Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered January 31, 2009 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

The First Adventists

Revelation 12:15-17

(RealAudio available)

I would like to speak with you this morning about the very first Seventh-day Adventists.  And I have been a Seventh-day Adventist all my life.  My parents are Seventh-day Adventists.  My grandparents were Seventh-day Adventists.  My great grandmother was a Seventh-day Adventist, so I have a long line, almost 40 years of being a Seventh-day Adventist.  So we are very happy to be a Seventh-day Adventist Christian.  Like some of you, how many of you were born into a Seventh-day Adventist church, sort of, in the family?  Almost all of us.  Yeah, that's great.  We didn't even have to make a decision, did we?  We knew we were in the right place.  Some of us did research, and we realized that we were in the right church, and it's just a great thing.  Like being born in America.  We’re in the right country.  This is just awesome.  Some of us have been really blessed in that way.

Well, a lot of churches can trace their roots back to a certain person.  Lutherans can trace it back to Martin Luther, who in the year 1524, broke away from the Catholic Church.  He taught righteousness by faith.  He taught that we are saved by the good works of Jesus, and not by our own good works, and he taught that the Bible has the final authority on everything.  He broke away from the Catholics because they believed that they had authority over spiritual things.  And so most of what Martin Luther taught, we believe, as Seventh-day Adventists.  

And then other Christians trace their roots back to John Knox, who in the year 1560 founded a church called the Presbyterian Church.  And we hold some of what they hold.  They believe that we are predestined to either be lost or saved.  You have no choice in the matter.  We do believe that God does predestine all of us to be saved.  That's His desire, but it's our choice, whether we’re saved or lost.  And that determines our destiny. 

Others trace their roots back to John and Charles Wesley.  The Wesley brothers were sons of one of the ministers in the Church of England, and they started the Methodist Church, back in 1729.  In fact, John Wesley was the 15th child of his parents.  Pretty well depleting the gene pool, so he was only about this tall, and his wife of 30 years was much larger than he.  Like Goliath and David, and they had quite a good battle between themselves.  Every day for 30 years she nagged and scolded him.  Hit him with her rolling pin.  Burned his letters.  Intercepted his mail, and otherwise abused him.  And she was huge.  She would drag him through the house by his hair.  You see a minister that doesn't have much hair?  Well, I'm not going to go further with that one.  My wife treats me like a god, almost.  She's so kind to me.  I don't deserve that.  

But finally, John Wesley's wife died and he was out of the house most of the time during the marriage.  He traveled 4 thousand miles by horseback every year.  Imagine that.  4 thousand miles in the saddle.  Finally at the age of 60 he got a carriage and he had bookshelves installed in it and the horse knew the way.  You know, horses used to be smart in those days.  Your car has cruise control, but it won't take you there, without the steering wheel.  So he read hundreds of books every year.  He preached 30 thousand different sermons.  Wrote 2 hundred books.  All because of his wife, probably.  He had a lot of time on his hands on the road.

Charles and John Wesley came to Georgia in the year 1736, were Charles was the secretary to James Oglethorpe, for which Fort Oglethorpe is founded and named.  And we accept the beliefs of these people, in as far as conversion.  The Trinity.  Justification.  Sanctification.  Freedom of the will.  The Lord's supper.  The early emphasis on holiness.  We accept that.  We also get the name of our conference from them.  The General Conference.  A lot of background of the Seventh-day Adventist church comes from Methodism.  Sister White was a Methodist before she became a Seventh-day Adventist. 

Baptists trace their roots back to Holland in 1609.  John Smith leaving out.  And we accept their baptism.  So we took the best of what we believe the Bible upheld from all of these various religions.  We do not accept the Baptist doctrine of eternal life.  We believe that, in fact, when a person dies, they are dead.  And Baptists, many of them believe that when you die, if you’re good you’re alive in heaven, and if you were bad, you are alive in hell, so there is no death.  And their hell is not very hot.  Not able to do the job.  Over even an eternity, whereas the Bible hell, the Seventh-day Adventist hell, pretty well takes care of you quite quickly.  So those are some various beliefs that we have.

Now, when would you date the first Seventh-day Adventists?  Would you say 1844, or would you say 1860?  Well, I would like to trace the Seventh-day Adventist church back a little bit before 1844.  Even before the time of the first so-called Pope.  Peter.  Our church dates way, way, way back.  And Peter was married, by the way.  If he was the first pope, why aren’t the other popes married?  So let's begin tracing our roots.

Come to Acts the 7th chapter in your Bible.  We're going to look up a lot of Bible texts here.  Acts 7, if you have your Bible with you, you can see verse 38.  “This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in Mount Sinai, and with our fathers who received lively oracles to give unto us.”  There was a church in the wilderness, the Bible says.  What church was that?  Was that a Christian church?  Well, if it was back in Sinai, back in the Old Testament, probably it wasn't a Christian church, but actually it was a Christian church.  You say, “Well, how could that be?”  Well, come to First Corinthians.  First Corinthians in your Bible, chapter 10, and the first 4 verses.  It says, “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and they all passed through the sea.  They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea and they all ate the same spiritual food, and drank of the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual Rock that accompanied them and that Rock was” who?  It was Christ.  Jesus in the Old Testament.  He was there.  So was this a Christian group of people?  I mean, did they, they were led by Jesus, weren't they?  I would say it was a Christian church, even though they hadn’t met Him personally.  He was there, and I believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church is indeed the very same church that was back in those days.  Thousands of years ago, led by Jesus Christ.  We are just the last part of that same church.  That's my belief.

And look at Revelation 12, verse 17.  We had a scripture reading of several verses.  I just want to focus on verse 17.  Revelation, chapter 12.  Every Seventh-day Adventist knows this verse.  Revelation 12, verse 17 says, “The dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.”  The testimony of Jesus.  And so here it talks about the dragon.  The Woman.  The seed and the serpent.  You have all these things represented. 

Now go back, way back, to the very beginning of the Bible.  Genesis, chapter 3, and look at verse 15.  You're familiar with this verse as well.  Verse 15.  “And I will put enmity.”  That's Revelation's word for wroth.  Here it is enmity between you and the woman.  Here's the woman mentioned.  These 2 verses are the same.  Revelation 12:17 and Genesis, chapter 3, verse 15.  I will put enmity, hatred, between you and the woman.  They both hate the woman.  I don't like people that hate women.  Do you?  Why do people do that?  And between your offspring, your seed, and hers.  And he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.  Somebody's head is being crushed here.  The other one has a wound on the heel. 

So these are the 2 texts.  Genesis and Revelation.  They're both the same.  There's hatred by the serpent against the woman, especially against her seed.  Her children.  Apparently the old dragon has been extremely angry for thousands of years.  In fact, from day number 1 he has been angry, and imagine what his face must look like after that many years of anger.  I like to surround myself with people that have the crows feet right here.  They're happy people.  You see somebody like that, you say, “Would you join our church?”  You like that type of a person.  You don't want people that have that frown on their face all the time.  Imagine what the serpent must look like with all that hatred of that woman for all these years.  6 thousand years.

Now according to Revelation 12.  Come over here again to verse 9.  We did not read that in our scripture reading.  Revelation, chapter 12 and verse 9.  The New International Version says, "The great dragon was hurled down from heaven.  That ancient serpent."  Who?  The ancient serpent.  That's back here in Revelation, chapter 3.  And so he was hurled down from heaven.  “The ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.”  So the ancient serpent has been mad at the woman since the beginning of the world.  He's still mad today and always will be angry at the woman as long as he shall live. 

And the true woman represents God's true Church.  This noble woman.  You might imagine that a woman that the devil would be mad at would be a pretty good woman.  Because the devil is a pretty bad man.  And I believe the Seventh-day Adventists are the last part of that true, pure church that God founded back there in the Garden of Eden.

Now let's go to Genesis, chapter 1.  Let me show you, God created Adam, and Adam was a seventh day keeper.  Genesis, chapter 2, verse 1, 2 and 3.  Adam kept the Sabbath.  He was a Sabbath keeper.  The seventh day of the week.  That was the day that Adam and his family worshiped God.  He came into the presence of God with his wife.  And Mark 2, verse 27 says the Sabbath was made for man.  Now wouldn't it be logical that if the Sabbath was made for man, that the very first man would be a Sabbath keeper?  And he was.  People.  Adam was a people.  Adam was a Sabbath keeper.  The first man.  He kept the seventh day of the week.

Now Genesis, chapter 3, verse 15 says that Christ would bruise his head.  Whose head?  The devil's head would be crushed.  I think that's a mortal injury.  You don't survive when your head is crushed.  But the serpent would bruise the heel of Christ.  When did that happen?  That happened on the cross, when His heel was bruised.  Adam believed in the soon advent of the Lord as well.  He believed that.  He looked forward to that.  Genesis 3:15.  He look forward to that time when the devil would be crushed, but the Lord would be triumphant. 

And this is also referred to in Genesis, chapter 4.  Look at Genesis, chapter 4 and verse 1.  It says, “Now the man had relations with his wife Eve and she conceived and gave birth to Cain and she said,” and I'm going to read this according to the New American Standard Bible.  It says this.  And it's also the Hebrew.  “Eve said, ‘I have gotten a man, the Lord.’”  She believed that her firstborn son was Jesus.  Was the Messiah.  The promised Deliverer.  The One who would crush the devil's head.  That's what she believed.

When I was in the seminary at Andrews University, Dr. Dederen taught that in his Sabbath class.  And I had never seen that before.  That is very interesting.  Eve thought that her firstborn son was the Savior.  The One who would reinstate them into the Garden of Eden again.  So here he is, this sweet little baby, Cain.  And little did she realize that he was the first murderer.  He wasn’t the Savior.  He was a murderer.  What a disappointment that must have been when they discovered that it wasn't Jesus.  They were Adventists.  They believed in the soon coming.  They believed, even, that their own baby was the Savior.  They thought He was coming real soon.  Little did they know how long it would be.

Well, notice verse 2 and 3.  “She again bore his brother Abel and Abel was a keeper of the sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.”  And verse 3 we find the Sabbath.  We find that Adam and Eve were Sabbath keepers right here in verse 3 of Genesis 4.  I never saw that until Dr. Dederen pointed it out to me.  It says this.  “In the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.”  These Adventists had 2 boys.  Did this little family worship on Sabbath?  This says they did.  And let me explain how we get that out of this.  In verse 3, it says “in the process of time.”  The literal Hebrew rendering is this.  “At the end of days.”  At the end of what days?  At the end of the days of the week.  They came and worshiped the Lord and brought their offerings at the end of the days of the week.  That's the Sabbath.  That's what it is.  So these were Sabbath keepers.  At the end of the week, on the last day of the week, that's when the family came.  They worshiped the Lord.  They brought their offerings.  So that's what's going on here.  They are worshiping on the Sabbath.

Genesis 2, verse 2 and 3 states which day was the Sabbath.  “On the seventh day God ended His work which He had made and He rested on the seventh day from His work which He had made.  God blessed the seventh day.  He sanctified it because He had rested from all His work which God had created and made.”  So they were Sabbath keepers.  They believed in the soon coming of the Messiah.  They believed in the Sabbath.  So I would classify them as seventh day people and as adventist people.  Seventh-day Adventists.  They were.  That's their belief.  They didn't call themselves Seventh-day Adventists, but they were keeping the Sabbath and they believed in the soon coming of Jesus.  The first family were Adventists. 

And you can go down through the pages of the Bible and you can study all the lives of all the great people that are in this Book, and they were all Seventh-day Adventists.  Really.  You go to Abraham.  Look at Abraham.  He kept the commandments.  Genesis 26, verse 5.  And in Hebrews 11 verse 10, “He looked for a city which has foundations,” which was in heaven.  He looked for the coming of the Lord.  Revelation 21, verse 10.  The advent of Christ.  Job was a Seventh-day Adventist.  Job 23, verse 12.  He says, “Neither have I gone astray from Thy commandments.”  And also in Job 15, verse 25 and 26.  “In my flesh I shall see God at the latter day.”  He believed in that.  David, who was the shepherd king, in Psalm 119, he said, “I have done Thy commandments.”  And in Psalm 50, verse 3, “Our God shall come to gather His saints,” in verse 5.  He believed in the coming of Jesus.  He was an Adventist.

And Jesus.  Was Jesus a Seventh-day Adventist?  Did Jesus keep the seventh day?  He kept all the commandments didn't he?  He said, I have kept my father's commandments, and if you love me you keep My commandments.  They're one and the same.  Was Jesus an Adventist?  Was He an Adventist?  Well, in John 14, 1 to 3, he says, “Let not your heart be troubled.  I am coming soon.”  Yes, he was an Adventist.  Was Paul a Seventh-day Adventist.?  Absolutely.  He preached every Sabbath day.  Luke 18, verse 4, and in First Thessalonians, chapter 4, verse 16 and 17.  He was an Adventist.  He believed in the soon coming of Christ.  And John the Revelator was a Seventh-day Adventist.  Revelation 1, verse 10.  John says, “I was in the spirit on the” what?  “The Lord's day.”  When is the Lord's Day?  Mark, chapter 2, verse 28 says, “I am the Lord of the Sabbath day.”  Which day of the week is the Sabbath day?  Hebrews, chapter 4 says it's the seventh day of the week. 

They were all Seventh-day Adventists.  You can go from the first page of the Bible clear to Revelation, and they were all Adventists.  Seventh-day Adventists.  They all kept the Sabbath from sundown to sundown.  They all believed in the coming of the Messiah.  In the coming of Jesus.  And when you join the Seventh-day Adventist church, may I be so bold as to say that you, yourself, are actually joining, and you become a part of the great family of God that from the creation of the world unto the coming of Jesus hold these 2 truths in common.  You become a part of that.  In fact, you are the last portion of that long line of people.  We call it the remnant.  You are a part of God's remnant Church.  That's what we mean by remnant.  And you joined yourself to the true church of the Bible.

Are you a part of God's remnant Church?  Are you baptized?  Most of you are.  Some of you are not a part of God's remnant Church.  You are not baptized.  Well you’re, "I attend in the pew.  I sit there."  But you're not a member.  You need to be baptized.  You really do.  You need to be a part of a movement.  This is not just an ordinary church.  This is a movement.  Are you ready for Jesus to come?  What kind of a Seventh-day Adventist are you?  Are you growing closer to Jesus?  Are you more and more like Christ?  We expect Him to come soon.  Are you ready to meet Him? 

Adam was a Seventh-day Adventist, and probably a very good one after he learned his lesson.  I think Adam lived a holy life from then on.  I think he did his best to do what was right.  He was a Seventh-day Adventist, and I think you will meet Adam when you get to heaven.  Now let me tell you that Cain was a Seventh-day Adventist too.  Will you meet Cain when you get to heaven?  I don't think so.  There's no record that he ever repented.  He was a lost Seventh-day Adventist. 

And so that brings me to a point.  We are not saved by membership.  We are saved by relationship.  Amen?  That's how you're saved.  You should be a member, but that won't save you.  You are saved by your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  You're not saved by keeping the Sabbath.  You’re not saved by paying tithe or reading the Bible every day.  That's not what saves you.  You are saved by your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden of Eden.  You need to walk with God every day of your life.  Cain walked away from God.  Don't do that.  If you're a part of the remnant Church, stick with it.  If you're not a part of the remnant Church, get with it.

You know, a lot of people are joining the Seventh-day Adventist church.  We have almost 16 million Seventh-day Adventists in the world today.  That's a lot.  A lot of people are joining.  In fact, there's a new Seventh-day Adventist Christian every 30 seconds.  A lot of people are joining.  Over 2 thousand, 8 hundred people join the Seventh-day Adventist church every day.  Why are they joining?  Because they believe this church is the closest church to the Bible.  And it is.  You can study it.  I will give you 5 hundred dollars if you can find one verse in the King James Bible, in the N.I.V. Bible, in any of these regular translation Bibles that says that we should stop keeping the seventh day of the week and start keeping Sunday.  My money is safe.  There is no verse like that.  So we have all kinds of people joining our church.  Today, for every, if you take the ratio of Seventh-day Adventists to people that are not Seventh-day Adventist, there's 1 Adventist for every 4 hundred and 25 people in the world, and back in 1980, and some of you remember 1980.  Some of you are too young to remember 1980, but the ratio was 1 to 12 hundred and 68.  Now it's 1 to 4 hundred and 25.  We're gaining.  People are joining this church.  They're joining a movement that started at creation, and that will only end when the Creator comes to receive us unto Himself. 

So I urge you in these last days, be faithful to your roots.  Be faithful to Jesus.  Be a part of God's remnant Church.  Get on the same path that Adam and Eve trod.  Get on the same path that Abraham walked down and Job and David and Shadrach and Meshach and Abednego.  Get on that same path and it will lead you to heaven.  That's the straight and narrow path.  We are not saved by our church membership.  We are saved by Jesus, and He will save all those who totally surrender their lives to Him.  Who accept His righteousness in place of their righteousness.

So why am I urging you to join the Seventh-day Adventist church.  Because you need to be a member.  You need to be a part of it.  Not looking on the outside but in on the inside.  God adds to the church daily such as should be saved.  So join the Saints.  Be a zealous member.  Follow that path.  It’s straight.  It’s narrow.  But it’ll lead you to heaven.

You know, we’re in the final movements of the great Super Bowl between Christ and Satan.  The great Super Bowl.  And are you a baptized member of God's remnant Church?  Are you one of his Saints?  Do you know who's going to win the Super Bowl?  I am here to tell you who will win.  The winners are the players.  Not the spectators.  Christianity is not a spectator sport.  Every player that plays tomorrow wins.  They’re going to be rich.  Whether they lose or win the game, they are all winners.  The spectators are not the winners.  And in God's church, it's not the spectators.  It's not the pew warmers.  It's the active members that are active with Jesus.  That are doing the work.  That are playing the part.  That are following Jesus.  I urge you to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.  Pray to Him.  Worship Him.  Become one of the Saints.  The Saints aren't perfect.  Jesus is perfect.  We aren't.  So let's go to heaven together with them.

Let's sing our closing hymn.  For All The Saints.

Dear Father in heaven.  We look forward to entering the new Jerusalem.  Walking up those golden steps and seeing Jesus along with all the saints from Adam clear through 'til Jesus comes.  May we be part of that group.  May we be faithful.  May we have that relationship with Jesus, and dismiss us with the joy of Jesus in our heart.  We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

 Hymn of Praise: #230, All Glory, Laud and Honor
Scripture: Revelation 12:15-17
Hymn of Response: #421, For All the Saints

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 2/13/09