My name is Berit Fischer, I am 32 years old and live in Norway. I am married to August and together we have two children, Christopher (3 1/2 years) and Christine (2 months). For the time being I am a busy homemaker, but later I will continue to work as a registred nurse. Officially I left the Adventist church in October 2006, but my journey out began six months previously, after spending half of my life in the SDA church. It is an honor and privelege to share my story with you, and I praise God for his power to remove the veil from my eyes! I now have a desire for Jesus and joy to be a Christian as I never had before! God is faithful!
To my great shock I discovered in the Bible that the understanding of clean and unclean foods, tithing and Sabbath-keeping are all SDA doctrines taken out of the old covenant and have NO foundation in the New Testament!
This letter I sent out to friends and family after leaving the church. The response I got included silence, withdrawal and accusations of being led by Satan or never have understood the "message" in the first place. A few accepted it, but nobody likes to engage in talking about this topics.
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gaing Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ,, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” Phil. 3:7-9
The last few months many things have taken place and I’d like to share this with all of you. In this way I’d like to share what has made me revise my understanding of the Bible and thereby change my position towards Adventism. A rumor that I have left the church might cause many to wonder why; therefore, I’d like to inform each one of you personally and explain what has made me come to this decision. I hope this introduction has not scared you too much, but that you will read this letter with an open mind, and for old friendships sake try to understand my thoughts. I want to make it clear that I do not want to attack the church or anyone’s belief. This is my personal experience, and I encourage each one to study this for himself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I was baptized in 1992 and have spend 8 years as a student and co-worker at different schools connected to the church. I have been very well-educated in what the church believes and stands for. One thing I learned was why and how Adventism understands the letter to the Galatians differently from other denominations.
About half a year ago I got a letter from a person I regard highly. It challenged me because it went against what I had learned about the letter to the Galatians. I was encouraged to study Galatians thoroughly, and this study has changed my Christian experience! I have come to the cross and understand more of what Jesus really has done for me. The study of the Galatians led me further to study the issue of the covenants. This subject was something I knew little about from before. With the aid of the Bible, a concordance, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that Jesus has promised will lead us to the whole truth, I slowly got a picture before me.
I have looked up about 150 bible texts that have to do with this topic, and after a long time, Bible study has again become interesting and alive to me. I have read a great part of the New Testament over again. Books and chapters like Galatians, Romans, Hebrews, 2 Cor 3, Eph 2, and Col 2 have taught me new things. Adventism teaches that Jesus abolished the ceremonial laws; the other part of the law—the Ten Commandments —s still binding for the Christians, they claim. The New Testament is clear that the old covenant is gone and has NO validity anymore. The law was a separating wall between the Jews and the Gentiles, and Jesus came to tear this wall down (Eph.2:11-22). The law was the tutor that should lead them to Christ, and as Gal. 3 says, because Jesus has come we are no longer under a tutor. To continue focusing upon the law means that we have not found Christ and accepted his sacrifice for us. This is SO vital to understand!
When I began to read about the covenants I came to see that the Ten Commandments are insolubly linked to the law and the covenant. The Bible told me that the Ten Commandments were a part of the whole law to which Jesus came to make an end . I was totally shocked! To claim that the expression “the law” means the Ten Commandments I understood was not correct because the Decalogue only represents a part of the law and is never called the law itself. However, the expression “Ten Commandments” is used three times in the Old Testament (Ex.34:28, Deut.4:12,13, Deut. 10.4,5) and here it is described as THE COVENANT! The ten commandments is referred to as the covenant between God and Israel ,and the Sabbath was the sign of this covenant ( Ex. 31:16-18). And if, according to Hebrew 8, the old covenant is gone, then the content and the sign of the covenant also must be gone, I reasoned. Everything that has to do with the old covenant is gone and has no relevance to the Christians whatsoever.
To my great shock I discovered in the Bible that the understanding of clean and unclean foods, tithing and Sabbath-keeping are all SDA doctrines taken out of the old covenant and have NO foundation in the New Testament! First I could not believe this and went back to double check several times. It cannot be, I thought; the Ten Commandments gone? How does God then make people understand what is right and wrong? And most important, the Sabbath is a part of the commandments, and it surely is still valid since a Sunday law is to come! How can this be? I thought and prayed to God that he would teach me with his Spirit as he has promised. The Holy Spirit then led me from one text to another, and I was just amazed as God revealed his grace and power to me through his word. One of the keys I found was in what Jesus spoke to the disciples when he introduced the new covenant (the Lord’s Supper, see John 13). As the Decalogue was linked to the old covenant, Jesus now linked a new commandment to the new covenant: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). By this Jesus gave a higher standard for his followers, and He has also promised us that his grace will enable us to live holy lives (Tit. 2:11-15).
I still wanted to prove from the New Testament that the Sabbath was still valid. “I have been to two Bible schools and know all the ‘proof-texts’,” I thought to myself. But when I opened the concordance, I was surprised by how few texts there are in the New Testament about the Sabbath. And after reading most of the letters and the Gospels, I had many questions about whether Sabbath-keeping still is required:
An interesting point was to read Acts 15. After a dispute among the first Christians concerning the gospel and the law, the apostles came to an agreement of what they were to teach the Gentiles. “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchasity. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts. 15:28-29) Sabbath-keeping, tithing, and unclean foods were obviously not considered as necessary things any longer!
Jesus did also not command the Sabbath; he said He was the Lord over the Sabbath and that we are to come to him and find rest (Matt.11:28). Neither did Paul instruct the Gentiles and the new churches about the Sabbath, nor did he condemn Sabbath-breaking, but he “esteemed all days alike” (Rom. 14:5). Paul expressed concern for the Christians who still were observing days, months and years (Gal.4.10) and warned them of legalism. Like Paul, I have come to understand that all days are alike when it comes to worshiping God. Therefore there is no duty to worship God on Saturday (or Sunday) and no sin not to do so. To have a day free from work, to visit the church and be together with friends has been a great blessing to me, and I consider this to be an important counterweight to the stressful society of today. But according to the Bible, I cannot find that this is something the Christian HAS to do now or in the end of time in order to be saved (Adventism teaches that if you do not accept the Sabbath you will receive the mark of the Beast and lose eternal life).
So, after honestly reading all the texts about Sabbath for what they say and don’t say, and in the light of the new Covenant, I have come to see that the Sabbath from the Old Testament was (as were many other things) a picture of Jesus. The Sabbath was fulfilled in Jesus, and in HIM I may find rest 24 hours a day the whole week long! Jesus is our Sabbath-rest according to Hebrews 3 and 4. In these chapters the expression “today” is given a great importance, and it refers to the true rest, Jesus, that God always wanted to give his children. In the end of this world’s history I believe the focus is to be upon a person, Jesus the Creator, and not a created day. The Bible actually deosn’t say that the keeping of Sunday is the mark of the beast or that Sabbath is the seal of God. Believe me, I was so shocked over this finding I could hardly believe it was true. I had to choose to believe in the Bible alone and let it interpret itself, or let the Bible be interpreted through Ellen G. White and follow a whole lot of “proof-texts” in order to arrive at the “right answer”. I have decided to believe in the Bible alone and not attach myself to a prophet with a papal authority.
One of my first logical conclusions was actually that Ellen White cannot be a true prophet at all since she gives Sabbath-keeping, tithing and vegetarianism salvational importance. (If you don’t believe me, just ask me for references or check her writings on your own.)This realization set me mentally free to finally look up some the critics that have been raised against her. I have read material for and against, and through research done by the General Conference and others it has been proven that EGW copied very much from other sources into her own writings without giving credit for it. She even lied about it and said it was her own words! Her books contain many contradictions to the Bible, and even her own writings contradict themselves. Nonsense-like statements about faith and lifestyle in addition to revealing facts about her person and her “mission” have given me many doubts, and it is not possible for me to believe in her as a prophet any longer.
As Ellen White is the only source for the Adventist teaching of the sanctuary, 1844 and the Investigating Judgment, I have renounced this teaching as well. After this Quarterly’s study of these issues, some of you might find it strange that I do so, therfore I just want to share shortly why I do not consider it biblical. First of all, it IS NOT in the Bible, and secondly, this teaching is AGAINST the Bible and the Gospel. I fully reject EGW and Uriah Smith’s understanding that the atonement was not completed at the cross. At the cross Jesus cried out, “It is fulfilled,” and the Bible is full of texts that show that salvation is a fact since the cross and not since 1844! There are many more problems with the Adventist teaching on this doctrine, I will not go more into it here but leave it for your own study.
To discover that most of what I have believed in is not biblically correct left me with mixed feelings. It is not easy to leave a church that I have my identity, education and network linked to. At the same time I really want to belong to God and follow what the Bible says. When I accepted that many of the Advenitst doctrines are unbiblical, it was like an unknown burden fell off me! I FELT SO RELIEVED! I am saved and can be a Christian without the complicated EGW-based theology! Jesus has promised that the truth shall set us free, and I praise him for setting me free from legalism and false teachings!
According to what I have studied in the Bible, read in books and on the internet, and from my experiences, talks, and prayer, I have concluded that I have to resign my membership form the Seventh-day Adventist church as I no longer can believe and support its main teachings. It is not an easy decision because I know it will disappoint and hurt many, something that is not my intention. I am thankful for the help and support the church and its members have given me in different ways, and even though I do not consider myself an Adventist any longer, I will continue to visit the church from time to time as long as my husband still is a member and I am welcomed. I am thankful for all the nice experiences I have had and all the wonderful people I have met during these years, and I for sure would like to keep in contact with you! If anyone has any questions or comments concerning this letter, please feel free to contact me, and I will be happy to answer and/ or study these issues with you if you are interested.
That the Adventist church is to be any “better” than the rest of Christianity because they have the “truth” and that the other Christians have to convert to the Adventist understanding (especially the Sabbath teaching) in order to be saved in the end time, are attitudes that I no longer share. I am now searching for a new place where I can meet other believers and continue my growth as a Christian. Until now I have visited two other evangelical churches in town, and the visits have been very inspiring. I have met friendly, spiritual, and Jesus-loving people. And the way they prayed made a special impression: their prayers were simple, living, and inclusive. These visits have revealed an unexpected experience for me who learned that it is dangerous to visit the “fallen Babylon churches”… For those of you who might worry that I now have gone completely astray, I’d like to assure you that God knows my heart and knows that I want to belong to Him and do His will. I rejoice in the salvation that Jesus Christ has given me, and I’d like to love and serve Him who is greater than all laws and commandments and is able to make me into a new creature in Him!
In the joy of His salvation,
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