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Following Jesus Now

Wednesday morning devotional given during the 2019 Spring Meetings.

Wednesday morning’s devotional, “Following Jesus Now”, was given by Clinton Wahlen during the 2019 Spring Meetings, held at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s World headquarters, in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

Introduction            

This morning it’s not about me this morning. It’s not even about you. It’s all about Jesus. Following Jesus. But it’s not just about what it means to follow Jesus. It’s about what it means to follow Jesus now. There is a difference. There’s a difference because if we’re following Jesus that means He’s going somewhere. And if He’s going somewhere that means if we don’t continue to follow His lead, we’re going to be left behind.

That’s the whole idea of “present truth” that Peter talks about in my favorite book of the New Testament—2 Peter 1:12 – “For this reason I will not be negligent . . .” What reason? Verse eleven refers to entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But not just an “entrance,” not just getting into the kingdom. It refers to an abundant entrance. Jesus loves abundance! “I have come that they might have life and that they might have it abundantly.”[1]

Following Jesus means an abundant life now and an abundant entrance into the kingdom when He comes. For this reason “I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though you know them, and be established in the present truth.” Truth, like Jesus, the personification of Truth, is living and active and to follow Jesus now means to believe and practice Present Truth. The phrase “present truth” is very interesting in Greek. First of all, it has the article “THE truth.” It’s not just Present Truth but the Present Truth. Second, the word “Present” is parousē—which is the verb form of parousia, the New Testament word for the coming of Jesus. In this context it means “the truth whose time has come.” It also alludes to the Second Coming of Jesus, which is very important not only in 2 Peter, but throughout the New Testament.

If we want to follow Jesus now, it means following Him in the work He’s doing now in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. And it includes understanding that His work there will be finished just before His second coming.

I. Daniel 8:14 as the Foundation of Our Faith

In looking at the sanctuary, we’re going to see the big picture this morning. Why is it that Ellen White called Daniel 8:14 “both the foundation and central pillar of the advent faith.”[2] Not just the central pillar but also the foundation! It’s both. And it’s both because:

            1. Jesus is the foundation, and

            2. Daniel 8:14 is all about what it means to follow Jesus now.

We need to know from the Bible what it means to follow Jesus now and why understanding that is essential, vital, indispensable to completing the mission we’ve been given. That needs to be underscored. Understanding what Jesus is doing now in the sanctuary is not just vital to our mission; it is vital to completing it. How many here want the mission finished? As we follow Jesus, He shows us the way.

But before we get into that, let’s rewind the clock. Just over 40 years ago, I was an atheist in high school. I thought the Bible was a book of myth and fantasy, not so different from other religious books. When someone handed me The Great Controversy, I decided here was my opportunity to learn something about the Bible because I knew nothing about it really.

As I read The Great Controversy, I was amazed at the accurate fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

Most amazing of all was the seventy week prophecy of Daniel 9. There it was in the Jews’ own Bible that the Messiah would be “cut off” but not for Himself. It goes on to say that He would cause sacrifice and offering to cease in the midst of the week, which happened at His death in AD 31.
I realized that the sanctuary system was given by God to help us understand the only way to life: through the Son, whom He set forth as the “sacrifice of atonement” (hilastērion) for our sins (Rom 3:25, NRSV). Only a God of love could devise such a plan that answers every question the devil raised and proves God to be “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:26, NKJV).

As Jesus died on the cross, an unseen hand tore the veil of the earthly sanctuary from top to bottom (Mark 15:38). This brought to an end “sacrifice and offering” in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy (Dan 9:27). Unfortunately, many Jews refused to follow Jesus. And, failing to see in the Cross the fulfillment of their hopes, they rejected the light (Matt 23:37).

The Cross even took the disciples by surprise, despite the fact that Jesus clearly warned them three times about His approaching death. They had preached the gospel of the kingdom and believed the popular idea that Jesus would reign over Israel. But they were disappointed—greatly disappointed. After His resurrection, Jesus led them into a deeper understanding of the Scriptures. Through this study, their eyes were opened to see that although the Messiah would reign on David’s throne, He first had to suffer and die (see Luke 24:26, 44-45). This clearer light prepared them for the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which enabled them to carry out the mission Jesus gave them: that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt 24:14; cf. Acts 1:8).

That clearer understanding came as the 70-week prophecy was concluding. We see something similar at the end of the 2,300 “evening-mornings” from which the 70-week prophecy was “cut off” (8:14; cf. 9:24): As with Jesus’ disciples, the acceptance of popular ideas in 1844 led the early Adventists to misunderstand the event that was to happen and, as a result, there was a great disappointment. Later, through Spirit-guided study of the Scriptures, light came to the Adventist believers, leading them to a clearer understanding of the prophecies and enabling them to carry out their mission as described in Revelation 14.

There’s another similarity between the 70 weeks and 2,300 day prophecies: the disappointment of believers is hinted at in both cases. The prophet Daniel, at the end of his book, indicates: “Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, ‘My lord, what shall be the end of thesethings?’ And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the wordsare closed up and sealed till the time of the end’ ” (Daniel 12:8-9).

Only after the fulfillment of key events would the prophecies be understood, as Jesus Himself indicated to His disciples: “Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I amHe” (John 13:19). In His outline of the future given to His disciples on the Mount of Olives, Jesus refers specifically to the book of Daniel and says “Let the reader understand” (Mark 13:14, NIV). Then, in Revelation 10, Jesus is pictured as a mighty “Angel” standing on both the sea and the land (showing His dominion over the whole earth, Rev 10:1-2; cf. 1:13-16; Daniel 10:4-6). In His hand He holds a little book that’s open. John takes the little book and eats it; and it was sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach (vv. 8-10). These experiences of Daniel and John prefigured what God’s people experienced as the prophecies of Daniel 9 as well as Daniel 8 and Revelation 10 were being fulfilled. John’s experience is especially important for us. Notice the instructions he was then given:

 “Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.”

Only one other time in Revelation do we find a message that must be given to many peoples, nations, and tongues. In Rev 14:6. So the command to “prophesy again” indicates that the message about the judgment would need to be repeated. But this time the message would be given in light of an increased understanding about the sanctuary gained through studying the temple of God—which, in Revelation, always refers to God’s temple in heaven. In fact, after the command in chapter 11 to measure or study the heavenly sanctuary, the very next reference to it, in v. 19, was the key that unlocked the understanding of Daniel 8:14 and the cleansing of the sanctuary for our Adventist pioneers.The reason is this: As John sees the temple of God opened in heaven, his attention is drawn to a very specific part of that temple—the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary with the ark of the covenant. The word “covenant” here refers to God’s covenant law of Ten Commandments inside the ark.

As I was now on the way to faith, I began to understand this “complete system of truth, connected and harmonious.”[3] As I followed the footsteps of our pioneers in studying the sanctuary, I saw the importance of the Sabbath for God’s people now living in these end times:

  • Those who receive the seal of God will keep all God’s commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath because the law has been written in their minds and engraved on their hearts by the Holy Spirit, as Hebrews 8:8-12 (the longest OT quotation in the NT) indicates;[4]
  • In contrast to those who are sealed will be those who receive the Mark of the Beast for keeping the counterfeit sabbath.
  • This difference is crucial for recognizing God’s remnant church—it is those who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Rev 14:12).

I was deeply impressed by this clear, biblical explanation of the seal of God and the mark of the beast. It led me to wonder. Since the warning of the third angel against receiving the mark of the beast is the most serious warning in the whole Bible, how could it be that most Christians don’t understand what it is? It became obvious to me that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the only true church, because it was raised up by God, in fulfillment of Bible prophecy, to proclaim the third angel’s message. Everything fit together perfectly: Daniel 8 and 9, Revelation 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. It was:

  • clear
  • coherent
  • and convincing. I saw that the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are like arrows sailing across the centuries that find their targets in key fulfillments throughout history. Truly, the understanding of the sanctuary opens “to view a complete system of truth, connected and harmonious.”[5]

Another surprise for me was the realization that God doesn’t take ownership of the atrocities of Christian history because there are two women in Revelation, not one:

  1. The Christianity I was familiar with is described in Rev. 17 as a woman drunk with the blood of the saints and holding a golden cup of the sanctuary filled with the wine of false doctrine and deception.
  2. But there’s another woman in Rev. 12 who is clothed with the sun. She represents God’s true church, through whom God’s truth and the righteousness of Christ are made known. Forced to flee to the wilderness for survival, she reemerges in the last days as God’s remnant church who keep the commandments and have the testimony of Jesus—which is the Spirit of Prophecy, given “to correct specious errors and to specify what is truth.”[6]

II. Assault on the Sanctuary Doctrine

I remember as if it were yesterday sitting in PUC’s Irwin Hall chapel, looking at the very platform where Ellen White had spoken on occasion more than 70 years earlier, and listening to Desmond Ford’s sanctuary presentation. With all due respect and no ill intent, I have to be honest. That presentation forty years ago began an unrelenting assault on the sanctuary doctrine that continues to this day. Dr. Ford methodically attacked the very prophecies that had convinced me of the Bible’s inspiration and simultaneously cast doubt on the Spirit of Prophecy. One sentence of his I will never forget: “In 1844, the Lord drew the attention of this people to the torn veil on Calvary.” In other words, according to Dr. Ford, what we thought happened in 1844 actually happened at the Cross. There was no real significance to 1844. But if that were true, Ellen White was delusional at best and, more likely, just one of many false prophets that arose in the 1800s.

When Dr. Ford finished speaking, I sat in stunned silence as nearly everyone rose to their feet in enthusiastic applause. I asked myself the question: Had I been misled?Was 1844 merely a “historical necessity” to explain an embarrassing disappointment? Was the Bible just a human book after all and the writings of Ellen White an elaborate hoax?I decided if I had been deceived I wanted to be the first to know.

So, I restudied the prophecies and the Bible’s teaching on the sanctuary and found even more evidence to substantiate faith in God’s Word,our understanding of Bible prophecy, and Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.

Through the years, many books and articles have been published by the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) and others showing the enormous strength of our position. I wish we had time to look at all of the biblical evidence supporting this belief, but I encourage you to go to the BRI website at adventistbiblicalresearch.org where you can dig deeper into this important topic. 

For now, I will mention just a few of the many evidences:

  1. Jesus’ Two-Part Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary

As we know, Jesus’ ministry as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary consists of two parts, corresponding to the two apartments of the earthly sanctuary.

Daniel 9:24, at the end of the 70 weeks, points to the inauguration of Jesus’ High Priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.

Daniel 8:14, at the end of the 2,300 prophetic “days” which equals 2,300 literal years points to the Day of Atonement culmination of Jesus’ ministry in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. Daniel 8:13-14, which comes immediately after the description of the work of the little horn, parallels the heavenly judgment scene of Daniel 7:9-14.

               Daniel 7                                        Daniel 8

   Little Horn (v. 8)                          Little Horn (vv. 9-12)

   Heavenly Judgment (vv. 9-14)     Cleansing of the Sanctuary (vv. 13-14)

Daniel 8 is worth looking at more closely. The entire chapter is filled with sanctuary imagery that is specifically related to the Day of Atonement.[7] To mention just a few:

  • The ram and the he-goat (Dan 8:3-8) were the two animals specially involved on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:5).
  • The reference to the “rebellion” (pesha‘) of the little horn (Dan 8:12, 13) uses a word found in connection with the sanctuary services only in Leviticus 16 (vv. 16, 21).
  • The word for “the sanctuary” (qodesh) in v. 14 links the vision of these verses to the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 where the same word is used repeatedly for the Most Holy Place (Lev 16:2, 3 16, 17, 20, 23, 27, 33).
  • The word nitsdaq (“cleanse, restore”) in v. 14 is uniquely suited to cover the scope of what Christ’s Day of Atonement ministry in heaven accomplishes.
  • The description of the 2,300 “days” as “evening-morning” units points to the days of creation in Genesis 1 which are also described as evening-morning units (Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).

The connection of the cleansing of the sanctuary with Genesis 1-2 is significant because Creation Week culminated with total rest on the seventh day. Thus God blessed the Sabbath and made it holy. The only other day on which total rest is commanded in the Bible, besides the weekly Sabbath, is the Day of Atonement when the sanctuary was cleansed!

Like Daniel 8:14, the message of the first angel of Revelation 14 connects the end-time judgment with the Sabbath by its reference to worship of the Creator—“the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Rev 14:7). Judgment, Creation, and Sabbath are all connected in these two passages.

2. The Sanctuary in Hebrews

Turning to the book of Hebrews, Desmond Ford tried to show that Jesus entered the Most Holy Place when He ascended to heaven and claimed that Jesus began His Day of Atonement ministry in AD 31. But this overlooks many important facts:

CHART: The contrasts in Hebrews 7, 8, and 9:

    • Heb 7 – Contrast of Priesthoods (Levitical vs. Melchizedekian)
    • Heb 8 – Contrast of Covenants (Old vs. New)
    • Heb 9 – Contrast of Sanctuaries (Earthly vs. Heavenly)

As these contrasts indicate, the book of Hebrews refers to Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary as a whole. And although Bible translations do not consistently translate ta hagia as “the sanctuary” (lit. “the holy places”).  Paul is consistent: it always refers to a two-apartment sanctuary.[8]

Let’s briefly notice what Hebrews says about the Day of Atonement (all negative):

    • Only the High Priest ministered on that day (Heb 9:7).
    • No one but the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place (Heb 9:7)
    • It only happened once a year (Heb 9:7; 10:3).
    • There was a reminder of sins every year (Heb 10:1-3).
    • It was impossible for bulls and goats to take away sins (Heb 10:4)

III. Entering the Most Holy Place by the Blood of Jesus (1,639 words)

Why is this subject so important? How does Jesus’ work in heaven impact my life here on earth? Well, It only impacts our life here if we follow Jesus there. Notice this statement from The Great Controversy:

  • “The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill.”[9]

We need to follow Jesus through every stage of His work of salvation, which the sanctuary symbolizes:

STAGE 1: SACRIFICE AT THE CROSS. The focus is on reconciliation (“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. . . . He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:19, 21; Heb 13:10).

STAGE 2: HOLY PLACE MEDIATION. The focus is on justification, which means accepting: (a) the blood of Jesus to cover my sins (1 John 2:1); and (b) the gift of a new heart (Titus 3:5-7).

STAGE 3: MOST HOLY PLACE MEDIATION – The focus is on sanctification(Lev 16:30; 23:31-32; Heb 13:20-21; Rev 14:12), which emphasizes obedience to God’s Commandments—especially the Sabbath rest, the cleansing of God’s people, and blotting out the record of their sins.

STAGE 4: RETURN OF THE HIGH PRIEST TO BLESS THE PEOPLE – The focus is on glorification and the second coming of Christ to resurrect His people who are sleeping in the grave and translate those who live to see Him come, bestowing on them the finishing touch of immortality (Heb 9:28; 1 Cor 15:50-54).[10]

Our salvation depends on our willingness to follow Jesus at each stage—

(1) by faith accepting His death on the cross;

(2) by faith receiving justification for our sins and looking to Him as our Advocate;

(3) by faith allowing the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification to enable us, through constant dependence on Him, to keep God’s commandments;

(4) by faithlooking forward to the second advent and being ready to receive the finishing touch of immortality.

Notice that at each of these stages, there were some who were unwilling to follow Jesus:

  1. After Jesus’ death on the cross, many Jews refused to accept Him as the Messiah and His death as the atoning sacrifice for their sins—relying instead on the blood of animals.
  2. After Jesus’ ascension, some Jewish Christians clung to the temple services instead of following Jesus through the “new and living way” into the heavenly sanctuary and looking by faith to His intercession in the holy place as their Advocate and Mediator.
  3. After 1844, some Adventists refused to follow Jesus by faith into the Most Holy Place, rejecting His Day of Atonement ministry with its emphasis on obedience to all of God’s commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath.
  4. As the New Testament indicates, some of Jesus’ professed followers will be unready to meet Him (Matt 7:22-23; 1 Thess 5:1-8).

From the beginning there has been opposition to this message of the judgment and Christ’s Day of Atonement ministry in the heavenly sanctuary that began in 1844:

“Many and earnest were the efforts made to overthrow their [the early Adventists’] faith. None could fail to see that . . . an acceptance of the truth concerning the heavenly sanctuary involved an acknowledgment of the claims of God’s law and the obligation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Here was the secret of the bitter and determined opposition to the harmonious exposition of the Scriptures that revealed the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. Men sought to close the door which God had opened, and to open the door which He had closed.”[11]

What was the door that God opened in 1844?The door into the Most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary

And what was the door that He closed?The door into the Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary

So, “Men sought to close the door [into the Most Holy Place] which God had opened, and to open the door [into the Holy Place] which He had closed. [The statement continues] But “He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth,” had declared: “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” Revelation 3:7, 8. Christ had opened the door, or ministration, of the most holy place, light was shining from that open door of the sanctuary in heaven, and the fourth commandment was shown to be included in the law which is there enshrined; what God had established, no man could overthrow.”[12]

The Sabbath has the central place in the commandments, summing up why we should keep all ten. As Hebrews 4 explains, it sums up the gospel because it teaches us to rest from our work “as God did from His.” It’s also connected with the seal of God and our last-day message.

We see that from an important phrase that Revelation uses for this end-time message. It appears only four times: “I saw another angel” (Gk. eidon allon angelon):

  1. 7:2 – the sealing of the 144,000
  2. 10:1 – the little book open (i.e., the prophecies of Daniel unsealed)
  3. 14:6 – the gospel of the first angel’s message, including the judgment and the Sabbath
  4. 18:1 – the message of “the fourth angel” which is connected to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain and giving the last message to prepare people for the second advent.

Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary is how He saves us—by reconnecting us with heaven. Jesus is the ladder that Jacob saw stretching from earth to heaven (Gen 28:12; John 1:51). It’s a real connection with heaven. Our prayers go somewhere. They don’t just hit the ceiling and bounce back to earth. Following Jesus into the sanctuary means our prayers reach the throne of grace. And Jesus presents them with the merits of His own righteous life added.

As we follow Jesus now, we draw closer and closer to Him. It also means that we come more and more into harmony with the culture of heaven. What is the culture of heaven like? It’s described in the Sermon on the Mount (esp. Matt 5). It includes:

  • Sensing our continual need of Jesus (v. 3)
  • Being meek and merciful (vv. 5, 7)
  • Hungering and thirsting for righteousness (v. 6)
  • Being pure in heart (v. 8)
  • Being a source of peace rather than conflict (v. 9)
  • Being the salt of the earth and the light of the world (vv. 13-16)
  • Going “the second mile” and turning “the other cheek” (vv. 41, 39)
  • Loving your enemies (vv. 43-45)
  • It even includes being “perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (v. 48)

Jesus sets the bar high from the start and then raises it higher and higher. He didn’t intend for us to think we could go and do all these things. He wanted us to realize the impossibility of it first—so we would feel our need of a miracle.

But that’s the way it has always been. Jesus said, “You must be born again.” We need a new birth. By the way, is that necessary for salvation? Do I need the Holy Spirit to change my heart in order to be saved? According to John 3:5, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” I would say that’s pretty clear. Unless the Holy Spirit changes us, we cannot enter heaven; we cannot be saved.

But, lest we become discouraged, let’s remember these powerful promises:

  • Phil 1:6 – “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
  • Phil 2:13 – “it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Both to will and to do.
  • 1 Thess 5:24 – “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”
  • Jude 24 – God “is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless.”

The question is, “Do we believe this?” We need faith. We’re told that Israel could not enter the promised land because of unbelief; that they heard the gospel just as we did but it didn’t profit them. Why? Because it was not mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Conclusion

I believe we are on the borders of the Promised Land. Do you believe that?

We’re told Israel couldn’t enter in because of unbelief. The gospel was not mixed with faith in the hearts and minds of those who heard it. It’s true, there were huge obstacles. There were giants in the land. But Israel had God’s promise. Sadly, only 2 out of 12 believed that promise. And those who didn’t believe wanted to stone Caleb and Joshua.

In the introduction to Ellen White’s first vision she makes an interesting statement: “I have tried to bring back a good report and a few grapes from the heavenly Canaan, for which many would stone me, as the congregation bade stone Caleb and Joshua for their report. (Numbers 14:10) But I declare to you, my brethren and sisters in the Lord, it is a goodly land, and we are well able to go up and possess it.” [13]

The first vision of Ellen White describes the light of 1844 shining from behind them and lighting up their path all the way to Heaven. The key was believing the light and keeping their eyes on Jesus.  Following Jesus now means not only keeping our eyes on Jesus but believing the light He has shed on our pathway. Following Jesus now means that, when God sends messages to us, we listen with faith. We have received a modern report back about the heavenly Canaan. Jesus is finishing His work in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary so that He can take us to the place He has prepared.

Not following Jesus now and not looking to His work in the heavenly sanctuary means the opposite takes place:  little by little we become less and less like Him. We become so earthly minded that eternal things lose their value to us. Ellen White describes the process very clearly:

“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel's message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls.”[14]

Which direction are we headed? Are we being “sanctified through obedience to the truth” or “uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit,” and viewing “matters in nearly the same light”?

Following Jesus now means cherishing the light we have received. Paul explains the reason people will be lost in the last days: “because they did not receive the love of the truth.” (2 Thess. 2:10).

Notice three important points that Paul makes here:

            (1) “they did not receive…” This reminds us that salvation is a gift.

            (2) What didn’t they receive? Were they lost because they didn’t receive the truth? No, it doesn’t say that. Some no doubt had the truth.

            (3) They’re lost not because they didn’t have the truth but because they didn’t love the truth.  We may have the truth. We may know the truth. We may even teach and believe the truth. But do we love it?

It’s not enough to have the truth; we need to grab hold of it and believe it and love it with all of our hearts!

As we consider the very important message of the Sanctuary, let’s remember at every stage it is Christ’s work:

            (1) His sacrificial atonement is His work;

            (2) His intercessory ministry in the holy place and justification is His righteousness credited to us with the law written on our hearts;

            (3) His judgment ministry in the most holy place which completes the work of sanctification is His finished work in us, blotting out the record of our sins and purifying a people who are ready to meet Him.

So, it is Christ’s righteousness at every stage, NOT our own. It is His work dying in our place, His work of forgiving our sins and changing our hearts, His work of restoring His image in us. This third and final stage of Christ’s work is summarized in the following statement:

But the people [following the disappointment in 1844] were not yet ready to meet their Lord. There was still a work of preparation to be accomplished for them. Light was to be given, directing their minds to the temple of God in heaven; and as they should by faith follow their High Priest in His ministration there, new duties would be revealed. Another message of warning and instruction was to be given to the church.

Says the prophet: “Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Malachi 3:2, 3. Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator [But God’s people will never be without Jesus! He’s no longer Mediator but still our Savior!]. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God's people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14.

When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing. . . . Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a “glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Ephesians 5:27.[15] 

 

 

His cleansing work is going on now. Do you want to be clean? I know I do. It is through a Biblical understanding of the Sanctuary service that we know this is even possible.

 

Just a week ago last Sabbath (May 30, 2019), I was at Loma Linda listening to a young doctor who had recently graduated from medical school. She described how a weekly Bible study group changed her life completely. Guess what subject they were studying? The sanctuary. After her presentation, I asked her: “What was it about the sanctuary that you found so meaningful?” She said: “Everything.”

 

The sanctuary is connected to everything, all the prophecies, who we are as Seventh-day Adventists, and why we’re here. It’s connected to creation, the second advent, the everlasting gospel, the three angels’ messages, and our mission to the world. Let’s love the truth, let’s embrace this last-day message, and let’s pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to proclaim it now—with power!

 

 

 

 


 

  • [1] Although different Greek words underlie the concept of “abundance” in 2 Peter 1:12 (plousiōs, “rich”) and John 10:10 (perisson, “abundant”) their meaning in reference to eternal life is similar.
  • [2] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, GC 409.
  • [3] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 423.
  • [4] It is 135 words in Greek, quoting (with slight differences) Jeremiah 31:31-34 (and vv. 33-34 are quoted again in Heb 10:16-17).
  • [5] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 423.
  • [6] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages,Book Three, 32.
  • [7] See Martin Pröbstle, Where God and I Meet: The Sanctuary (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2013), 110-12. Further on Daniel 8, see Gerhard F. Hasel, “The ‘Little Horn,’ the Heavenly Sanctuary, and the Time of the End: A Study of Daniel 8:9-14,” in Symposium on Daniel: Introductory and Exegetical Studies, ed. Frank B. Holbrook, Daniel and Revelation Committee Series 2 (Washington, D.C.: Biblical Research Institute, 1986), 378-461.
  • [8] Further on Hebrews 9, see Clinton Wahlen, “‘The Pathway into the Holy Places’ (Heb 9:8): Does it End at the Cross?” Journal of Asia Adventist Seminary 11 (2008): 43-55.
  • [9] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 488 (emphasis supplied); cf. idem, Evangelism, 221.
  • [10] Cf. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 485.
  • [11] Ibid., 435.
  • [12] Ibid.
  • [13] Ellen G. White, Early Writings, 13.
  • [14] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 608.
  • [15] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 424-25.