This is not an attempt to present all the valid reasons why a person should convert to the Seventh-day Adventist faith. Those reasons are many, though they may all be condensed into one; namely, because the Seventh-day Adventist faith presents the teachings of the Bible. The following reasons are, however, offered simply as one approach to the important subject of how to persuade men to decide to cast in their lot for the Lord. In a world filled with uncertainty the following approach, based on the element of certainty in Seventh-day Adventist teachings, may prove helpful in placing these teachings in an appealing light. Presented as a personal testimony, the seven reasons could be stated thus:
Certainty in Spiritual Realm
1. A desire for certainty and authority in the spiritual realm.
A person cannot do any serious, intelligent thinking on the subject of religion without soon coming to the conclusion that the worth-whileness of the views held by a religious body depends upon the authority behind those views. One of the primary points of conflict between Rome and Protestantism in the Reformation days was the question of authority. The Catholic Church rested its claim, first of all, upon the authority of the church as set forth in the declarations of its clergy and of its councils, and upon traditions that had come down through the centuries. The Protestant Reformers declared that the valid authority for the Church must be the Bible.
The tremendous need for a foundation of authority is revealed in the history of Protestantism. In modern times Protestant preachers have discounted the Bible, placing speculation and human reason above it. The result is that the foundations of Protestantism have been greatly weakened. An increasing number of people now view Protestant churches as having no more compelling power over their hearts than a literary society or a lodge. Men are not inclined to live, much less to die, for a religious organization that does not have behind it a compelling authority that captivates and controls their hearts. Men seek for certainty and assurance, something they can count on. That search is most marked when it comes to spiritual matters. That is one of the reasons why Rome today makes a definite appeal to many, even among intellectuals. She claims an authority that is above and beyond passing whims and theories of men.
But as a serious religious person seeking a church home, I would not take long in deciding against Rome and for the Seventh-day Adventist movement. The first and chief reason would be that I would find Adventism founded on a belief in the Bible as the supreme inspired revelation of God to man, a "Thus saith the Lord" that is free from the fallibilities and the foolishness that are often so glaringly evident in the traditions of men. I would realize that the Adventist Church was being guided the same way as was the church in the wilderness thirty-five hundred years ago, when God gave to man through Moses the first of the written revelations. I would realize that the Adventist Church has behind it the same authority and credentials possessed by the early Christian church, whose apostles declared that they preached none other things than those which Moses and the prophets declared should come, and who presented to the new believers the Bible as the true source of instruction, reproof, and counsel.
As I looked further into the matter, I would find that the Seventh-day Adventist Church expounds the prophecies of the Bible, showing the evidences of their fulfillment. This would lead me, first, to an increasing confidence in the Bible as the true guide; and, second, to a definite assurance that the advent movement is the church I should join. The evidence of fulfilled prophecy gives one the tremendous conviction that God has a plan and a program for the world, and specifically that God foretold the rise of this advent movement in these last days.
As I looked still further into the subject, I would find additional reason for believing that the Adventist movement could bring to my soul a sense of certainty and authority in the spiritual realm, because the gift of the Spirit of prophecy has been manifested in the movement. My study of the former dealings of God with man would show me that by a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet were the Israelites preserved, guided, warned, and rebuked through the centuries. I would also discover that in the beginnings of the Christian church the gift of prophecy was definitely manifested for the guidance and the building up of the church. And as I examined the wealth of instruction and timely counsel found in the Spirit of prophecy, I would be persuaded that conversion to the Seventh-day Adventist movement would bring to me that sense of certainty and authority in the spiritual realm that I so much desired.
The Question of Beginnings
2. My desire for certainty regarding the moot question of the beginning of our world would lead me to become a convert to the advent movement.
For two generations the religious world has been involved in sharp controversy over the question of the beginnings of things in our world, both as to man and as to all other living things upon the earth. The advocates of the skeptical evolution theory have tried to minimize the whole discussion by declaring that it does not matter where we came from, but rather where we are going to.
But as a serious religious person who had come far enough along in his thinking to take the Bible as his source of authority, I could not be satisfied with any such quip. Instead, I would be persuaded that our ultimate destination has a close relation to our beginning. In other words, even my elementary study of the Bible would lead me to believe that the record in Genesis has a real relation to the record in the Gospels and to the description of the new earth in the book of Revelation.
I could not hope to understand rightly the trend and direction of our whole world unless I could take my bearings from the beginning of time on this earth. I could not find any satisfaction in reading the promises of an earth made new, where all would be restored to original Edenic beauty, unless I were sure of what the original was like. It would provide no thrill to my heart to be assured that the earth is to be restored to its original state, if I must believe that the original state was marked with a varied array of dank pools filled with amoebae.
Having found my source of authority in the Bible, I would naturally, wish to find certainty regarding the beginnings of things in a religious body that believed what the Bible teaches concerning beginnings. And, behold, I would find it in the advent movement. I would find my feet standing on the solid ground at the entrance to the Garden of Eden. With the aid of Bible prophecies my eyes would be directed to the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
And right on this very point of the importance of a clear Biblical understanding of beginnings, I would find this advent movement observing a certain day every week in holy memory of the fact that in six days God made heaven and earth, as the Genesis record declares. I would be greatly impressed that here was a most unusual organization, one that made central in its teachings and practice a truth as vital and fundamental as the miraculous creation of our world. I would see in this practice of keeping holy the seventh day an assurance that this religious body believed with great earnestness and definiteness the truth of creation, that it was not a mere theory with them. I would be assured in my heart that when they preached to me the truth of the new creation, of the new heart and spirit which God will give to us, they are not talking some abstract theory to me, but were building their preaching upon the great historical truth that the God who promises to re-create us new creatures in Christ Jesus is the same God who originally created man perfect, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
1 would feel that the Sabbath gave me a sense of continuity from the very beginning of God's program for man on the earth, as if by a series of links of weeks I was anchored to that very first Sabbath, when God rested from all His works, and was refreshed. I would feel a sense of relationship right through to the new earth, when from Sabbath to Sabbath we shall all come up to worship before the Lord. Thus the doctrine of the Sabbath would stand revealed to me, not simply as a proof of the people who believe what the Bible says regarding the beginning of our world, but also as a mighty aid in generating within my heart a sense of certainty and assurance in things spiritual, a feeling of close relationship with God's great beginnings and endings for our world.
A True Moral Standard
3. My longing for certainty regarding a definite moral standard would lead me to become a convert to the advent movement.
ovement. No man can go very far in serious thinking on religious matters without coming to the conclusion that there must be a definite moral standard as a rule for life, for religious thinking immediately stirs up the moral faculties. The sense of right and wrong is quickened, conscience is aroused, the mind is filled with questionings, and all questions focus on the primary inquiry, Is there a definite moral standard by which to govern one's life? and if so, what is that standard?
Now, my acceptance of the Bible as the basis of authority for religious life would cause me soon to discover that much is said in the Scriptures concerning a moral code. I would read of the law of the Lord, which is declared to be perfect. I would read often holy commandments, which God spoke with His own voice, and uttered no more. I would read of how those ten commands were written also by the finger of God on tables of stone, and placed in a sacred shrine apart from all other laws. I would read that faith does not make void this law, but rather establishes it, and that this great code which is called the law of liberty will judge us in the last great day.
My longing for certainty as to a moral standard would thus have been satisfied, but where should I find a religious movement that upholds all of this law, a law that is so definitely one complete whole that to be guilty of breaking one precept means breaking the whole law? As I listened to Adventist evangelists, I would find that they stress this great truth that the Decalogue provides an infallible moral standard for all men in all ages. I would find this truth presented in Adventist literature everywhere. In neither the preaching nor the writing of the exponents of Adventism would I find any suggestion of the demoralizing doctrine that good and evil are only relative terms, that one's environment and training and the age in which one lives determine whether some act is to be considered good or bad. I would find no suggestion of the modern skeptical doctrine so often proclaimed in liberal churches, that the ten-commandment law is rather out of date, that it represents simply the best thought that Moses had long ago.
No possible doubt could be in my mind as to the belief of Adventists concerning the moral law. That, in itself, would provide me with great comfort. I would know that I could measure my life by something sure and immovable. Then as I looked at the Bible prophecy concerning a movement to arise in the last days, I would find that one of the characteristics of this movement would be its keeping of the commandments of God.
Certainty Beyond the Grave
4. If I were seeking for a church home, I would become a convert to the Adventist faith because I would find in it an answer to the question that has been asked and reasked through all the centuries, "If a man die, shall he live again?"
What a vast amount of literature has been written by sages and philosophers in all ages in an endeavor to answer this question. The hopes and fears of men have revolved around it. And closely related to this has been the inquiry, What is man? Is he but flesh and blood, of the earth earthy? Or is that which our eyes gaze upon merely a prison house and shell for the real being, which is ethereal and which flits away to another abode at death?
My reading of much that has been written would bring me only confusion of mind. I could not bring myself to accept the skeptical writings of even the wisest who would seek to persuade me that the grave ends all. On the other hand, I could never feel satisfied with the mysterious explanations offered by sectarians such as Spiritualists. Their explanations would seem unsatisfying. I could not feel that the future of men was to be understood in the setting of the seance chamber, with mysterious mumblings and shadowy apparitions.
And even the examination of many of the Christian writings would still leave me with questions in my mind, because having set out sincerely to search the Scriptures, I would soon find that many of the statements in so-called orthodox Christian writings did not square with the explicit declarations in the Book of God. For example, they would not square with the simple story of the creation of man, into whose nostrils God breathed the breath of life. I could not find in that creation record any account of an immortal soul being put into man. What is more, my reading of the Good Book would reveal to me that God only hath immortality, that we must seek for it, and shall not receive it until the last great day.
I would be further perplexed in my mind from reading most of the Christian writings on the nature of man, because they would not leave any reasonable, logical place for a resurrection or a future judgment. The teaching that man goes immediately at death either to heaven or to hell, freed from the bodily prison house, would not harmonize with what I would be reading in the Bible concerning a last great judgment day, when there is to be a literal resurrection, and all men are to receive a reward according to the deeds done in the body.
Furthermore, I would feel that there was something shadowy and uncertain about the future reward, if it dealt only with airy spirits.
But my examination of the teachings of Seventhday Adventists concerning the nature of man would dissolve my problems and give me a sense of certainty and defmiteness. I would find that the Adventist teaching presents man as a real being, standing perfect from the hand of God in the Garden of Eden, made animate by the breath God breathed into him. The Adventist teaching of man is that he is one complete whole, that there is no separate entity called the soul that flits away at death, but that in some supernatural way God created a being with physical and spiritual natures fused into one person, and that at death the animating breath from God returns to its divine source, and man the whole man returns to the dust. This conception of man would enable me to see why there should be a resurrection and a future day of judgment, and why God should plan to restore to us the kind of Edenic world which the original man inhabited.
At the same time I would be able to dismiss from my mind forever the disturbing claims of spiritists, for I would see in their manifestations simply a modern recital of the falsehood told to our mother Eve by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
Certainty as to Salvation
5. My desire for certainty regarding the subjects of sin and salvation would prompt me to become a convert to the Seventh-day Adventist faith.
Through all the centuries finite men have wrestled with these questions in an attempt to find a solution to the dark problem of sin. And those solutions have ranged all the way from the offering of one's own children in flaming, pagan sacrifice, to the bleak program of denying the reality of sin and attempting to develop a rich character by one's own individual efforts. But no one can go very far in serious religious thinking without being persuaded that there is something wrong with our innermost nature, call it by whatever name we will. We discover Paul's experience to be true to our own life, that what we would do, that we do not, and what we do not want to do, that we do. A sense of guilt and helplessness dominates the mind of a man who honestly examines his own soul. Certainly this is true if a man has gone far enough in his religious search for a church home to be a prayerful reader of the Scriptures.
In the very heart of Seventh-day Adventist teachings is found the doctrine of the sanctuary, which portrays the whole subject of sin and salvation in such vivid figures that I would at once feel as if I were indeed watching the whole drama by which God designs to purge us of guilt and cause us to stand justified in His sight. As I studied into the typical service of the ancient sanctuary, and then listened to the truth unfold concerning the sanctuary in heaven above, where Christ now ministers in behalf of those who call upon Him, any possible questions and uncertainties regarding God's way of dealing with the tragedy of sin in my life would disappear. I would discover in the subject of the sanctuary one of the most comforting truths that could ever be brought to the heart of a man, certainty of salvation.
Proper Care of the Body
6. My desire to know how to properly care for my body, which the Bible describes as the temple of the Holy Ghost, would lead me to convert to Seventh-day Adventism.
My examination of the Scriptures down to this point, in my search for a church home, would have presented to me, as discussed in a preceding section, the truth that man is one complete whole, that the spiritual is not insulated and isolated from the physical. 'Therefore I would realize that the care I give to my body has a vital relationship to healthy spiritual living. I would see new force in the scripture which declares that whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we should do it to the glory of God.
In view of my discovery of the nature of man and the inspired command to care rightly for the body, I could not feel satisfied to join a church that gave no attention to healthful living, and, in fact, permitted its members, unrebuked, to engage in many habits and practices that are injurious to the body. When I turned to examine the Seventhday Adventist movement, I would find something new and unusual, a religious organization that concerned itself not simply with theology but also with physiology, with right food for the body as well as for the spirit.
I would feel that here indeed is a church presenting a balanced program for successful living, according to the Bible pattern. I would feel that I had discovered an added reason for believing in the gift of the Spirit of prophecy as manifested in the Adventist movement, because the one who made claim to the gift, I would discover from my study, is the one who presented to the Adventist Church certain distinctive outlines of the doctrine of healthful living as a vital part of the program of successful Christian life.
The Meaning of the Times
7. Finally, my desire to know with certainty the meaning of the times in which we live and what the future holds for us, would lead me to become a convert to Seventh-day Adventism.
All about me in the world I see confusion, men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things that are coming on the earth. I read in my daily paper of the forebodings of statesmen, the dire prophecies of general calamity and destruction throughout the earth. As a sincerely religious person seeking a church home, I naturally wish to ally myself with a religious body that will provide me with peace and assurance in my heart in these days of world unrest, and if possible with some answer concerning the questions in my mind as to the future. But as I looked about, I would find the religious bodies, in general, strangely troubled concerning affairs in our world. Instead of their being able to provide an answer to the question as to what the future holds, I would find them somewhat amazed that I should even ask.
Yet having started out sincerely to lead the religious life, and thus having given some study to the Bible, I would be impressed that it should be possible to know something concerning conditions in the world about me, and something also about the future. My reading of the Bible would lead me repeatedly to prophetic descriptions that seem to fit our day, and then foretell events that are connected with the end of earth's history. For example, when I read the statement of Christ in the twentyfourth chapter of Matthew, I would find that it answers at length the question of His disciples, "What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
As I examined the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, I would find what my heart was longing for an explanation of these troubled times, and a "Thus saith the Lord" concerning the future of our world. Peace would fill my heart, despite the troubled conditions about me, for I would see that these conditions were foretold in prophecy; that despite the apparent chaos, God is working out His own plans and soon will come the day of the return of Jesus Christ, when all the evil of this world will end. I would lift up my head and rejoice that my redemption draws nigh, and with enthusiasm would I become a convert to this advent movement, dedicating my time and my all to the proclaiming of its truths to the world in these closing hours of earth's history.
Francis D. Nichol was the editor of the Adventist Review when he wrote this article.