May 6 - 12
The Sanctuary and the Second Coming
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Dan. 7:9, 10; Ezek. 33:11; Zech. 3:1-7; Rom. 8:1-4; Heb. 4:14-16; James 2:22, 23; Rev. 22:14.
MEMORY TEXT: "'For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed'" (Daniel 8:14, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: The judgment is good news for those who have accepted the blood and righteousness of Jesus as cleansing for their sins and as assurance of their salvation.
THE TIME OF HIS JUDGMENT HAS COME. Daniel 8:14, in conjunction with Daniel 9:24-27, announces an investigative judgment to begin in the heavenly sanctuary in the year 1844.
Do texts such as these bring fear to your heart? "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ" (2 Cor. 5:10); and "The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment" (Ps. 1:5). A mortgage company advertises: "Need money for a house? Finding it difficult to get a mortgage? Come down and visit us, and we'll give you just what you deserve!"
One reason many of us fear judgment is just that: We fear that God is waiting to give us 'just what we deserve." However, the loving and merciful Jesus took upon Himself what we deserved (death) and gave us what He deserved (life). Those who cannot see this wonderful picture of our Lord seek to resolve their fears by denying the concept of an investigative judgment. Such judgment, however, is good news for His faithful followers, for it ushers in their face-to-face reunion when He comes again.
How does God view the death of the wicked? Ezek. 33:11. What does this tell us about the kind of God He is?
Describe David's attitude toward the judgment. Ps. 96:10-13. Why did he look forward to it? Ps. 7:8; 26:1; 43:1.
David was certainly a sinner, yet he looked to the judgment without fear. On what basis was he optimistic about the outcome of the judgment'? Although he was a sinner, he had asked for forgiveness. "He also understood the message of righteousness by faith. He recognized that, sinful though he was, his sins could be covered and cleansed by the blood of the Substitute. He prayed: 'Purge me with hyssop [the agent used to apply the blood of the sacrifice, Lev. 14:4-6; Num. 19:18; Ex. 12:22], and I shall be clean' (Ps. 51:7)."Richard M. Davidson. "The Good News of Yom Kippur," Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, Leo R. Van Dolson, ed. (Collegedale, Tenn.: Adventist Theological Society, Autumn, 1991), vol. 2, no. 2, p. 5.
What is the outcome of the judgment? Dan. 7:21, 22; Zech. 3:2.
The investigative judgment reveals to the universe the saints' standing before God. It does not put the salvation of God's people in jeopardy. While it is a fearful thing to those who have rejected salvation, for those in Christ the investigative judgment is a reason for singing. Since 1844, God's saints can rejoice that finally the judgment has come. The final judgment has begunthe process of investigation, followed by the millennial review and the final execution of the sentence. At last, Satan is to be silenced. The truth will be seen that vindicates God's people. Truly the first angel's message"The hour of His judgment has come" (Rev. 14:7, NKJV)is part of the "eternal gospel."
Vindication and assurance in the judgment are good news, for the judgment leads to Christ's soon coming. It is so good that many find it difficult to believe. In our consumer societies, we expect to pay dearly for something of such great value. Of course, Someone has paid paid with His life.
|In the judgment, am I concerned about what God thinks of me or about what God thinks of my Substitute? How does my life demonstrate the answer?|
In most courtrooms of today, the judge plays one role, the prosecutor another, the defense attorney still another. However, in the heavenly judgment, we find that Christ plays more than one role on our behalf.
Ascertain the characteristics and roles of Christ in the following texts, which give us assurance in the judgment:
Heb. 2:17, 18 __________________________________________________________
Heb. 7:25 _____________________________________________________________
l John 2:1 _____________________________________________________________
John 5:22, 27, 30 ________________________________________________________
Rom. 8:34 ____________________________________________________________
What great news! Our Friend, the One who came to save us, who longs to take us home to live with Him eternally, stands by our side in court. He is indeed all that we need in the judgment. No wonder we are urged to come boldly before the throne of grace! (Heb. 4:16).
What do you find in Hebrews 4:14-16 that encourages you to approach the throne of grace with confidence?
"John in holy vision beholds the faithful souls that come up out of great tribulation, surrounding the throne of God, clad in white robes, and crowned with immortal glory. What though they have been counted the offscouring of the earth? In the investigative judgment their lives and characters are brought in review before God, and that solemn tribunal reverses the decision of their enemies. Their faithfulness to God and to His Word stands revealed, and Heaven's high honors are awarded them as conquerors in the strife with sin and Satan."Our High Calling, p. 361.
|If I know that the Father counted Christ's character as my character, how would I look at the judgment? What difference does this make in my life today? Am I willing to ask humbly to receive the character of Christ?|
Some find difficulty in harmonizing the promise that our sins are forgiven when we ask for forgiveness with the equally biblical concept of a future judgment in which the record of our deeds is examined. They ask, Is it not true that our sins are forgotten at the time they are forgiven? Then how can a final judgment make that determination?
The great gospel theme has "already" and "not yet" dimensions to it in the sense that God already has fulfilled some of His promises to us, while some of His promises to us are yet to be fulfilled. Discover these two complimentary concepts in the following pairs of texts:
|1. Rom. 3:28 ____________________||James 2:22, 23 _________________|
|2. 1 Pet. 1:18, 19 ________________||Eph. 4:30 ______________________|
|3. Rom. 8:14-17 _________________||Rom. 8:23 _____________________|
|4. 2 Tim. 1:9 ____________________||Matt.
Similarly, in the earthly sanctuary the sins of the penitent were atoned for through the daily service, yet the final atonement at the end of the year dealt with all their sins through the cleansing of the sanctuary (see Lev. 16:16). Likewise, sins are covered by the blood of Christ when they are confessed and forgiven (as in Ps. 51:1, 9), yet the final blotting out, or removal of the record of these sins, takes place in connection with the investigative judgment. (See Rev. 3:5; Exod. 32:33; Heb. l0:14-18; Dan. 12:l, 2; Matt. 10:32, 33.)
The concept of judgment does not jeopardize assurance of salvation. For even the final blotting out of sin is by virtue of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, after which the record of sin is removed from the sanctuary forever. The defilement is gone and the universe is clean for eternity. "He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels" (Rev. 3:5, RSV). What great news!
|The good news is that the judgment is an integral part of the everlasting gospel, ushering in the Second Coming. How should we live our lives today in view of the end time? In what ways can we share this good news with others so that they, too, may look forward to Jesus' appearing?|
What is our status in God's family? 1 John 3:1. What is the status of our salvation in Jesus? 1 John 5:10-13; John 6:47. How does this affect our lives and witness?
Have you ever had a friend who left you dangling? You never knew where you stood. You felt as if the slightest mistake could sever your relationship. Then you would have to crawl back on your knees, so to speak, in order to restore the friendship. It is clear that healthy relationships cannot exist in such an environment.
Have you ever been tempted to view God in the same way? Has the concept of the investigative judgment left you dangling in your relationship with God? Satan rejoices over such misconceptions of God.
God's desire is to enjoy a loving relationship with each of us. That is why He created us, redeemed us, and plans to take us home with Him when He returns. A healthy relationship with God can no more dangle from a thread than can a human relationship. God wants us to be secure in our relationship with Him.
What does God promise to do with sins that have separated us from Him? Ps. 103:12; Isa. 38:17; 43:25.
These texts are full of assurance. God wants to put us at ease, like the children in a family who know that they belong and are accepted. Only then can we come boldly before the throne of grace. Only then can we enjoy the companionship of God. Only then can we, as did the prodigal son, run into His outstretched arms.
"If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ's character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned."Steps to Christ, p. 62. He abides in your heart by faith.
"More than this, Christ changes the heart. . . . You are to maintain this connection with Christ by faith and the continual surrender of your will to Him; and so long as you do this, He will work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure."p. 63. (Read Gal. 2:20; Matt. 10:20).
|How does the above statement help you to await Christ's coming joyously? Why would you desire to proclaim the everlasting gospel that the hour of His judgment has come?|
How are we saved, and how are we judged? Eph. 2:8; Rom. 1:16, 17; 6:13-18; Eccles. 12:14.
The tension between salvation by grace on the one hand, and judgment by works on the other, causes concern among many Christians. How can works be the basis of judgment if we are saved by faith?
What is the relationship between faith and works? James 2:14-18. What is the relationship between salvation in Christ and walking according to the Spirit? Rom. 8:1-4.
If faith without works is dead, does that mean that we are saved by works? Paul exclaims, No! By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified! (Rom. 3:20). Does grace then abolish the law? No! It establishes it! "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law" (Rom. 3:31, RSV).
How then, can we embrace the biblical teaching that we are saved by grace but judged by the law?
The book of Leviticus helps us to understand the relationship between salvation and holiness. Chapter 16 deals with the Day of Atonement, when the earthly sanctuary was cleansed. This cleansing pointed to the final day of judgment. The chapters leading up to chapter 16 refer to cleansing sins by blood. The following chapters refer to holiness. Richard M. Davidson explains the connection this way: "I am convinced that we can fully appreciate the significance of the Day of Atonement only when we see it in its setting in Leviticus. Building up to the Day of Atonement, we see blood, substitutionary sacrifice in New Testament terms, justification. Assurance on the Day of Atonement is based solely upon the blood of the substitute."See Davidson, "The Good News of Yom Kippur," Journal of the Adventist Theological Society. Yet from Leviticus 16 onward, the rest of the book presents a call to holiness, to sanctification. The Day of Atonement thus links blood and holiness, justification and sanctification.
The structural setting of Leviticus underscores the balanced gospel message. While good works are never the foundation of our salvation, they follow salvation.
FURTHER STUDY: Ezek. 36:25-27; Luke 12:8; Rom. 3:20-28; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 10:1-39; James 2:8-12; 1 John 1:8-10; 4:15-21.
Read Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 63-70; The Desire of Ages, pp. 758-764.
"The law requires righteousness,a righteous life, a perfect character; and this man has not to give. He cannot meet the claims of God's holy law. But Christ, coming to the earth as man, lived a holy life, and developed a perfect character. These he offers as a free gift to all who will receive them. His life stands for the life of men. . . . He [Christ] builds up the human character after the similitude of the divine character. . . . Thus the very righteousness of the law is fulfilled in the believer in Christ."The Desire of Ages, p. 762.
It is exciting to live in the time of the pre-advent judgment, for it takes place just before the return of Jesus. The judgment reveals God's righteousness in saving those who have accepted His atonement. Thus it refutes Satan's arguments in the great controversy between him and Christ.
Our standing before God depends not upon our works but upon our acceptance of what Christ has done for us. Satan comes before God's heavenly court to accuse Joshua. Joshua indeed seems worthy of accusation, but God commands that the filthy garments be replaced with rich, clean robes. The accusations of Satan are silenced. (See Zech. 3:1-5.)
Some may raise the concern that the judgment detracts from what Christ did for us on the cross. But salvation is always based on the merits of His sacrifice. The verdict in favor of the saints is based totally upon the blood of Jesus Christ.
SUMMARY: The saints rejoice in the time of judgment, for they are vindicated! They have received the robe of Christ's righteousness and have lived by His power! Let us join in proclaiming the everlasting gospel"the hour of His judgment has come" (Rev. 14:7, NKJV)a final phase in the plan of salvation that ushers in the Second Coming, the reign of the righteous in heaven for a thousand years, and the new earth.
As a church leader, I often hold week-long lay training schools. I teach lay men and women how to give Bible studies, how to preach, how to bring people to a decision for Christ, and prepare them for baptism.
At one session with 120 lay workers, I was demonstrating how to make a call for a decision for baptism. I explained that sometimes we need to get personal, even go into the audience to encourage one with whom we have been working to make that decision for baptism.
As I spoke I walked into the group of lay workers and approached one young woman. I looked into her eyes and said, "You know, this may be the time that God has chosen for you to decide for Christ. Don't take a chance on waiting. Come, God loves you; all of us love you. We want you in God's kingdom. Come."
With those words, I took her arm and invited her to walk to the front of the room with me. She walked with me to the front. After I closed my demonstration call with prayer, I thanked her, and she returned to her seat. Throughout the demonstration the young woman had said nothing.
I continued with class. During our noon break several people came to talk to me. This girl stood a few feet away but left before I could speak with her. Later one of the other students came to me and told me that the girl with whom I had made the appeal had confided in him that she wanted to be baptized on Sabbath.
I learned that this young girl had grown up in an Adventist home but had never made her decision to be baptized. But during my call, the call that I thought was only a demonstration, she felt God speaking directly to her.
Later that day I spoke with her. She confirmed her desire to be baptized, then she said to me, "No one here knew that I was not baptized. No one except God. God directed you to approach me rather than someone else."
We made arrangements to close the training class with a baptism on Sabbath afternoon. As the members of the lay training class formed a circle around us, nearly every one of them had tears in his or her eyes. We all realized that only God knew her need. And He directed me to her.
Eric Monnier is president of the Bolivian Union Mission.
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