They Can't Let Go |

TBC Staff

The Adventist Review announced in its June 1 edition that “during the next seven months—June through December 2018—[it] will feature a key Adventist idea—in print, online, through video, with podcasts—each month.”Last week’s edition featured “The Mark of the Beast”. The feature article was an interview between an Adventist Review reporter and

Mark Finley, the vice-president for evangelism for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 

Significantly, this article reveals that Adventism is not changing in its commitment to its traditional interpretation of the mark of the beast and the necessity of the seventh-day Sabbath in eschatology. In fact, Finley explains that his understanding of this subject has “deepened” over the years; he now sees the real significance of the mark of the beast in the context “of a cosmic struggle in the universe between good and evil, and a battle over the issue of worship.” In other words, Finley’s interpretive grid for understanding the mark of the beast is Ellen White’s great controversy paradigm. 

Weaving his tapestry of Adventist arguments, Finley deftly moved from the “mark of the beast” to the centrality of the seventh-day Sabbath….In these opening arguments, Finley revealed several assumptions based on Ellen White, not in Scripture. First, Scripture never even hints that keeping the seventh-day Sabbath “is the symbol of righteousness by faith” or that worshiping on Sunday is “the symbol of righteousness by works.”

In the first place, the Adventist idea of “righteousness by faith” is not a scriptural concept. The Bible says, “But my righteous one shall live by faith” (Heb:10:38 quoting Hab:2:4), but this sentence does not describe the Adventist teaching of “righteousness by faith”. 

When Adventists talk about “righteousness by faith”, they mean that when a person has faith in Christ to work in him, Jesus will give him His power. With that power from Christ, the person will then be able to obey God and keep His law. Thus Christ in him gives him the power to overcome sin and to become righteous. The result of this dance between faith and Christ’s power yields righteousness by faith. In other words, the sincere Adventist will become righteous in himself by accessing the power of Christ through faith that He will equip him.

From the foundation of Finley’s (and Adventism’s) argument, the assumptions are wrong. The Adventist “righteousness by faith” is not a biblical idea. Rather, it is an almost-right-sounding phrase that actually describes Adventism’s core belief that the saved must keep the Ten Commandments, especially the Sabbath, and actively be eliminating sin from their lives so that they personally become righteous. 

The Bible, however, teaches that God justifies those who believe. He credits them with righteousness because of their faith in Jesus’ finished work of redemption, and it is Jesus’ own righteousness that is credited to believers, not their own.