Adventist Teaching: No
Biblical Teaching: Yes
The Seventh-Day Adventist Church believes that the cross is only where the atoning sacrifice of Christ took place, but not where atonement was completed. In their theology—which comes from Ellen G. White—no sins were cancelled at the cross. But rather sin still stands on record in the Books of Heaven where Jesus is conducting the Investigative Judgment, which began the act of blotting out sins. This is extremely problematic for two primary reasons.
Hebrews 9:22 is clear that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins taking place. Christ is not in heaven shedding His blood to deal with sins, yet the SDA Church teaches Jesus is in Heaven still dealing with sin. Hebrews 9:26 is also clear that sin was “put away” at the cross.
Adventist pioneer, Uriah Smith, wrote in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald in 1876 that the death of Christ and the atonement are not the same thing. And this relieves matter of all difficulty. Christ did not make atonement when He shed his blood upon the cross. Let this fact be fixed forever in the mind. This is absolute heresy.
Wolcott Hackley Littlejohn, another early influential SDA pioneer wrote in the same paper, September 16, 1884, responding to the question “do you believe sins were atoned for on the cross?” that “No, sir, I do not” and “I believe that there is not a [bible] passage among those usually employed to prove that the atonement took place at the cross that will justify such a conclusion. The doctrine itself is contrary to reason. When sin is once atoned for, it is fully disposed of, and can never be charged to the account of the offender again. To reason, therefore, that the sins of those who are converted were atoned for on the cross, would be to argue that such persons could not be lost;” Only someone who doesn’t understand the cross and is perishing would make such a statement (1 Corinthians 1:18).
In contrast to this, the Bible teaches that the blotting out of sins took place at the cross where the certificate of the believers debt was nailed (Colossians 2:14-16). Many Christians and Adventists alike have wrongfully understood this passage of Colossians to be referring to either the entirety of the Mosaic Law or the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law being nailed to the cross.
But the Greek word used for “record of debt” is cheirographon, which is a legal term. This word is used one place in all of scripture and it’s here. In its most literal sense, it means a handwritten legal debt. Sin is a legal problem, it is the breaking of Gods law which is sin (1 John 3:4). Jesus also equates sin with legal debt in the Lord’s Prayer when looking at both the accounting in Luke and Matthew side by side. In Matthew 6:12 Jesus says “forgive us our debts”. In Luke 11:4 Luke records Him saying “forgive us our sins”.
So Jesus cancelled out the certificate of debt that we owed because of our sins, nailing it to the cross. This is because Jesus himself bore our sins in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24) and He was then nailed to the cross. Other passages that prove that sin is not held on record in Heaven to begin being investigated in 1844 are Isaiah 43:25, Psalm 51:2, Psalm 103:25-26, and Isaiah 44:22.