Some may not even know that there is such a
movement. Still others may have heard of it, but do not know what or why it
exists. In this brief article, we would like to share with you what could be a
life saving history of our church and where it is today.
Early in the church’s history, and after the
Great Disappointment in 1844, several of the people and many “Millerites” (followers of the teachings of William Miller)
were convinced that “the mistake had not been in the reckoning of the prophetic
periods, but in the event to take place at the end of the 2300 days [Daniel
8:14].” The Great Controversy, 425. Their study of the prophecies was correct,
but the event was wrong. It was during this time that Ellen G. White discovered
that the event “pointed to Christ’s ministration in the most holy place, to the
investigative judgment, and not to the coming of Christ for the redemption of
His people and the destruction of the wicked.” Ibid.
It was also during this time that, through
prayer, study, and visions, the fundamental doctrines of the second-advent
movement were further developed. The Sabbath, the heavenly sanctuary revealing
the spiritual condition necessary to be ready for the second coming of Christ
and many other subjects including the state of the dead, the health reform, the
gift of prophecy in the remnant church, etc., were brought forward and adopted.
So why is there such confusion in the church today about these and other
subjects? Have we forgotten the way we were led into truth?
Historic Adventist is an informal designation
for conservative individuals and organizations that seek to preserve certain
fundamental beliefs and practices of the church. As a general rule, Historic
Adventists feel that the church leadership has shifted or departed from key
doctrinal “pillars” ever since the middle of the 20th century. Historic
Adventists have tended to promote the message through independent ministries,
some of which have a strained relationship with the official church.
Historic Adventist theology differs from
mainstream Adventist theology in the areas of sin, salvation and end times.
Mainstream Adventist theology often uses the term “new theology” as a
pejorative term for perceived doctrinal shifts in the church. Much of the
confusion started with a misunderstanding of Righteousness by Faith and the
belief that we can be saved in our sins. Instead of preaching the Three Angels’
Messages, the Sanctuary message, and overcoming sin, the church has fallen into
the popular topics of the day.
In the late years of the 1980s and early part
of the 1990s, several ministers had been studying and preaching the gospel as
it was understood at the inception of the church. The Reformation and Revival
message of the time of the end and the fact that there will be a people living
without sin just before Jesus comes are salvational
messages. As their reward, many such ministers and laity were disfellowshiped from organized conference churches for
doing what the Bible tells us to do—preach the Word.
Pastor Marshall Grosboll,
founder of Steps to Life; Elder Ron Spear, founder of Hope International; Dr.
Ralph Larson, evangelist, teacher and college administrator; and others were
instrumental in forming a network of independent historic ministries and home
churches. Unity meetings were held during the 1990s in an attempt to draw the
work of the historic churches and ministries together.
Today, many of the historic churches and
ministries have joined together in the International Association of Free
Seventh-day Adventists. This movement is an international body consisting of a
multiracial network of Seventh-day Adventist believers who desire to maintain
and advance the original beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist faith at a time
when many of the original beliefs, worship style, and practices are being
compromised by the established Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The Bible sums it up best in Ephesians
5:23–27: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head
of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their
own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your
wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he
might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he
might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or
any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Let us pray together for God to prepare His
people for the events that are just before us. Teachings on Christian
perfection and personal holiness were present in the religious revival of the Great
Awakening in America and were evident in early Adventist movements. Pray that
these teachings be brought back to life and sin is separated from sinners. As
we are told in the Bible, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which
is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48.
J. C. Schultz is an
elder of Renaissance Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists, Sedalia, Colorado.
He may be contacted at: RenChurch@aol.com.