The other day I was listening on the car radio to a Sunday preacher talk about last-day events. Any day now, he warned, faithful Christians would raptured; that is, instantly transported to heaven, leaving only a pile of clothes where they were standing a moment before. Just like that they would disappear, while everyone else, the unsaved, would be left behind. With all these faithful Christians having been supernaturally taken away, the unsaved would have another chance to accept Jesus, which they better do soon because the anti-Christ, perhaps a Syrian Jew, would bring about a seven-year period of tribulation before the earthly thousand years of peace would begin.
At one point, I thought, I am so thankful to be an Adventist, so thankful that whatever unanswered questions remain about our understanding of last day events, it doesn’t include the saints vanishing into thin air, only their clothes remaining.
I’m so thankful, too, to be an Adventist because it amazes me how many Christians believe that God will burn the lost in hell for eternity. It is astonishing to read some very bright Christians try to justify the idea that the unsaved deserve to be suffering torture in hell for billions of eons, and that such a fate is exactly what a loving God would do. How grateful I am to be an Adventist with our understanding of the fate of the lost.
On a similar note, I’m so thankful to be an Adventist because our beliefs about death protect us from every kind of deception regarding the state of the dead. Many people have read about near death experiences, in which clinically dead people come back to life and tell fantastic stories about floating in a misty realm where they meet deceased friends and relatives who seem to be having a grand ol’ time of it, even if many had never professed Jesus. The sad thing is, Christians think that these accounts are “proof” that the dead go straight to heaven. What a powerful deception, one that we, as Adventists, never have to fall for.
Plus, as I get older, I am so thankful for what Adventism has taught me about health. Time and again, for just about every disease and ailment, medical science tells us that the best way to avoid these diseases is to eat certain foods and avoid others. And in just about every case, it’s pretty much the diet that Adventists have been recommending for more than 150 years: avoid fat, grease, sugar and red meats, and eat more fruits, grains, nuts and vegetables. Don’t smoke and don’t drink. And get plenty of sleep and exercise. When I read these reports I think I am reading excerpts from Adventist Church co-founder Ellen White’s “Counsels on Diets and Foods.” And believe me, at 57 years old, I am happy to have any help on health that I can.
For these reasons, and more, I am so thankful to be a Seventh-day Adventist. Sure, we’re not perfect, and the church isn’t perfect, and I’m certainly not judging anyone who believes differently. That’s not my point. My point is that I’m thankful for the things God has revealed to us. So thankful that it makes me, more than ever, want to share these blessings with others.
—Cliff Goldstein is an author and the editor of the Adventist Church’s Adult Bible Study Guide.