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Tuesday: Jesus’ Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary — 12 Comments

  1. For most of my life, I have heard discussions in the Adventist Church about the investigative judgment and the sanctuary service. Some of the discussion has been less than Christian, with arguments about timing and heavenly geography taking precedence over who and why. We pride ourselves on this doctrine being uniquely Seventh-day Adventist and are at times combative and defensive against those who have a different perspective. Why did I have to hear these arguments before I was a teenager?

    Once again, focus on the big picture:

    But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. Heb 9:11-12


    Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God ion our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Heb 9:23-28

    When we center this doctrine on Christ and then apply it to ourselves, what does that do for our relationship with both him and one another? This core of this doctrine should unite us.

    • Yes! Maurice, Yes! Setting us apart should not give us an excuse for chest-thumping; which is mainly how we've treated our aspects of rarity. Everyday we stand tall, exalting this fundamental and how we are so different to all. As we pride ourselves as "remnants", let's remind ourselves that as remnants then, a mission begins to reach out to the world as required. We should take care not be caught up in "the rich man of Luke 12:13-21" syndrome, with our messages. Being set aside means a responsibility like no other, and we shall account for it.

      Now, read this and think of it again!

      "When we center this doctrine on Christ and then apply it to ourselves, what does that do for our relationship with both him and one another? This core of this doctrine should unite us."

      Well said, Maurice!

    • Maurice,
      Timing and geography are just spiritual warfare flanking tactics to counter the priority essence of what the real issue is. Fairly recently I preached a sermon and encouraged those who have never read "Great Controversy" to read at least, what I believe is the most crucial chapter.."Facing Life's Record".p 479-491 What it contains is the most unpopular & challenging teaching:cessation of sinning. If opponents are successful in causing doubts about the validity of Jesus' heavenly work, then a person will just rely on His blood to cover unrepentant sin.

  2. Revelation 12:10-11
    10And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, he who accuses them day and night before our God. 11They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; and they did not love their lives so as to shy away from death.
    Through the sanctuary comes salvation, kingdom of our God, and authority of Christ.
    How is it applicable in my life?
    When satan is busy accusing us, V11 says, they have conquered him by the blood of the lamb.
    When my name is called upon the heavenly court, satan claims I belong to him; however when I am covered by the blood of the lamb Christ defends me in the heavenly court. I don't have to face my court date.
    Satan is relentless: show me the evidence of this faith cries out satan. The evidence of the faith is played out by the living word in the life of the believer.
    At every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if God's purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement. Christ’s Object Lessons Chapter 3—“First the Blade, Then the Ear”
    God is not finished with me, and for that I am thankful since I really don’t want to be left where I am.

  3. When I was young I believed in the 1844 message with all my heart. I had not really studied the matter for myself, but believed without question the understanding of prophecy that supported it. Later I began to read the Book of Hebrews and there discovered that many of the things there such as the "cleansing of the sanctuary" occurred when Christ died, rose and ascended to heaven. I was confused, as I had believed this did not happen until 1844. Since then, I have reconciled these texts. Most importantly, as Professor Ashton says, faith is about our relationship with a person , not geography and dates.

  4. "The doctrine of this two-phase ministry is a unique Adventist contribution to the understanding of the entire plan of salvation". The ancient Israelites were given the sanctuary ministry in order to keep the plan of salvation alive in their minds. On a daily basis through the sacrificial system they were reminded of Christ's sufferings and death for their sins.
    The sanctuary service was a part of the covenant made at Sinai. Whenever they sinned,a sacrifice was to be made reminding them of their inability to cleanse themselves and the willingness of the sinless Son of God to take their place. Thus the sanctuary service was essential in helping them keep the law.
    As spiritual Israelites we were also given our own version of the covenant, where the 'law is written in our own hearts' as well as the Sanctuary Ministry which is the fulfilment of the O/T ministry, Heb 8:10. Like the Israelites of old we are also highly privileged to study the the sanctuary message. As there was a daily service so the sanctuary ministry should be studied on a daily basis if we are to become a part of those "that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus", Rev 14:12. When studied properly it will greatly strengthen our faith as we continue to receive new truths concerning the Great Plan of Redemption.

  5. I have read above that “the Scriptures also describe these two phases of Jesus’ ministry in heaven”. Can somebody show me those quotes which describe those “two phases of Jesus’ ministry in heaven”. I’ve only found that one from Heb 9:11-12 which speaks about entering “once for all” and it speaks in a past time form.

  6. Why would the Apostle Paul counsel believers of his day to "Enter the HOLIEST by the blood of Jesus," Hebrews 10:19 if Jesus would not be there until 1844? And why would the Apostle also compare Jesus' own flesh to the veil there if the earthly Sanctuary was supposed to be a copy of a two compartment structure somewhere in the universe? Jesus Himself compared Himself to that Earthly structure. And the last book of the Bible is clear that Almighty God and The Lamb are THE TEMPLE, Revelation 21:22

  7. To add to Pete's comment. In Ex 25:9 God told Moses to make everything according to the pattern of the tabernacle that he had been shown (the heavenly sanctuary).
    KJV Revelation 11:19 "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail". This it's the most holy place in heaven as seen by John in a vision with the ark of the covenant.

    Daniel's prophecy gave us a time when the Most Holy Place would be cleansed in heaven. KJV Daniel 8:14, "And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
    But the most important question remains to be answered: What is the cleansing of the sanctuary? That there was such a service in connection with the earthly sanctuary is stated in the Old Testament Scriptures. But can there be anything in heaven to be cleansed? In Hebrews 9 the cleansing of both the earthly and the heavenly sanctuary is plainly taught....Once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, the priest entered the most holy place for the cleansing of the sanctuary. The work there performed completed the yearly round of ministration. {GC 417, 419}

  8. Christ interceding for us in the heavenly sancturary what does that mean for me. I can best discribe it in two text.
    "but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough--always available--regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me."
    And the second text which reveals also what He does in heaven, and has done on earth, for me on my behalf and for every one who will turn to Him.
    "For it is by GRACE [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through FAITH. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above--spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]."
    EPHESIANS 2:8‭-‬10 AMP
    So rejoice in the Lord always for His [investigative judgement], giving Grace and Mercy for us through Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. "Give thanks to God for His [sancutary service], giving us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1Corinthians 15:57. I just had[felt compelled] to add in the third text.

  9. As to the book of Hebrwes, the question to start with, seems to be: "What is the typological structure as basis of interpretation?" Frankly, the book of Hebrews is not drawing typological elements exclusively from the day of atonement in order to claim that Christ entered the most holy place right after His ascension to inaugurate a heavenly atonement in the most holy place, ignoring his ministry in the holy place.

    First of all: The High Priest is not only responsible for the service of the most holy place but for the whole sanctury, including all apartments. (Numbers 18:3) Accordingly, Christ is said to be a minister of the sanctuary, that is to say, of the true tabernacle." Hebrews 8:3) The genetive plural could read "a minister of the sanctuaries" - which includes both apartments. As to grammar,one could translate "a minister of the saints" - but not the church is the object of Christ`s heavenly lithurgy but the heavenly sancturies of both apartmants.

    The sacrifical animals, goats and calves,as pointing to the blood of Christ, (Hebrews 9:12) are drawn from the day of atonement as well as from the inauguration service of the earhtly tabernacle. (Leviticus 9:3; Numbers 7:87-88; Leviticus 16:.5-6) There is also a juxtapposition between Christ in His heavenly service and the High Priest of the earthly sanctuary in his daily lithurgy (Hebrews 7:27) compare also Hebrews 10:11). On the other hand, Christ is compared to the High Priest of the day of atonent (Hebrews 9:25; 10:1). That the Priests of the earthly sanctuary had to offer first for themsleves and aferwards for the people; (Hebrews 5:3) is also drawn from the whole sacrificial service (Leviticus 9:7; 16:6.15)Hence, the sacrificial elements in the book of Hebres are spread out all over the place within the whole sanctuary service. This is the typological pattern for any interpretation to pay attention to the whole sacrificial picture to be fulfilled in both places of the heavenly sanctuary. This is not all clear cut in the book of Hebrews, but in the book of Revelation both apartments are in view (Revelation 4-5, 8:3 and 11:19. I think, we do have a sound foundation. Christ is inseparable from His service in both apartments of the heavenly sanctuary.

    Winfried Stolpmann


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