Adventists do not believe that people go to Heaven or Hell when they die.
They believe that the dead remain unconscious until the return of Christ in judgement. This doctrine was formulated in the middle of the 19th century and enabled the movement to argue against spiritualism, which had become very popular at that time. Adventists taught that since the dead stayed dead until the resurrection - which hadn't occurred - there was no surviving soul or spirit for the spiritualist mediums to contact, and therefore the spiritualists were simply peddling superstition. Adventists sometimes use the term "conditional immortality". This means that all human beings are mortals and die at the end of their life.
But human beings who give their life to Christ will find that they are eventually resurrected to a new and immortal life. Adventists believe that the Second Coming of Christ will happen soon. Christ's return will be "will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide". On that day the righteous dead will be resurrected and taken with him to heaven, together with the righteous living. The unrighteous will die.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. The Second Coming is followed by a period of a thousand years the Millennium during which the earth is deserted except for Satan and his helpers, the righteous live with God in Heaven, and the "wicked dead" are judged. After the Millennium, Christ with his saints and the Holy City return to earth, the unrighteous dead are resurrected, and, together with Satan and his helpers, are destroyed by fire, leaving behind a universe without sin or sinners.
It's worth noting that this makes it absolutely clear that the wicked will be annihilated rather than tormented for eternity.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church keeps the Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, because God set apart the seventh day of creation week to be a day of rest and a memorial of creation. The importance of doing this was revealed to Ellen G. White in a vision in in which she saw the stone tablets of the 10 Commandments in the heavenly tabernacle. The fourth commandment, concerning the Sabbath, was bathed in light. White realised that while all the Ten Commandments should be kept, her vision meant that the teaching about the Sabbath was particularly important, and that humanity should follow God's example in Creation and rest on the seventh day of the week - Saturday.
The Saturday Sabbath brought the Seventh-day Adventists into conflict with both commercial interests because they wouldn't work on Saturdays and other Christians because they wouldn't treat Sunday as an especially holy day. Early Seventh-day Adventists made things more difficult for themselves by criticising Christians who kept the Sabbath on Sundays as apostates. Obviously many other Christians don't see this in quite the same way as we do, but we believe that some time in the future the Sabbath versus Sunday question will become a key issue in Christianity.
When it does then Christians will have to make a choice as to which side they are on. It is this decision, choosing to obey God or not to obey Him, that we think will eventually determine who has the 'mark of the beast'. We don't claim to have reached that time yet and we certainly would not say that any truly born again Christian who is currently worshipping on a Sunday has the 'mark of the beast' or is under Satan's influence. The Sabbath is a day for rest, and for Bible study and worship - both in church and in private meditation and prayer.
Children are expected to attend Sabbath School. The Sabbath is a special day for worship in the home and in the church, a day of joy to ourselves and our children, a day in which to learn more of God through the Bible and the great lesson book of nature. The ordinary affairs of the six working days should be laid aside. No unnecessary work should be performed. The Adventist lifestyle is simple, and, by secular standards, rather puritanical. Adventists see it as wholesome and deeply rewarding.
Personal health is specifically mentioned in Adventist doctrine, which tells them to regard their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. Adventists believe that what is good for the body is good for the soul, and vice versa, and they are instructed that it is their Both mental and spiritual vigour are in great degree dependent upon physical strength and activity; whatever promotes physical health, promotes the development of a strong mind and a well-balanced character.
One way Adventists keep healthy is by eating a healthy diet, following the food rules laid down in Leviticus A vegetarian diet is recommended but not insisted upon. One little known fact is that Adventists were responsible for the popularisation of breakfast cereal; the Adventist layman John Harvey Kellogg invented cornflakes as a replacement for eggs and bacon.
Health has a missionary as well as an individual purpose.
Adventists believe that "it is the Lord's design that the restoring influence of health reform shall be a part of the last great effort to proclaim the gospel message. Dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit. But they don't adopt an antique style of dress; preferring to wear tasteful conservative and sensible styles that are common at any particular period. They are not "the first to adopt the new styles of dress or the last to lay the old aside.
Clothes are chosen for their durability, and "profuse ornamentation" and "gaudy display" are unacceptable. Radio and television: Educational programmes, news and current affairs and classical music programmes are valuable. Adventists avoid programmes that are neither "wholesome nor uplifting". Theatre and cinema: Adventists are advised not to go to the theatre, cinema or, presumably to watch videos or DVDs , which, with other entertainments, are seen as partly responsible for the poor moral state of the world.
Great care should be exercised in the choice of music. Any melody partaking of the nature of jazz, rock, or related hybrid forms, or any language expressing foolish or trivial sentiments, will be shunned by persons of true culture. The Church Manual sets out a code of practice for social events, which are usually held in family homes, rather than commercial places of entertainment:.
Social gatherings for old and young should be made occasions, not for light and trifling amusement, but for happy fellowship and improvement of the powers of mind and soul. Good music, elevating conversation, good recitations, suitable still or motion pictures, games carefully selected for their educational value, and, above all, the making and using of plans for outreach missionary effort can provide programs for social gatherings that will bless and strengthen the lives of all.
Sex outside marriage is forbidden, and parents are expected to chaperone meetings between young people. Young people, for their part, are expected to take responsibility for avoiding sexual encounters.
Adultery, homosexual and lesbian practices, sexual abuse within marriage, incest and sexual abuse of children are banned. Pornography should be avoided. The monogamous union in marriage of a man and a woman is affirmed as the divinely ordained foundation of the family and social life and the only morally appropriate locus of genital or related intimate sexual expression.
Adultery, sexual perversion and "abandonment by a non-believing spouse" are valid grounds for divorce, although the Church will first try to mediate and reconcile the couple. If reconciliation isn't possible, the couple can divorce and the spouse who remained faithful has the right to remarry. The spouse who broke the marriage vow may not remarry while their ex-partner lives. Seventh-day Adventists obeyed the 6th Commandment thou shalt not kill , and would not take a combatant role in warfare, although Adventists outside the USA for example in Nazi Germany were sometimes forced to compromise their principles and bear arms.
This is the only area where Adventists are likely to clash with secular government as they regard it as a "sacred responsibility" to be good citizens. Adventist worship is very like other Protestant worship - apart from the fact that the main day for worship is a Saturday not a Sunday. These normally take place four times a year. Only unfermented grape juice and unleavened bread are used for communion, and any Christian may take communion, not just Church members.
Adventist communion services also include "the ordinance of foot-washing" before the communion.
This ritual conveys a message of forgiveness, acceptance, assurance, and solidarity, primarily from Christ to the believer, but also between the believers themselves. Most importantly it symbolises an overall purification - "a cleansing of the heart". The Seventh-day Adventist Church, like all Christian churches, puts the Bible at the centre of its faith.