Helpful Adventist Terms and Facts

By Andrea James

Whether you’ve grown up in the church or coming to PUC is your first experience in an Adventist setting, there are a lot of details that can be confusing. Below is an Adventist “cheat sheet” for your referral if you find yourself in need of one.

What does “Seventh-day Adventist” mean?

Seventh-day Adventists believe the seventh day of the week (Saturday) is the Sabbath. Or more accurately, they believe Sabbath is from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. They also believe in the advent, or the Second Coming of Jesus.

Who is Ellen White?

Most Adventists believe Ellen G. White (a.k.a. Sister White) was a prophet who experienced many visions from God. She founded the Seventh-day Adventist denomination along with her husband, James White (a.k.a. Elder White), and Joseph Bates. She was a prolific author whose writings had and continue to have a huge influence on the Church. Adventists consider her writings divinely inspired. They are not equal to the Bible by any means (Ellen White herself encouraged people to go to the Bible, check her work against it, and always use it to judge what is true), but they are used frequently in Adventist Bible studies and for general guidance.

What is the Spirit of Prophecy?

The Spirit of Prophecy is another way to refer to the writings of Ellen White, which exemplify the spiritual gift of prophecy.

What happened in 1884? What was the Great Disappointment?

According to William Miller, the Second Coming was supposed to occur around October 22, 1844. Many Adventists—including Ellen White—accepted and spread this message. However, Jesus did not come, and the event was called the Great Disappointment. There was great change in the beliefs of the early church leaders after this time.

What is the Three Angels’ Message?

The Three Angels’ Message comes from Rev. 14:6-12. The Adventist church believes the message was given to prepare the world for the Second Coming. The church believes its mission as the remnant church is to proclaim the Gospel as part of that preparation.

What is the remnant church?

Adventists believe their church is the remnant church of Biblical prophecy. According to the official statement of the Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist church, “A remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent.”

What is the health message?

It refers to adherence to the kosher laws of Lev. 11 and vegetarianism. Adventists believe they should live according to the health message and spread it to others outside of the faith. Not all Adventists are vegetarians, nor do all Adventists adhere to the kosher laws, but it is held up as the ideal for living a healthy life and consuming a healthy diet. There is a strong connection between the health message and Ellen White’s writings about health.

What is the General Conference?

The General Conference is the governing body of the Adventist church. General Conference sessions are held every five years, where delegates elect the church’s leaders, talk about and vote on changes to the church constitution, and hear reports from the church’s 13 divisions.

What is the Great Controversy?

The Great Controversy is the war between God and Satan, which God won when Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected. Adventists believe it will be fully over when Jesus comes again, sin is eradicated completely and eternally, and the earth is made new.

What does “justification by faith” mean?

Adventists believe we are not saved by our actions but by our faith in God. We believe in Jesus and in His power to save us, forgive us, and help us. We are not justified by doing good things, but by believing in God and His grace.

For more information, you can contact the pastors on campus or search the official website of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

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