The Law Gospel distinction was at the heart of the Protestant Reformation. The evidence that the Adventist Church has no ties to the Reformation (despite claiming to be heirs of it) is their rejection of this foundational teaching.
A number of the Protestant Reformers described it this way:
The basic principle in application is to know whether the passage [of scripture] is a statement of the law or of the gospel. For when the Word is preached, the law and the gospel operate differently. The law exposes the disease of sin, and as a side-effect, stimulates and stirs it up. But it provides no remedy for it. However the gospel not only teaches us what is to be done, it also has the power of the Holy Spirit joined to it….A statement of the law indicates the need for a perfect inherent righteousness, of eternal life given through the works of the law, of the sins which are contrary to the law and of the curse that is due them…. By contrast, a statement of the gospel speaks of Christ and his benefits, and of faith being fruitful in good works.William Perkins (English Reformer), The Art of Prophesying (Preaching), 1592
We divide this Word [the Bible] into two principal parts or kinds: the one is called the ‘Law,’ the other the ‘Gospel.’ For all the rest can be gathered under the one or other of these two headings…Ignorance of this distinction between Law and Gospel is one of the principal sources of the abuses which corrupted and still corrupt ChristianityTheodore Beza (French Reformer), The Christian Faith, 1558
For this reason the distinction between law and Gospel is retained. The law does not promise freely, but under the condition that you keep it completely. And if someone should transgress it once, the law or legal covenant does not have the promise of the remission of sins. On the other hand, the Gospel promises freely the remission of sins and life, not if we keep the law, but for the sake of the Son of God, through faith.Caspar Olevianus (German Reformer), Ad Romanos Notae [Comments on Romans], 1579
In his Systematic Theology, renowned 20th century Reformed theologian, Louis Berkhof, explains how foundational this was to the entirety of the Reformation across all of the branches:
The Churches of the Reformation from the very beginning distinguished between the law and the gospel as the two parts of the Word of God as a means of grace. This distinction was not understood to be identical with that between the Old and the New Testament, but was regarded as a distinction that applies to both Testaments. There is law and gospel in the Old Testament, and there is law and gospel in the New. The law comprises everything in Scripture which is a revelation of God’s will in the form of command or prohibition, while the gospel embraces everything, whether it be in the Old Testament or in the New, that pertains to the work of reconciliation and that proclaims the seeking and redeeming love of God in Christ Jesus.Louis Berkof, Systematic Theology, [Grand Rapids, 4th edn. 1941], pg. 612
The law gospel distinction has to do with recognizing the two ways that God speaks in scripture. An inability to distinguish between these results in the mixing of law and gospel resulting in a false gospel.
Ellen G. White, who the SDA Church believes was divinely inspired and corrects inaccurate interpretations of scripture, claimed that in the law is embodied the same principle that is revealed in the gospel. This is antithetical to the Law Gospel distinction.
Furthermore, she claims that man is reconciled to God by both faith and obedience to the law. Again, this is completely out of step with the Law Gospel distinction that scripture teaches. Reconciliation is distinct to the gospel, not the law.
The Adventist Church teaches the Law is a part of God’s eternal covenant with His creation, the 10 Commandments being the foundation. Their covenant theology is one in which the Law is the Gospel, forming what we have coined a “mono-covenantal” understanding where Law and Gospel are conjoined, similar to the Medieval Roman Church. Their message of “good news” is that humanity is on probation and currently has an opportunity to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to keep the Law perfectly, just like Jesus did as our Example, demonstrating your love and loyalty to God and that you are worthy of being saved. It is by doing this that one maintains their justification and will eventually be saved. While Christians believe the Law points people to Christ, Ellen White agreed, but added that Jesus then points us back to the Law.
This is antithetical to the Law Gospel distinction laid out in scripture showing that, no, the Adventist Church is not an “heir of the Reformation.” But, more importantly, it reveals why the Adventist Church is teaching and spreading a false, cursed Gospel that cannot save (Galatians 1:6-9, 2 Corinthians 11:1-4).
For more on this, watch Pastor Jordan Cooper’s succinct and simple explanation of the law gospel distinction to understand this more.