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The Reformation Herald Online Edition

Christ in His Sanctuary

“This is Life Eternal”
Alfons Balbach
“This is Life Eternal”

This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

“And we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

To know God is much more than to have a favorable opinion about Him. We may now be doing “many wonderful works” in His name, and yet in the last day we may hear from His lips the verdict, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:22, 23). If we ignore what it is our duty and privilege to know about Christ and the loyalty that He expects from us, we cannot say that we know Him.

There is a condition:

“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” “He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (John 14:23; 1 John 3:24).

We have an Intercessor—for how long?

We need to know what Christ is doing, at present, in the sanctuary in heaven. He is still interceding for us.

“We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man” (Hebrews 8:1, 2).

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

It is solemn to consider that Jesus will be interceding in our behalf, yet only as long as the time of probation shall last. We should know that the door of probation will not remain open forever. It will be closed shortly before Christ’s second coming. The time is at hand when the declaration is made from the “thrown of the Majesty in the heavens.”

“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. . . . Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:11, 12, 14).

The time of probation will not last forever

Many Christians do not know that, when the cry is heard, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh,” it will be too late to supply the spiritual needs of those who are not prepared to meet our coming Saviour. At that time no one will help us if our “lamps are going out” for the lack of the “oil” of the Holy Spirit. In the parable about the coming of Christ, we read that the “foolish” or unprepared Christians will cry: “Lord, Lord, open to us,” but as “the door” is already “shut,” the Lord will say to them: “I know you not.” Read Matthew 25:1–12.

Those that think that the door of opportunity to turn to the Lord will remain open forever should read Luke 13:24, 25, 28:

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are…. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The pre-advent judgment

Together with the announcement, “Behold, I come quickly,” as we just read in Revelation 22:12, Christ says that, at His coming, He will reward everyone according to his or her work. This great day, which is before us, is also described in Romans 2:6–8:

“[God] will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath.”

Everyone will be rewarded according to the choice he or she has made while the door of opportunity was open. Read Isaiah 55:6, 7. There will be very few who have chosen eternal life. What will happen to the majority of the human race? Christ explained:

“As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:26–30).

These verses (Revelation 22:12; Romans 2:6–8; Luke 17:26–30) show that there must be a pre-advent judgment. Otherwise, we would not be warned that Christ, at His coming, will bring with Him the reward that has already been attributed to everyone. At His coming there will be an executive judgment (2 Timothy 4:1). The investigative judgment is taking place now, before His coming. A comparison of Revelation 14:7 with Revelation 14:14, 15 and with Matthew 13:38, 39 demonstrates that there is a pre-advent investigative judgment to take place. And, by reading Revelation 14:7, we can also be sure that the servants of God, in these last days, would be able to identify the exact time for the beginning of this event. Otherwise they would not be authorized to say: “The hour of His judgment is come.”

The investigative judgment, which is going on in the heavenly sanctuary, was shown to the prophet Daniel in a vision, which he described as follows:

“I beheld till the thrones were [set up], and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:9, 10).

The same event, with more details, was also shown to John the apostle. He described it as follows:

“The seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament” (Revelation 11:15–19).

Here the apostle sees the Lord God sitting on His throne (Revelation 20:11, 12) and presiding over the judgment in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, where the ark of the covenant with the Law of God is seen by faith.

When will our sins be blotted out?

We pray every day asking God to forgive our sins (Matthew 6:12) and we believe that we are pardoned every day, but that does not mean that our sins are blotted out at the same time and by the same act.

We know that our sins are transferred to the heavenly sanctuary to be blotted out when our names are called up in the judgment if we remain faithful “unto the end”? (Matthew 24:13).

“Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after” (1 Timothy 5:24).

“Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers” (Isaiah 65:6, 7).

Our sins will be eliminated from the “books” in the heavenly sanctuary if we heed the divine call for repentance and conversion before the coming of the Lord.

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” Acts 3:19–21 (NKJV).

Jesus had in view this very act—the blotting out of our sins before His coming—when He said:

“He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

Once saved, always saved?

In the parable of the two debtors, a king had a servant who owed him ten thousand talents and finally, “moved with compassion,” the king “forgave him” his debt. But, later, that servant was still punished for the same debt, which was considered unpaid, because that servant refused to forgive a much smaller debt to one of his fellow servants. Read Matthew 18:23–34. In this parable, Jesus teaches that sins forgiven still stand against us until they are blotted out.

For a confirmation of the doctrine taught in this parable, read Ezekiel 18:24.

If we say, “I am saved,” and we mean, “once saved, always saved,” we may deceive ourselves and miss the way to the kingdom. We should better say, “we have obtained the hope of salvation.”

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11–13).

“We are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:24, 25).

When the apostle Paul accepted Christ, he admitted that he would be finally saved only if he “endured unto the end” (Matthew 24:13). He wrote:

“I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

The apostle Peter addressed those who had already “obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: . . .

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:2, 3–11).

In these words Peter taught that we cannot say we are “saved” before we have reached the “entrance” to the everlasting kingdom.

Lessons from the sanctuary service

The sanctuary service under the old covenant served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount” (Hebrews 8:5).

“Once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, the priest entered the most holy place for the cleansing of the sanctuary. The work there performed completed the yearly round of ministration.”1 From the service performed on the Day of Atonement (the tenth day of the seventh month), we learn that “on that day”—not on the day the repentant sinner brought a sin offering, and made a confession, and was forgiven (Leviticus 4:22–35)—but on the Day of Atonement for the whole nation he was pronounced “clean.”

“For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord” (Leviticus 16:30).

“Important truths concerning the atonement were taught the people by this yearly service. In the sin offerings presented during the year, a substitute had been accepted in the sinner’s stead; but the blood of the victim had not made full atonement for the sin. It had only provided a means by which the sin was transferred to the sanctuary. By the offering of blood, the sinner acknowledged the authority of the law, confessed the guilt of his transgression, and expressed his faith in Him who was to take away the sin of the world; but he was not entirely released from the condemnation of the law. On the Day of Atonement the high priest, having taken an offering for the congregation, went into the most holy place with the blood and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat, above the tables of the law. Thus the claims of the law, which demanded the life of the sinner, were satisfied.”2 The yearly atonement was made not only to remove sin from the congregation, but also from the sanctuary itself. This was the rule:

“[The high priest] shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation” (Leviticus 16:33).

Not before all the iniquities were removed from the congregation and from the sanctuary and confessed on the head of the scapegoat, could the congregation and the sanctuary, and everything that belonged to it, be pronounced “cleansed.” Read Leviticus 16:30.

It was “necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified” with the blood of animals; “but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices” (Hebrews 9:23).

“Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:26–28).

For the Jews, the Day of Atonement was a day of judgment, when all confessed sins were removed from the sanctuary. And, in the antitype, at the end of the judgment, “in the end of the world,” all confessed sins will be removed from the heavenly records and, thus, the heavenly sanctuary will be purified. Read Isaiah 65:6, 7; 1 Timothy 5:24. This fact was explained to the prophet Daniel when the angel of God said to him:

“Unto two thousand and three hundred [prophetic] days [i.e. literal years]; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Daniel 8:14).

The Day of Atonement, when the sanctuary was cleansed, was a day of judgment. So the end of the period of time, announced in Daniel 8:14, was seen by the pioneers of the Advent Movement as the beginning of the pre-advent investigating judgment in 1844.

“In the typical service the high priest, having made the atonement for Israel, came forth and blessed the congregation. So Christ, at the close of His work as mediator, will appear, ‘without sin unto salvation’ (Hebrews 9:28), to bless His waiting people with eternal life.”3 He will not have to propitiate for the sins of the redeemed. This problem has already been solved before. This is why He will come without having to deal with our sins. “As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away ‘unto a land not inhabited’ (Leviticus 16:22); so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God’s people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will then be desolate, without inhabitant, and he will at last suffer the full penalty of sin in the fires that shall destroy all the wicked. Thus the great plan of redemption will reach its accomplishment in the final eradication of sin and the deliverance of all who have been willing to renounce evil.”4 After these considerations about our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, we must say with the apostle Paul:

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering” (Hebrews 10:19–23).

1 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 355.
2 Ibid., pp 355, 356.
3 The Great Controversy, p. 485.
4 Ibid., pp.485, 486.