Friday, December 27, 2013

“Exhortations From the Sanctuary”

Insights #13 Dec. 28, 2013

Fourth Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Exhortations From the Sanctuary”
For the week of December 28, 2013

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a 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 confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Heb 10:19-25.

“From the Holy of Holies, there goes on the grand work of instruction. The angels of God are communicating to men. Christ officiates in the sanctuary. We do not follow Him into the sanctuary as we should. Christ and angels work in the hearts of the children of men. The church above, united with the church below, is warring the good warfare upon the earth. There must be a purifying of the soul here upon the earth, in harmony with Christ's cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven. There we shall see more clearly as we are seen. We shall know as we are known.”  15MR 24.

God’s purpose of the “grand work of instruction,” what our lesson this week calls “exhortations,”  is that we enter into the Most Holy experience with Christ. The key that opens this door, or veil,  is the humanity of Christ. Only the Creator could enter in with such depth into the human experience, “tempted in all points” like as we are, yet without sin.

The Greek word for flesh in Hebrews 10:20 is sarx, which has among other meanings the following:

    The sensuous nature of man, “the animal nature”
        i. without any suggestion of depravity
        ii. the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin
        iii. the physical nature of man as subject to suffering

Now most of us have no problem with (i) and (iii), but when it comes to (ii), we become a little nervous, because the root for the battle for the mind and heart often lies right here.

We tend to blame our great desire or longing for sin on some depravity, habit, or tendency (hereditary or cultivated) in such a way that we are exempted from the experience of Jesus in denying sin.

But look at these verses:

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires (craving, onging) and enticed.Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” James 1:12-15

If this is the way in which temptation comes to mankind, then the point of denial of self for us and for Christ as our representative is at the point of saying “no” to sinful desires, aborting the growth of desire into sin. When we sin, it is often because we view the ownership of these problematic desires as ours apart from our Sin-bearer, who has already died to those desires as us.

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Is. 53:6

“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” 2 Cor 5:14,15

He who redeemed all humanity took all of our sinful desire and laid it upon the Sin Bearer, who became sin for us and died the ultimate death of self-denial, without ever submitting to the forceful power of those desires.

The faith Jesus had in trusting in His Father while dying this ultimate death to sin as the Representative of the race is linked to His faith in us as He looked for the reward of our responsive faith in Him. 

Truly then, as we enter in to this appreciation of how close Christ has united Himself to us, we gladly let His mind, His faith, be in us. He alone brings sincerity of heart, assurance of faith, cleansing from an evil conscience, and purification of the body. As we might infer from Revelation 14:12, we must have the Faith of Jesus in order to keep the Commandments of God.

Exploring and sharing this message of righteousness by faith, the Faith of Jesus, is the best way to “stir up love and good works,” as we gather together to study these things.

“By this true faith every soul who is of this true faith can certainly know that in him and in his life transgression is finished and an end of sins made, that reconciliation is made for all the iniquity of his life, and that everlasting righteousness is brought in to reign in his life for evermore. This he can know with perfect certainty, for the Word of God says so, and true faith cometh by hearing the Word of God.

“All who are of this true faith can know all this just as truly as they can know that Christ is at the right hand of the throne of God. They can know it just as truly as they can know that He is Priest upon that throne. They can know it just as truly as they can know that He is there a "minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man." and all this can be known just as truly as any statement of the Word of God can be known, for the Word of God plainly states it all.

“Therefore in this time let every believer in Jesus rise up in the strength of this true faith, implicitly trusting the merit of our great High Priest in His holy ministry and intercession for us.

“In the confidence of this true faith, let every believer in Jesus take a long breath of restfulness forever, in thankfulness to God that this thing is accomplished, that transgression is finished in your life, that you are done with the wicked thing forever, that an end of sins is made in your life and that you are free from it forever, that reconciliation for iniquity is made, and that you are cleansed from it forever by the precious blood of sprinkling, and that everlasting righteousness is brought into your life to reign forevermore, to uphold you, to guide you, to save you in the fulness of that eternal redemption which, through the blood of Christ, is brought to every believer in Jesus our great High Priest and true Intercessor.

“And then in the righteousness, the peace, and the power of this true faith, let every soul who knows it spread abroad to all people and to the end of the world the glorious news of the priesthood of Christ, of the cleansing of the sanctuary, of the finishing of the mystery of God, of the times of refreshing come, and of the soon coming of the Lord 'to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all them that believe . . . in that day' and to 'present to Himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing' but 'holy and without blemish.'” 1905 ATJ, CWCP 127-8.
-Todd Guthrie

Thursday, December 19, 2013

“The Cosmic Conflict Over God’s Character”

Insights #12 Dec. 21, 2013
Fourth Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Cosmic Conflict Over God's Character"
For the week of December 21, 2013

For our Insights discussion this week we draw heavily from quotations by Elder George E. Fifield, an ordained SDA minister from Massachusetts who was associated with A.T. Jones in religious liberty work during the 1890's.

Elder Fifield elucidated the issues involved in God's character both in a book he wrote God Is Love ( and in a sermon he preached during the 1897 GC session (

Sabbath afternoon – Character of God

The word "atonement" means at-one-ment. Sin had brought misery, and misery had brought a misunderstanding of God's character. Thus men had come to hate God instead of loving him; and hating him, the one Father, men also hated man, their brother. Thus, instead of the one family and the one Father, men were separated from God and from each other, and held apart by hatred and selfishness. There must be an atonement. . . .

The atonement is not to appease God's wrath, so that man dare come to him, but it is to reveal his love, so that they will come to him. It was not Christ reconciling God unto the world, but God in Christ reconciling the world to himself. It is nowhere said that God needed to be reconciled to us; he says, "I have not forsaken you, but you have forsaken me." And Paul says, "I beseech you in Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled to God." pp. 100-1, God Is Love.

Sunday – Lucifer's twisted gospel

But the pagan idea of sacrifice is . . . that some god is always offended, always angry, and his wrath must be propitiated in some way.

If it is an ordinary case, the blood of bulls and goats will suffice; but if it is an extraordinary case, the blood of some innocent virgin or child must flow; and when the god smells the blood, his wrath is appeased. We talk of pagan immortality, pagan Sunday, pagan idolatry, etc.; but it seems to me that the lowest thought is that men have brought this pagan idea of sacrifice right into the Bible, and applied it to the sacrifice of the cross.

So the Methodist Discipline uses these words: "Christ died to reconcile the Father unto us;" that is, to propitiate God so that we could be forgiven—paganism straight out. Why, brethren and sisters, it is the application of the pagan conception of sacrifice to the sacrifice upon the cross, so that that wonderful manifestation of divine love, which God intended should cause all men, all beings in the universe, to wonder and adore, has been turned around and made a manifestation of wrath to be propitiated in order to save man. I am glad that we are losing sight of this manner of viewing the subject, where we do not say that Christ died to reconcile the Father unto us. Brethren, there is sometimes such a thing as to give up the expression of a thing, and think we have thus gotten rid of it, when a good deal of it still lingers and clouds our consciousness of the love of God, and the beauty of his truth, so that we cannot present a clear gospel to hungry souls that are waiting to know about God. (GCB 1897)

Monday – Satan's accusations and God's character

What shall we say of the false idea of the atonement, held even by many in the popular Protestant churches of today, and expressed in a late confession of faith in these words, "Christ died to reconcile the Father unto us"? This is not the place to enter into a discussion of that theme; suffice it to say that it is the pagan idea of sacrifice applied to Christianity. God, they think, was angry; he must pour forth his wrath upon some one. If upon man, it would eternally damn him, as he deserved; but this would interfere with God's plan and purpose in creating the worlds, so this must not be. And yet God must not be cheated of his vengeance; for this reason he pours it forth upon Christ, that man may go free. So when Christ died, he was slain really by the wrath and anger of the Father.

This is paganism. The true idea of the atonement makes God and Christ equal in their love, and one in their purpose of saving humanity. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself." The life of Christ was not the price paid to the Father for our pardon; but that life was the price which the Father paid to so manifest his loving power as to bring us to that repentant attitude of mind where he could pardon us freely.  Thus Satan has transformed the truth of God's love into a lie, and even infused this lie into the very doctrine of the atonement. pp. 33-34, God Is Love.

Tuesday – God's demonstration of love and justice at the cross

What does the incarnation mean?—Simply this, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself; that Jesus was divine, and yet human, perfect God and perfect man, Son of God and Son of man; that with the divine arm he might grasp the throne of the Infinite, while with the human arm he encircles humanity, with all it woes and needs, with all its hungerings and heartaches, and encircles is to lift it up, to unite it with God, thus making the atonement. p.109.

Some conscientious but timid soul may ask, "Is not this denying the vicarious atonement?" I answer, No; a thousand times no. It is only lifting and broadening and enlarging our conception of the vicarious atonement, and bringing it into harmony with what we know of God's character, as revealed in his work and his word. Jesus is still the world's only Saviour. Both in life and in death he suffered vicariously, bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows, — "suffering the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God," that is, that he might make an atonement.  Christ's death was not the result of an outpouring of the Father's wrath; it was the result of the world's violation of the Father's law of love. p.110

Wednesday – God' character vindicated through the cross

Every passage of Scripture that refers to the reconciliation or atonement, or to the propitiation, always represents God as the one who makes this atonement, reconciliation, or propitiation, in Christ; we are always the ones atoned for, the ones to be reconciled. For us it was done, in order that, as Peter says, he might bring us to God. . . .

This is the at-one-ment; this is why he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, that he might do that for us by breaking down all those things which separate hearts from hearts, both human and divine. Notwithstanding this, we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. That was what we thought about it. We said, God is doing all this ; God is killing him, punishing him, to satisfy his wrath, in order to let us off. That is the pagan conception of sacrifice. The Christian idea of sacrifice is this, let us note the contrast. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." That is the Christian idea. Yes, sir. Indifference keeps, hatred keeps, selfishness keeps, or gives, if at all, but grudgingly, counting the cost, and figuring on some larger return at some future time. But love, and love only, sacrifices, gives freely, gives itself, gives without counting the cost, gives because it is love. (GCB 1897)

Thursday – God's character revealed through His people

How could God love a sinner? "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." That word "world" is cosmos; it means order, harmony, beauty, arrangement. You see the world was out of harmony, out of order; but God saw underneath the world of evil, the cosmos that was, the order that was to be, and he loved the cosmos that was, and gave his life to bring out the harmony.

The Spirit of God brooding over the chaos— that love of not merely what is, but what is to be, that love of the possible—0 brethren, he broods over the chaos of your life and mine. It is not simply the chaos in the great big world; but he brings out the possible in us, and restores us to his image. That is the kind of God we have. And he has committed to us that same thing, too, so that when we become like him, we can love all men, coarse though they be on the outside. And when we have the divine life of God, which sees beneath the surface, we will see loveliness in every character, that we long to live out, and long, as God does, to bring out. (GCB 1897)

Friday – Why was sin permitted?

He took our sorrows, our griefs, all the conflicts of our lives upon him, and was tempted in all points as we are. He took the injustices of our lives upon him too. It is a fact that you and I have to suffer for many things for which we are not at fault. All my suffering is not the result of my sin. Some of it is; but just as long as sin exists, injustice exists. As long as men sin, men will be sinned against. Just so you and I will have to suffer for the sins of others; and so God, to show that he knew and realized all that, let him that was perfectly innocent, take the injustice and sin of us all. O brethren and sisters, he did not bear some other grief or some other sorrow, but he bore our griefs and our sorrows. He was pierced through by them, and the Lord permitted it, because there was healing in it for us. (GCB 1897)
-Patti Guthrie

Raul Diaz

Friday, December 13, 2013

Our Prophetic Message

The following story is representative of what the 3rd Angel’s Message will produce in those who receive it by faith.

My niece Katrina* and I are not blood related. In fact, I met 16-year-old Katrina when my adopted sister married her father, a man who already had children. Soon I became her father’s friend and Katrina's uncle. In fact, Katrina and her sister Katherine* have both become my nieces. There is nothing in our relationship which indicates that we are not related by blood. The fact that I'm Caribbean-born and they are American-born doesn't seem to make a difference.

When Katrina was younger she studied my home country for her research paper. In college, she went abroad to study the language and customs, which provided a common ground between us. As young women, she and her sister worried about disappointing me and sought my company often. Today they have graduated college, and grad school respectively, and I'm the uncle they call when they need to pray about work projects or have questions about the latest Latin dish they are trying to prepare.

God’s demonstrated love has created a love and closeness between us which has erased every hint of difference. We are family.  So it is when God's people allow themselves to become one together with Him. In identifying with Him, our aims, and purposes become united and we become one family, one body. Although God's family comes from all parts of the world, our different languages, complexions, features and cultures should merely serve as a memorial to God's creativity -- nothing else. God has called us together as one body to serve Him and to invite others to serve with us. 
How will the world respond to our invitation if we are scattered by our differences?

In God's kingdom there are no rich or poor, no educated or ignorant, no great or small. We are all children of the Almighty in His Son. Through Him we understand that we have been enabled to work with each other in order to prepare others for His kingdom. "Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all" (Col. 3:11, NIV).
No matter how different we are, God wants us to function as one. As a part of His body He gives us His Spirit -- of Agape-love, peace and joy, which is demonstrated in caring for the needs and wants of others, all sharing in the hope of Jesus Christ.
You may be asking yourself, “What does this story about God’s love as a uniting factor have to do with the message of the three angels”? Simply this: you cannot love those with whom you do not identify.

Christ’s identification with us is the foundation of the gospel, the cornerstone of the doctrine of Justification by Faith; it itself is the gift through which every other gift flows. Christ’s death on the cross was merely the out-flowing of His agape which was first found in His identifying Himself with us from the foundation of the world.

To be justified is to be made right with God legally and forensically as well as morally. The moral law rests on this – Agape – Supreme love to God as our response to His wooing, and love to man as He has loved us. To be justified (by faith) then, is to recognize in heart and mind that I am all men and all men are me. We are all one humanity, and in Christ all one body. The loss of any part through ignorance, willfulness or neglect, is the loss of me – part of me.

To those who wonder what justification has to do with the three angel’s message, Ellen White said this, “Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel's message, and I have answered, "It is the third angel's message in verity"-- Review and Herald, April 1, 1890; {Ev 190.3} (Emphasis author’s).

The three angel’s message is a prophetic message, and traditionally we have taught that this message of commandment keeping -- particularly Sabbath keeping or worshiping, is paramount to being saved; and likewise, that those who do not heed the warnings, will receive the mark of the beast, and be lost. Sadly, many of us have equated our positive performance of keeping the law, attending church, attending and promoting evangelistic series and AY’s along with camp-meetings and the like with not being found wanting in the judgment. To buttress our position, we’ve used texts which seem to say that we are saved by our faith in Jesus and judged according to our works.

We quote Romans 2:13 – “Not just the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” But perhaps our understanding of hearers and doers is not accurate. The hearing which Jesus has in mind is active, eager focused listening with the intent to understand and receive what is being said (because the speaker is intimately known), willing to do, even before knowing what (content) is being spoken. While here on earth, Jesus Himself said, “I of mine own self can do nothing…as I hear…” (John 5:19, 30). It is He who brings everything secret and hidden into judgment – words, thoughts, motives and actions. The man or woman, whom He justifies, has the law engraved on the heart and mind. Why? Because the Holy Spirit who is residing inside and embodies the law, gives the gift of love, peace, joy, faith… (Gal.5:22, 23). Works of the flesh, no matter how good they seem are condemned as sinful, because they are not done by those whose hearts and minds have been filled with the faith of Jesus, which works by agape- love, and by which the soul is purified.  

Friends, the basis of the three angel’s message of warning is the everlasting gospel. It is the pleading of the prophetic body of messengers – to accept by faith the good news of Christ’s deep and abiding self-denying love which was demonstrated in His identification with us – His taking on our sinful nature -- and His death on the cross in fulfillment of the wages of sin.

I Peter 4:17 says “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?” “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached (margin: the word of hearing) did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” Heb. 4:2. The hearers did not understand that the “works” they were to do, had been finished from the foundation of the world” Hebrews 4:3. Have we understood?

(* Names have been changed)

Friday, December 06, 2013

The Daily: Much ado about nothing?

From my Friend Michael Duncan,

Hi Everyone,

I was asked to present general lesson study for Sabbath School this weekendDecember 7.  I was excited that the lesson is on the subject of the anti-typical Day of Atonement.  The reason for my enthusiasm is that the Cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary representing Pre-Advent Judgement is the one unique theological feature of the Adventist Church explaining the culmination of the plan of salvation.  This teaching highlights the fairness of God and how He vindicates His people against the accusations of the enemy.  The sanctuary details and fleshes out the gospel of Jesus Christ as no other teaching of the Bible directly linking prophecy with the plan of redemption.

Unfortunately upon reading Sunday's outline we discover the "new view" of the "daily" is presented instead of the view studied out and taught by the pioneers of the Adventist church.  The "new view"- that the "daily" represents Christ's high priestly ministry dates back to the apostasy of Lewis Conradi while the view of our pioneers - that the "daily" represented the desolating power of Pagan Rome was universally accepted previously.  This is the view articulated in Uriah Smith's classic work Daniel and the Revelation. 

I wondered that I should mention it at all but it can not be ignored.  It is not uncommon in many debates on subjects of importance for individuals to take positions which when followed to their logical conclusion would reveal glaring inconsistencies in one's system of belief. Likewise it should be noted that to accepted the italicized word "sacrafice" added by translators to Daniel 8:11-13 completely changes the meaning of the text and consequently corrupts the identification of the little horn power/antichrist and undermines the entire concept of an 1844 pre-advent judgement beginning at the conclusion of the 2300 day/year prophecy.

For much of the laity of the church, this may be "much ado about nothing".  However, for ministers, evangelist and Bible teachers, a lack of understanding regarding Daniel 8 has led to a neglect or avoidance of teaching these things altogether.  The gradual de-emphasis on the teachings which make this body of faith unique ultimately results in a loss of identity and a transformation into what might more appropriately be called a Seventh-Day Baptist church rather than a Seventh-Day Adventist church.  I welcome your thoughts.

A very cursory google search on "the meaning of the daily in Daniel" unearthed the followed excellent documents addressing this issue.

“The Eschatological Day of Atonement”

Insights #10 Dec. 7, 2013
Fourth Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
The Eschatological Day of Atonement
For the week of December 7, 2013

Eschatology is that branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world and the final destiny of mankind. This involves beliefs concerning death, the end of the world and the ultimate destiny of mankind. This includes the doctrines concerning the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the Judgment.

In our lesson for this week the vision of the 2300 days is referred to as being fulfilled “many days in the future” (Dan 8:26) from the time of Daniel. The vision was sealed until the distant future. Because of this, Daniel did not understand the vision and became sick thinking about it (v. 27). He did understand the other vision concerning the pagan nations of Media-Persia and Greece that were represented by a ram and a goat (vv. 20-21).

Who gave the 2300 day prophecy to Daniel? How did it come about? Heavenly visitors were conversing about evil things that would one day transpire on earth. The question “How long?” was asked (Dan 8:13). This question was directed by one being to another heavenly Person who is called “that certain One.” The marginal reading in KJV names that “certain One.” His name is Palmoni. The term “Palmoni” is related the name of the Child to be born as prophesied in Isa 9:6. His name is “Wonderful.” This is Jesus, the Son of Man. He is Heaven’s Master Mathematician and the Revealer of Heaven’s mysteries. The fact that He is “the Wonderful Numberer” and the “Revealer” of this time prophecy suggests unusual importance concerning the 2300 day prophecy. Jesus turned to Daniel and answered the question of “How Long?” “For two thousand three hundred days,” said “the Wonderful Numberer, “then the sanctuary shall be cleansed” (Dan 8:14). This is the “testimony of Jesus” to us as well as to Daniel and the angelic host.

There are various meanings for the word translated “cleansed” in verse 14, as Tuesday’s lesson brings out: It “has three major meanings: in a relational context, it denotes restoration (Isa 10:22); in the context of the sanctuary, it denotes cleansing or purification (Job 4:17, 25:4 [also Heb 9:24]); and in a legal context, it denotes vindication (Job 34:5).” There is a fourth meaning. The word is also translated as “justify” and “righteous” 15 times each in the Old Testament. The cleansing of the sanctuary can never be separated from the doctrine and the experience of justification/righteousness by faith in Christ alone. Righteousness is in Jesus and cannot be separated from Him. We are made righteous by receiving Him. And His righteousness is His holiness. This cleanses us.

“Not by painful struggles or wearisome toil, not by gift or sacrifice, is righteousness obtained; but it is freely given to every soul who hungers and thirsts to receive it…. The righteousness of God is embodied in Christ. We receive righteousness by receiving Him.”  (MB 18).

Later, another time prophecy was given to Daniel. It is recorded in chapter 9:24-27. This is additional information about that part of the former vision of 2300 days of which Daniel had no understanding. The prophecy of Daniel 9 reaches to the time of the anointing of Christ Incarnate, at His baptism. This prophecy reaches also to the time of His crucifixion when He was “cut off” or crucified for us (Dan 9:26).

This was the prophecy Jesus referred to at the beginning of His public ministry when He began proclaiming the gospel. His words are recorded in Mark 1:14-15: “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’ The only time that could have been fulfilled is that which was revealed to Daniel and recorded in Dan 9:25-27. The first advent message was based on this time prophecy. And the time prophecy of Daniel 8 – the “2300 days” – refers to the time of the end. This is our time. Both the first and the second Advent Messages are based on the same time prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9.

Chapter 9:26-27, in pointing to the death of Christ, is the foundation for God’s judgment hour of cleansing foretold in chapter 8:14 and is concerned about the time when the final cleansing begins. Chapter 7 reveals the nature of this judgment which is investigative in essence (7:9-10). All of God’s judgments are investigative in nature. This investigation involves the minds of mankind. The books in heaven are records of authentic official copies of the minds of people on earth.  
There are three phases of the heavenly judgment. The first is the investigation of the minds of believers whose sins have gone beforehand to judgment (1 Tim 5:24; 1 Pet 4:17). These are confessed and forgiven sins. This is illustrated for us in Lev 4 where sins forgiven were placed on the horns of the altars with blood fingerprints (Lev 4:25, 30, 34). This was the recorded evidence of sins forgiven.

Both the record of righteousness and the record of sin are written in the human brain, as well as in heaven. According to Jeremiah, the record of committed sins was written on the horns of the altars and within the mind (Jer17:3). This same principle is followed for the record of forgiveness of sins. According to Moses the record of confessed and covered sin was recorded on the horns of the altars (Lev 4:6-7, 17-18, 25, 30, 34). This was evidence of sins forgiven and transferred and that were to be blotted out on in the great Day of Atonement. The finger print in blood also pointed to Christ who took the sin(s) of mankind upon Himself and exhausted the penalty of the broken law of God (1 Pet 2:24; Rom 5:23; 1 Cor 15:3; Rom 5:8).

The human brain records choices we make, emotions we experience, thoughts we think, words we utter, actions we perform and habits we form. Every thought is generated in, routed through, and stored within the brain, and recorded in heaven. “Nothing we ever do is, in strict literalness, wiped out,” wrote William James, Psychology, p. 150. “The hell to be endured hereafter,” he continued, “of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioning our characters in a wrong way. Could the young but realize how soon they will be walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in their plastic state. We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves never so little scar.” Ibid.

The pre-advent phase of the judgment contains the records of believers who receive the forgiveness of their sins. There are also recordings about those who reject God’s forgiveness in Christ; those who apostatize from God’s grace and wilfully continue to crucify Christ afresh (Gal 5:4; Heb 6:4-6).

When the pre-advent judgment ends, probation for the human race closes. It is then that Jesus lays aside His priestly garments and is clothed in His kingly robes and returns to earth to receive His people.

In the typical service, confessed and forgiven sins were removed from the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In the type those sins were placed on the head of the goat of Azazel (often translated as “scapegoat”) who was then led into the wilderness. Azazel “is an abstract noun meaning …‘destruction’ or ‘entire removal….’ ” The wilderness was considered as “one of the usual abodes of demons.” (The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary). This goat had absolutely nothing to do with justification, sanctification, or cleansing. So it will be in the antitypical removal of sin.   

The removal of the record of forgiven sins from the heavenly temple and from the people of God will be placed on the head of Satan and he will be led into the millennial wilderness of the destroyed and chaotic abyss of earth. Consider the following intriguing statement:

“While the plagues are falling, the Scape Goat [Satan] 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” (Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 2).

Then comes the second phase of God’s judgment. This takes place in heaven during the millennium. Like the pre-advent judgment, it too is investigative in nature. It involves the investigation of the mind of the lost by the eternally redeemed in Christ, who were cleansed during the pre-advent judgment. Not only human minds will be investigated during the millennium, but even the minds of devils ((1 Cor 6:2,3; Rev 20:4).

The final phase of the judgment will be at the end of the millennium when the scrolls that record the thoughts, words and works of the lost will be presented (Rev 20:11-15). The records of the sins in the books of heaven are “Xerox” copies of the unforgiven sins of unbelief in the minds of the lost (Rom 14:23). This third phase of the judgment is investigative in nature as are the first two phases. There is a difference, however. In this investigation, every lost person will investigate his own mind. Jesus looks into the minds of the lost and His piercing studious gaze causes each person to see precisely where he/she turned from Him. Notice this insight:

“As soon as the books of record are opened, and the eye of Jesus looks upon the wicked, they are conscious of every sin which they have ever committed. They see just where their feet diverged from the path of purity and holiness, just how far pride and rebellion have carried them in violation of the law of God. The seductive temptations which they have encouraged by indulgence of sin, the blessings perverted, the messengers of God despised, the warnings rejected, the waves of mercy beaten back by the stubborn, unrepentant heart—all appear as if written in letters of fire” (GC 666; see also PP 498 and RH Nov 4, 1884).

And again: “As the Holy One upon the throne slowly turned the leaves of the ledger, and his eyes rested for a moment upon individuals, his glance seemed to burn into their very souls, and at the same moment every word and action of their lives passed before their minds as clearly as though traced before their vision in letters of fire. Trembling seized them, and their faces turned pale. . . . There is quaking of heart. In anguish of soul each declares his own guilt and with terrible vividness sees that by sinning he has thrown away the precious boon of eternal life” (4T 385).
So, in closing, it is good always to remember what E.J. Waggoner wrote about the judgment and salvation: “God has wrought out salvation for every man, and has given it to him; but the majority spurn it, and throw it away. The judgment will reveal the fact that full and complete salvation was given to every man, and that the lost have deliberately thrown away their birthright possession. Thus every mouth will be stopped. (The Glad Tidings, p. 23; present edition, p. 14).

The only hope for salvation that we have is in the Pre-Advent investigative judgment where we have Christ as our Mediator who give us His mind and who is for us, representing us. He receives the kingdom in our behalf and then gives it to us (Dan 7:13-25, 18, 22, 27). What a day that will be!!

-Jerry Finneman