Friday, November 29, 2013

“The Pre-Advent Judgment”

Fourth Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“The Pre-Advent Judgment”
For the week of Nov. 30, 2013
Christiana loved her new knee. Ever since the arthritis had gotten bad enough that she could no longer take those walks after lunch she had gained weight. But now she could walk, and three months ago she had gradually worked up to a mile or so. “These knee replacements are great,” she had said to herself, just a few days prior to the disaster strike.

Her knee, seemingly out of the blue, had become hot and swollen. When she called her surgeon, he had her come immediately to the office. He ran a battery of blood tests: a complete blood count (CBC), a C - Reactive Protein (CRP), and an Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR). Sure enough, her white blood count was elevated on the CBC, and both of the other tests showed that very high inflammation was present.

Her surgeon took her right to the operative room and gave her knee a thorough washing out, and told her he thought her infection might clear. Infections of this kind are very serious, however. Some, if left untreated, can lead to amputation. Both Christiana and her surgeon prayed for success for this clean-out, and he and she were, as a result, optimistic as to the final outcome. She continued on intravenous antibiotics for several weeks before switching to pills which she would need to take for many weeks.

Frequently she had to have more investigation with the same blood tests to see if the infection was in fact clearing. Finally the day came when the CBC, the CRP, and the ESR all showed that there was no infection left. It was safe to leave her off of the antibiotics. What a relief! Now she could walk again!!


Like Christiana, those of God’s children who believe that God has reconciled the human race to Himself (2 Cor. 5:18,19) and have agreed to join the divine-human family, have received the new heart that the everlasting covenant promises (Heb. 10:16-17). But as Romans 7 tells us, there is still an infection of the flesh, of self, to be overcome.

We must have the infection cleared before we are safe to walk the streets of the New Jerusalem. We may not know the day or the hour when our treatment is finished, but by faith we know it will be completed. And we can know how things are trending by applying the medicinal therapy and getting our blood tested. Here is what the divine physician has in mind:

“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” Rev. 3:18

It would be a shame to be cut off, amputated, from Christ after all he has done for us and in us.

We must apply the heavenly ESR (eye salve remedy) to have our distorted, inflamed vision corrected.

We need to see that the divine CRP (Christ our Righteousness Protection) is covering us, saving us from ourselves.

We must have the gold of Christ’s righteous lifeblood flowing through our veins, as revealed in the final CBC (Christ’s Blood is Complete) test, before we can walk pain-free for eternity in Him!

It is in this context we are to investigate our own experience in the light of the Sanctuary Truth we have been studying this quarter. We want to know that the remedy is working:

"We are in the investigative judgment; and the work for the time is solemn heart-searching. The duty devolves upon every one to consider, to watch, and to pray. You are not bidden by the Lord to examine your neighbor's heart. Let your investigative powers be put to work to discover what evil is lurking in your own heart, what defects are in your character; what work needs to be done in your own home. Parents are responsible for the souls of their children; they are accountable for the mold of character they give them. They will, if they realize their duty, work most earnestly for their own salvation and for the salvation of their children. When parents are careless in their own ways, and in regard to the character and deportment of their children, they lose the favor of God. But every family that will seek God with humiliation and prayer will be doing the work that is essential for eternal salvation.

"Satan is working diligently and most successfully to put his selfish stamp upon the characters of even professed Christians, and many are becoming narrow in their ideas of duty and obligation. They are degenerating, and receiving a stamp of character which is offensive to God. Self-love and unholy passions occupy the citadel of the soul. To those who are professedly keeping the law of God, but are daily transgressing its holy principles, let me say, Search, O search and see how little reverence you have for eternal things, how little love for devotion."  RH, December 29, 1896

"When we become children of God, our names are written in the Lamb's book of life, and they remain there until the time of the investigative Judgment. Then the name of every individual will be called, and his record examined by Him who declares, "I know thy works." If in that day it shall appear that all our wicked deeds have not been fully repented of, our names will be blotted from the book of life, and our sins will stand against us. If the professed believer becomes self-confident, if in word or spirit he breaks the least precept of God's holy law, he misrepresents Jesus, and in the Judgment the awful words will be spoken, "Blot out his name from the book of life; he is a worker of iniquity." But the Father pities the self-distrustful, God-fearing soul, harassed though he may be with doubts and temptations. Jesus pleads for him, and confesses his name before the Father and his holy angels."  ST, August 6, 1885  

"God sees many temptations resisted of which the world, and even near friends, never know; temptations in the home, in the heart; He sees the soul's humility in view of its own weakness, the sincere repentance over even a thought that is evil; He sees the whole heart's devotion to the up building of the cause of God, without one tinge of selfishness; He has noted those hours of hard battle with self, battles that won the victory--all this God and angels know."--Letter 18, 1891, p. 4. (To Brother Irwin, June 29, 1891.)  8MR 244.1  

"The Center of Christ's Atoning Work.--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. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face. How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot, at the end of the days."  EV 221.

"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Ecclesiastes 12:14.

In the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment, the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period. . . . The books of record in heaven, in which the names and the deeds of men are registered, are to determine the decisions of the judgment. . . .  

The book of life contains the names of all who have ever entered the service of God. Jesus bade His disciples, "Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20. Paul speaks of his faithful fellow workers, "Whose names are in the book of life." Philippians 4:3. . . .  

"A book of remembrance" is written before God, in which are recorded the good deeds of "them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." Malachi 3:16. Their words of faith, their acts of love, are registered in heaven. . . .   

There is a record also of the sins of men. . . . The secret purposes and motives appear in the unerring register.  

"Every man's work passes in review before God. . . . Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered, with terrible exactness, every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel.   

"If your name is registered in the Lamb's book of life, then all will be well with you. Be ready and anxious to confess your faults and forsake them, that your mistakes and sins may go beforehand to judgment and be blotted out." FLB 210

"In the parable of Matthew 22 the same figure of the marriage is introduced, and the investigative Judgment is clearly represented as taking place before the marriage. Previous to the wedding the king comes in to see the guests, [Matthew 22:11.]—to see if all are attired in the wedding garment, the spotless robe of character washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. [Revelation 7:14.] He who is found wanting is cast out, but all who upon examination are seen to have the wedding garment on, are accepted of God, and accounted worthy of a share in his kingdom and a seat upon his throne. This work of examination of character, of determining who are prepared for the kingdom of God, is that of the investigative Judgment, the closing work in the sanctuary above."  GC88 428
-Todd Guthrie

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sabbath School Today: "The Pre-Advent Judgment"

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Sanctuary

Lesson 9: "The Pre-Advent Judgment"


I thought the prayer before bedtime, "Lord, forgive all my sins," took care of my record in heaven. Doesn't God say, "I am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins" (Isa. 43:25)?

Now comes the problem of understanding what Peter says in Acts 3:19: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Peter says that "sins may be blotted out" at "the times of refreshing." Are we not finished with sin at the time they are confessed? Why are they still hanging around by the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the future "latter rain"?

God is true to His word. He has "cast all their sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19). Then why have an investigative judgment? Because just as in the ancient earthly tabernacle type the penitent sinner went away from the sanctuary actually forgiven, his sin was recorded therein awaiting its final disposition on the annual Day of Atonement.

Clearly, there has to be a judgment before Jesus returns; then it is that the sins of God's people, forgiven all along in the past, will be finally "blotted out." Peter writes: "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17).

The heavenly record books are an accurate picture of our lives. Everything that we have ever said, done or thought; both known and unknown, is accurately recorded in the mind. And so now in the judgment our life-history coincides with its legacy. Our final biographical sentence is written with a "period." Do you really want your sins "deleted"?

Let a lesson from your computer illustrate the point. As you go along there are documents that you remove from sight by putting them in the "trash can." But the record is still there just in case later on you decide to go back to your old ways and retrieve it.

So when you confess your sins, they are indeed forgiven; but sinful humans can sometimes go back to their old ways like the dog that Peter says returns to his vomit (2 Peter 2:22). And the Lord doesn't want to take anybody to heaven who secretly is sorry that he ever repented and he really wants to go back to the devil.

So there finally comes a time when the accumulated "trash" needs to be emptied. But wait a minute! A little message pops up, "Do you really want to delete everything?"

As we near the coming of Christ, there has to be a final investigation: "Are you reallysure you want your sins forever forgiven? Are you really sure you don't want to go back to your old selfish, lustful, worldly ways, ever?" Well, I hope you're ready to click yes on that. You click on "Yes." Now all the "trash" is gone forever, irrevocably.

The good news of the 1888 message is that our Advocate, Jesus is standing up for us in the investigative judgment opposing the prosecuting attorney. Zechariah saw this portrayed in vision. Representing the sinful people was "Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD" who is our defense attorney, "and Satan [the prosecutor] standing at his right hand to resist him" (Zech. 3:1). The result of the judgment was Joshua's "filthy garments" were removed and he was clothed "with change of raiment" (vs. 3).

To change the metaphor, in 1888, the Bride's Husband proposed marriage by giving the remnant Seventh-day Adventist Church the "wedding garments."

Jesus taught the pre-advent judgment through a parable. The king invited guests from all walks of life to a wedding. "When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless" (Matt. 22:10-13). He was cast out.

Here the "king" inspects the "guests" as to whether they are wearing the "wedding garment" which he has given to each one. In this case a "friend" has neglected to put on the garment and is left "speechless." Here is presented the concept of a judgment before the wedding.

1888 is the invitation to the wedding. Speaking of the 1888 message, Ellen White emphasizes some wonderfully good news: "We are in the day of atonement, and we are to work in harmony with Christ's work of cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of the people. Let no man who desires to be found with the wedding garment on, resist our Lord in his office work" (The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Jan. 21, 1890).

The One who will accomplish that amazing task is the High Priest of the heavenly sanctuary. His business is being a Saviour from sin. It is His job to cleanse the sanctuary, not ours; but it is our job to cooperate with Him, to let Him do it, to stop hindering Him "in His office work."

The 1888 message is the clearest understanding of justification by faith which is parallel to and consistent with the cleansing of the sanctuary truth. When the hearts of God's people on earth are cleansed then shall the sanctuary in heaven be cleansed. Justification is not exclusively expunging the record of sin in heaven. Our "high priest make[s] an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord" (Lev. 16:30).

That precisely is the purpose of the investigative judgment--not to condemn God's people, but to cleanse them so they can meet Jesus in person when He returns.

There is sin, conscious and unconscious, that must be discovered, repented of, "overcome" (Rev. 3:21), so that those who follow the great High Priest in His closing work of Atonement may not be consumed by the brightness of Jesus' coming. That's going to be a serious moment!

The High Priest doesn't want to condemn you; He wants to vindicate you--that's the only judgment He wants to make in your case.

Don't stop Him, don't hinder His on-going work!

--Paul E. Penno


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Raul Diaz

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

“Christ Our Priest”

Insights #8 Nov. 23, 2013
Fourth Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Christ Our Priest”
For the week of Nov. 23, 2013
At the time of the writing of this article, many islands in the Philippines have been ravaged by a massive typhoon resulting in a tragic loss of life and desperate conditions for survivors.  As our world desperately attempts to right itself between the ever-increasing storms, this warning comes to mind: “Transgression has almost reached its limit. Confusion fills the world, and a great terror is soon to come upon human beings. The end is very near. We who know the truth should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise.” 8T 28

What exactly that surprise will be we are not told, but what we do know is that now is the preparation time. As television images capture the stories of people securing their homes, boats, belongings and families prior to a forecasted storm, so we are to be doing all we can to be ready for the time when “everything is to be shaken that can be shaken.” CET 81

And for the storm that is coming, the preparation most needful will be a “settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so that they cannot be moved.” LDE 219

The sanctuary truth gave birth to the Adventist faith. Preached but not fully understood by William Miller and others in the 1830’s and 1840’s, “the pioneers of the [advent] movement saw the sanctuary truth as basic to the whole structure of Seventh-day Adventist doctrine. James White, in 1850, republished the essential portions of the first presentation of the subject by O. R. L. Crosier, and commented: ‘The subject of the sanctuary should be carefully examined, as it lies at the foundation of our faith and hope.’ ”—The Advent Review (special combined number). CIHS 8

The sanctuary service reveals Christ typified in His work as High Priest and Mediator. Many Adventists have long harbored fear of the troublesome times to come, stemming in part from these statements:

“I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful, and were looking to the time of ‘refreshing’ and ‘latter rain’ to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord, and to live in his sight. O, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation, therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who . . . do not purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it; and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father.” ExV 58.

“Then the angel repeated these words, and said, ‘This is the time spoken of in Isaiah. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor. He had no mediator between God and man, and these plagues could be withheld no longer, for Jesus had ceased to plead for Israel, and they were covered with the covering of the Almighty God, and then they could live in the sight of a holy God, and those who were not covered, the plagues fell upon them, . . . ’ ” Oct. 23, 1850, SpM 2

It has been Satan’s studied plan to usurp Christ’s position as Mediator, by sitting himself upon the throne of the Holy Place and pretending to act as the forgiver of sins. In this role as carried on by the man of sin, Satan perpetuates the notion that man can be saved in his sins. He calms us and tells us we are fine and need not worry. In this paradigm, sin is never overcome and mediation never ceases.

Christ’s true role as Mediator is temporary. As the final work of atonement is complete and all sin is expunged from the sacred precincts of the heavenly sanctuary, Christ ceases his mediation. The righteous living on earth when the plagues are poured out during the last hour of earth’s history will not need an intercessor or mediator because their sins have already been forgiven.

It was to prepare a people to stand in the sight of a Holy God without a mediator that the Lord in His mercy sent a most precious message of Christ’s righteousness to His people.

“Now to teach the gospel message of salvation from sin through faith in the righteousness of Jesus, the only Mediator and Saviour, and to preach it with these verses as the syllabus, is the work to be done to prepare the way of the Lord in this generation. And the very first thing to which we are introduced in the message, in the words, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come,” brings us face to face with that which sets forth in the fullest manner the whole provision of God for the salvation from sin. And that whole provision is wrapped up and revealed in the sanctuary question. And by the terms of this message, the first thing that we are brought to face when we are to preach salvation from sin through faith in Jesus Christ, is the whole question of God’s provision for the remission of sin as set forth in the sanctuary.” W. W. Prescott, GCB April 2, 1903, p. 51.10

“The highest angel in heaven had not the power to pay the ransom for one lost soul. Cherubim and seraphim have only the glory with which they are endowed by the Creator as His creatures, and the reconciliation of man to God could be accomplished only through a mediator who was equal with God, possessed of attributes that would dignify, and declare him worthy to treat with the infinite God in man’s behalf, and also represent God to a fallen world. Man’s substitute and surety must have man’s nature, a connection with the human family whom he was to represent, and, as God’s ambassador, he must partake of the divine nature, have a connection with the Infinite, in order to manifest God to the world, and be a mediator between God and man.

"Christ, the Son of God and Creator of the universe, humbled Himself beyond description to be joined together forever with the human race. As Adam was enjoined that in marriage a man would leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, so Christ left His Father in heaven to become forever a part of the human family.

“Clothing His divinity with humanity, He came to earth to be called the Son of man and the Son of God. He was the surety for man, the ambassador for God—the surety for man to satisfy by His righteousness in man’s behalf the demands of the law, and the representative of God to make manifest His character to a fallen race.” 1SM 257

The good news of what Jesus did for the human race as revealed in the gospel alone has power to extinguish our love for sin and prepare us for entrance to our heavenly home.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb. 4:15, 16
-Patti Guthrie

Thursday, November 14, 2013

“Christ Our Sacrifice”

Fourth Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Christ Our Sacrifice”
For the week of Nov. 16, 2013
With the exception of the cross, no example of sacrifice is more significant than that of Abraham going to Mount Moriah to sacrifice Isaac, his beloved child of promise (recorded in Genesis 22).  Ellen White wrote of this experience,

“It was to impress Abraham’s mind with the reality of the gospel, as well as to test his faith, that God commanded him to slay his son. The agony which he endured during the dark days of that fearful trial was permitted that he might understand from his own experience something of the greatness of the sacrifice made by the infinite God for man’s redemption. No other test could have caused Abraham such torture of soul as did the offering of his son. God gave His Son to a death of agony and shame.”—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 154.

Abraham was posed with a dilemma, in which he had to choose between God and Isaac.  By his faithful following through with God’s command, Abraham demonstrated that his trust in God was implicit.  When Isaac asked Abraham, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”  Abraham answered, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:7-8).  Perhaps this is what Paul was referring to in Hebrews 11:17-19,

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”

God did come through.  Before Abraham could do any harm to his son, “…the angel of the LORD called out of heaven, and said, Abraham, … Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him.”  (Genesis 22:12-13).  Verse 14 says that “…Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”  That animal, which God provided, prefigures the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, on whom “the Lord has laid . . . the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6, 7; Acts 8:32, NKJV).  On the surface it seems like a one to one substitution.  The ram died instead of Isaac.

Thus, it seems like Jesus died instead of us. We know that a substitute is a replacement of sorts.  But this idea has two problems: First, the Bible is clear that the innocent does not die for the guilty. And secondly, if we follow the logic of the idea of ‘instead of me’, it leaves us without hope of eternal life.  Let us tackle the problem with number 1.  These texts, Deuteronomy 24:16, Jeremiah 31:29- 31, Ezekiel 18: 4, 20 are very clear that guilt is not transferable.  God has indicated that each person will die for his own Sin, and He does not go against His own principles. These texts provide ample evidence that Christ could not die ‘instead of us.’, because neither innocence nor guilt are transferable. Interchangeable guilt and innocence go against the justice of God.  With this in mind let’s now look at problem number 2: Christ dying instead of us leaves us without a hope of eternal life.  Let’s read the following story to illustrate this point.

A story is told of a prominent Pastor approaching a security guard while the guard was working.  After exchanging pleasantries, the guard said he was a Christian.  The Pastor asked, “Really? If you are a Christian, why do you smell like beer?” The guard answered with confidence, “I am not under the law, but under grace. Christ abolished the Law on the cross.  He did what he did, so now I am free to do as I wish.”  The Pastor asked him, “In other words, Christ suffered so you would not have to?” The guard said, “Yes.”  The Pastor replied, “So, Christ died so you would not have to?”  The guard answered, “Yes!”  The Pastor then asked the guard, “So, Christ suffered and died so you would not have to?”  “Yes,” replied the guard, “now you are getting it.”  Then the Pastor said, “Oh, I see, so, if He suffered and died so you would not have to, then He went to heaven so you do not have to.”  The guard’s smile at once disappeared, and looking puzzled, he said, “No! You are trying to confuse me.” The Pastor smiled warmly and told the guard, “I am just following your logic.”  The guard said, “How can that be, something is not right.” The Pastor said, “Would you like me to explain?” The now perplexed guard responded, “Yes!”

The Pastor gave the following explanation. “If someone does something instead of me, it is he doing it, not me. It is his experience, not mine. Therefore, any reward belongs to him, not me. So, for me to share in the reward I have to share in the doing.”  The guard then asked, “How can this be?” The Pastor gave this man the following illustration to make his point. “Let us say that I have a $20 bill, that bill has a stain on it. Where ever the bill goes, the stain goes. If the bill is destroyed, the stain is destroyed. Let’s say that I put the bill in a Bible. The Bible carries in itself the $20 bill, as well as the stain. Where ever the Bible goes, the $20 bill goes; so does the stain.  Whatever happens to the Bible happens to the $20 bill as well as to the stain. It is as if they have become one. What if the Bible is burned? Then the $20 bill with its stain is also burned. The story of the Bible becomes the story of the $20 bill.” How then can Christ do something and it be credited to us?  The only way this would be, is if we were to do it with Him, through Him or in Him. Isaiah 53 tells us that Christ “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…He bore the sin of (the) many” (Isaiah 53: 4, 12).  If He bore the sins, they were in His possession.  Speaking of this verse, Ellen White writes,

“The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart. The wrath of God against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation.” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 752-6.)

We share in Christ’s doing and reward by us being in Christ when He bore our Sin.  Paul addresses this concept in the book of Hebrews chapter 7 by stating that Levi paid tithes to Melchisedec.  How could Levi pay tithes to Melchisedec if Levi was not alive then?  Levi, “… was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him” (Hebrew 7:10).  This indicates that when Abraham paid the tithes, Levi paid the tithes. By the same token, when Adam sinned, we sinned as we were all in his loins.  Adam in Hebrew means mankind.  In Adam, God created the entire human race. Therefore at the fall, we inherited Adam’s genes, and his bent to sin. To save us, God put the entire human race in Christ – the last Adam or mankind (1 Corinthians 15: 45) at His incarnation.  Consequently in the second Adam, God recreated the entire human race.  Paul expressed this in Romans 5:12, 17 –19,

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

God put us in Christ, and consequently, His story is our story. His life is our life. His perfect obedience is now humanity’s perfect obedience, and by faith it becomes our personal experience.  As a result, when we say that Christ is our substitute, we do not mean that He is a vicarious substitute. No, He really did die, and His identification with us is so complete, that He became us; one with us.  Thus, what is meant by the concept of Christ our substitute, is really that of a shared substitution.

He identified with us, emotionally, physically and genetically. Tempted in all things as we are, (yet without Sin) He is our strong help in temptation (Hebrew 2: 18).  Isaiah 1:18 says, “…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” We should rejoice and give thanks, for this is what Christ accomplished on the Cross and if we believe, His history is ours personally.
-Raul Diaz

Friday, November 08, 2013

“The Day of Atonement”

Insights #6 Nov. 9, 2013
Fourth Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“The Day of Atonement”
For the week of Nov. 9, 2013

The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, as revealed in Leviticus 16, is the most solemn Old Testament ritual. It is deliberately placed in the heart of the book of Leviticus, which is itself at the center of the Five Books of Moses, in order to highlight this most “holy” character of this ritual, which in turn typifies the final atonement in the heavenly sanctuary.

The high point of Leviticus 16 is the Day of Atonement of cleansing both the tabernacle and the people. On both sides of this high point there are laws for the sanctuary, the priests and the people of Israel. In chapters 1-15 we learn of justification through the blood and the incense, with these elements typifying the death and righteousness of Jesus, both of which prepares and covers the believer in sanctification. In chapters 17-27 there are laws again for the sanctuary, the priests, and the people. Here we learn of holiness or sanctification of God’s people following the justifying and cleansing work of the high priest.

In the book of Daniel there is a similar structure. Dan 8:14 is the high point of the book. Leading up to this verse, chapter eight summarizes the first seven chapters which deal with healthful living (chapter 1); refusal of idol worship (chapter 3)’ justification by faith, by God, in the conversion of Nebuchadnezzar by His laying the king’s glory in the dust, then doing for him what he could not do for himself (chapter 4); the rejection of justification by faith (chapter 5); Daniel’s example of living by faith (chapter 6); and the great apostasy from the gospel predicted within Christianity during the “time, time and dividing of time” (chapter 7); with Dan 8:14 as the climax of symbolic expression. Interpretation begins in verse 17 and continues on in chapter 9.

In the typical ritual service throughout the year, all kinds of sins and impurities were transferred to the sanctuary. These were forgiven sins recorded on the horns of the altars. They were fingerprinted there as evidence of forgiveness (Lev 4:1-7). With the Day of Atonement the time came for the forgiven sin’s removal. There are three main parts to the Day of Atonement:

1. The purification offering of a bullock for the priesthood.
2. The sacrifice of the goat for cleansing all confessed sins placed in the sanctuary and the cleansing of the people.
3. The separation, removal, and elimination of those forgiven sins from the camp by means of the live goat, representing the demonic leader, Azazel.

The Day of Atonement brought cleansing to the three parts of the tabernacle into one – an    at-one-ment of the sanctuary itself. The High Priest first carried blood from the brazen altar located in the court into the Most Holy Place. He also used incense on fire of  the golden altar in the first apartment before entering the second apartment – the Most Holy Place. Both blood and incense were used in the Day of Atonement ritual (Lev 16:11-16). Blood foreshadowed the death of Christ; the incense signified His perfect righteousness. There was one blood, one incense, one priest for cleansing all three divisions of the sanctuary and also God’s people. It takes both Christ’s death and His life in order to cleanse His people from their sins. His death exhausted the penalty that was against us; His righteousness is both our fitness and our title to heaven.

After the priest finished his work of the final cleansing atonement with the blood of the bullock and that of the “Lord’s goat,” he brought a second goat to complete the plan of removal of sin from the camp to the wilderness. This goat had absolutely nothing to do with justification, sanctification, or cleansing. This goat is known as Azazel (often translated as “scapegoat”). Azazel “is an abstract noun meaning ‘destruction’ or ‘entire removal.’ ”1 2 

The wilderness was considered as “one of the usual abodes of demons.”3  Azazel’s goat is used to graphically depict what will happen to the devil after the close of human probation. As the priest placed the confessed, forgiven and blotted out sins of believers on the scapegoat in the type, so Jesus our High Priest, will take the blotted out sins of believers and placing them on Satan. This is because he is ultimately responsible for leading God’s people into sin. Notice the following insights from Mrs. White:

The sins of God’s people “had gone beforehand to judgment, and pardon had been written. Their sins had been borne away into the land of forgetfulness…”4

“I saw that Jesus' work in the sanctuary will soon be finished. And after His work there is finished, He will come to the door of the first apartment, and confess the sins of Israel upon the head of the Scape Goat [Satan]. Then He will put on the garments of vengeance. Then the plagues will come upon the wicked, and they do not come till Jesus puts on that garment, and takes His place upon the great white cloud. Then while the plagues are falling, the Scape Goat is being led away. He makes a mighty struggle to escape, but he is held fast by the hand that leads him. If he should effect his escape, Israel would lose their lives. I saw that it would take time to lead away the Scape Goat into the land of forgetfulness after the sins were put on his head.”5 

“I saw a flaming cloud come where Jesus stood and he laid off his priestly garment and put on his kingly robe, took his place on the cloud which carried him to the east where it first appeared to the saints on earth, a small black cloud, which was the sign of the Son of Man. While the cloud was passing from the Holiest to the east which took a number of days, the Synagogue of Satan worshiped at the saints feet.”6

Satan will be limited alone to planet earth which he will have turned into a chaotic wilderness – void and without form, with no one to tempt or to lead into sin. He will have a thousand years of contemplation for what he has done to God, to angels and to the human race. He will then realize that he was, is, and will forever be a complete failure (Jer 4:23-26; Rev 20:1-3).

As Tuesday’s lesson points out: “The ritual with the live goat finds a parallel in the law of the mali¬cious witness (Deut. 19:16–21).” If the accuser was found to be a malicious witness, he received the punishment he intended for the one he accused. So it will be with the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10; 20:10). He will reap the fearful and terrifying harvest of his own doing.

But there is good news for God’s people. Just as justification by blood was carried over into the Day of Atonement for cleansing in the typical service of the earthly sanctuary, so it is in the real service in the heavenly temple of the crucified, risen and ascended Mediator. Justification in the blood of Christ, believed, is the message of the heavenly sanctuary, which is the message of the everlasting gospel of the three angels (See Rom 5:9; Rev 14:6-12).

The message of the third angel unites with the first angel’s message concerning the hour of judgment (and final atonement) which began in 1844. The “loud cry” message of the  fourth angel (Rev 18:1) joins with the three angel’s messages of chapter 14, repeating the second angel’s message regarding the fall of Babylon (Rev 14:8; 18:2). Thus the messages of 1844 (Dan 8:14) and 1888 are inseparably joined in the cleansing of heaven’s sanctuary and of God’s people. These messages are of eternal importance and consequence. Have you accepted these messages? If not, will you do so now?

-Jerry Finneman
1. (e.g., BDB 736). (d) It is made up of the terms ‘ēz ‘ōzēl “goat that goes (away)”
2. Wright, D. P. (1992). Azazel. In (D. N. Freedman, Ed.)The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary.
3. Ibid.
4. Spirit of Prophecy, volume 1, p. 123.
5. Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 2.
6. Ellen G. Harmon, Letter Feb., 15, 1846, to a Bro. Jacobs (DS, March 14, 1846 par. 2).

Friday, November 01, 2013

“Atonement: Purification Offering”

Insights #5 Nov. 2, 2013
Fourth Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Atonement: Purification Offering”
For the week of November 2, 2013

"For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren." Heb 2:11

"All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Rev. 13:8

"And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." Col. 1:17

"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins." Heb 10:4

In order to rightly understand this week’s lesson regarding forgiveness and the defilement of sin (and thus the need for the final atonement - next week’s lesson), the purification or sin offering must be seen in the context of Jesus’s choice to fully identify himself with fallen humanity. It was His complete sacrifice as the representative of humanity (substitute and surety) which is the ultimate expression of God’s love, and thus the ultimate teaching tool to break down the walls of resistance in the heart of man and cleanse from the defilement of sin.

Christ has not been presented in connection with the law as a faithful and merciful High Priest, who was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. He has not been lifted up before the sinner as the divine sacrifice. His work as sacrifice, substitute, and surety, has been only coldly and casually dwelt upon; but this is what the sinner needs to know. It is Christ in his fullness as a sin-pardoning Saviour, that the sinner must see; for the unparalleled love of Christ, through the agency of the holy Spirit, will bring conviction and conversion to the hardened heart. It is the divine influence that is the savor of the salt in the Christian.” 1888 Materials, p. 1076.

The laying on of hands, the death of the animal, the blood manipulation, the burning of the fat, and the eating of the flesh of the the animal were all for the purpose of bringing the sinner to understand how complete and far-reaching was the mercy of God in simultaneously giving His own life to humanity while bearing the pain and suffering that sin causes His own heart. They were to help the suppliant to enter into the experience of God rather than to create some change in the heart of God toward the sinner.

The Lord provided the sanctuary service to help us see exactly what He was willing to do for us. Every animal slain by the hand of the sinner was to be a miniature Calvary. It was to reveal the deep-seated enmity the sinner held against God. It was to prove that God held nothing back, not even His Son, if by any means He could get man to see the rebellion buried so deeply in his mind. The service was to be a catalyst to melt the proud and stubborn hidden unconscious sin - the will to kill God.” D.K. Short, Then Shall the Sanctuary be Cleansed, p. 35.

What brings forgiveness to the sinner personally is the realization and acceptance that the Divine Sin-bearer has already borne away the guilt of the world, and has already been carrying his personal sins at great cost to Himself. This is what the sanctuary purification offering was to teach.

"It is therefore idle for the sinner to say that the Lord will not receive him. Why, the Lord has you; He has been carrying you all your lifetime. There never has been a heart throb, not a pulse beat, not a tingle of a nerve, that did not reveal the presence of the life of God; for all those things reveal the presence of life, and there is no life in the universe but the life of God. If there were, then there would be another God. That is the whole question in controversy-whether creatures can live separate from the Creator. They who think to save God from the disgrace of being in sinful men, do Him no honour. They are conceding all that the devil would claim. If any man can establish his ability to live an hour without the Lord's life, then he can live for ever without Him. But this no man can do, and it is the Lord's mercy that he cannot....
"All the loathsomeness of sin the Lord who hates sin was pleased to take upon Himself, that we might be freed from it. He has for ever identified Himself with humanity. Every sin that is committed by the vilest transgressor is committed with the life that God has loaned to him.... made the servant of men's passions. They are corrupters, in that they corrupt the life that God has given them. He is not responsible for a single sin, for "in Him is no sin," yet because it has been committed with His life, He assumes the responsibility. The weight of every sin is upon the Lord, and that it is no small weight is seen from the fact that it crushed the life out of the Son of God. What infinite patience, that He still continues to bear it!
"But it is loathsome to Him. With the picture of the body utterly corrupt, full of putrefying ulcers from head to foot, and you have an idea of what God is bearing. Can you wonder then that He says, "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins?" Ah, we do not need to plead with Him, to make Him willing to cleanse us from all unrighteousness; He is most anxious to do it; it is He who pleads with us to allow Him to do it for us.
"Yes, and Christ has by Himself made purification for sins. With all the sins of the world upon Him, He gave up His life; but because He knew no sin He came forth from the grave, and so when we confess that Christ is come in our flesh, we may know that He is risen from the dead, so that He lives in us with the power of the resurrection life. As soon therefore as we make the confession, and yield completely to Him, we are freed from the bondage of sin; for God is not so in love with sin that He will retain it a second after we turn it completely over to Him. He will cast it into the depths of the sea.
"The Lord has bought our sins; they belong to Him. He has bought us, and we belong to Him. We therefore have no right to do anything with ourselves. But when we refuse to confess our sins, and at the same time to confess Christ, we are claiming the sins that are upon Him. We are retaining them, because we refuse to acknowledge that they are sins, and we go on putting more sins upon Him. Patiently He abides with us, however, literally suffering long. He has our sins, whether we acknowledge it or not; therefore it does not add one whit to His burden for us to let them rest upon Him alone, and not try to bear any of them ourselves. On the contrary, it relieves Him for us to confess our sins, and cast them entirely upon Him, for then He casts them off, and bears us alone. Before, He bore us and our sins; now He bears us freed from sin. Why not grant the Lord this favour?
"He asks us to remind Him of what He has done for us. "Let us plead together," says He. Literally, "Let us go into court together." If we will but declare the truth, we shall be justified, for the truth is that He has all our sins upon Him. All that is required of any man, in order to be saved, is that he tell the simple truth about what he sees. If we admit that God is supporting us, that we live by His life, and that consequently all our sins are upon Him, and that we are in harmony with that arrangement, then we are freed from them. So although our first father sinned, and we as a consequence were born in sin, we are made as free from them as the only begotten Son of God. What a wonderful Saviour!"
November 30, 1899 EJW, PTUK 757.

"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn." Zechariah 12:10

May that day come soon!

-Todd Guthrie