in us by begun new obedience, Rom. 8:4.

Westminster Confession of Faith, 19.6,

It [the moral law] is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law; and not under grace.

Walter Marshall (The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification Opened, p. 235, 1981 EP ed.).

Here you have holiness as a free gift received by faith, an act of the mind and soul. Whosoever will may come, take it and drink freely, and nothing is required but a willing mind (John 7:38; Isa. 55:1; Rev. 22:17). But the law is an intolerable burden (Matt. 23:4; Acts 15:10), if duty be laid on us by its terms. We are not left in this way to conquer lusts by our endeavours, which is a successless work, but what is duty is given, and the law is turned into promises (Heb. 8:6-13; Ezek. 36:25, 26; Jer. 31:33; 32:40). We have all now in Christ (Col. 3:11; 2:9, 10, 15, 17). This is a catholic medicine, instead of a thousand. How pleasant would this free gift, holiness, be to us, if we knew our own wants, inabilities and sinfulness? How ready are some to toil continually and macerate their bodies in a melancholy legal way to get holiness, rather than perish forever? And therefore, how ready should we be, when it is only, ‘Take, and have; believe, and be sanctified and saved?’ (2 Kings 5:13). Christ’s burden is light by His Spirit’s bearing it (Matt. 11:30). No weariness, but renewing of strength (Isa. 40:31).

Thomas Case (Puritan Sermons, 5:524, 525):

Hold fast the models of divine truth in your practice. – A practical memory is the best memory: to live the truths which we know, is the best way to hold them fast.

There are heretical manners as well as heretical doctrines. “Profane Christians live against the faith, whilst heterodox Christians dispute against the faith” [Augustine]. There be not a few that live antinomianism and libertinism, and atheism, and popery, whilst others preach it. Apostates are practical Arminians; a profane man is a practical atheist. Whilst others, therefore, live error, do you live the truth; whilst others deny the gospel, do you live the gospel: “As ye have received” the truth as it is in Jesus, “so walk ye” in it, to all well-pleasing (Col. 2:6; 1:10). Without this, a man forsakes the truth, while he doth profess it: “They profess that they know God, but in their works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).

Yea, to live the truths we hear, is the way, not to hold them only, but to hold them forth to others; as the apostle speaks, “Holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:16). It is a metaphor taken either from fire-lights upon the sea-coasts burning all night; the use whereof is to give notice to seamen of some neighbouring rocks and quicksands that may endanger their vessel: or else from torch-bearers in the night-time; who hold out their lights, that passengers may see their way in the dark. According to which metaphor our Saviour calls true, real Christians “the light of the world, a city set on a hill,” to enlighten the dark world with their beams of holiness (Matt. 5:14). It is a blessed thing when the conversations of Christians are practical models of gospel-truths, walking Bibles, holding forth “the graces” or “excellencies,” “of Him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

John Owen (Works 3:278-279):

There are two sorts of things declared in the gospel: —
1st. Such as are absolutely its own, that are proper and peculiar unto it, — such as have no footsteps in the law or in the light of nature, but are of pure revelation, peculiar to the gospel. Of this nature are all things concerning the love and will of God in Christ Jesus. The mystery of his incarnation, of his offices and whole mediation, of the dispensation of the Spirit, and our participation thereof, and our union with Christ thereby, our adoption, justification, and effectual sanctification, thence proceeding, in brief, everything that belongs unto the purchase and application of saving grace, is of this sort. These things are purely and properly evangelical, peculiar to the gospel alone…

2dly. There are such things declared and enjoined in the gospel as have their foundation in the law and light of nature. Such are all the moral duties which are taught therein. And two things may be observed concerning them:—
(1st.) That they are in some measure known unto men aliunde from other principles. The inbred concreated light of nature doth, though obscurely, teach and confirm them…
(2dly.) There is on all men an obligation unto obedience answerable to their light concerning these things. The same law and light which discovereth these things doth also enjoin their observance. Thus is it with all men antecedently unto the preaching of the gospel unto them. In this estate the gospel superadds two things unto the minds of men:—
(1st.) It directs us unto a right performance of these things, from a right principle, by a right rule, and to a right end and purpose; so that they, and we in them, may obtain acceptance with God. Hereby it gives them a new nature, and turns moral duties into evangelical obedience.
(2dly.) By a communication of that Spirit which is annexed unto its dispensation, it supplies us with strength for their performance in the manner it prescribes.

Ralph Erskine (Sermons 2:22):

The believer’s own obedience to the law, or his gospel-obedience, and conformity to the law, wrought in him, and done by him, through the help of the Spirit of grace; even this obedience of his, I say, hath not the legal promise of eternal life, as if it were the legal condition of his obtaining eternal life: no, his gospel-obedience hath indeed a gospel-promise, connecting it with eternal life, as it is an evidence of his union to Christ, in whom all the promises are Yea and Amen; and as it is a walking in the way to heaven, without which none shall ever come to the end; “For without holiness it is impossible to see God.” – But the legal promise of eternal life made to obedience, and which makes our personal obedience to be the cause and matter of our justification, and as the proper condition of salvation and eternal life, this is the promise of the law, or covenant of works; and this promise it is now wholly divested of, as to the believer in Jesus Christ, who hath taken his law-room, and yielded that perfect obedience, to which the promise of eternal life is now made: and the reason why, I say, the promise of eternal life is now made to Christ’s perfect obedience in our room and stead, is, Because, the law, or covenant of works, made no promise of life properly, but to man’s own personal obedience; it made no mention of a surety; but now, in sovereign mercy, this law-rigour is abated, and the Surety is accepted, to whose obedience life is promised.

Reverend Matthew Winzer

Dear reader,

Do you understand the promise of the gospel in relation to gospel obedience? When you perform moral duties are you looking to the promise of the gospel and trusting that this obedience is accepted for Christ’s sake, and thereupon blessed of God to be the way of walking to heaven? Or do you perform moral duties out of obedience to the law, and on the understanding that law-rigour condemns all your works as the most filthy unrighteousness, so that nothing you do can ever be acceptable? These are very important questions. If good works are not done by faith in Jesus Christ, they are not good works; they are condemned at the bar of God’s justice. But if good works are done by faith in Jesus Christ, God “is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 16.6).

I pray that God will enable you to see the important difference between serving the law and serving the gospel.
Reverend Matthew Winzer

Thomas Brooks’ Nine Strong Consolations – Point #8

“…Now remember that this imputed righteousness of Christ procures acceptance for our inherent righteousness. When a sincere Christian casts his eye upon the weaknesses, infirmities, and imperfections that daily attend his best services, he sighs and mourns. But if he looks upward to the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, it shall bring forth his infirm, weak, and sinful performances perfect, spotless, and sinless, and approved according to the tenor of the gospel. They become spiritual sacrifices, and he cannot but rejoice (1 Peter 2:5). For as there is an imputation of righteousness to the persons of believers, so there is also an imputation to their services and actions . . . so the imperfect good works that are done by believers are accounted righteousness, or as Calvin speaks, “are accounted for righteousness, they being dipped in the blood of Christ.” They are accounted righteous actions; and so sincere Christians shall be judged according to their good works though not saved for them (Revelation 11:18; 20:12; Matthew 25:34-37).

And it is observable in that famous process of the last judgment (Matthew 25:34-37), that the supreme Judge makes mention of the bounty and liberality of the saints, and so bestows the crown of life and the eternal inheritance upon them. Though the Lord’s faithful ones have eminent cause to be humbled and afflicted for the many weaknesses that cleave to their best duties, yet on the other hand, they have wonderful cause to rejoice and triumph that they are made perfect through Jesus Christ, and that the Lord looks at them through the righteousness of Christ as fruits of His own Spirit (Hebrews 13:20, 21; 1 Cor. 6:11). The saints’ prayers being perfumed with Christ’s odors are highly accepted in heaven (Revelation 8:3, 4). Upon this bottom of imputed righteousness, believers may have exceeding strong consolation and good hope through grace, that both their persons and services do find singular acceptation with God as having no spot or blemish at all in them. Surely righteousness imputed must be the top of our happiness and blessedness!…”

Richard Sibbes (Works, 5:187):

Question. Now, what is it to do all things evangelically? To clear that point.

Answer. To do all things evangelically is, first of all, for a man to know that he is in the same state of grace, and that he hath his sins pardoned, and that he is accepted in Christ to life and salvation. That is the ground of all evangelical obedience. He must know that he is in the covenant of grace; that he hath the forgiveness of sins, and a right to life everlasting in Christ. And then comes obedience answerable to that condition; that is, a desire to obey God in all things: a grief that he cannot do it so well as he would; a prayer that he might do it so; and an endeavour together with prayer that he may do so, and some strength likewise with endeavour. For a Christian, as I said before, he hath the Spirit of God, not only to set him to an endeavour, but to give him some strength. So there is a desire, and purpose, and prayer, and grief of heart, and endeavour, and likewise some strength in evangelical obedience.

A Christian then in the gospel can do all things when he hath his sins forgiven, and is accepted in Christ, when he can endeavour to do all, and desire to do all, and in some measure practise all duties in truth. For the gospel requires truth and not perfection. That is the perfection that brings us to heaven in Christ our Saviour. We have title to heaven; in him is the ground, because forgiveness of sins is in him. Now a Christian’s life is but to walk worthy of this, and to fit himself for that glorious condition that he hath title unto by Christ, to walk sincerely before God. Sincerity is the perfection of Christians. Let not Satan therefore abuse us. We do all things, when we endeavour to do all things, and purpose to do all things, and are grieved when we cannot do better. For mark, this goes with evangelical obedience always. God pardons that which is ill, for he is a Father. He hath bound himself to pardon, ‘I will pity you as a father pitieth his child,’ Ps. 103:18. From the very relation he hath took upon him, we may be assured he will pity and pardon us, and then he will accept of that which is good, because it is the work of his own Spirit, and will reward it. This in the covenant of grace he will do. A Christian can do all then; and wherein he fails, God will pardon him. What is good, God will accept and reward; and what is sick and weak in him, God will heal, till he have made him up in Christ.

What is the Gospel?


Jeremiah Burroughs…. Gospel Conversation.

The good tidings concerning Christ, for so the word “gospel” in the Greek signifies nothing else but the good tidings.… All mankind was lost in Adam and became the children of wrath, and was put under the sentence of death…. God has thought upon the children of men. He has provided a way of atonement to reconcile them to Himself again. Namely the Second Person in the Trinity takes man’s nature upon him and becomes the Head of a second covenant, standing charged with man’s sin, and answering for it by suffering what the Law and Divine Justice required. He made satisfaction and kept the Law perfectly, which satisfaction and righteousness He offered up unto the Father as a sweet savor of rest for the souls of those that are given to Him.

And now this mediation of Christ is, by the appointment of the Father, preached to the children of men, of whatever nation or rank, freely offering this unto sinners for atonement for them, requiring them to believe in Him and, upon believing, promising not only a discharge of all their former sins, but that they shall never enter into condemnation, that none of their sins or unworthiness shall ever hinder the peace of God with them, but that they shall, through Him be received into the number of sons. They shall have the image of God renewed again in them, and they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. These souls and bodies shall be raised to the height of glory that such creatures are capable of. They shall live forever, enjoying the presence of God and Christ in the fullness of all good.This is the gospel of Christ. This is the sum of the gospel that is preached unto sinners.

Gospel Conversations pp. 4,5

What is the Gospel.. Antinomian view?

The Gospel includes more than just our justification. It also includes our sanctification and glorification. Some theologians today remove the Good News (Gospel Truth) of our Sanctification and future Glorification from the Gospel.   I am not willing to go as far as some are going in their Modern Reformed Thought.  I have heard some who teach at a School in Escondido, California say that theology like the theology mentioned in the following  link are “serious error”.  I disagree whole heartedly and would plead with them to reconsider.


Lutheran / Reformed differences recognized during the time of the Westminster Divines


Anthony Burgess on the difference between Lutheran and Reformed views of the covenant and law/gospel:

“We have confuted (proven to be incorrect) the false differences, and now come to lay down the truth, between the law and the Gospel taken in a larger sense.  

And, first, you must know that the difference is not essential, or substantial, but accidental: so that the division of the Testament, or Covenant into the Old, and New, is not a division of the Genus (classification) into its opposite Species; but of the subject, according to its several accidental administrations, both on Gods part, and on mans. It is true, the Lutheran Divines, they do expressly oppose the Calvinists herein, maintaining the Covenant given by Moses, to be a Covenant of Works, and so directly contrary to the Covenant of Grace. Indeed, they acknowledge that the Fathers were justified by Christ, and had the same way of salvation with us; only they make that Covenant of Moses to be a superadded thing to the Promise, holding forth a condition of perfect righteousness unto the Jews, that they might be convinced of their own folly in their self-righteousness.” (Vindication of the Morall Law,  Lecture 26  p.251)

I so need to get a copy of this book.  I know Reformation Heritage books has it.  Thanks ole buddy Mark Van Der Molen for bringing this small tidbit to life.

Book can be downloaded here.

I am sorry but it has dawned on me that this might be hard to grasp and understand on one level because Aristotelian terminology is being used above.  I am speaking about the terms essential, substantial, and accidental in the quote above.  It is Aristotelian thought.  Accidental is non essential property of the substance.  It is a part of it but it is not essential.  That doesn’t mean it is randomly thrown in or unnecessary when we consider God’s providential working. It is unnecessary for the substantial to exist.  As an example most people have legs. It is not necessary for you to have a leg to exist and survive but God did put it there for a reason and purpose. The term accidental should not be read as a modern day American would read it and think of a mishap or car wreck.  I am not sure I am explaining it well but the language above has a context and I hope I have helped out a bit.  Historical context and understanding are very important here. I hope that helps out a little.

To help further explain the above situation, one of the differences between Lutheran and the Westminsterian understanding is that Lutherans believe that the substance of the Mosaic and New Covenant differ.  The position of the Westminster Confession of Faith is that the Substance of the New Covenant and Mosaic Covenant is the same.  Some Modern Day Reformed Thinkers do not believe that to be the case as Lutherans described back in Anthony Burgess’ day didn’t either.  Meredith Kline in his later years departed from the biblical and confessional understanding of the Westminster Confession of Faith.  Doctors Michael Horton, R. Scott Clark, and I believe Darryl G. Hart and David Van Drunnen depart from it also.  This has lead to the unbiblical way they dichotomize law and grace instead of proving the proper distinctions between them.    It is also leading to various views concerning Natural Law and Kingdom Theology that some theologians are having problems with today.

Just for reference let me link to a few blog posts to help us understand what I am communicating.

What is Republication of the Covenant of Works?

(What is the Gospel?) Depraved Christianity might be Antinomian Christianity pt. 3

‘Modern Day Reformed Thought’ and Two Kingdoms

The Mosaic Covenant, same in substance as the New?

Possible Misconceptions about Galatians. Law and Gospel are opposed?

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 19. The Law and the Covenant of Works.

The Mosaic Covenant and the Modern Day Justification and Sanctification Controversy

That should be enough to help you get started in understanding this discussion now.

‘Modern Day Reformed Thought’ and Two Kingdoms


This topic is being discussed and exposed a bit finally. Finally, it is being done with some balance and correct thinking. There are a few posts in this discussion One Kingdom vs. Two Kingdom’s” on the Puritanboard which lead to some great comments and links.  One link is an interview with Dr. Jack Kinneer who is a Professor at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary discussing this topic.

It is found here.


Listening to the interview with Dr. Jack Kinneer I walked away with this…

Here are very brief Stereo-Typical ways of understanding these issues according to the Host of the show.

The Non Two Kingdom View is a Tranformationalist and or a Theonomic view saying, “If we can just make the culture Christian everything will Change and Christ’s Kingdom will come.”

The Two Kingdom view says that Culture Transformation is not the job of the Church. The Church receives the Kingdom.  It doesn’t create one.  The job of the Church is to take the sacraments, hear the word preached, be fathers and mothers and plumbers and just go on with our life.  If Jesus wants to do something through it and for us He can.

Those are the two extremes…

The Host then asks Dr. Kinneer if his definitions are correct.

Dr. Jack Kinneer of Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary
“What you have is the American A view and the American B view.”
What you don’t have is the Historical C view. 

Amen Dr. Kinneer! That is what I have been trying to tell some of the guys who are writing and discussing this issue now days. 

Also Dr. Kinneer notes, that as all aberrations and heresies in theology tend to distort the doctrine of Christ, some of the of Two Kingdoms teachers distort the doctrine of Christ (Christology) also.  A lot depends on how you define Two Kingdoms Theology.  I believe it should be called a two fold government, to be more precise. 

Both definitions the host defined were basically true but fall short of the Historical doctrine. And I would declare that the most vocal Modern Day Reformed Church Seminary Professors have no idea what the Historic view is.  I deduce this by what I am hearing come out of the mouths of today’s Seminary Students, Graduates, and their Professor’s writings and comments. I can also assess this by the personal discussions I have been having with these men and younger theologians who have been taught by these guys.

These Authors and Professors are arguing against a view that is easily knocked down by their arguments. When they finally start to deal with the Historical view that Dr. Kinneer is declaring then their arguments will start to hit a brick wall.  For one thing the historical view is not liberal and that is one of the main associations attributed to One Kingdom Theology.

This issue has a root problem in my estimation.  It is the Law / Gospel issue that is being discussed in the Reformed Church.  Some people are separating the Law so far from life and the gospel that the very Gospel of Christ is being truncated.  They have gone from one extreme of refuting self-justification (works righteousness) to something that is turning into antinomianism.  They view Sanctification and Glorification as separate from the Gospel.  Dr. Michael Horton and many others around him teach that the  Gospel is only an outward declarative statement about what God has done to pay a penalty for sin.   According to past interaction with these guys, those of us who hold to the view the Reformed Divine’s held to, that the Law turns into Gospel, are in “Serious Error.”  They are divorcing the Law of Christ from the Gospel.  They are also divorcing the work of Christ in us, the hope of Glory and a life of being conformed in the image of Christ, from the Gospel.

Newer Blog posts…..

The root problem in a lot of this is a poor Christology (understanding His Mediatorial Kingship) and a poor understanding of the Covenant of Grace.  The Covenant of Grace administers both the Old and New Covenant.   Some say the Old Covenant is not the same in substance as the New Covenant.  According to them the Mosaic Covenant differs in substance from the Abrahamic Covenant also.  They say that only the Abrahamic Covenant is renewed in the New Covenant.  This is in direct contradiction to the Westminster Confession of faith Chapter 7 sections 5 and 6 which states that they are of the same substance as they are administrations of the Covenant of Grace.  The Old Covenant is the same in substance as the New and Abrahamic Covenant because they are Administrations of the Covenant of Grace.  The same people that are saying this are the same people voicing this Newer Natural Law / Two Kingdom model that is being criticized here.  At the root they all have Meredith Kline as a Mentor and hold to his thought concerning the Old  (Mosaic) Covenant.  Dr. R. Scott Clark voices it in his Covenant Theses point 13 of Biblical / Exegetical section.  In so doing all this they are becoming Lutheran in their view of the Mosaic Covenant and saying that the Law is opposed to the Gospel.  This is having a terrible affect upon the Church and Society in my estimation.  They are dichotomizing the law and the gospel in a way that the scriptures don’t.  Even Anthony Burgess a Divine  and Scottish Commissioner of the Westminster Confession of Faith recognized this problem of the Lutherans back then.

Oh yeah, they may claim to have a majority of the old guys as their teachers but they are propagating them through the eyes of a few who held to minority views or Klinean eye wear.  The below is where you can find Dr. Clark’s thoughts.
Biblical / Exegetical section….
13.The Mosaic covenant was not renewed under Christ, but the Abrahamic covenant was.

Some have titled this theology Klhortian I call it Modern Reformed Thought because a lot of Western California Guys have adopted it and are promoting it with their media machine.  It is a shame this is being propagated so loudly.  It kind of reminds me of how dispensationalism got such a strong hold by media presentation through the Scoffield Reference Bible.  I think I have made my point.

Klhorotonian Theology

I hope I am understanding things aright.  Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy are so closely linked.  I believe this is being proven in this situation.  May we all be graced by the King and have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying.  I hope I am seeing and hearing correctly.  Weigh what I say heavily.  Don’t just accept it as truth.  I am a man.  I can be just as deceived as I believe others to be.

Be Encouraged,

As a side note and recommendation this will be a topic in the upcoming Confessional Presbyterian Journal.  It won’t be Polemic as I have been because it will be done by Scholars from various sides of the issue if I am not mistaken.  I am not a Scholar.  Please Remember That!  But that doesn’t make anything I have said any less true.  Just weigh it more heavily.  LOL

The Confessional Presbyterian Journal should be out sometime this Winter.  Here is the link to it.