Gospel Adventist Ministries

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." ~ 1 Cor 2:2

What is legalism?


Being obedient to Christ is not legalism. Keeping Commandments is not legalism. Focusing on the rules over relationships is not legalism.

PLACING CONDITIONS ON ETERNAL LIFE OTHER THAN SIMPLE FAITH AND TRUST IN CHRIST IS LEGALISM.

Legalism is a curse upon professed followers of Christ who are more concerned with their own righteousness than with admitting their sins and pleading the grace of God.

The devil is deceptive and knows how to slip in the back door of the church. Few legalists will ever tell you that you have to keep the law in order to be saved. Instead, they are quite adamant that one cannot be saved without keeping the law. This type of double talk is present in every Christian denomination. We need to recover the genuine teachings of the Apostles that state we are saved apart from keeping the law (Romans 3:28).

Christians do not keep the law in order to be saved but strive to keep the law because they are saved. Their motivation is not fear of damnation but love for the sacrifice Christ made on the cross to grant assurance of eternal life.

Stephen Beagles

The Once for All Covenant

The relationship between the old and new covenants of the Holy Bible have confused many theologians for the past 2000 years. Some scholars believe the old and new covenants represent two separate plans of salvation for Jew and Gentile. Others see no difference between the two and have a difficult time separating the mosaic laws from the eternal law of God. In reality, there is only one major difference between the original covenant given to Adam and Eve after the fall and the covenant given to us by Christ after the cross.

Here are some points to ponder concerning the simple and yet profound relationship between the old and new covenants:

1. There is only one plan of salvation provided to human beings.
2. The original covenant began with Adam and Eve after the fall and looked forward to what Christ would accomplish, while the renewed covenant looks back on what Christ has accomplished.
3. All human beings are saved because of the blood that Christ shed on the cross. If Christ had not been the once for all sacrifice for sin then every human being to ever live would be doomed to eternal destruction.
4. The laws given to Moses for the nation of Israel were only binding on those living within the borders of Israel and did not add or subtract from the original covenant with all of humanity. The Moral Law of God, the 10 Commandments, was written by God and summarizes the eternal law of God for the human race that was violated in the Garden of Eden and for which Christ died.

These four points are evidence that every human being who is saved will be saved by grace through the atoning blood of Jesus. The same blood that was shed for us who were born after the cross saves those who lived before Christ.

The major difference between the covenants is the original covenant promised a future messiah who would save His people from sin, while the renewed covenant fulfills that promise and identifies Jesus as the divine son of God who shed His blood as the once for all sacrifice for all people, for all time, and for all sin (Hebrews 10:1-18). The notion that those who lived before the cross were saved by law and that New Testaments Christians are saved by grace is false. There is only one plan of salvation for all humanity—the blood of Christ that was shed once for all.

Stephen Beagles (2019)
Founder of Gospel Adventist Ministries

Fundamental Teachings vs Test of Fellowship

QUESTION:

Do I have to believe in all of the 28 Fundamental beliefs to become a Seventh-day Adventist Christian?

ANSWER:

It is important to make the distinction between the official teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist church as recognized by the General Conference and test of fellowship that is required by new believers when they are baptized into the church. By becoming a member, a person is stating that they understand the 28 fundamental beliefs and are willing to live and worship in harmony with Seventh-day Adventists who hold to these beliefs.

The only real test of fellowship is that the member acknowledges the fundamental beliefs in principle and refuses to be in open opposition against those who hold to the basic teachings of the church.

The church recognizes a member’s personal choice on how to apply certain fundamentals of doctrine to lifestyle and practice. For example, the wearing of jewelry is discouraged, but there is a wide spectrum of members who hold differing views on how strictly the church should enforce this teaching. In practice, a member can wear jewelry to church as long as they are able to worship in harmony with the other members who decide not to wear jewelry.

The Adventist teaching against unclean meats is clear enough, but I have yet to see anyone thrown out of church for eating bacon with their eggs. Members who are not “strict” on diet and health do not discourage others from following the churches teachings on health reform. The less strict respect the liberty of more conservative members and refuse to allow the issues to become a matter of personal conflict.

It is hard for me to imagine that a person would become a member of the Adventist church who did not agree in principle with the major doctrinal teachings on the sabbath, the non-immortality of the soul, and the second coming of Jesus. I would discourage any minister from allowing people who do not hold these beliefs into membership. It would be hard for these people to support the Adventist church. However, a person can believe that the Sabbath is the Seventh-day and yet have different views on what it means to keep the Sabbath day holy.

While there is a wide spectrum of Adventists who interpret the fundamental beliefs differently, most Adventists would allow for church discipline against those who blatantly live or teach against the fundamental norms of the church. A member would not last long in fellowship if he or she decided to openly espouse a doctrine that was directly in conflict with a fundamental position.

Historically, there has always been a wide gap between the accepted beliefs of the General Conference and the practice of the individual member’s in the church. Adventists allow for differences of opinion on matters of lifestyle as long as the members acknowledge the church’s teachings and refuse to allow their personal choices to interfere with their ability to live in peace and harmony with other church members.

Then there is the distinction between a lay member of the church and an active leader within the denomination. Those who take leadership positions should hold themselves to the highest standard in regards to the fundamentals. The leaders need to allow for the differences of opinion among the lay people while encouraging spiritual growth that is in harmony with the official teachings of the church as an organization.

To answer the question more directly: Yes. A person needs to acknowledge all 28 Fundamental Beliefs in principle before they are accepted into membership. However, keep in mind that it is up to the individual member how to put these beliefs into practice. All members must allow for differences of opinion while living and worshiping in harmony with other Adventists.

Stephen Beagles (2018)

Agree to Disagree

I wish could exclude myself from this conclusion, but being a former post-graduate student qualifies me to partake of the criticism.

Having a degree or two in a particular subject does not make one infallible. There are Atheists with doctoral degrees, there are Pantheists with doctoral degrees, and there are Polytheists with doctoral degrees. The degrees that people hold do not automatically make them more intelligent, less biased, or less capable of error. Education does not lead to infallibility.

Even Christian theologians come from many different backgrounds and support a wide range of theories that often contradict one another. There are Catholic scholars, Lutheran scholars, Presbyterian scholars, Methodist scholars, and Pentecostal scholars. Often the most educated theologians who teach in seminaries no longer believe in the infallibility of the scriptures and are prone to be critical of the most basic of Christian doctrines.

The problem with human beings is that we are all biased. Even those who claim to be completely objective have their blind spots where sentimentality creeps in and affects perceptions of reality. We are often more inclined to accept evidence that supports our pet theories and we tend to be far more critical of the evidence that may contradict our cherished viewpoints.

This does not mean that truth does not exist or that human beings are incapable of knowing truth. However, it does mean that we need to be more humble and tolerant of those who may perceive reality differently than we do. There are intelligent people with many different ideologies and dogmas. When will we learn to be tolerant of those with viewpoints we believe are erroneous and accept them as intelligent human beings?

It is virtuous to agree to disagree on a subject and still allow for the intelligence and moral integrity of those who contradict us. I am not saying we need to stop defending our view of reality, but I am encouraging those who have education and degrees to allow for discussion and debate on sensitive topics without demonizing ideological opponents.

Stephen Beagles

 

 

The 2300 Days of Daniel

My position on the 2300 days prophecy is if the baptism and death of Christ was foretold by this view of prophecy then why not allow it to extend to its logical conclusion: 1844.

What Happened in 1844?

1. People awakened to an urgency of the second coming of Christ and the message about the closing of probation.

2. Electronic technology began giving people faster methods of communications.

While Christ could have come prior to 1844, the fulfillment of the 2300 days prophecy was given as a final warning to the world.

But I strongly believe that a person’s salvation does not depend on their view of the 2300 days. However you look at the investigative judgment–we already have the final verdict and the assurance of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ.

Stephen Beagles

 

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