A study of Adventist doctrine reveals that we are not only not legalists but uniquely a people who center our teachings in Christ, exalting Him highly in our distinctive teachings. Indeed, our most distinctive doctrines have as their most distinctive feature the exaltation of Christ.
Our outstanding doctrine of the literal second advent of Christ truly exalts Him. We proclaim that "this same Jesus" who went up to heaven will return as "King of kings, and Lord of lords."
Whenever we hold a series of lectures setting forth our message, we always present with emphasis the following scripture, along with numerous other texts that exalt Christ: "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:16, 17). None can listen to our preaching without realizing that the whole drama of the ages is soon to come to its climax in Christ and His glorious advent, and that the hope of all godly men rests upon Him and the deliverance He has promised. We have never fallen into the delusion of believing or teaching that world betterment can come as a result of man's own endeavors. We have no faith in man's powers. We have ever taught that a better world will come only when Christ comes the second time to make all things new.
Emphasis on prophecy
Our emphasis on prophecy provides us with some of the best proofs that He who was born in Bethlehem was indeed the promised Messiah. Christ proved His Messiahship to His doubting disciples by quoting the Bible prophets. Of His conversation that resurrection day with two disciples on the road to Emmaus we read: "He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24: 25).
A little later we read these words concerning His statement to the eleven: "He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me." We do not attempt to improve on Christ's method for establishing His Messiahship. One of our distinctive prophetic teachings deals with the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14. This includes the 70-weeks prophecy of Daniel 9: 24-27. And it is this prophecy that provides one of the most amazing proofs that Jesus is indeed the Christ.
The mortality of man
In our preaching of the mortality of man we make very real and forceful the truth, that his only hope of everlasting life is through Christ. We teach the Bible truth that man is not immortal by nature, that his sins doom him to return to dust. We teach that without Christ, only death looms for the whole race, that it was our Lord who "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." We set forth Christ as the one whose voice will call to life the sleeping saints at the great judgment day, for we believe in a literal resurrection from the dead. How could we exalt Him more highly?
In our preaching of the doctrine of the priestly ministry of Christ in the setting of the ancient sanctuary service, we exalt Him as our great High Priest, who is ministering His shed blood in our behalf, and who is our only hope of salvation. For we teach that when His priestly work is ended, the destiny of all men is settled, the righteous are eternally saved, and the wicked forever debarred from any future probation. How could we exalt Christ more highly as the center of all our hope of eternall salvation?
Our preaching of the law
In our preaching of the law we exalt Christ by revealing that His death on Calvary was man's only means of escape from the judgment of death that was upon him. All of us are worthy of death, because we are lawbreakers, for "sin is the transgression of the law." If God's law could have been abolished, then Christ's death would have been unnecessary, superfluous, and His sacrifice on Calvary would lose its value as the one way of escape from the death wages that sin imposes on men. We preach that God's divine law could not be abolished, and that man's only hope lies in Christ, who died to pay the penalty that our lawbreaking demanded. We emphasize the impressive truth set forth by Paul regarding the work of Christ that enables us to give obedience to God's law. Says the apostle: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8: 1- 4). Thus again do we exalt Christ by setting Him forth as the one who makes possible our obedience to God's holy law, the Ten Commandments.
In our preaching of the Sabbath we exalt Christ by giving reality to the Bible declaration that He is Creator. Indeed, we are almost unique in stressing the sublime truth of His Creatorship. To Adventists, the texts that set forth this fact are very familiar, And it is only as we believe that He is Creator that we can believe He has power to re-create us, that is, to redeem us, for redemption is a creative act. Further, as we have already learned, the Sabbath truth guards the way against taking the first step on the road to an apostasy that robs Christ of His divinity, and His precious blood of its saving power an apostasy that robs Christianity of its Christ. The Sabbath truth prepares the heart to accept the whole of the Bible, with its solemn climax on Calvary and its glorious climax in Christ's second advent. How could we exalt Christ more highly?
Francis D. Nichol, wrote this article when he was the editor of the Adventist Review.