Adventist teaching: Yes
Biblical teaching: No
All of Seventh-Day Adventist theology is filtered through their extra-biblical Great Controversy Theme (GCT). This subject is no exception. Because that is the case, they teach that the Adventist Jesus could have failed in His mission. They also define His mission by way of the GCT, too, stating that He came as the Great Example, by taking on man’s fallen nature, to show that fallen man with God’s help can keep the Law of God, silencing Satan’s accusations in the Great Controversy that God’s law is unfair and cannot be kept.
Ellen G. White, who the SDA Church claims was divinely inspired and corrects inaccurate interpretations of scripture, claimed that by the Adventist Jesus incarnating, He ran the risk of failure and eternal loss. This eternal loss would have supposedly led to eternal division within the Heavenly Trio (the SDA godhead that they have labeled as the “Trinity.”)
Former director of the Adventist Biblical Research Institute (BRI), Angel Rodriquez, in a 2010 paper titled What if Jesus had Sinned, made quite a startling statement:
Let me put it as bluntly as I can: Had Jesus failed, the God we now know would not be our God. In other words, with respect to us, He would have ceased to exist. The failure of Jesus would have meant that God was unable to overcome the forces of evil and that Satan was powerful enough to overcome Him by derailing His plan of salvation, thus forcing God to abandon us.Angel Rodriguez, What if Jesus had Sinned (2010)
Besides calling into question the omniscience of God, the singularity in Being of God (which the SDA Church rejects), and a number of other issues, this statement gives perfect insight into the fact that, yes, the Adventist Jesus very well could have failed in His mission, sending the universe into utter chaos. Even going so far as to say God would have ceased.
Celebrity SDA pastor, Doug Batchelor, in a book titled The Trinity, states something of a similar vein where he writes:
The real risk in the redemption plan, besides the loss of man, was the breakup of the Godhead. Had Jesus sinned, He would have been working at cross-purposes with the Spirit and His Father. Omnipotent good would have been pitted against omnipotent evil. What would have happened to the rest of creation? Whom would the unfallen universe see as right? One sin could have sent the Godhead and the universe spinning into cosmic chaos; the proportions of this disaster are staggering. Yet the Godhead was still willing to take this fragmenting risk for the salvation of man. This reveals the depth of God’s amazing love.Doug Batchelor, The Trinity (2003)
Again we see that, in the Adventist mind, the Adventist Jesus very well could have failed, leaving the Adventist god in eternal loss, division, and overcome by evil.
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus came to do the will of the Father (John 6:38). It was the will of the Father that Jesus save sinners and redeem creation (Mark 10:45, Luke 5:31-2, John 6:39, Galatians 4:4-5). What would have caused this work to be a failure would have been if Jesus had sinned, something the SDA Church teaches Jesus could have done. This failure would have also meant that the Father’s will was not done.
But scripture is clear that Jesus is God (John 1:1-3, 20:28; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13) and God cannot sin because He is holy (1 Samuel 2:2, Psalm 99:9) and changes not (Psalm 102:27, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8). Since Jesus does not change and is holy by nature, that means He could not have sinned and there was zero chance of Him failing in His mission and carrying out the Father’s will.
The SDA Church’s issue stems from their filtering of all of scripture through the Great Controversy Theme. In this worldview, there had to have been a possibility for failure or the Adventist Jesus wasn’t actually like we are and he didn’t set the example for humanity to show that the Law of God can be kept perfectly, silencing the accusations of Satan in the Great Controversy.
But when this filter is removed and scripture is examined without that backdrop, we see a much different picture.