Adventist teaching: The Seventh-Day Adventist Denomination
Biblical teaching: All those attached to Jesus Christ by faith around the world
One of the central tenets in Adventist theology is their ecclesiology (doctrine of the church). The SDA Church teaches that they are the last day remnant amongst all professing Christian bodies that one must be a part of to truly be a Christian. This is because they think they are the “commandment keepers” of Revelation 12:17—upholding the seventh-day, old creation sabbath that everyone else isn’t. They believe they have been given a unique message and calling, from God, through Ellen G. White, to take to the rest of the world—including the Christian world—which includes fleeing other churches and joining them.
By way of Ellen G. White, they teach that all other churches are apostate, the Spirit of God has largely been withdrawn from them, and the SDA Church is the fullness of the Gospel and the Church restored in the last days prior to the Second Coming of Christ (much like the Restorationist churches).
The Bible teaches that there is the “invisible church” and the “visible church.” These phrases have just been used by theologians to succinctly describe what we see in scripture. The invisible is referring to the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or will be, gathered into one, under Christ the Head of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 2:21–22; Revelation 21:2, 9; 1 Peter 2:4-10). The term “invisible” is used because we can’t read peoples hearts, only God can (1 Kings 8:39). We can only examine the fruit of a person and their profession which is an outward, visible sign. But ultimately, only God knows their true disposition.
The term “church” can be used in three different senses:
The “visible church” is used to denote those who visibly are in fellowship and communion in all valid, local church bodies. This we can see with the human eye. But there are tares among the wheat that haven’t been weeded out yet (Matthew 23:24-43), which means there are people in the visible church that are not truly attached to Jesus Christ by faith, therefore, are not a part of the “invisible church.” They are simply present in the local church but have not been born again.
Peter describes the Body of Christ—the universal Church—as a spiritual structure. He says believers are a royal priesthood and each person who is attached to the Chief Cornerstone is a spiritual stone themselves in the larger structure (1 Peter 2:4-10). This transcends all generations of Christians since the birth of the Church (communion of the saints).
The Church is not constrained to a single denomination. There are true, born again believers in multiple local expressions (denominations). What unites Christians is believing the same Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9, Romans 1:16-17) and worshiping the same God (2 Corinthians 11:1-4, Ephesians 4:4-5). It is those who are attached to Christ—the Head—by faith. And those people are found in multiple denominations across the board that are upholding the Word of God, preaching the once-for-all Gospel handed down from Jesus Christ to the Apostles, passed on to us today, and believe in the true God who gave that Gospel (Galatians 1:12).
It is not exclusively the Seventh-Day Adventist Church—who oftentimes falsely characterizes Christian’s as believing like they do that every denomination believes they are the one true Church and you have to, like a needle in a haystack (no pun intended), find the right one. This isn’t true. They also assume the Remnant of Revelation is a specific group of people only at the end of the world which would mean that didn’t have application until the 19th century when the SDA Church was born. The Remnant are all true believers, in all places—at all times, who have surrendered to Jesus Christ and are attached to Him by faith. They are separate and distinct from the world. This doesn’t change when a “last day people” show up who then exclusively becomes the Remnant.
The “last days,” which the Apostles believed they were in, is the period from the cross all the way to the Second Coming (Hebrews 1:2, Acts 2:17). In Acts 2, Peter quotes Joel 2:28-32 who prophesied that “in the last days,” the Spirit of God would be poured out. This then took place there at Pentecost (Acts 2:4). Peter was saying the last days have arrived and the fulfillment of that prophecy was taking place.
The Remnant isn’t a single denomination amongst all denominations.