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What do you believe about God? Who is He? What does He expect of us? What is He really like?
God told Moses that no man could see His face and live. But Jesus told Philip that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father (John 14:9). Since He walked among usindeed, became one of uswe are able to perceive who God is and what He is like.
We have written this exposition of our 27 major beliefs to reveal how Seventh-day Adventists perceive God. This is what we believe about His love, kindness, mercy, grace, justice, benevolence, purity, righteousness, and peace. Through Jesus Christ, we see God benevolently holding children on His lap. We see Him weeping as He shares the sorrow of the mourners at the tomb of Lazarus. We see His love as He cries, "Forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34).
We have written this book to share our vision of Christa vision that finds its focus at Calvary, where "mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Ps. 85:10). At Calvary, where He became sin for usHe who knew no sin"that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21).
We have written this book believing that every doctrine, every belief, must reveal the love of our Lord. Here is a Person with an unconditional love and commitment unparalleled in human history. Recognizing that He who is the incarnation of truth is infinite, we humbly confess that there is still much truth to be discovered.
We have written this book conscious of our indebtedness to the rich Biblical truths we have received from the Christian church of history. We acknowledge the noble line of witnessessuch as Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, Tyndale, Calvin, Knox, and Wesleywhose advance into new light led the church forward to a fuller understanding of God's character. And that understanding is ever progressive. "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18, KJV). Yet as we find new facets of God's revelation, they will harmonize perfectly with the united testimony
of the Scriptures.
We have written this book with the guidance of a clear directive continually reminding us that "if you search the Scriptures to vindicate your own opinions, you will never reach the truth. Search in order to learn what the Lord says. If conviction comes as you search, if you see that your cherished opinions are not in harmony with the truth, do not misinterpret the truth in order to suit your own belief, but accept the light given. Open mind and heart that you may behold wondrous things out of God's Word"
(Ellen G. White, Christ's Object Lessons [Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1900], p. 112).
We have not written this book to serve as a creeda statement of beliefs set in theological concrete. Adventists have but one creed: "The Bible, and the Bible alone."
We have not written this book to titillate the imagination. This is not a speculative workunless one considers the Bible to be that! Rather, it is a thorough, Biblically-based, Christ-centered exposition of what we believe. And the beliefs expressed are not the product of a studious afternoon; they represent more than 100 years of prayer, study, prayer, reflection, prayer . . . In other words, they are the product of Adventist growth "in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).
We have written this book aware that some will ask if doctrine is really important in an age that finds itself struggling to survive the threat of nuclear annihilation, an age preoccupied with the explosive growth of technology, an age in which Christian endeavor tries vainly to press back the brooding specters of poverty, hunger, injustice, and ignorance. Yet . . .
We have written this book with the deep conviction that all doctrines, when properly understood, center on Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and are extremely important. Doctrines define the character of the God we serve. They interpret events, both past and present, establishing a sense of place and purpose in the cosmos. They describe the objectives of God as He acts. Doctrines are a guide for Christians, giving stability in what otherwise would be unbalancing experiences, injecting certainty into a society that denies absolutes. Doctrines feed the human intellect and establish goals that inspire Christians and motivate them with concern for other persons.
We have written this book to lead Adventist believers into a deeper relationship with Christ through a study of the Bible. Knowing Him and His will is vitally important in this age of deception, doctrinal pluralism, and apathy. Such a knowledge is the Christian's only safeguard against those who, "like savage wolves," will come speaking perverse things in order to subvert truth and destroy the faith of God's people (see Acts 20:29, 30). Especially in these last days, to keep from being "carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men" (Eph. 4:14), all must have a right concept of God's character, government, and purposes. Only those who have fortified their minds with the truth of the Scriptures will be able to stand in the final conflict.
We have written this book to assist those who are interested in knowing why we believe what we believe. This study, written by Adventists themselves, is not just window dressing. Carefully researched, it represents an authentic exposition of Adventist beliefs.
Finally, we have written this book recognizing that Christ-centered doctrine performs three obvious functions: first, it edifies the church; second, it preserves the truth; and third, it communicates the gospel in all its richness. True doctrine calls for far more than mere beliefit calls for action. Through the Holy Spirit, Christian beliefs become loving deeds. A true knowledge of God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit is "saving knowledge." That is the theme of this book.Editors.