Prophecy, Papacy or Christ — where’s your focus on?

Here are some honest, from-the-heart questions to my friends from the church where, while I’m no longer a part of, I still love and honor:

While you’re very passionate about your eschatology — the prophecy, the Sunday law, the Pope and the supposed visit to the US as the the fulfilment of it — how’s your Christology? How’s your relationship with Jesus?

I’m not talking about whether you believe in God — it’s generic. It’s very easy to hide behind the generic “God” term and feel religious. No, I’m talking about your personal relationship with the God-man Jesus Christ.

I’m not talking about whether you believe you’re secured because you’re part of the “true church”. No, I’m talking about whether you’re secured in Jesus’s salvation if God decides to end your life today.

How’s your personal relationship with Jesus today? Who are you in Him when no one is looking?

If you evaluate your life in the past and how it is lived right now — you look at the prophecies, the Pope, the anticipation of Sunday Law, or Jesus Christ — where do you think your life have been focused on?
And most especially, where do you plan to focus on for the remainder of your life here on earth?

My prayer is that you focus on Jesus. You grow in your personal relationship with him daily. Let the noise of the present world or the future that quite honestly, only God really knows, not bother you. Be still in Jesus. Everything else — neither the present nor the future — doesn’t really matter if you’re with Him.

Reading INTO Mark 2:27 – the most common Adventist error on defending the Sabbath

An Adventist friend, a good friend but a theological “adversary” posted on Facebook today:

“If the Sabbath was given only during the time of Moses and according to Jesus “the Sabbath was MADE for MAN” (Mark 2:27) therefore MEN came to exist only during the time of MOSES!” “As long as MAN exists, the SABBATH should also exists because the SABBATH was MADE for MAN.”

A common Adventist argumentation, this interpretation rises and falls on the “correct” interpretation of the context of Mark 2:27. In 2005, I posted a reply on this subject. This, however, shares a more detailed explanation on the context of Mark 2:27 and how this verse has been erroneously used by Adventists to prove a point that wasn’t there.

* * *

In Mark 2:27-28 the Pharisees had made the 7th day Sabbath exceedingly important. They had made the Sabbath the important thing to them man’s needs were only secondary at best. Jesus wanted to make the point to the religious leaders and the people that the Sabbath was not more important than man. The Sabbath was for the benefit of the people and not the other way around. Jesus in saying that he was Lord of the Sabbath was pointing out that he possessed the ultimate authority over the Sabbath. I like the way the Jerusalem Bible puts it, “…so the Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath.” In other words, the Pharisees do not have the authority to condemn Jesus over what they considered a Sabbath violation for he is master and Lord of the Sabbath.

This dispute with the Pharisees arose not over the question of who was supposed to keep the Sabbath, but rather over how the Sabbath was to be kept and who had the authority to determine how the law was to be applied. The SDA belief that here Jesus is teaching that all mankind must keep the 7th day Sabbath is not found in the text. Jesus and the Pharisees knew that the Sabbath was only for the Jews. Neither Jesus nor the Pharisees were concerned with the question of who must keep the Sabbath. Such a concern is limited to the SDA church and other sabbatarians. Let us note that in the text it does not say “all mankind” but just “man”.  Compare this fact with other universal text found in the New Testament and you will see a marked difference. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). “I will pour out a portion of my spirit on all mankind” (Acts 2:17). “…for he wants all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). “The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11). These universal texts  contain the word “all” that is missing from Mark 2:27. The reason for this is that Mark 2:27 is not a universal text. It refers to the Jews only. This interpretation is in complete harmony with the rest of Scripture (see Exodus 16:22-23; 20:8-11; 31:16-17; Deuteronomy 5:12-15; Nehemiah 9:13-14; Ezekiel 20:12, 20).

To sum up we have a text that is not at all concerned with who was to keep the 7th day Sabbath. The concern was with who had the authority to interpret how the Sabbath was to be kept by those under the Law. The text gives no indication that it is a universal text as it simply says, “man” not “all mankind” as in universal texts. In addition we must remember that Jesus was certainly well aware that the Bible says that the 7th day Sabbath was a sign of the Mosaic Covenant between God and Israel not between God and the world. Therefore, Mark 2:27-28 in no way is saying that the Sabbath is a requirement for all mankind to observe forever.

Jesus actually taught that human needs come before the legal requirements of the Law. This whole dispute with the Pharisees arose when they saw Jesus allowing his disciples to harvest grain on the Sabbath because they were hungry. “Have you not read what David did when he was in need and he and his men were hungry?” (Mark 2:25). Jesus’ point was that David “gave it to his men” (v. 26) thus he broke the legal requirement of the Law for a human need. And a greater one than David is here. “That is why the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (v. 28). The idea that all people must observe the Sabbath based on this text is a classic example of reading into a text something that is completely foreign to it.

To my Adventist friends: An alternative view to 1st Qtr. 2009 Sabbath School Lesson

I received an email from Dirk Anderson, former owner of EllenWhite.org. Adventists are talking about Ellen White this quarter through the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly. He presents a website that gives an alternative perspective on this issue. For the purpose of balance study, I strongly suggest that you consider his letter below:

A few weeks ago someone alerted me about the SDA Sabbath School Quarterly. I read it and was very disappointed to see that so little has changed at SDA corporate headquarters.

I have a GREAT concern that Adventists are going to study this one-sided and biased quarterly, and based upon that “partial” information, will make a decision about Ellen White that could lead to years of pain and heartache. PLEASE HELP ME GET OUT THE TRUE STORY ABOUT ELLEN WHITE!

I have prepared an “alternative viewpoint” to the Quarterly, which SDAs can study, and even print out and take with them to Sabbath School to insure a lively discussion.

Please get the message out, on your web sites, in blogs, via e-mail, or however else. As always, I appreciate any feedback and suggestions. You are the best group of folks in the world and I appreciate you!

Here is the link to the material:
http://www.nonsda.org/egw/ssq2009/toc.htm

Thank-you and God bless you!

Brother Anderson

“Hindi na po ako Adventist”

* For my non-Filipino readers, the title means “I’m not an Adventist anymore”.

Lately, I’ve been asked frequently whether I’m still an Adventist or not. Maybe because I’ve been reconnecting with my old college friends these days. And, coming from 3 generations of Adventists and studied in an Adventist university, it’s not surprising that about 95% of my acquaintances are Adventists.

So, this small piece is an attempt to explain my answer to this question. For some reasons, I can’t explain in 2 to 3 sentences. So, allow me to use this domain for a few more paragraphs. Pardon me, my non-Adventist readers, you may not be able to relate to this.

So, the common question, “Adventist ka pa ba?” (Are you still an Adventist?) The quick answer is, “Hindi na” (Not anymore). Unfortunately, though, there are some misinterpretations to this answer :

1. So, Reform ka na? – “Reform” pertains to a group or groups of Adventist off-shoots, both liberal or conservative in belief system. Some of these off shoots give emphasis to vegetarianism or Ellen White writings. Some are simply against the General Conference. Some off-shoots I know are the “Davidians” and “Reformed Adventist Movement”.

I never joined any “reformed Adventist movements”.

2. Bakit ka nag backslide? – (Why did you back slide?) This question actually asks what caused me to “quit the Adventist faith”. In my experience (as I have asked this question myself to “former” Adventists), the common expected cause include, a) job related (because there is a Sabbath schedule and the Adventist chose job over Sabbath) and b) spouse related (“She married a non-Adventist, nahatak na sya ng hindi kapanampalataya“)

I wouldn’t say I backslid. I have never abandoned my faith in Jesus. I may have abandoned some Adventist doctrines, but never my relationship with Jesus. I can call it, on the other hand, forward-slide :D More of this later.

3. Sunday ka na pala ngayon! – (So you now belong to Sunday!). I’ve recently received this comment from a college friend who invited me to her wedding. Unfortunately, it fell on a Sunday so I politely begged off because of my responsibility to my church. In which she commented this. If you’ve been with the Adventist faith for a long time, you’re acquainted with the unending battle between Sabbath (Saturday) and Sunday. Adventists explain that since Saturday is the correct day of worship, worshiping on Sunday is, as Ellen White says, the “mark of the beast”. So there’s really a tension between these two days.

It’s really hard to explain in a paragraph why I joined a church that worships on Sundays and has stopped worshipping on Saturdays. I have written quite a lot about this subject 7 years ago. But the quick explanation is this: I’ve never joined “another camp” of Sunday worshippers. I don’t worship the day. I worship the creator of the day – Jesus. Bale wala sa akin kung anong araw ka sumasamba. The important thing is you are worshiping the right God any day you want (for instance, Christians, including Adventists, in the middle east worship on Fridays).

4. Kumakain ka na ng baboy ngayon? (Do you now eat pork?) Eating pork for Adventists are a big deal. It’s like the thing that separates the wheat from the weeds. :D

Opo, minsan po nakakakain na ako ng baboy. May baboy sa hotdog, sa cornbeef (yes!), sa chicharon, at sa paborito nating hamburgers. Yung mga processed meat, ok sa akin. For some reasons, psychologically I think, I still cannot eat foods with visible pork in it like liempo or lechon. And I don’t eat pork intentionally. I eat only if I’m presented with it. I still choose not to eat pork NOT for religious purposes but for health reasons.

So, ano ka na ngayon?

I’m a Bible-believing follower of Jesus Christ.

I believe I’m a sinner forgiven by Jesus through his work on the cross. I was saved not because I am good or I joined a religion or said a prayer or did some acts of kindness. It is only by this grace, this love that I don’t deserve that I am saved.

I now serve Jesus through a body of believer in a non-denominational, evangelical church called Grace Place.

What do you think of Adventists?

Make no mistake about it. I love Adventists. I love the Adventist church. Most of my friends are Adventists. Most of my family members are still Adventists. I love them and I have never seen them differently even after I “jumped ship”.

I left the Adventist church not for some disagreement with a member or with the organization. It is purely doctrinal. There are some Adventist doctrines that I now cannot support. And the only logical step is to leave and go where I can best serve God.

So there. That’s the explanation. Whew!