My name is Liz. I’m a creative at heart, and I love to write, paint, craft, play music, design, and more – pretty much anything that lets my creative side out! Today, I’m a wife in my early thirties, living in Boise, Idaho. I enjoy living in freedom to express my creativity, to embrace my femininity, and marvel in a loving relationship with my husband.
However, years ago, I lived in a place of fear. I did not have full freedom to express myself, to be who God had created me to be. I grew up in a belief system that limited my potential and kept me under the impression that I needed to fit into a certain mold to be saved and have a relationship with the Lord.
I have walked a long journey that has shaped me in a way that no other journey could. While I am far from perfect now and have a long, long way to go, I’m so grateful for the way God has guided me from childhood. He protected me from many mistakes and painful situations, and He also led me through some severe heartaches and pain to learn the lessons I needed to.
I grew up in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. For those of you who are not familiar with this belief system, it masquerades very cleverly as mainstream Christianity with a slight twist. The “twist” is Sabbath-keeping (attending church and worshipping on Saturday). However, although most Adventists will tell you that it is just like every other Christian church out there, it’s not. The difference between Adventism and mainstream Christianity is deep – and dangerous.
I’m beyond thankful for the way God helped me to recognize and come to understand the dangerous under-currents of the Adventist faith. I won’t go into too much detail here since this is about my personal journey into freedom in Christ and not an exposé on what I now believe is a cultish belief system! There are just a few key points that are necessary to highlight so my own journey makes sense. At its core, Adventism is about earning your place in Heaven through stringent adherence to some specific rules. Across the Adventist church as whole, those rules are bent and adjusted to fit into several different subsets of belief, from the hard-core Sabbath keepers who won’t go out to eat, won’t go to the store, won’t listen to any secular music and won’t do a number of other “forbidden” things from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday (in the Jewish Sabbath tradition), to the more liberal set who believe that just going to church on Saturday and avoiding pork is enough to ensure they are found worthy when their record is examined.
The danger here is the belief that Salvation is earned. That you can “do” enough to make your own way into Heaven. This is a terrible lie that left me living in fear as a child and teen that one day Jesus would open up the book with the record of my life and would find me wanting. Fortunately for me, my family was pretty laid back. We were taught that it was more important to love one another and to trust in the Lord than to make sure that we didn’t accidentally break the Sabbath. Sabbaths were days of rest and family time, not days laden with law-keeping. Because my parents raised me this way, it was easier for me to understand that keeping the Law was not vital to my Salvation when I started to realize that Adventism was not really The Truth.
However, I went to enough Prophecy seminars and heard enough sermons to have a long journey from my roots in Adventism to freedom in Christ!
My journey started when I was about sixteen years old. That was long enough ago that I don’t remember all the details (half a lifetime!), but I do remember reading and studying some Adventist texts for school and coming to the place where I realized they were riddled with foolish advice. I had a lot of long conversations with my Mom, and she shared her own doubts in a gentle way. She had been studying for a long time herself and had begun to realize that there were a lot of problems with Adventist theology.
Sometime during the summer that I turned seventeen, I encountered Christ. I don’t really know exactly how it happened because it was a process over several months and not a sudden one-time encounter. It involved a season of reading and studying the Bible, of praying, and of service. Somehow, I went from having a third-person kind of view of God as a mysterious being “out there,” to having an intimate knowledge of Him and His Spirit. I wish I could lay out the exact path I took, but I can’t. I just know that at the beginning of that summer, I still had some disquiet and fear that I wasn’t good enough. By the end of the summer, I no longer lived with the fear that accidentally listening to the wrong kind of music would send me to hell!
From that point, my journey out of the Adventist church really began. I studied the Bible passionately and examined the doctrines of Adventism carefully. As I grew older, I learned more and more about Who Jesus is, and how Salvation is a matter of faith, not works. The traditions of Adventism were ingrained in me, though, and it took a long time before I learned how to step out of my comfort zone and let those traditions go.
When I was twenty-one, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, and we stopped going to the Adventist church where we had attended and served for years. We told family and friends that we’d stopped because we didn’t have the energy to keep ministering as we had and needed time off on Saturdays to be together as a family.
I disconnected slowly with my Adventist circle of friends and began to develop a new group of Christian friends at college. Some of these friends were people I’d known for a good portion of my life but had never gotten close to because they believed so differently than me. These friends invited me to youth group, and then to church, and I was welcomed into a new way of worshipping that was so different from anything I’d experienced before.
I learned that I could dance and sing in praise, that I could fall down and weep when I was overwhelmed. No one would judge me because we were all worshipping together. I learned that there was no need to look a certain way, listen to certain music, eat certain foods, etc. in order to be accepted and (more importantly) saved.
My relationship with the Lord grew and grew. I let go of all my preconceived ideas that I had to live up to a certain set of rules and regulations in order to get into Heaven, and fully accepted that my relationship with Christ was enough. That He had paid the price for all of my sins, including those I haven’t committed yet! I discovered that His love was the standard I should live by, not the dusty old rules of the past.
When I was twenty-three, my Dad passed away and my new friends surrounded us with immense and tender love. There was no fear, no worry that maybe my father hadn’t made it into the book of Life. Instead, there was joy and certainty that he had a relationship with the Lord of Life, and that was more than enough! For the first time, I understood Heaven and I knew that my beloved father was in the arms of Jesus, and not in a cold grave waiting for judgment.
From that time on, I worshiped God in a new and different way. I let go of all the fear of failure and rested in complete peace that He had already taken care of everything. I’m still deeply affected by the loss of my early father, but my Father in Heaven has taken that place in my life and continues to pour out His love over me.
He has blessed me in many incredible ways that I cannot even begin to describe. While I still have so much to learn, I’m so grateful for that part of my journey and the freedom I now have in Christ. If you have some of that same fear I dealt with – the fear that you will never be able to be good enough, please rest assured in the knowledge that you are not good enough. You never will be. But He is. He is more than enough. He took on the burden of my sins and yours and dealt with them once and for all. May you find the same joy and freedom I have! Please share your story with me, and reach out if you have questions or need someone to walk you through your own journey.
Author bio: A fellow Christian blogger, Liz loves to blog as a way to share her story and indulge in her love of writing. She’s also mummy to two cats that make her life more beautiful. You can follow her journey with Christ over on Reflecting Beautiful.
The post From Earning Salvation to Accepting Jesus || How a Seventh Day Adventist Came to Know Christ first appeared on CounterCultural. CounterCouture.