Adventism at 160: A Look Behind the Numbers

An interesting article and yet I hear this question:

How does God see the Adventist Church?

Is He impressed with a revelation of mere statistics- so many thousands of hospitals, educational institutions, students, nurses, physicians, educators, membership in excess of twenty million individuals, etc.
I would think that God is more interested in the following:

How have you shown my love to those around you? How have you treated the poor, homeless, destitute, the outcast, the afflicted and any other category which reflects human need?
Have you been faithful to the spread of my gospel as opposed to denominational statements?
Can the world see Jesus in you?
Am I being glorified or is it that when people see you, they praise you but fail to give me glory?

Are you truly my disciples?

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love, one for another.( John 13: 35).

I think the above is the critical test which God employs. Too often we are absorbed and indeed impressed by the recitation of mere statistics. God is not impressed with any such thing. He wants people- people who are born again, touched with His love who will not merely carry the gospel, but live out the principles of Christ himself- love for God and love for humanity on a daily basis.

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And it seems to me that the inspiration to live as you have described in your queries must come from a right understanding of the eternal gospel, which too often is poorly expressed or understood among SDA members. It has led to a “fortress” mentality not only against the moral decline in the world, but perceived and real loss of morality within. We not only shut ourselves off from the world, but also from each other.

I do think the reasons that people come and go in/out of the SDA church are many - “lifers” or multi-gen adventists may have very different reasons for staying or leaving than, say, a new convert. I have a culture of adventism that goes way back. I am grateful for the benefits and the advantages, but grew to see the doctrinal issues and institutional craziness. A person coming from a two week evangelistic “effort” will have a very different perspective on having been baptized into The Truth. I am talking now with a young lady who just joined, and just stopped eating pork and lobster (she has no reason for this other than a few texts in Leviticus). Her family think she’s in a cult, and I’m not sure she will last… Pork and lobster abstinence are not a very strong foundation.


We tend to focus on the what and knowing the what to make “disciples” instead of know the Who of the gospel, and from that proceeding to the why. Building faith up a what will crumble under its own weight. Only knowing the Who do we reach the why, and in that a solid foundation that will last.

As a convert at age 24, I can tell you, joining the SDA church is a whole other universe. As I said earlier in a comment above, I’m sure I would have been pretty short lived as a member if I hadn’t married a generational SDA, who began working for the church as a teacher, less than a year after we were married.

I hope that the young lady you mentioned, or her parents, will do some on line research.

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