Definition of Our Faith and Denominational Affiliation
For the sake of those who may question our denominational affiliation and doctrinal alignment, we wish to offer this brief explanation in order to better define our faith. At the core level we identify simply as independent, fundamentalist, Bible-believing, Commandment-keeping, born-again Christians who love Jesus and wish to serve Him and live for God. We have chosen to associate and identify ourselves as independent Seventh-day Baptists. However, as can be easily deduced by reading our Statement of Faith above, we do hold in common many Bible truths believed and taught by Seventh-day Adventists. For many years we were members in the Seventh-day Adventist church, having planted and pastored churches both in the Conference as well as those independently organized. A number of years ago, however, we chose to voluntarily withdraw our membership from the Seventh-day Adventist church over the issues of abortion and women's ordination. When we were originally baptized into the church we were unaware of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination's official stance and position on abortion (the SDA church is officially "pro-choice", a position which we disagree with and find morally repugnant since it supports the killing of innocent children); neither were we aware that elective abortions were being performed in Seventh-day Adventist hospitals for profit with the support and sanction of the General Conference leadership (for more information on this please visit the link below, entitled: "Abortion: History of Adventist Guidelines", by George B. Gainer). This caused a moral dilemma in our minds as we prided ourselves in belonging to a church which professed to keep all 10 of God's commandments while it willfully and repeatedly violated the sixth commandment which plainly states: "Thou shalt not kill". The church we loved had been murdering infants in their mother's wombs, for profit, since 1970 - antedating the now infamous Roe v. Wade decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court in 1973! Furthermore, the push to ordain women as pastors and elders in the church - specifically within the North American Division - we found to be un-biblical and undermining to our family values and scriptural understanding of spiritual headship in the home and church. We officially left the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in 2013.
Since that time, we have consistently maintained our faith in many of the doctrinal and prophetic truths which we learned while members of the church, but have disagreed with the denominational structure of the SDA church for many years even prior to officially leaving. Our belief in religious freedom and liberty of thought to study the Bible unhindered by man's rules; and the basic principle of church autonomy and freedom from the maxims, traditions, and control of men, led us to plant and pastor several independent SDA churches over the years. However it has been our experience that even in independent circles often runs a current of doctrinal fanaticism and control which we find abhorrent, antithetical to the Christian gospel, and diametrically opposed to the teachings and example of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe the position of the Seventh-day Baptists and their understanding of liberty of conscience, the definition of the church, local church autonomy, and their position on social issues, to be much more in harmony with the Bible.Therefore we included those things in our Statement of Faith. However we also disagree with them over some, but not all, doctrinal issues: namely, the condition of man in death and whether hellfire is eternal. In these matters we hold to the traditional Seventh-day Adventist understanding that man in death is in an unconscious state due to him not being inherently immortal (we believe that immortality is given as a gift by Christ to the believer at the resurrection of the just at His Second Coming), and that hellfire will not be burning for eternity but rather that the fires of that Last Great Day will burn the wicked and Satan to ashes.
We disagree with both denominations, however, in their understanding of the Godhead and their support of the Trinity doctrine which we believe hails from Rome, is pagan in nature, and destroys the personalities of God and Christ. In this matter we are in harmony with the Pioneers, or founders, of the Seventh-day Adventist church - as well as many early Seventh-day Baptists - who were almost unanimously opposed to the so-called Trinity doctrine and instead held that the One True God is our Heavenly Father, and that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God (see John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:2; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3, 17; Philippians 2:11; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Peter 1:3). For a summary of our belief and understanding of the Godhead, please see the article below, written by Uriah Smith, entitled, "Christ as Creator", which is chapter 2 of the book, "Looking Unto Jesus", written by the same author. We have also included a link to a website below that contains voluminous evidence from the writings of the pioneer authors of the Seventh-day Adventist faith as to what they once very nearly unanimously believed. As a disclaimer, however, although this is our official position, because we uphold the individual right to soul liberty (ie: freedom of conscience) as Seventh-day Baptists, we do not disparage or condemn those who choose to believe differently than us in this matter.
Finally, our fundamental disagreement with the Seventh-day Adventist church which finally caused us to break with them, is our position that the Bible, and the Bible alone, must be the Christian's foundation and sole rule of faith and practice, and that the writings of Ellen White, the Seventh-day Adventist prophetess - though beautifully written in many respects - are not inerrant, infallible, or an inspired divine guide for the believer in Christ. Additionally, it is our understanding and position that Christ at His ascension entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, "within the veil" (Hebrews 6:19-20; 10:19-20), to present His precious blood at that time and to make full atonement for our sins as our Great High Priest, and not in 1844. The doctrine of the investigative judgment for the righteous beginning on October 22, 1844, we find to be unscriptural and undermining to the gospel truth which offers Christian assurance of salvation to all those who believe on the name of the Son of God, have repented of their sins, and who have accepted Christ as their Savior and Substitute. For more on this topic, please click the following link to read "Cast Out For The Cross of Christ", by A.F. Ballenger. The reader may also click on the following link to read a short study that I wrote on this issue for a better understanding of our position: "10 Points on Christ Within the Veil".
In conclusion then, as has been stated throughout this page, we hold to the fundamental principle of liberty of conscience and reserve the right to believe the Bible as the Holy Spirit shall lead and guide us "into all truth". We believe that truth is progressive, that "the path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18), and that as Christians we are obligated and called to walk in the light as He, our Great Example, is in the light - He who "lighteth every man which cometh into the world." John 1:9. As Christians we hold charity toward all men, seek to fellowship with other like-minded believers, and hold out the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only hope of salvation to men and women in all walks of life, recognizing the inherent value of each precious soul throughout the world for whom Christ died.
- Pastor J. Isaac Richards
Good Shepherd Bible Sabbath Fellowship
is a proud member of the following associations:
Restoring the Old Paths