April 29, 2018 - Floyd Sayler
Most Seventh-day Adventists know that Satan will make a determined effort to deceive if possible the very elect. But what isn’t so well understood is how he will attempt to do that, although Inspiration does not leave us in darkness regarding the tactics Satan will use. As we view the current situation in Adventism, it seems that Satan has been very successful in robbing God’s professed people of vital present truth regarding Christ’s special atonement in the most holy place.
We never hear this subject mentioned in our large churches and institutions, in spite of the urgent counsel from the Lord’s messenger found in 5 Testimonies 420-421: „This is the great day of preparation, and the solemn work going on in the sanctuary above should be kept constantly before the minds of those employed in our various institutions. Business cares should not be allowed to absorb the mind to such a degree that the work in heaven, which concerns every individual, will be lightly regarded. The solemn scenes of the judgment, the great day of atonement, should be kept before the people, and urged upon their consciences with earnestness and power.”
As the omega of apostasy has developed, we have almost come to expect these vital truths to be nonexistent in the larger churches and institutions. We need to realize that the omega is in reality the full development of what happened over a hundred years ago when Ellen White was still alive. Those who know something of our past history will be aware that because of what happened at Minneapolis in 1888, the coming of Christ has been delayed for over a hundred years. The special message which Christ sent to the church at that time was to culminate in the outpouring of the latter rain and the sounding forth of the loud cry. Tragically, that message was stifled from its very beginning and never allowed to accomplish what Christ intended.
It is important to understand what happened at that time so that when Christ sends another message in these end times, we will not repeat the mistakes made in 1888. We need to know why the message never accomplished what it was destined to, and who stood in the way to hinder its work. In reviewing what took place, we are confronted with a tragic sequence of events in which well respected church leaders, historic Adventists, braced themselves against a fuller understanding of the Third Angel’s Message in verity.
These were men who had done much to build up the work and to advance the message heralding the second coming of Christ. They included such well known leaders as Uriah Smith and George Butler, along with numerous others who had preached the truth and written many good articles in the Review. They were not liberal theologians. They were conservative, historic Adventists. Yet when the message came to the church in 1888, these men stood in opposition to it. Their voices were heard telling ministers and church members to “Stand by the landmarks.” Evidently they did not consider the presentation of the Third Angel’s Message in verity to be included in the landmarks. And the people generally had such confidence in these leaders that they could not conceive the fact that they might be wrong in their opposition to the message. But how could that ever happen in a church which strongly upheld the rule of Isaiah 8:20: „To the law and to the testimony” for determining between truth and error.
A PROBLEM OF MAN WORSHIP
We know there was a problem of man-worship. In Testimonies to Ministers p. 93 we read that “ For years the church has been looking to man and expecting much from man, but not looking to Jesus, in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. Therefore God gave to His servants a testimony that presented the truth as it is in Jesus, which is the third angel's message, in clear, distinct lines. “ On page 106 of the same book it points out that „The great danger with our people has been that of depending upon men and making flesh their arm. Those who have not been in the habit of searching the Bible for themselves, or weighing evidence, have confidence in the leading men and accept the decisions they make; and thus many will reject the very messages God sends to His people, if these leading brethren do not accept them” (Ibid. p. 106).
We have the history of the past to teach us what dangers to avoid. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat its mistakes. How will we react if the message of the Third Angel in verity is presented again and is again rejected by historic Adventists who have preached and written many wonderful things? Do we have such confidence in men whom we have held in high esteem that we will, like the people in 1888, accept the decisions they make and thus reject the very messages God sends to His people?
The masterful deception of Satan by which he intends to deceive the very elect has to do with which apartment of the heavenly sanctuary they are symbolically worshipping in. The scene depicted in Early Writings 55 where Satan began to preside over those who didn’t follow Jesus into the most holy place was re- enacted in 1888. Perhaps most people do not realize that this was a big issue at that time. In the Review of Feb.25, 1890, Ellen White lamented the fact that „the people have not entered the holy place (obviously the 2nd apartment) where Jesus has gone to make an atonement for His children.”
We are told that the 1888 message was “The Third Angel’s message in verity.“ The Third Angel’s Message directs the minds of the believers to the most holy place where Christ is waiting to blot out the sins of His people (see Early Writings pp. 254-256). The truth revealed there will preserve God’s people from coming under the deceptions of Satan. So we can see the ultimate purpose of the message that came to the church in 1888. Perhaps the best account we have of what was presented is found in Testimonies to Ministers pp.90—93. In these pages we can see how the message pointed to the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. Following are some brief excerpts which give us an indication regarding what was presented by Waggoner and Jones.
THE REAL MESSAGE OF 1888
„The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. . . All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure. The uplifted Saviour is to appear in His efficacious work as the Lamb slain, sitting upon the throne, to dispense the priceless covenant blessings, the benefits He died to purchase for every soul who should believe on Him. . . As the high priest sprinkled the warm blood upon the mercy seat, while the fragrant cloud of incense ascended before God, so while we confess our sins and plead the efficacy of Christ's atoning blood, our prayers are to ascend to heaven, fragrant with the merits of our Saviour's character” (TM 90-93).
In analyzing what is quoted above, we note that the message presented by Jones and Waggoner „was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour.” But where was the Savior at this point in time? We know that He was in the most holy place. That is where the attention of the people was directed. The passage continues by stating that „It presented justification through faith in the surety.” And the message of justification as revealed in the Third Angel’s message includes more than the daily justification which was taught by the apostle Paul and the reformers. It is true that the church had lost much of the understanding of daily justification, so that needed to be presented first. But the justification by faith brought to view in the Third Angel’s Message is described in Great Controversy p. 484 as „pardon and justification, full and complete.” Justification full and complete is only bestowed upon God’s people when their sins are blotted out in the judgment.
The passage in TM 90-93 also speaks of receiving „the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. . . imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent.” This passage is not speaking of the righteousness of Christ imputed, which we find in daily justification, but of righteousness imparted. That is in harmony with what Inspiration tells us will happen when Christ blots out the sins of His people and clothes them with garments of righteousness (see Zechariah 3:1-5 and 5 Testimonies p. 475).
We also have reference to Christ dispensing „the priceless covenant blessings.” Again, we find that is what happens in the most holy place where God’s people realize the complete fulfillment of the blessings of the new covenant. Inspiration tells us: „Thus will be realized the complete fulfillment of the new-covenant promise, ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.’ ‘In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found‘” (Great Controversy p. 485).
Finally we have a clear depiction of Christ’s closing work in the most holy place when it states: „As the high priest sprinkled the warm blood upon the mercy seat, while the fragrant cloud of incense ascended before God. . .”
We know that the high priest only sprinkled the blood upon the mercy seat on the day of atonement. It is apparent that the ultimate purpose of the 1888 message was to direct the minds of the people to Jesus and His closing work in the heavenly sanctuary. There we see the full efficacy of the cross demonstrated by what it can accomplish in redeeming and restoring mankind to its condition before the fall. That is why we are told in Great Controversy p. 489 that „The intercession of Christ in man's behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was his death upon the cross.”
As we noted earlier, Ellen White wrote in 1890 that „The people have not entered the holy place where Christ had entered to make an atonement for His children.” And if they did not enter by faith into the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, where were they worshipping? Who was inspiring them to do and say the things that they did? Testimony to Ministers pp. 79-80 tells us that „Satan takes the control of every mind that is not decidedly under the control of the Spirit of God. Some have been cultivating hatred against the men whom God has commissioned to bear a special message to the world. They began this satanic work at Minneapolis. . . . They opened their hearts to the enemy of God and man.” They had come under the influence of the spirit of Satan breathed upon those who remain in the first apartment.
A REPEAT OF THE 1888 EXPERIENCE
The experience of believers who in 1844 and 1888 failed to follow Jesus into the most holy place will be experienced again in these last days by those professed believers who neglect or oppose the truth shining from the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. Satan is content to have Seventh-day Adventists continue to believe and preach ‘precious’ truth as long as they do not understand and expound on ’present’ truth. In Selected Messages, volume one, pp. 124-125 we read these pertinent words:
„We are in the great day of atonement, when our sins are, by confession and repentance, to go beforehand to judgment. God does not now accept a tame, spiritless testimony from His ministers. Such a testimony would not be present truth. The message for this time must be meat in due season to feed the church of God. But Satan has been seeking gradually to rob this message of its power, that the people may not be prepared to stand in the day of the Lord.”
In the spirit that Satan pours upon those who are not in the most holy place, there is light and much power. There may be some powerful preaching of ‘precious’ truth by conservative speakers. They may even talk about 1844 and Christ’s entering the second apartment, but there is more to the teaching of ’present’ truth than recognizing a geographical relocation in the heavenly sanctuary. It involves the completion of the atonement and a soul-cleansing which makes a definite change in the character. Unless this point is recognized, they have not truly entered the open door to the most holy place.
Great Controversy p. 427 tells us what it means to enter the most holy place with Jesus: „They were not to be present in person at the marriage; for it takes place in Heaven, while they are upon the earth. The followers of Christ are to ‘wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding.’ [Luke 12:36.] But they are to understand his work, and to follow him by faith as he goes in before God. It is in this sense that they are said to go in to the marriage.”
And we are also told how critical it is to follow Christ by faith.
„It is those who by faith follow Jesus in the great work of the atonement, who receive the benefits of his mediation in their behalf; while those who reject the light which brings to view this work of ministration, are not benefited thereby” (Great Controversy p. 430).
That makes it a life and death issue.
A CRITCAL POINT IN ADVENTISM
Today, Seventh-day Adventists are at a critical point in their understanding of the sanctuary and what is involved in Christ’s closing ministry. It is good to see many independent ministries and speakers who uphold the truths that were compromised in the book Questions on Doctrine. We appreciate men and women in the organized church and in the independent ministries who uphold our doctrines and oppose the false premises of Spiritual Formation, Women’s Ordination and acceptance of the LGBT lifestyles. There is a great need for a voice protesting this apostasy. However it seems strange that historic Adventists today do not generally see or recognize the truth regarding the dramatic change in the believer’s character when Christ takes away the filthy garments and blots out their sins. Those who maintain that the perfection of character needed to stand without a mediator is accomplished in the first apartment are inadvertently denying the great truth of the most holy place.
We need to accept the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In Early Writings p. 189 we are told to „faithfully and fearlessly warn those who embrace but a part of the truths connected with the third message, that they must gladly receive all the messages as God has given them, or have no part in the matter.” That is important because „There is no Bible sanctification for those who cast a part of the truth behind them” (Testimonies Volume One, p. 338).
Many seem to have trouble facing the fact that those who are destined to become the 144,000 still come to the day of atonement defective in character, clothed with filthy garments, even though they have put away all sin. There seems to be a lack of understanding what it says in Zechariah 3:1-5 and the Inspired commentary found in 5 Testimonies p. 475 which describes the removal of the filthy garments from God’s people. There seems to be no clear understanding as to what constitutes the corrupt channel of humanity which defiles even the good deeds and prayers of the saints (see 1 SM 344).
How will the saints ever be able to stand without a mediator while they still are encumbered with the corrupt human channel? How and when is the corrupt channel removed? These are critical issues that will have to be thoroughly studied and understood. Historic Adventists will have to come to grips with the many inspired statements that somehow do not seem to fit their theological paradigm of ultimate perfection through sanctification. How will the saints become wholly like Christ and be eternally secure from the tempter’s devices? The best of saints during probationary time are described by Inspiration in the following passages:
„There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10).
„If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8).
All the Biblical passages dealing with the day of atonement describe it as a soul-cleansing experience. In Leviticus 16:30 it tells us: „For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.”
Malachi 3:2-3 we read: „And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.”
In Zechariah 3:1-5 it speaks of the command given by Christ to „Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” And in Isaiah 4:2-4 they are depicted as “beautiful” and “glorious” and “excellent” and “holy.”
AWAKE TO THE WORK TRANSPIRING IN THE MOST HOLY PLACE
Will Christ send another message like He did in 1888 to awaken His people to the work going on in the heavenly sanctuary? In the well-known chapter on the need for revival found in 1 Selected Messages p. 122, the question is asked: „Are we awake to the work that is going on in the heavenly sanctuary, or are we waiting for some compelling power to come upon the church before we shall arouse?” The revival will not come until God’s people are awake to what is transpiring in the sanctuary above. In 5 Testimonies p. 575 we have an enlightening passage which should be carefully studied:
„The great plan of redemption, as revealed in the closing work of these last days, should receive close examination. The scenes connected with the sanctuary above should make such an impression upon the minds and hearts of all that they may be able to impress others. All need to become more intelligent in regard to the work of the atonement, which is going on in the sanctuary above. When this grand truth is seen and understood, those who hold it will work in harmony with Christ to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God, and their efforts will be successful.”
However, because this has not been done, the coming of Christ has been delayed indefinitely. Note the following: „God had committed to His people a work to be accomplished on earth. The third angel's message was to be given, the minds of believers were to be directed to the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ had entered to make atonement for His people. . . Had Adventists, after the great disappointment in 1844, held fast their faith and followed on unitedly in the opening providence of God, receiving the message of the third angel and in the power of the Holy Spirit proclaiming it to the world, they would have seen the salvation of God, the Lord would have wrought mightily with their efforts, the work would have been completed, and Christ would have come ere this to receive His people to their reward” (Evangelism p. 695).
When Christ sends another message to revive His people, will it suffer the same treatment as it did in 1888? Will the people follow their favorite teachers or preachers and accept the decisions they make regarding truth? Unless Adventists make diligent effort to study and understand the truth of the most holy place for themselves, the sad history of Minneapolis will be repeated by professed believers in this end time. This is a defining moment for Adventism, especially for conservative, historic Adventists.
If we want to know if an enlightened Adventist has followed Christ into the most holy place, we can ask this simple question: „Is salvation fully accomplished by what Christ does in the outer court or the first apartment?” If the answer is ’yes,’ we can know that they have not followed Christ into the second apartment. To believe that salvation is fully accomplished in the outer court and first apartment is to affirm that the Third Angel’s message is not a salvational issue, that Christ’s atoning work in the second apartment is just an audit of the record books to show who is saved and who is not. That demeans Christ’s closing work in the sanctuary as a non-essential to the work of the gospel. Heaven forbid!
„Our greatest danger lies in our tendency to refuse increased light, and our only safety is to see and understand for ourselves ‘what saith the Lord’” (Signs of The Times, April 22, 1889).
This point was brought home to my mind about 25 years ago.
A CRITICAL INDEPENDENT BIBLE CONFERENCE AT EATONVILLE
It was in the early 1990’s that I was invited to attend a Bible Conference sponsored by Hope International, the publishers of the then well-known magazine, Our Firm Foundation. Most of the leaders of the independent ministries were in attendance at this important gathering.
There were many good presentations given by various speakers from around North America and Australia. But there was one outstanding presentation given by perhaps the youngest of the independent ministry leaders, which focused on Christ’s closing work in the heavenly sanctuary. It was outstanding in that it was the only one which presented the need for Christ to make a special atonement for His people before they can stand before God without a mediator in the sanctuary.
This soul-stirring message clearly showed the divine remedy for the corrupt channel of humanity which defiles even the prayers and good deeds of the saints.
I listened with great interest to hear the truth presented so clearly and with power. However, it came as a shock to see the negative reaction from most of the independent ministry leaders. It seemed to be a repeat of what happened at Minneapolis when Waggoner and Jones presented their message. Rather than engaging in serious Bible study to find out whether the message was true or not, they impugned the message and opposed its promulgation. Some of those who opposed that message are still involved in various independent ministries today.
Since the rejection of that message, Hope International and the other independent ministries have lost much of their influence and impact on the denomination. This article has been written as a warning to those who put their faith in human leaders rather than studying for themselves and using the litmus test of Isaiah 8:20: „To the law and the testimony.”
The spiritualism of the first apartment will do its work to deceive all whose faith is not centered in the most holy place. We need heavenly wisdom to discern where God is working in these last days.
„Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning” (Testimonies to Ministers p. 300).