Merriam-Webster defines religion as “An organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods. There are many religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.
There are many denominations (religious systems) under the Christian umbrella.
What motivates a person or group to start a new denomination? That’s a good question, but in some ways, it’s similar to what motivates people to open new ice cream shops. Someone comes up with a new ice cream flavor, or they believe they can offer a better customer experience than the other ice cream shops in town. They are convinced they have something unique that no one else has. So, they apply for a license, order their supplies, and bingo, it’s time to sell ice cream!
Starting a new religion is a bit more complicated. First of all, you need to know what you believe. New church denominations often start as off-shoots or break-away groups from their mother faiths (Protestantism broke away from the Catholic Church). This can stem from serious theological disagreements, or it can be as simple as unresolved relational issues between church leaders. There are many reasons.
Beyond your beliefs, starting a new religion or denomination usually involves setting up a non-profit corporation, forming a board of directors, and writing a mission statement. Most religions are run like businesses, with investments and voting constituencies. Whatever happened to the simple concept of like-minded people coming together to declare their faith and live out their beliefs? Unfortunately, life is more complicated than most of us like.
When it comes to beliefs, world religions are all over the map with some diametrically opposed to each other. One religion says there IS a hell, while another says there is NOT. One teaches that people must be baptized by immersion, while another says “sprinkling is all that’s needed.” One church says people must do certain things to be saved, but another says we are saved by faith! Who’s right? Does it matter? When it comes to discerning the truth about God’s character and how we should live, two opposing views cannot be right.
Religion Divides the World
According to one website, “There are an estimated 4,200 different religions in the world, and these can be categorized into several main religions. These include Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism, although Roman Catholicism is often categorized under Christianity. There are many smaller yet still prevalent religions, such as the Baha’i faith. When including Roman Catholicism, Christianity is the world’s largest religion. Christianity also includes Protestantism and its many denominations, such as Lutherans, United Methodists, Southern Baptists, and the Assemblies of God, to name a few. There are also nondenominational Christians.” 1
With life and death questions hanging in the balance, finding the truth about God is more important than opening another ice cream shop. It is imperative to know what is true.
Typically, when it comes to becoming a Christian, one doesn’t just wake up one day and say, “I think I’ll be a Christian.” They may choose to be religious and join a specific church, but to become a Christian—a follower of Jesus—means they have heard and responded to a call by Jesus to follow Him. We’re not talking about hearing an audible voice (although it can happen that way), but a strong impression and desire.
Why are there so many religions and denominations? Think about it. If you were the enemy of truth and didn’t want anyone to know what God was really like, wouldn’t it make sense to try and confuse those who are searching for answers? Just keep them guessing! To do that you would need to manufacture information about God that isn’t true and promote a lot of new church start-ups with opposing beliefs. You know, like fake news and alternative facts.
The cool thing is that nobody has to be left in the dark trying to figure out what to believe. Jesus promised to send His Spirit to those who want to know the truth about Himself, God the Father, and how to live! (John 14:16-17).
What Is An Adventist?
The Adventist tag is a shortened title for someone who is a Seventh-day Adventist. They embrace the teachings of a Christian church (that later became a denomination or religious system that was started in New England in the 1800s. Their founding members left a number of other denominations (Methodist, Baptist, and more) to embrace their unique beliefs about God, of which two are alluded to in their name (Seventh-day Adventist). Number one, they believe the seventh day of the week (Saturday) was set aside by God as the birthday of the earth (to be celebrated by humanity). Number two, they believe the second coming (advent) of Christ is prophesied to take place at the end of the world. In their view, the end is near and people everywhere should prepare for Christ’s coming.
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church had its roots in the Millerite movement of the 1830s to the 1840s, during the period of the Second Great Awakening, and was officially founded in 1863. Prominent figures in the early church included Hiram Edson, Ellen G. White, her husband James Springer White, Joseph Bates, and J. N. Andrews. Over the ensuing decades, the church expanded from its original base in New England to become an international organization. Significant developments such as the reviews initiated by evangelicals Donald Barnhouse and Walter Martin in the 20th century led to its recognition as a Christian denomination.” 2
Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are drawn from a biblical worldview—which means Adventists view the world through the lens of scripture (the Bible). Because Adventists believe scripture contains information about God and navigational support for life, their beliefs can be found by reading scripture itself. These include:
A Perfect Beginning – Adventists believe in the biblical account of creation. God made everything—the heavens, the earth, the sea, and every living thing. His creation was glorious and perfect in every detail. The Bible says, “God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). His crowning work was the creation of man and woman—formed in His very own image. Adam and Eve spoke with their Creator face to face. God did not force His children’s love and obedience but gave them the freedom to obey or disobey Him (Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:26; Psalm 33:6-9; Joshua 24:15).
The Bad News – Sadly, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and experience the effects of sin. Their sin distanced them from their loving Creator. The trust relationship was damaged, and they could no longer communicate with Him face to face. The earth, once a place of life, joy, peace, and love, would now experience death, disease, suffering, sorrow, hatred, and misery. That’s how the human story began (Genesis 3:8-11, 17-19).
The Good News – But that’s not how the story ends, because there is good news, really good news. Even before Adam and Eve made their fatal choice, God had prepared the plan of salvation—a plan to bring back perfect harmony. Jesus would come to earth and die to restore the perfect world that had been broken by sin (1 Peter 1:18-20; Ephesians 1:3-4; Matthew 25:34).
The Gift of a New Life – The death of Jesus teaches that sin is best understood, not simply as breaking the law, but rather as breaking the loving heart of God. The death of Jesus on behalf of humans teaches that God’s love is so great He will do whatever it takes to restore His eternal friendship with humanity. God gave the ultimate gift of His Son to the world and continues to give humanity new life daily as part of His gift of grace (John 3:16; Romans 3:23-24; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
The Gift Giver: Perfect God, Perfect Man – Salvation and new life are gifts from Jesus, who is God in human form—divinity and humanity perfectly united. Because He is God, He has the power and authority to forgive and save people. Because He is man, He understands the joys and sorrows that humans suffer. Although born into a sinful world, He lived a perfect life to make up for humanity’s weakness. Because of His great love for people, Jesus died on a cross, was resurrected, and went to heaven where He is now with the Father. Yet, He resides in people’s hearts through His Holy Spirit—every day, every minute (John 1:14; Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 4:14-15; John 14:16).
How Life Can Be Really Good – In His Ten Commandments, God explains how humans can have a loving relationship with Him and with each other. The commandments are a trustworthy guide for living an abundant life. The first four guide humanity in their relationship with God; the remaining six remind them to treat their fellow human beings with love and respect. Obedience to these commandments requires choices. When you love someone, you naturally choose to express your affection and appreciation. That’s how it is when you love God. Living the Christian life arises from gratitude to God and a desire to honor Him. And when you fall short of His plan for you, God offers forgiveness as a gift of grace through Jesus. In addition to the Ten Commandments, Jesus showed humanity how to live during His earthly ministry. He taught us to love God, to love each other, and to love ourselves. He continues to give humans His love to keep them alive and growing (Exodus 20:3-17; Deuteronomy 10:13; John 13:34-35; John 14:15; 1 John 3:16).
God Listens When You Pray – Through prayer, people can open their hearts to God as if talking with a friend. If they can talk, they can pray. Indeed, if they can think, they can pray. No topic is too great or too small. Jesus taught His disciples to praise God in their prayers, to ask for daily bread, and to share the burdens on their hearts. While God already knows what people need, prayer opens the way for them to receive the good things He wants to provide them. But sometimes people don’t receive what they ask for, and that can be very difficult. When they don’t receive the expected answers to prayer, people learn what it means to exercise faith in God; to believe that He has their best interest in mind no matter what happens. Too often the human-God conversation is one-sided. It is important that people not only talk to God but that they listen to Him as well. If they are willing to listen, they can hear God’s voice through Bible study, through the still small voice of His Holy Spirit, through His created wonders in nature, and through humanity’s deepest relationships (Psalm 55:22; Romans 12:12; Jeremiah 29:11-12; Psalm 119:10-11).
Guarding Your Good Health – God gives each of us the opportunity to be all that He intends them to be. Seventh-day Adventists believe that a wholesome lifestyle contributes to good physical, mental, and spiritual health. Why are Adventists so passionate about good health? The Bible says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?. . . For God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Enjoying a healthful diet, refraining from harmful substances, and getting adequate exercise, water, and rest are very important ways to care for your body temples (1 Corinthians 10:31; 3 John 2).
Adventist hospitals and clinics throughout North America and the world promote healing and positive living to millions.
Rest from Stress, Fear, and Anxiety – The Bible says that after God created the world in six days, He rested on the seventh day. He sanctified the Sabbath—set it apart as a holy day. Later, when He gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, God explained the Sabbath in more detail. The Sabbath is a day to remind humanity that God is the Creator and worthy of their worship. The Sabbath is not an ordinary day for ordinary activities. The Sabbath is a day to pause from work, secular pursuits, and self-interests—a day to shut out the clamor and pressures of everyday life to receive the needed gifts of peace and rest. God rested on the first Sabbath day, not because He was exhausted from His work of creation, but because He knew His weary children would need a day of rest. Celebrated from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, the Sabbath is a spiritual experience as well as a time of physical rest. During His earthly ministry, Jesus made it clear that the Sabbath was made for humanity’s benefit. It was not to be a burden or encumbered with unreasonable man-made rules. Jesus celebrated the Sabbath by attending the synagogue (church), healing the sick, and spending time with those He loved (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 2:27; John 5:1-16).
A Happy Ending – Adventists believe Jesus will soon return to the earth to take those who share His ideals to a better place. “I am going there to prepare a place for you,” Jesus said. “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:2-3). On that happy day, the entire universe will know beyond a doubt that God is indeed a God of forgiveness and love and that His ways are best. The Bible says that Jesus will come in glory to deliver His people and restore all things. Loved ones who have rested asleep in their graves will be called back to life to join their families in a perfect world—a world free from pain, suffering, and death. No human being knows all the details about heaven, but Adventists believe it is a very real place. A place where people from every generation, every culture, and every nation on earth will experience everlasting life, love, and joy in fellowship with one another and with God (Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 21:3-4).
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is one of many Christian denominations. The name comes from the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath and a belief in the second coming (advent) of Jesus. Adventists attend services on Saturday—joining together for worship, interaction, and Bible study. The Bible is the source of their beliefs. The Adventist Church welcomes all people to their worship services. Formal membership includes being baptized by immersion, symbolizing their union with God, the forgiveness of sins, and their desire to enter into a new life. The most important function of the church is to demonstrate the love of God and to proclaim hope for people in a troubled world. Church membership is their way of declaring that they need God and each other if life is to be meaningful (Ezekiel 36:26; 1 John 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:14-26). 3
Adventist churches are open to all, which means you don’t have to be a member to visit or attend.
Find the closest Seventh-day Adventist Church to your area.