Salvation

 

 

The cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary

 

 

 

The cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, which involves a work of judgement called investigative judgement, is the cornerstone of the creed of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Adventists are very proud of this doctrine, for they say that today their preaching of the doctrine of the sanctuary is the preaching of the most timely truth that could be presented to men. Now, first of all, let me tell you the origin of this doctrine.

 

The origin of this doctrine

 

In 1818, a Baptist minister named William Miller (1782-1849), after he had studied the Scriptures for two years, came to the conclusion that in about twenty-five years from that time (1818) all the affairs of our present state would be wound up. Involved in the ‘winding up’ of the affairs of the world was the expected return of the Lord Jesus Christ. At first Miller did not set an exact date for Christ’s return, but affirmed that this event would occur ‘about 1843.’ However, later he specified that the return of Jesus would take place some time during the Jewish year running from March 21, 1843 to March 21, 1844. He wrote: ‘I believe the time can be known by all who desire to understand and to be ready for His coming. I am fully convinced that some time between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844, according to the Jewish mode of computation of time, Christ will come and bring all His saints with Him; and that then He will reward every man as His work shall be’ (Signs of the Times, January 25, 1843)

How did Miller arrive at this date? In Daniel 9:24-27 he found the prophecy of the ‘seventy weeks’ which are there predicted as extending from the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem (v. 25) to the time when the anointed one will be cut off (v. 26). According to Miller, the starting point for these seventy weeks was the decree of Artaxerses spoken of in Ezra 7:11-26 which permitted Ezra to go back to Jerusalem. This decree was dated in his Bible (according to the Ussher chronology) as having been issued in 457 before Christ. He assumed that in prophetic writings of this sort a day stood for a year. On this basis seventy weeks, which would be equivalent to 490 days, would represent 490 years. And 490 years after 457 before Christ brings to 33 A.D., the year when, according to Ussher, Christ was crucified. In Daniel 8:14 there is a reference to 2300 evenings and mornings which must elapse before the sanctuary will be cleansed. Miller assumed that the cleansing of the sanctuary alluded to in this prophecy meant Christ’s return to earth. In agreement with the above mentioned principle, he took the 2300 evenings and mornings as standing for 2300 years. He also assumed that the 2300 years started at the same time as the 70 weeks. And 2300 years after 457 before Christ brings us to 1843 A.D., the year when, according to Miller, Christ would return.

When the year arrived, however, the Lord did not return, and there was much disappointment among the so called ‘Millerites.’ Miller acknowledged his error, yet He still believed that the day of the Lord was near, even at the door, and he exhorted the brethren to be watchful, and not let that day come upon them unawares.

In August of 1844, Samuel S. Snow, one of the Millerite leaders, predicted that Christ would return on October 22, 1844 (which would be our calendar equivalent of the Jewish Day of Atonement for that year), that is, seven months later. According to Ellen G. White ‘that which led to this movement was the discovery that the decree of Artaxerxes for the restoration of Jerusalem, which formed the starting point for the period of the 2300 days, went into effect in the autumn of the year 457 B.C., and not at the beginning of the year, as had been formerly believed. Reckoning from the autumn of 457, the 2300 years terminate in the autumn of 1844’ (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. The Conflict of the Ages in the Christian Dispensation, [Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1950. Revised edition first published, 1911.], pages 398-399). All the followers of Miller and Miller himself accepted this prediction. So they began to expect the Lord to return some time that day. On October 22, however, the Lord did not return. The disappointment of the Millerites was intense. This day is usually referred to in the history of the Adventist Church as the day of ‘The Great Disappointment.’

One of the ‘Millerites’ who expected the Lord to return on October 22, 1844, was a certain Hiram Edson of Port Gibson, New York. On the following morning most of the believers who had met at Edson’s house to wait for Christ’s return returned to their homes. However, Edson went to his barn to pray with those who remained. After breakfast Edson decided to go out to comfort the other Adventists. As Edson and a companion walked across the corn field adjoining the farm on their way to their first destination, Edson had a ‘vision’. Here is what Edson himself wrote: ‘We started, and while passing through a large field I was stopped about midway of the field. Heaven seemed open to my view, and I saw distinctly and clearly that instead of our High Priest coming out of the Most Holy of the heavenly sanctuary to come to this earth on the tenth day of the seventh month, at the end of the 2300 days, He for the first time entered on that day the second apartment of that sanctuary; and that He had a work to perform in the most holy before coming to this earth’ (From a fragment of a manuscript on his life and experiences, by Hiram Edson; quoted by Francis D. Nichol, The Midnight Cry, Washington: Review and Herald, 1945, page 458). In the light of this ‘vision’, Edson now realized that there was a heavenly sanctuary corresponding to the Old Testament earthly sanctuary which had been patterned after it, and that there were two phases in Christ heavenly ministry, just as there had been two phases in the sanctuary ministry of the Old Testament priests. In other words, according to Edson, Christ did not come out of the Holy of holies of the heavenly sanctuary to this earth at the end of the 2300 days, but he had simply for the first time passed from the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary into the heavenly holy of holies. So Miller had not been wrong in his calculations, but simply in thinking that the sanctuary which was to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 days was a sanctuary on earth - or, perhaps, the earth itself. For the sanctuary which had to be cleansed was located in heaven.

During the next several months Edson and two men who were closely associated with him at that time, that is, Franklin B. Hahn and O. R. L. Crosier, began to study the Bible earnestly, particularly with regard to the sanctuary ministry as described both in the Old Testament and in the book of Hebrews. Crosier wrote down his conclusions on the subject in an article which appeared in the Cincinnati Day-Star, an Adventist publication, under date of February 7, 1846. Here are the conclusions to which he came. Crosier explained that we must see in the work of Christ a fulfilment of the work of the Old Testament priests. In the daily work of these priests, when they presented the daily offerings to God and brought the blood of these offerings into the holy place, sprinkling it before the veil or applying it to the horns of the altar of incense, they were only transferring iniquity from the people to the sanctuary. On the Great Day of Atonement, however, the sanctuary was cleansed. This happened when the high priest entered the holy of holies and sprinkled the blood of the slain goat upon the mercy seat. After the sanctuary had been cleansed, the sins of the people were then put on the head of the scapegoat which was sent away into the wilderness. There were thus two phases in the ministry of the Old Testament priests: the first (the daily ministry, which had to do with the holy place) led to the forgiveness of sins; the second, however (the yearly ministry, which had to do with the holy of holies), led to the blotting out of sins. These two phases of priestly ministry are also to be seen in the work of Christ. Throughout the centuries of the Christian era Christ had been doing a work comparable to the daily ministry of the priests, which work resulted in the forgiveness of sin but not in the blotting out of sin. The process of blotting out sin began on October 22, 1844, when Christ entered the holy of holies of the heavenly sanctuary, an action which was comparable to the work of the high priest on the Day of Atonement. However, since the cleansing of the sanctuary was not complete until the sins of the people had been laid on the scapegoat – who typified Satan – the last act of Christ’s priestly ministry will be to take the sins from the heavenly sanctuary and to place them on Satan. Only after this has happened will Christ return. This article was endorsed by such prominent Adventist leaders as Joseph Bates and Ellen G. White. As for William Miller, it must be said that he never accepted Crosier’s teachings about Christ’s sanctuary ministry.

This teaching about Christ’s sanctuary ministry was confirmed by Ellen G. White, the so called prophetess of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, who – in February of 1845 – had a ‘vision’ of Jesus entering into the holy of holies of the heavenly sanctuary.

 

The cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary and the investigative judgement

 

Now let me expound in detail the doctrine of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, which involves the so called investigative judgement, as it is taught by the Adventist Church.

The earthly sanctuary which was built by Moses in obedience to the commandment of God was the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as it is written that God said to him: “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain” (Hebrews 8:5 - NKJV). That sanctuary consisted of two places: the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The priests would enter the Holy Place daily with the blood of some animal sacrifices prescribed by God to make atonement for the sins of the people or for their own sins. Instead, the high priest would enter the Most Holy Place only once a year, that is, on the Day of Atonement, which was the tenth day of the seventh month, to make atonement for himself, for his household, and for all the children of Israel, and for the sanctuary. Therefore on that day the high priest, his household, the children of Israel and the sanctuary were cleansed from all sins. Here is what the High Priest had to do on that day according to the law of Moses: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on. And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat [Hebrew: Azazel]. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness [Hebrew la’aza’zeel which means ‘to or for Azazel’]. And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself: And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not: And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel. And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there: And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people. And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar. And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp. And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung. And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp. And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: 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. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year.” (Leviticus 16:1-34), As you can see, on that particular day, the priests and the people were cleansed from their sins through the blood of some animal sacrifices. The sanctuary also was cleansed through the blood of the sin offering which the high priest had to bring into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain. Another thing which can be seen is this: on that day two goats had to be offered to make atonement for the sins of the children of Israel: one had to be offered as a sin offering, while the other had to be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and be sent to or for Azazel. According to the Adventist Church, Azazel does mean Satan, so it follows that the second goat stood for Satan.

Now, as we have seen, on the Day of Atonement the earthly sanctuary was to be cleansed; therefore, since that sanctuary was the copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, the heavenly sanctuary too had to be cleansed or purified. However, it had to be cleansed or purified with better sacrifices, as it is written: “Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these” (Hebrews 9:23 – NKJV). And the sacrifice with which the heavenly sanctuary was purified is the sacrifice of Christ.

When was it purified? To this question Adventists answer, ‘It was purified on October 22, 1844 (or rather the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary began on that day, and – as we will see later – this cleansing is an investigative judgment which is still going on), because 2300 years (the 2300 evenings and mornings mentioned in Daniel 8:14 stand for 2300 years because in prophetic writings of this sort a day stood for a year, according to the Adventists) after 457 B.C. (the year in which king Artaxerxes issued the decree spoken of in Ezra 7:11-26 according to which Jerusalem had to be restored) brings us to A.D. 1844 (more precisely to October 22, 1844: ‘The tenth day of the seventh month, the great Day of Atonement, the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary, which in the year 1844 fell upon the twenty-second of October …’ Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 400). For they say, Daniel stated that the sanctuary would be cleansed after two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, as it is written: “Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days [Lit. evening-mornings]; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Daniel 8:13-14 – Ellen G. White said: ‘The prophecy, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," unquestionably points to the sanctuary in heaven’ - The Great Controversy, page 417).

At this point, I have to explain to you in detail how Adventists come to this conclusion. The prophet Daniel wrote: “And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai. Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had there seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered” (Daniel 8:2-12). Now Adventists ‘believe that the ‘little horn’ of Daniel 8:9 represents both pagan and papal Rome’ (Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions On Doctrine, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C. 1957, page 255) and ‘that ‘the sanctuary’ of Daniel 8:11-14 must involve both the earthly and the heavenly sanctuaries’ (Ibid., page 255), and furthermore they believe that the daily sacrifice represents ‘the daily regular, or ‘continual,’ services of both sanctuaries where involved’ (Ibid, page 256). The daily sacrifice which was offered in the earthly sanctuary was commanded by God in the law in these terms: “Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even: And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering. And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD. This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee” (Exodus 29:38-42), and again: “And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the LORD; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering. The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even; And a tenth part of an ephah of flour for a meat offering, mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil. It is a continual burnt offering, which was ordained in mount Sinai for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD. And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering. And the other lamb shalt thou offer at even: as the meat offering of the morning, and as the drink offering thereof, thou shalt offer it, a sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD” (Numbers 28:3-8). This daily sacrifice foreshadowed ‘the work of Christ, upon His ascension and inauguration as our heavenly high priest’ (Questions on Doctrine, page 263), that is, ‘the first phase of His heavenly ministry, mediating and applying the atoning sacrifice He had completed on the cross’ (Ibid., page 264). At this point, Adventists tell us that ‘it is obvious that the activities of pagan Rome were concerned primarily with the earthly sanctuary, or Jewish temple, while those of papal Rome must concern the heavenly sanctuary’ (Ibid., page 256). Therefore, they believe, ‘first, that the taking away of the ‘daily’ by pagan Rome represents the desolation of the Temple in A.D. 70, with the permanent cessation of its services …. And second, that the taking away of the ‘daily’ by papal Rome represents the introduction of such papal innovations as a mediating priesthood, the sacrifice of the mass, the confessional, and the worship of Mary, by which it has successfully taken away knowledge of, and reliance upon, the continual ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and rendered that ministry inoperative in the lives of millions of professed Christians’ (Ibid., pages 256-257). That’s how “the place of his sanctuary was cast down” (Daniel 8:11).

Now God predicted through the prophet Daniel that the daily service in the heavenly sanctuary would be ‘taken away’, but He also predicted that after 2300 evenings and mornings the sanctuary would be cleansed. However, the 2300 evenings and mornings are not days but years, for God said to Ezekiel: “I have appointed thee each day for a year” (Ezekiel 4:6). The starting point for the 2300 evenings and mornings is 457 B.C. for in Daniel it is written: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince …..” (Daniel 9:25), and the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem was issued in 457 B.C.: in that year (in autumn, according to Adventists), for king Artaxerses issued a decree according to which he permitted Ezra to go back to Jerusalem. So 2300 years after 457 B.C. brings us to A.D. 1844. In that year, that is, 1844, the words of Daniel were fulfilled. In other words, it came to pass that the sanctuary was cleansed because Christ entered the Most Holy Place (or the Holy of Holies) of the heavenly sanctuary to cleanse the sanctuary: this cleansing was foreshadowed by the service of the high priest on the Day of Atonement (Hebrew: Yom Kippur).

Where was Jesus before October 22, 1844, then? What kind of ministry did He fulfil before that date on behalf of those who believed on Him? According to the Adventist Church, Jesus was in the Holy Place, not yet in the Most Holy Place, because as I have just said, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place in 1844. Here is what Ellen G. White wrote about these two phases of the intercession of Christ in heaven: “The ministration of the priest throughout the year in the first apartment of the sanctuary, "within the veil" which formed the door and separated the holy place from the outer court, represents the work of ministration upon which Christ entered at His ascension. It was the work of the priest in the daily ministration to present before God the blood of the sin offering, also the incense which ascended with the prayers of Israel. So did Christ plead His blood before the Father in behalf of sinners, and present before Him also, with the precious fragrance of His own righteousness, the prayers of penitent believers. Such was the work of ministration in the first apartment of the sanctuary in heaven. …. For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record. As in the typical service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ's work for the redemption of men is completed there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2300 days ended. At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our High Priest entered the most holy, to perform the last division of His solemn work -- to cleanse the sanctuary’ (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pages 420-421).

You may ask now, ‘Why was the heavenly sanctuary to be cleansed? Because – according to the Adventists – ‘as anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary. And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by age the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation -- a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works. Revelation 22:12’ (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pages 421-422). In other words, the heavenly sanctuary had to be cleansed because it had been polluted by the sins of all those who had believed in the Lord till October 22, 1844; and it still needs to be cleansed because the sins of the repentant are transferred to the heavenly sanctuary.

As we have seen, the cleansing of the sanctuary involves a work of investigation, that is, a work of judgement; this work is called ‘investigative judgement,’ and it is one of the key doctrines of the Seventh-Day Adventism. Here is what Ellen G. White wrote about this judgement which began on October 22, 1844, and is still going on: “As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God's remembrance. The Lord declared to Moses: "Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book." Exodus 32:33. And says the prophet Ezekiel: "When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, . . . all his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned." Ezekiel 18:24. All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life’ (The Great Controversy, page 483). The 23rd article of the Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church says about this investigative judgement: ‘In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. …. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent… .’ Adventists quote the following biblical passages to confirm that there will be a judgement according to works before the return of Christ: 1 Peter 4:17-18; Daniel 7:9-10; Revelation 14:6-7; Matthew 18:23-25. They quote also what the Jewish Tradition says about the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim), which are the days (ten days) starting with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year which occurs on the first and second days of the seventh month) and ending with Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). For according to the Jews, this is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur. God has "books" that he writes the names of the Jews in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but the actions committed by the Jews during the Days of Awe can alter God's decree. The actions that change the decree are "teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah," repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur, that is to say, the judgment entered in these books is sealed on Yom Kippur. According to the Adventist Church, this time for serious introspection – which goes from the first day of the seventh month to the Day of Atonement – is, in a certain sense, an investigative judgement!

So, in the light of what Adventists teach about the investigative judgement, if a believer is acquitted his sins will be blotted out from the heavenly records and his name will remain on the book of life and when Jesus comes he will take part in the resurrection of the just (if he remains till the coming of the Lord he will be changed and caught up together with the resurrected saints); but if the believer is condemned his sins will not be blotted out and his name will be blotted out of the book of life, and he will take part in the resurrection of the unjust (if he remains till the coming of the Lord, he will be destroyed). According to the teaching of the investigative judgement, therefore, when a person repents and believes in Jesus, his sins are forgiven, but not yet blotted out. We read in Questions on Doctrine: “The actual blotting out of sin, therefore, could not take place the moment when a sin is forgiven, because subsequent deeds and attitudes may affect the final decision. Instead, the sin remains on the record until the life is complete – in fact, the Scriptures indicate it remains until the judgement’ (Questions on Doctrine, page 441). When are his sins blotted out, then? Well, on the one hand it is clear that the sins of believers will not be blotted out until their names have come up in the investigative judgement. This will not happen until after they have lived their lives, so that all their deeds may be taken into consideration. Thus the investigative judgement will take place after their death. However, the investigative judgement of those believers who will be still living when Christ returns will have been completed before the Second Coming, so that they may be translated to glory when the millennium begins. It must be said, however, that according to Ellen G. White, no one can say that the sins of those believers who have been accepted in the investigative judgement have been blotted out, for they still have some sort of existence. In fact, they will not really be blotted out until the time of the ‘final eradication’ or ‘final blotting out’ of sin, which will occur just before Christ’s return, and will consist in the placing of the sins of all men, both righteous and wicked, on the head of Azazel which stands for Satan. Here is what Ellen White wrote: ‘In the typical service the high priest, having made the atonement for Israel, came forth and blessed the congregation. So Christ, at the close of His work as mediator, will appear, "without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:28), to bless His waiting people with eternal life. As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away "unto a land not inhabited" (Leviticus 16:22); so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God's people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will then be desolate, without inhabitant, and he will at last suffer the full penalty of sin in the fires that shall destroy all the wicked. Thus the great plan of redemption will reach its accomplishment in the final eradication of sin and the deliverance of all who have been willing to renounce evil” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pages 485-486). According to Questions on Doctrine Satan will have to bear even the sins committed by the wicked: ‘The other goat, in antithesis, symbolized Satan, who must bear the responsibility not only for his own sins but for his part in all the sins he has caused others, both righteous and wicked, to commit’ (Questions on Doctrine, page 397). Therefore – the Adventist Church says – just as the so-called scapegoat was sent away into an uninhabited wilderness after the sins of the people had been confessed over his head, so Satan, after the sins of the world have been placed upon him, will be banished to the desolate earth, which during the millennium will be a dreary, uninhabited wilderness (Adventists do not believe that during the Millennium Christ will reign with His saints on the earth)

 

 

Confutation

 

Christ cleansed the heavenly things immediately after His ascension to heaven

 

The earthly sanctuary (or tabernacle), which was built by Moses, symbolized the heavenly sanctuary, as it is written that it was “a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain” (Hebrews 8:5 – NIV).

In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden censer and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s rod that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the glory, overshadowing the mercy seat (cf. Hebrews 9:1-5).

The priests entered regularly into the first part of the sanctuary to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the second part, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance (cf. Hebrews 9:6-7).

That earthly sanctuary, after it was set up, was cleansed with the blood of calves and goats, as it is written: “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.’ Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:19-22 – NKJV). Therefore – the Scripture continues – it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these (cf. Hebrews 9:23). And the sacrifice with which the heavenly things had to be purified is the sacrifice of Christ. Can we say that the cleansing of the heavenly things began in 1844 because in that year, precisely on October 22, Jesus passed from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place to perform the second phase of His heavenly ministry (that it might be fulfilled what is written in Daniel 8:14)? Not at all. For the Scripture teaches us that the cleansing of the heavenly things was performed by Christ on the same day He ascended to heaven (after He had by Himself purged our sins). The following passages of the Scripture confirm what I have just said: “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here [or the good things to come], he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12 – NIV); “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own” (Hebrews 9:24-25 – NIV).

That the cleansing or purification of the heavenly things took place when Jesus ascended to heaven is confirmed by the fact that the cleansing of the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry, which was performed by Moses in the wilderness, took place immediately after the animal, whose blood had to be used to cleanse the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry, was killed (cf. Leviticus 8:15). Therefore, if the earthly sanctuary – which was a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary - was purified immediately after the slaughtering of the animal prescribed by the law, the heavenly sanctuary too – which is the true sanctuary, not a man-made sanctuary – had to be purified immediately after the killing of the One who is the Minister of the heavenly sanctuary (having been made High Priest forever) and the Lamb of God who had to be offered to cleanse us from our sins and to cleanse the heavenly sanctuary.

You must keep in mind, however, that when Jesus ascended to heaven, He not only cleansed the heavenly things with His own blood, dedicating in this way the heavenly sanctuary and the vessels which are in it, but also entered the Most Holy Place with His own blood to purchase eternal redemption for us. In other words, when Christ ascended to heaven, He not only did toward the heavenly sanctuary and its vessels what Moses (and not the high priest) had done toward the earthly sanctuary and all the vessels of the ministry (that is, the sprinkling of the earthly sanctuary and its vessels) – however, Jesus sprinkled the heavenly sanctuary with His own blood and not with the blood of goats and calves – so that the New Covenant also might be dedicated with blood, as the Old Covenant had been dedicated; but He also entered the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary with His own blood to purchase eternal redemption for us, that is to say, He also did what was done every year by the high priest when he entered the Most Holy Place of the earthly sanctuary with the blood of the animal sacrifices prescribed by the law in order to make atonement for himself and for the sins of the people (however, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place with His own blood He shed for the remission of our sins, for He was without sin).

That’s something, brothers, you must keep in mind from now on to understand all the other confutations I am going to write. For in these confutations I will make many references to the cleansing of the sanctuary performed by Moses and to the atonement that was made every year by the high priest by entering the Most Holy Place with the blood of some animal sacrifices.

 

Explanation of the cleansing of the sanctuary predicted in Daniel 8:14

 

The cleansing of which Daniel spoke, was the cleansing of an earthly sanctuary, that is, the temple of Jerusalem. That temple – God foretold the prophet Daniel – would be profaned first and then cleansed, that is, it would be cast down first and then would be restored to proper use. That’s what we clearly deduce from all the context in which the Scripture says that the sanctuary would be trampled underfoot for 2300 evenings and mornings: “Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Daniel 8:8-14). Now I will explain the above mentioned words written in the book of Daniel. The he goat which waxed very great stands for the kingdom of Greece which – under the rule of Alexander the Great, the great horn – defeated the Medo-Persian empire (that is, the ram which had two horns, seen by Daniel in the same vision a short time before – cf. Daniel 8:3-4) in 331 B.C. This is confirmed by the following words spoken a little later by the angel Gabriel to Daniel to make him understand the vision: “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king” (Daniel 8:20-21). After the death of Alexander the Great, that is, when the great horn was broken, the kingdom of Greece was divided into four kingdoms (that is, Greece, Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt) which are the four horns which came up in place of the great horn. Here is what Gabriel said to Daniel: “Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power” (Daniel 8:22). Out of one of those little horns (that is, out of the kingdom of Syria) came Antiochus Epiphanes (ruler of Syria from 175 B.C. to 164 B.C.), who is the “little horn which waxed exceeding great” who invaded the land of Israel, killed thousands of Jews and cast down the temple of Jerusalem by profaning it (he offered a sow to his gods and placed a statue of Jupiter in the temple), and who did take away the regular burnt offering which according to the law had to be offered in the morning as well as in the evening (cf. Numbers 28:3-8; Exodus 29:38-42). Gabriel foretold Daniel the coming of this wicked man and his devastating work in these terms: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand” (Daniel 8:23-25). The sanctuary of Jerusalem was trampled underfoot for 2300 days (that is, six years and three months and eighteen days): from 171 B.C (when Antiochus began to ‘trample underfoot’ the sanctuary of Jerusalem by substituting the high priest with Menelaus) to 165 B.C., the year Judas Maccabeus together with a certain number of Jews conquered Jerusalem and cleansed the temple and restored it to its right and proper use (therefore he restored the regular burnt offering as well). The cleansing and the dedication of the temple gave rise to the Feast of Dedication (cf. John 10:22) which is still celebrated by the Jews (the Jews call it Chanukkà or Feast of the lights, it begins on the 25th of December and lasts 8 days) The cleansing and the dedication of the temple were recorded in the first book of Maccabees, one of the apocryphal books the Roman Catholic Church has added to the Canon of the Bible (therefore it is not divinely inspired; yet in it are recorded some events which really happened). Here is what we read in the first book of the Maccabees about those events: ‘Then Judas and his brothers said, "Now that our enemies have been crushed, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it." So the whole army assembled, and went up to Mount Zion. They found the sanctuary desolate, the altar desecrated, the gates burnt, weeds growing in the courts as in a forest or on some mountain, and the priests' chambers demolished. Then they tore their clothes and made great lamentation; they sprinkled their heads with ashes and fell with their faces to the ground. And when the signal was given with trumpets, they cried out to Heaven. Judas appointed men to attack those in the citadel, while he purified the sanctuary. He chose blameless priests, devoted to the law; these purified the sanctuary and carried away the stones of the Abomination to an unclean place. They deliberated what ought to be done with the altar of holocausts that had been desecrated. The happy thought came to them to tear it down, lest it be a lasting shame to them that the Gentiles had defiled it; so they tore down the altar. They stored the stones in a suitable place on the temple hill, until a prophet should come and decide what to do with them. Then they took uncut stones, according to the law, and built a new altar like the former one. They also repaired the sanctuary and the interior of the temple and purified the courts. They made new sacred vessels and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. Then they burned incense on the altar and lighted the lamps on the lampstand, and these illuminated the temple. They also put loaves on the table and hung up curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken. Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, that is, the month of Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight [that is, in the year 165 B.C.], they arose and offered sacrifice according to the law on the new altar of holocausts that they had made. On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it, on that very day it was reconsecrated with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals. All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven, who had given them success. For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar and joyfully offered holocausts and sacrifices of deliverance and praise. They ornamented the facade of the temple with gold crowns and shields; they repaired the gates and the priests' chambers and furnished them with doors. There was great joy among the people now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed. Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev’ (1 Maccabees 4:36-59 – NAB)

As you can see, the cleansing which took place at the end of the 2300 evenings and mornings was not the same cleansing which would take place every year on the Day of Atonement according to the law of Moses, because it was the restoration of the temple to its rightful and proper use after its desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes. So the priests were able to carry on their ministry again. Obviously, before they could carry on their ministry, the temple was cleansed for the temple had been polluted by the Gentiles.

As we saw before, God had foretold Daniel the cleansing of the temple in a vision centuries before, for the Scripture says that the little horn would take away the daily sacrifice, that is, the sacrifice which had to be offered in the temple daily in the morning as well as in the evening; and it says also that one saint asked another how long it would take for the vision to be fulfilled – the vision concerning the daily sacrifice – and it was said to him: “Unto two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Daniel 8:14 – ASV), that is, after that time the sanctuary would be restored. We can say that it was both a cleansing and a restoration, for the Hebrew word translated cleansed is actually the Niphal form of the verb tsadaq, which in the Qal means to be right or righteous; in the Niphal the verb therefore means to be put right. The Revised Standard Version renders: ‘Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state”, while the New International Version renders: ‘Then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated,” and the New American Standard Bible reads, “Then the holy place will be properly restored!”

In the light of what I have said above, Adventists are wrong in asserting these things: 1) the little horn which came out of one of the four horns is papal Rome, 2) the sanctuary which had to be trampled underfoot was the heavenly sanctuary, 3) the heavenly sanctuary had to be trampled from 457 B.C. to 1844 A.D. (that is, for 2300 years, in that the 2300 evenings and mornings in Daniel 8:14 stand for 2300 years according to the Adventist Church). They are wrong also when they say that the following words spoken by God to Ezekiel: “I have appointed thee each day for a year” (Ezekiel 4:6), must be applied to the 2300 evenings and mornings of Daniel 8:14, because these words spoken to Ezekiel are a particular order God gave to the prophet Ezekiel; if you read carefully the context in which these words are, you will realize this.

 

Adventists contradict themselves several times in upholding their doctrine about the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary

 

I want to point out to you that the doctrine of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary taught by the Adventist Church contains several contradictions. Let us look at them closely.

First of all, if according to Adventists, the sanctuary which had to be trampled by the little horn is the heavenly sanctuary which had to be trampled by papal Rome, and the starting point for this trampling is 457 B.C., we do not understand how the ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary could be obscured since the year 457 B.C.; for we know that the death of Christ, His resurrection and His ascension to heaven took place about 490 years later!! Furthermore, if the taking away of the daily sacrifice represents the introduction of the papal impostures which obscured the ministry of Christ, and we know that the papacy began to develop during the centuries which followed the coming of Christ on the earth, Adventists – to be consistent – should take as the starting point for this trampling a year either in the forth or fifth or sixth century after Christ! But Adventists are not consistent at all, because they use the year 457 B.C., in which Artaxerses issued the decree of which Ezra speaks in Ezra 7:11-26, as the starting point for the trampling of the heavenly sanctuary!!! In addition, the decree issued by Artaxerses in 457 B.C. had nothing to do with the rebuilding of Jerusalem. King Artaxerses issued a decree through which he permitted Jerusalem to be rebuilt in the year 444 B.C. (that is, thirteen years after 457 B.C.): it is the decree which permitted Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem so that he might rebuild the wall of the holy city. Therefore, the starting point for the seventy weeks as well as for the 2300 evenings and mornings used by the Adventist Church is not the one of which Daniel spoke when he said: “… from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince …. “ (Daniel 9:25 – NKJV).

Here is another contradiction. Adventist say: “We understand that the work of Christ, upon His ascension and inauguration as our heavenly high priest, was foreshadowed by the daily service in the earthly type. This was the first phase of His heavenly ministry, mediating and applying the atoning sacrifice He had completed on the cross’ (Questions on Doctrine, pages 263-264). So we say, if according to the prophet Daniel the daily service would be restored after 2300 years, this means that in 1844 Christ would have to continue His ministry in the Holy Place because there He was performing the first phase of His ministry. How is it then that according to the Adventist Church in that year Jesus passed from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place, that is, He finished to perform the ‘daily’ service and began to perform the ‘annual’ service? In other words, if papal Rome obscured the ministry of Christ in the Holy Place (that is, it took away the daily service), the ministry of Christ in the Holy Place should have been enlightened, and not abolished by the annual service of the high priest in heaven. So, Daniel was implicitly told in the vision that the daily sacrifice would be restored, while the Adventist Church have ‘taken away’ the daily service of Christ, I mean they have abolished it once for all! Reflect upon what I say, and you will realize that Adventists are inconsistent. In addition to this, we could say also this: if in the vision that Daniel had it is written that the little horn took away the daily sacrifice, and the little horn represents papal Rome and the daily sacrifice represents the first phase of the ministry of Christ performed in the Holy Place, this means that papal Rome – even if we grant for the sake of argument that Christ at the time was in the Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary – would have to take away from Christ the ministry in the Holy Place, that is, it would have to sweep it away (even if just for a period of time). On the other hand, this would be logical from the Adventist point of view, because Adventists say that pagan Rome took away the daily sacrifice from the earthly sanctuary, for they say that when the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 70 A.C. all the temple services ceased permanently (‘the taking away of the ‘daily’ by pagan Rome represents the desolation of the Temple in A.D. 70, with the permanent cessation of its services’ - Questions on Doctrine, page 256). How is it then that Adventists do not say that the Papacy took away (in the real sense of the word) from Christ the so called ministry He was carrying on in the Holy Place? They say that the Papacy through its diabolical innovations took away knowledge of the continual ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary and rendered that ministry inoperative in the lives of millions of Christians (cf. Questions on Doctrine, page 257). However, Daniel did not say that the little horn would take away knowledge of the daily sacrifice, but he said that the little horn would take away the continual sacrifice; thus, the continual sacrifice prescribed by the law would disappear. Let me explain to you this concept with other words; Daniel did not say that the little horn would take away knowledge of the daily sacrifice, as if the daily sacrifice would continue to be offered in the temple but the Jews would not know that the daily sacrifice was still being offered in the temple, but Daniel said that the daily sacrifice would be literally taken away by the little horn. Therefore, if we follow the Adventist allegories, it is logical to think that Christ should have been literally deprived of his ministry in the Holy Place; while according to the Adventist Church the daily service performed by Christ in the Holy Place was not really taken away from Him, but it was just obscured. Therefore, what they say is not right. On the other hand, Adventists could not say that the Papacy took away from Christ His heavenly ministry, because in this case they would have considered the pope stronger than Christ, for they would have said that the pope was able to prevent Jesus from carrying on His ministry in heaven!

I want you to notice another contradiction. When Adventists speak of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, they always speak of the Day of Atonement, for on that day the high priest made atonement for the sanctuary through the blood; so they say that the cleansing of the sanctuary which took place on the Day of Atonement represents the cleansing of the sanctuary which began on October 22, 1844. As for the cleansing which took place on the Day of Atonement, they quote the following words written in the epistle to the Hebrews: “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these” (Hebrews 9:23). However, they forget that in the epistle to the Hebrews these words: “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these” are written immediately after these other words: “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:19-22). What do I mean by that? I mean that the cleansing of the copies of the heavenly things the author is speaking about is not the cleansing which took place every year on the Day of Atonement, but it is the cleansing which took place when the first Day of atonement had not yet been celebrated, that is to say, it is the cleansing of the sanctuary which took place immediately after it was set up. For the Scripture states that Moses (and not Aaron the high priest) “sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry” (Hebrews 9:21), and thus he cleansed those things. As for the time when Moses sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry, the Scripture says that the sprinkling took place on the first day of the first month in the second year because the tabernacle was set up at God’s command “on the first day of the first month” (Exodus 40:1 – NKJV) in the second year, and on that day were anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, the altar of the burnt offering and all its utensils, the laver and its base (cf. Exodus 40:9-11). On that day Aaron and his sons were anointed so that they might serve God as priests (cf. Exodus 40:13-15). According to what is written in the book of Leviticus, on that day Moses killed the bull for the sin offering; “then he took the blood, and put some on the horns of the altar all around with his finger, and purified the altar. And he poured the blood at the base of the altar, and consecrated it, to make atonement for it” (Leviticus 8:15 - NKJV). I have pointed out to you this so that you may understand that the cleansing of the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry which is mentioned in the epistle to the Hebrews and taken as a type of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is not the cleansing of the sanctuary which was performed by the high priest every year, but is the cleansing which was performed by Moses even before the first day of atonement. All this, of course, nullifies the great emphasis the Adventist Church puts on the cleansing of the sanctuary which took place on the day of atonement (however, it does not nullify the fact that the heavenly things themselves were cleansed with better sacrifices than these). Once again, therefore, Adventists contradict themselves greatly because the words of the epistle to the Hebrews, concerning the cleansing of the copies of the heavenly things, refer to the cleansing of the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry which was done by Moses, and not by Aaron the high priest; and that cleansing took place in the first month of the second year, thus prior to the first day of atonement (which was on the tenth day of the seventh month). However, there is something else to be said about the cleansing of the heavenly things, so that you may understand that Adventists are greatly mistaken and contradict themselves when they affirm that the heavenly things began to be cleansed in 1844. If the Old Covenant was dedicated when Moses sprinkled with the blood of calves and goats the people and both the tabernacle and the vessels of the ministry, the New Covenant also was dedicated when Christ sprinkled with His own blood the believers in Christ. And if the New Covenant was dedicated by Christ with the shedding of His blood, surely the heavenly sanctuary was cleansed a short time after He shed His own blood. Why do I say this? Because when the Old Covenant was dedicated, both the tabernacle and the vessels of the ministry were sprinkled with blood after a short time the people were sprinkled with blood. Bear in mind that Moses sprinkled with blood both the book itself and all the people in the first days of the third month in the first year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt (cf. Exodus 19:1,16; 24:1-8), while he sprinkled the tabernacle and the vessels of the ministry on the first day of the first month in the second year (cf. Exodus 40:1-2; Leviticus 8:15). Therefore, even if Christ had sprinkled with His own blood His disciples first, and then the heavenly sanctuary, the period of time between the two sprinklings would have been short: in this case it would have been a period of some weeks, that is, the time between His death and His ascension to heaven. We say all this because when the author of the epistle to the Hebrews speaks of the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary first, and then of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, he refers to the dedication of the two covenants, for a short time before he says: “For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood” (Hebrews 9:16-18 - NKJV). Now consider carefully these words because they help us to understand the words which follow. For the writer says that a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives (as for the testament of Christ, if Christ had not died the testament would have had no power. Therefore, since Christ died, His Testament is in force: that is, since Christ shed His own blood for us His Testament is in force). At this point, the writer says: “Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood” (Hebrews 9:18 - NKJV), that is, both the second and the first covenant were dedicated with blood (the second with the blood of Christ, while the first with the blood of calves and goats). And he goes on saying that the first covenant was dedicated when Moses took the blood of calves and goats and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, and then likewise both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And then he says that “according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22 – NKJV). Therefore, when the author – a short time later – says: “Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these” (Hebrews 9:23 – NKJV), he means: ‘For this reason it was necessary that the copies of the heavenly things should be purified with the blood of animal sacrifices, because according to the law almost all things are purified with blood (and the purification of the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry took place after the purification of the people). However, since those earthly things represented the heavenly things, the heavenly things themselves (being better than the earthly things because they are true and eternal) had to be purified with a better blood, that is, the blood of Christ. And in fact, Christ entered the heavenly sanctuary with His own blood and not with blood of calves and goats.’ Therefore, if we read the above mentioned words in their context and we link them to one another well, we can see that the cleansing performed by Moses was not the annual cleansing performed by the high priest when he entered the Most Holy Place with blood that was not his own, but the cleansing he performed to dedicate the first covenant; and we can also see that the cleansing of the heavenly things was performed by Christ with His own blood a short time after His death, that is, when He ascended to heaven, so that He might dedicate the second Covenant, which is better and eternal. Instead, according to the Adventist Church, the cleansing of the copies of the heavenly things, of which the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews speaks, is the cleansing that took place every year on the Day of atonement; but that’s not true because, as we have seen, the cleansing of the copies of the heavenly things is the cleansing that took place ‘once for all’ (I use this expression so that you may understand well) when the first Covenant was dedicated, for the earthly sanctuary (where the services of the first Covenant had to be performed) - in order that it might be used - had to be cleansed. And – still according to the Adventist Church – the cleansing of the heavenly things was performed by Christ (or rather was began by Christ) in 1844, while this is not true because if it were as they say we should say that the New Covenant was fully dedicated by Christ in 1844 through the cleansing of the heavenly tabernacle (rather we should say that not even in 1844 the dedication of the New Covenant took place, for it will be fulfilled just before Christ’s return) Therefore, if Adventists recognize that Christ dedicated the New Covenant with His own blood, they must recognize that the second Covenant was fully dedicated when Christ entered the heavenly sanctuary to cleanse it, that is, when He ascended to heaven, and not about eighteen centuries later! Otherwise they will contradict themselves because they will not be able to demonstrate that before 1844 the New Covenant had been already dedicated with the blood of Christ, for as it was necessary for the earthly tabernacle to be cleansed in order that the first covenant might be fully dedicated, so it was necessary for the heavenly tabernacle to be cleansed with the blood of Christ in order that the second covenant might be fully dedicated; but according to the Adventist Church the cleansing of the heavenly tabernacle took place in 1844!!

Let us now speak of another contradiction. Adventists say that the little horn represents also pagan Rome, and the trampling of the sanctuary represents the desolation of the temple of Jerusalem which was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the roman army, whose commander was Titus. Now, in order to be consistent with the explanation they give to the 2300 evenings and mornings of Daniel 8:14 (I remind you that Adventists use as a starting point for these evenings and mornings the year 457 B.C.), Adventists should say that in 1844 the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary in Jerusalem took place, thus the daily sacrifice was restored in that year. But – as you know – the temple of Jerusalem has not been rebuilt since 70 A.D: in that year pagan Rome took away from the Jews the continual sacrifice, which has not been restored ever since, for it is necessary for the temple to be rebuilt in order that the continual sacrifice might be restored. So we say, how can one say that the taking away of the daily service represents the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., and at the same time that in 1844 that daily service was not restored because the temple of Jerusalem was not rebuilt? How is it that the heavenly sanctuary was ‘cleansed’ in 1844, while the earthly sanctuary was not cleansed?!!

Now let us examine another contradiction. Adventists use the year 457 B.C. as the starting point for both the 70 weeks and the 2300 years. Now, here is what Gabriel said to Daniel about the 70 weeks: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:24-27). What do Adventists say about these words? They say that they clearly foretell the coming of the ‘Anointed One’, that is, Jesus Christ, and His atonement. So, since to them a day stands for a year, they come to the conclusion that 483 years (that is, the 7 weeks of Daniel 9:25 + the 62 weeks of Daniel 9:26) after 457 B.C. brings us to 27 A.D. which is the year in which Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit at the Jordan River. Then they say that the expression “in the midst of the week” indicates the time when Jesus would die for our sins, thus by adding about three years and a half we arrive at the spring of 31 A.D. (they say that even if A.D. 30 be taken as the crucifixion date, it is still in the middle of this last week of years). Now, even if we grant for the sake of argument that what they say is right, we would like to point out that according to the words of Daniel seventy weeks are determined to anoint the Most Holy (verse 24); therefore if Christ at the end of the seventy weeks (precisely in the midst of the last week) made a reconciliation for iniquity and brought in everlasting righteousness, He surely anointed the Most Holy, that is, the Most Holy Place which is in the heavenly sanctuary. Therefore the anointing of the Most Holy Place took place in 30 or 31 A.D., that is, when Christ ascended to heaven. And if He anointed the Most Holy Place in the heavens, that means that He entered the Most Holy Place at that time, and thus it cannot be true that He entered the Most Holy Place in 1844 A.D. All this is confirmed also by the law, for it says that Moses anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it on the day it was set up, thus on the same day Moses cleansed the tabernacle with blood (cf. Exodus 40:1-12; Leviticus 8:1-36). Therefore, we infer that Christ entered the Most Holy Place to anoint it and cleanse it in 30 or 31 A.D. even from what Adventists say. However, what do Adventists make people believe? They make them believe that the anointing of the Most Holy Place took place immediately after the ascension of Christ to heaven (cf. Questions on Doctrine, page 287), while the cleansing of the Most Holy Place began in 1844. In other words, the anointing or consecration of the heavenly sanctuary took place in 30 or 31 A.D., while its cleansing began in 1844! They contradict themselves because, I say it again, the earthly tabernacle, which was a copy and shadow of the heavenly tabernacle, was anointed and cleansed on the same day it was set up, thus the heavenly tabernacle also had to be anointed and cleansed on the same day.

All these contradictions are nothing but the fruit of various wrong interpretations given by Adventists to several things, that is, the little horn, the sanctuary, the 2300 evenings and mornings, and the cleansing of the sanctuary, which according to them is the cleansing of the sanctuary spoken of in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Leviticus, while as a matter of fact it was a completely different cleansing, it was a cleansing very similar to the cleansing which took place in the days of king Hezekiah (726 B.C.). Here are the biblical words about the cleansing of the temple which took place centuries before the cleansing which took place in the second century B.C.: “He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them. And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD, and turned their backs. Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel. Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us. My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense. Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Amasai, and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites: and of the sons of Merari, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azariah the son of Jehalelel: and of the Gershonites; Joah the son of Zimmah, and Eden the son of Joah: And of the sons of Elizaphan; Shimri, and Jeiel: and of the sons of Asaph; Zechariah, and Mattaniah: And of the sons of Heman; Jehiel, and Shimei: and of the sons of Jeduthun; Shemaiah, and Uzziel. And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD. And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron. Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the LORD: so they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end. Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, and the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread table, with all the vessels thereof. Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression, have we prepared and sanctified, and, behold, they are before the altar of the LORD. Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD. And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer them on the altar of the LORD. So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, and sprinkled it on the altar: likewise, when they had killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they killed also the lambs, and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar. And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them: And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel. And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets. And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel. And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped. Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped. Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings. And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, and two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD. And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep. But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests. And also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, and the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of the LORD was set in order. And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly” (2 Chronicles 29:3-36). After reading these words, we cannot but find a close resemblance between them and the words of the first book of Maccabees I quoted before. Please note that the cleansing which took place in the days of Hezekiah took place in the first month; therefore even in that case it was not the cleansing of the temple which had to take place on the Day of atonement, for the Day of atonement was on the tenth day of the seventh month.

 

The Scripture does not authorize us to talk about two phases of the ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary

 

The heavenly sanctuary, which was shown to Moses on Mount Sinai, consisted of the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. I have to admit this because – as I said before – when Moses was about to make the tabernacle God said to him: “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain” (Hebrews 8:5 - NKJV), and we know that the earthly tabernacle had two rooms, that is, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, and a veil separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, as it is written: “And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place. And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side” (Exodus 26:31-35). However, when we talk about the heavenly sanctuary we must bear in mind that the Scripture calls it “the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation” (Hebrews 9:11 – NKJV). Someone may say that in the heavenly sanctuary which was shown to Moses by God there was not such a division, for the sanctuary was a heavenly one; we do not feel like denying such a division for God commanded Moses to make all things according to the pattern shown him on the mountain. The words that God spoke to Moses make us understand that in heaven the sanctuary and all that is in it look like the earthly sanctuary and all that was in it. This is confirmed by the book of Revelation where we read that John saw “the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven” (Revelation 15:5 – NKJV), which “was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power” (Revelation 15:8 – NKJV). In this book we read also that John saw the golden altar which was before the throne of God (cf. Revelation 8:3-4), and the ark of His covenant in His temple (cf. Revelation 11:19). Therefore, since John saw in heaven the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony, the ark of God’s covenant, the golden altar, we admit that the heavenly sanctuary consisted of two rooms, that is, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, just as the earthly sanctuary. However, even though the Scripture admits implicitly that in the heavenly sanctuary there was a Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, the Scripture does not speak of two phases of the work of intercession of Jesus in heaven. In other words, the Scripture does not say that Jesus, after He ascended to heaven, had to remain in the Holy Place for a long time (about eighteen centuries) before entering the Most Holy Place (bear in mind that the canon of the Scriptures was completed in the first century after Christ, therefore if at that time Christ was still in the Holy Place the apostles would have written to the saints that He would enter the Most Holy Place in the future). Rather the Scripture says several times that when Jesus ascended to heaven He sat down at the right of God, that is, by God. For instance Mark says: “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19), and the author of the epistle to the Hebrews says: “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24), and also: “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:17-20 – The New International Version reads: “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”), and again: “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12). Jesus Himself said to John: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21), and bear in mind that the golden altar seen by John – in the earthly sanctuary the copy and shadow of the heavenly golden altar was put in the Holy Place before the veil, which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place – was before the throne of God in heaven. Furthermore, if Adventists were right that would mean that in the days of the apostles Jesus was in the Holy Place rather than in the Most Holy Place; so His work of intercession was not perfect because it was completed in 1844, the year when He passed from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place!! But that cannot be true, for the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, who lived more than one thousand and seven hundred years before 1844, when Ellen G. White and many others did not exist, affirmed: “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25). And where did Jesus live at that time to make intercession for those who believed on Him and to save them to the uttermost? In the heavenly sanctuary, in the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. In other words, Jesus was in the ‘Most Holy Place’, that is “behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered [I add between brackets: on the same day He ascended to heaven] on our behalf” (Hebrews 6:19-20 – NIV). Is this not confirmed by the law of Moses in that according to the law of Moses, the same law that Adventists quote to support the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary which began in 1844 (according to them, in that year the Day of Atonement began), on the day of atonement the High Priest, after he had killed the animal which had to be offered as a sin offering, had to enter the Most Holy Place behind the veil at once, with the blood of that animal sacrifice, to sprinkle that blood with his finger on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat? Note that he did not have to remain for some hours in the Holy Place before entering the Most Holy Place, but he had to enter the Most Holy Place at once (cf. Leviticus 16:3-15). Is Jesus not the High Priest, the Mediator of the New Covenant, who, after He had made atonement for our sins, entered the tabernacle which is not of this creation? Why then did the true High Priest, after He offered Himself and entered the heavenly sanctuary, need to remain with His own blood in the Holy Place for eighteen centuries? Why could He not enter the Most Holy Place on the same day He ascended to heaven? Is this not another proof that Adventists are mistaken when they affirm that Jesus, after He ascended to heaven, performed His work of atonement in the Holy Place for eighteen centuries, and after that period of time He entered the Most Holy Place? As you can see, the very same law of Moses used by Adventists nullify this teaching of theirs.

I say also this: if Jesus, as Adventists say, after His ascension to heaven had remained inside the Holy Place till 1844, how could the author of the epistle to the Hebrews say: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22 – NIV)? I say, ‘How could the believers who lived at that time have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place if Jesus was still in the Holy Place? I am sure that if Jesus at that time had been in the Holy Place they could not have had confidence to enter the Most Holy Place. That’s why we reject this doctrine taught by the Adventist Church, which affirms that Jesus passed from the Holy Place to the Most Holy Place in 1844; because it contradicts the truth.

Let me tell you something else. When Jesus died on the cross “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51 – NKJV), that is, the veil of the temple in Jerusalem, which was a copy and shadow of the heavenly temple was torn in two. That means that Christ, through His flesh (for the author of the epistle to the Hebrews says “through the veil, that is, His flesh” Hebrews 10:20 – NKJV), made manifest the way into the Most Holy Place; thus all those who believe in Him have confidence to draw near to the throne of God (before which there is the golden altar). Now, if when Jesus ascended to heaven He entered the Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary, and not the Most Holy Place, that means that the above mentioned sign God gave at the death of Christ did not have any meaning, because our High Priest, once ascended to heaven, was not able to minister in the Most Holy Place at once, for He had to wait for eighteen centuries, since it was in 1844 that – according to the Adventist Church – He entered the Most Holy Place? Is not all this diabolical? Of course, it is; because if it were as Adventists claim, the New Covenant dedicated by Jesus would not be better than the Old Covenant; for the High Priest of the New Covenant would have had some limitations in heaven, just as the high priest of the Old Covenant had some limitations on the earth, in that he could not enter the Most Holy Place at just any time but only once a year, that is, on the day of atonement, as God said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die” (Leviticus 16:2 – NIV). How is it that the Son of God, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, could not enter the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary at once, when He Himself, after His resurrection, said: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18 – NKJV)? Did He have really all authority even in heaven, after He rose from the dead? Yes, He did, therefore He had also power to enter the Most Holy Place at once. In addition to this, if it were as Adventists say, those who did put their faith in Jesus before the year 1844, would have had some limitations too. Why? Because He was in the Holy Place, and He had not yet made manifest the way into the Most Holy Place. In other words, the disciples of Jesus would have been (till 1844) in a position similar to that of the sons of Aaron the high priest, who could enter the Holy Place but they could not enter the Most Holy Place. The disciples of Jesus would not have had confidence to enter the Most Holy Place before 1844, even though the High Priest of their faith had shed His own blood to consecrate the way into the Most Holy Place. On the other hand, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews says that the way into the Most Holy Place “was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing” (Hebrews 9:8 – NKJV). The first tabernacle is the first part of the earthly tabernacle, that is, the Holy Place (cf. Hebrews 9:2). The Holy Place, according to the Scripture, “was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:9-10). We should pay much attention to these words because when they were written the temple of Jerusalem had not yet been destroyed (therefore at that time the priests entered the Holy Place to accomplish the service of God, and the high priest entered the Most Holy Place once a year); and also because they affirm that the Holy Place or first tabernacle is symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot take away sins from the conscience of the worshipers (bear in mind that to the author of that epistle the present time was the time in which he lived). In other words, the Scripture says, ‘The first tabernacle represents the period of time during which gifts and sacrifices are offered, which cannot blot out sins. However, even though the first tabernacle still exists, and sacrifices are being offered which cannot take away sins, we have now the realities themselves because Christ came as high priest and He has entered the heavenly sanctuary with His own blood which cleanses us from all sins. All those atoning sacrifices were just fleshly ordinances imposed till the time of reformation which was fulfilled when Christ entered the heavenly sanctuary. Therefore the reformation or change has taken place, for Christ entered the Most Holy Place in heaven with His own blood, once for all. He does not accomplish the service of God in the Most Holy Place only once a year (otherwise He would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world), for He offered Himself once for all and by the sacrifice of Himself He put away sin, enabling thus all those who rely upon His intercession to enter the Most Holy Place.’ As things are, if even after the death of Jesus and His resurrection and ascension to heaven the disciples of Jesus could not enter the Most Holy Place, that would have meant that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed, and that the shadow had not yet been replaced with the reality itself. All these things would have nullified in a certain measure the perfect work done by Christ for the remission of our sins. And this is what Adventists have done, for they claim that Christ, before the year 1844, forgave sins but He did not blot them out! In other words, they say that Christ died on the cross both to forgive sins and to blot them out, but He has been able to blot them out only since 1844 (as we saw before, He will blot out all the sins just before His return from heaven). But I will come back to this heresy later.

In the light of all these reasonings of mine, which are based on the Holy Scripture, therefore, the teaching of Ellen G. White according to which our High Priest performed till 1844 a work of atonement similar to the work which was performed by every priest in the Holy Place daily (without entering the Most Holy Place), while in 1844 He entered the Most Holy Place for that year began the true day of atonement, is a false teaching for it contradicts the Word of God. The Scripture teaches that Jesus, after He offered Himself, entered the Most Holy Place with His own blood to purchase with it eternal redemption and to enable us to enter the Most Holy Place. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

 

The sins of those who believe in Jesus have been already blotted out

 

As we saw before, Ellen G. White not only affirmed that Jesus remained in the Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary till 1844 but also affirmed that “For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record”. In other words, before October 22, 1844, Jesus forgave the sins of those who believed on Him but He could not blot them out, for the blotting of their sins will take place at the end of the great day of atonement which began in 1844 (through the investigative judgement). Ellen White said also: “The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement ….’ (Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, Mountain View: Pacific Press, 1913, page 357).

This doctrine is false because it diminishes the efficacy of the precious blood of Christ, which He shed on the cross of Golgotha. Let no one deceive you, brethren; when Jesus Christ forgave those who repented and believed in Him, their sins were blotted out from their conscience as well as from the heavenly books. Therefore, the believers who lived before 1844, when they believed, received the blotting out of their sins from the books in which they had been recorded. If Jesus had not been able to blot out the sins of His disciples before 1844, the following promises made by God would have been nullified: “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17); “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you” (Ezekiel 36:25); “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee” (Isaiah 44:22). Furthermore, how could Paul say to the saints of Colosse: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:13-14)? And how could John say to the saints: “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7)?

Someone may ask, ‘Is Jesus unable to blot out the sins of those who believe in Him even after October 22, 1844, according to the Adventist Church?’ Yes, He is still unable to do such a thing, for according to Ellen G. White the sins of those who have repented are placed by faith on Jesus and transferred to the heavenly sanctuary: ‘As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary” (The Great Controversy, page 421). This is confirmed by Questions on Doctrine: “The actual blotting out of sin, therefore, could not take place the moment when a sin is forgiven, because subsequent deeds and attitudes may affect the final decision. Instead, the sin remains on the record until the life is complete – in fact, the Scriptures indicate it remains until the judgement’ (Questions on Doctrine, page 441). So when are the sins of the believers blotted out? As I said before, when they are acquitted in the investigative judgement, for this is what we read in Questions on Doctrine: ‘When Christ takes a case in the heavenly court, there is not the slightest possibility of His losing, for He knows all the facts, and He is able to apply the remedy. When He confesses before God and the holy angels that the repentant sinner is clothed in the robe of His own spotless character (this is the white robe that will be given him), no one in the universe can deny to that saved man an entrance into the eternal kingdom of righteousness. Then, of course, is the time for his sins to be blotted out forever, for Christ has claimed him for His own’ (Questions on Doctrine, page 442). Ellen White said that the blotting out of sins will take place at the end of the day of Atonement (which began in 1844).

This is untrue for the Scripture states that when we believed in Christ, Christ not only forgave us our sins, but also blotted out our sins by His blood, for the Scripture says: “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee” (Isaiah 44:22), and again: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). In the light of the above mentioned passages of the Scripture, therefore, the doctrine of the Adventist Church according to which there is a difference between the forgiveness of sins and the blotting out of sins, for forgiveness is obtained by faith when one believes while the blotting out of sins is obtained when the investigative judgement is over, is FALSE. The reason is – I say it again – that both forgiveness and the blotting out of sins are received when one repents and turns to Christ, for one day Peter said to the Jews: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out …..” (Acts 3:19 - NKJV). These words clearly nullify the doctrine of the investigative judgement taught by Adventists, for Peter did not say ‘that your sins may be blotted out later’ but ‘that your sins may be blotted out’, which means that when one repents and turns to Christ, He blots out all his sins at once. However, there are still some Adventists who quote the above mentioned words as they are translated in the King James Version: “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”. But this translation is wrong, because the Greek does not say ‘when the times of refreshing shall come …’ but ‘so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord’ (NKJV).

Take heed to yourselves, brothers, because this so called distinction between forgiveness and the blotting out of sins tends to make believers doubt about their salvation. Let no one deceive you.

 

Christ is conducting no investigative judgement in heaven

 

The Scripture does not teach that Christ is conducting an investigative judgement in heaven about the saints who lived in the past and the saints who are still alive.

As for the saints who lived in the past and died in Christ, they are in the presence of the Lord in heaven and there they are waiting for the resurrection. At the resurrection they will obtain an immortal body and will appear before the judgement seat of Christ so that they may be rewarded.

As for those who will remain till the coming of the Lord, after the dead in Christ are raised from the dead, they will be changed and will appear together with the resurrected saints before the judgement seat of Christ.

On that day all of them will receive the things done in the body, according to what they have done, whether good or bad. When Paul said to the Corinthians: “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10 – NKJV), he referred to this event which is still to take place in the heavenly places at the time appointed by God. On that occasion all the resurrected saints and all those who will be changed will receive their reward according to their labor in the Lord, according to how much they perfected holiness on the earth.

Therefore those who are dead in Christ, being in glory, have their names written in the book of life and will never be blotted out of that book; they are waiting for their reward which they have earned through their good works done on earth after their new birth. Someone may ask: ‘What about those sins of theirs which are hidden or were unconfessed to God?’ My answer is this, ‘God will certainly judge them rightly, He knows everything and He commits no injustice’.

As for us who are still alive on earth, it must be said that our name will remain in the book of life till the end if we continue in the faith and good works (for it is evident that he who continues in the faith continues in the good works as well for he has a true faith). “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Revelations 3:5), says the Lord Jesus to each one of us. But if we cease to believe in the name of the Son of God – that is, if we lose – our name will be blotted out of the book of life and when we die we will go to hell. Therefore, if we die in Christ we will meet our brothers who have preceded us in heaven and with them we will wait for the resurrection; but if we die in our sins we will go to perdition and we will wait for the eternal condemnation.

In other words - I insist so that the concept might be as clear as possible – all those who have died in Christ will certainly counted worthy to take part in the resurrection of the just for their names have remained in the book of life; and when that glorious day comes they will be rewarded according to their works which God knows perfectly. As for us also who remain till the coming of the Lord there will be no investigative judgement (as it is understood by Adventists); first of all because Christ knows us fully, and secondly because we know that our names are written in the book of life and will remain there forever (if we continue in the faith till the end); so, by the grace of God, we feel worthy – for we have become worthy – to take part in the future translation, and we can say that when Christ returns we will certainly be changed and we will meet the Lord in the air. The saints of old also, who waited for the coming of Christ, had this confidence, for Paul said to the Thessalonians: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and to the Corinthians: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51).

Therefore, the name of a believer can be blotted out of the book of life, for – as we saw before – the Scripture admits such a possibility, but this can happen only while he is still alive on the earth if he commits the sin which leads to death (which consist in forsaking and denying the Lord). This was confirmed by God when He said to Moses: “Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Exodus 32:33). The author of the epistle to the Hebrews also confirms this in these terms: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:4-8), and in these terms also: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-29). But the blotting out of the name of a believer can by no means take place after a believer has died in Christ, for he is in the presence of the Lord in heaven. It should be noted, therefore, that Adventists can say that at the moment in heaven there is an investigative judgement of all the believers who are dead because they deny that those who died in Christ are already in heaven in the presence of the Lord; for according to them the dead in Christ do not exist because men don’t have an immortal soul. They exist only God’s memory. This is something which should not be overlooked, for if Adventists affirmed that when believers die they go to be with the Lord in heaven there would be no need of this investigative judgement to determine whether they are worthy of eternal life or not. Therefore, this false doctrine about the investigative judgement is strictly linked with another false doctrine taught by the Adventist Church, which says that man does not possess a soul in his body. Therefore, when we talk with Adventists we need to insist on the existence of an immortal soul in the body, and on the fact that when a believer dies he goes to heaven at once. For if they acknowledge that a believer has an immortal soul which continues to live after death, they will forsake the doctrine of the investigative judgement for it will prove to be a false doctrine.

It is, of course, true that God tests us, and He judges us as well; but this judgement of which Peter speaks in his first epistle is not the investigative judgement taught by the Adventists for Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24 – NKJV), so we know that we will not come into judgement. At this point you may ask, ‘What is the judgement Peter speaks of in his first epistle when he says: “For the time has come for judgement to begin at the house of God ….” (1 Peter 4:17 – NKJV)? It is a correction or punishment which God inflicts upon us, who are His children, so that we may be partakers of His holiness. This is confirmed by Paul when he says to the Corinthians: “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32 – NKJV).

Therefore, the doctrine of the investigative judgement must be rejected for the following reasons: 1) because it makes people believe that the dead in Christ are being judged and the name of some of them is retained in the book of life while the name of some others is blotted out of the book of life, which is something that cannot happen because the dead in Christ are in heaven and are waiting for the resurrection to be rewarded for their good deeds and their names cannot be blotted out of the book of life; 2) because according to this doctrine the name of a disciple of Christ can be blotted out of the book of life very easily, for, as we saw before, Ellen White said: ‘When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God's remembrance” (The Great Controversy, page 483). In other words, if you have made just one mistake and you forgot to confess it to God in order to be forgiven, your name will be blotted out of the book of life! These words of Ellen White are really disgusting, they make people believe that our God is merciless rather than merciful; in addition to this, these disgusting words make people believe that our Advocate, that is, Jesus Christ, is unable to make intercession for us. Furthermore, these words of Ellen White make Adventists forget that God not only forgive our debts but also make us pay for our debts sometimes. Listen to these words spoken by Jesus: “Therefore if your bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:23-26 - NKJV). Note that he who does not agree with his adversary (the brother whom he has wronged) is delivered to the judge and thrown into prison, and he will by no means get out of there till he has paid to God the last penny (of the debt he got by wronging his brother).

There are some other reasons why the doctrine of the investigative judgement must be rejected. The 23rd article of the Fundamental Beliefs says among other things: ‘The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom.’ Such a statement nullify the biblical passage which says that “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19 – NKJV), and the following words spoken by Jesus: “I know My sheep” (John 10:14 – NKJV). I mean that, as for the dead in Christ, Christ knows those He has to raise from the dead on the last day and He does not need to conduct an investigative judgement about them to determine whether they are worthy to take part in the first resurrection or not. Did Jesus not say one day: “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40 – NKJV). Why then should Christ conduct an investigative judgement about the dead in Christ to determine which of the dead in Christ will take part in the first resurrection, when the Scripture clearly says that Christ will raise them up and they all will take part in the resurrection of life? As for the saints who are still alive, they are sure that when Jesus comes they will be changed, that is, they will be translated into His kingdom, for the Scripture says: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51 – NKJV). In this case also, therefore, there is no need of an investigative judgement conducted by Christ to determine which of the believers will be changed at the coming of Christ. Someone may ask, ‘What about those who believe for a while and then they draw back to perdition, and at the coming of Christ they will not be changed and will not go to be with the Lord?’ In this case also there is no need of an investigative judgement – as it is understood by the Adventist Church – for the Lord knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19), and He knows very well who they are who draw back, without the help of an investigative judgement.

 

The investigative judgement attacks and affects the Biblical teaching on salvation by grace alone

 

The investigative judgement must be rejected because it attacks salvation by grace alone and the assurance of salvation the believer has. Here are two statements made by two Adventists which confirm what I have just said.

Ellen G. White said: “All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life’ (The Great Controversy, page 483). This means that the blotting out of the sins of the believers will take place at the end of the investigative judgement, if they are faithful to the law of God (bear in mind that the commandment of the Sabbath day is part of this law).

William Henry Branson (who was President of the General Conference of the Adventist Church from 1950 to 1954) said: ‘A Christian who through faith in Jesus Christ has faithfully kept the law’s requirements will be acquitted [in the investigative judgement]; there is no condemnation, for the law finds no fault in him. If, on the other hand, it is found that one has broken even a single precept, and this transgression is unconfessed, he will be dealt with just as if he had broken all ten’ (Drama of the Ages, page 351).

As you can see, according to Adventists, the sins of a believer will be blotted out if he has faithfully kept the law, that is, the ten commandments (and I remind you that among these commandments there is also the commandment about the Sabbath day). If he breaks even a single precept and this transgression is unconfessed, he will by no means be acquitted! Adventists are indeed like the Galatians who, having begun in the Spirit, attempted to be made perfect by the flesh keeping the law. What did Paul write to them? He wrote: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? …. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 3:1; 5:4 - NKJV). Have you Adventists never read that by the deeds of the law – and I put much emphasis on the keeping of the Sabbath, that is, the fourth commandment - no flesh will be justified in the sight of God? Don’t you Adventists know that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 – NKJV)? In other words, don’t you know that salvation is by grace alone, and to think that after one has believed he can be justified by keeping the law is an insult to the work of atonement made by Christ once for all so that faith alone might be accounted to us for righteousness?

Be careful, therefore, when you hear Adventists speak of salvation; for if on the one hand they teach that salvation is by grace, on the other hand they postpone the cleansing of the sins of a believer until the end of the investigative judgement, and this cleansing will take place if the believer has kept faithfully all the law. In other words, Adventists say to those who have believed in Christ, ‘Of course, you are forgiven, however your sins will be blotted out in the future if you keep the Sabbath, etc.’ Particularly the precept of the Sabbath day, for Ellen White ‘saw’ a halo of glory around the fourth commandment. The names of those who do not keep it and do not confess their sin will be blotted out of the book of life!

At this point, we wonder, ‘How can a believer be of good cheer? How can a believer be sure he has been saved and his sins have been forgotten by God?’ The answer is, ‘He can’t.’ Therefore, the doctrine of the investigative judgement is very dangerous. Abhor it, for it tends to make us think that our sins have not yet been blotted out, and that they will be blotted out when the investigative judgement about us is finished, if we have kept all the law and I remind you that the law includes the commandment of the Sabbath day (which is highly exalted by Adventists). Let no one deceive you, brothers; by faith you have received the remission of sin, therefore all your sins have been blotted out by the blood of Jesus Christ. Be of good cheer; see that you please God in all things and confess to Him all your sins so that He might cleanse you.

 

The interpretation given by Adventists to the passages of the book of Leviticus which speak of the atoning sacrifices which were offered daily and on the day of atonement is wrong

 

The doctrine of the investigative judgement is based on the doctrine according to which when a man repents and believes his sins are forgiven, but not yet blotted out, for they are transferred to the heavenly sanctuary where they will stand till the end of the investigative judgement. Adventists come to this conclusion for they interpret in a peculiar way some passages of the book of Leviticus which speak of the atonement of sins which God commanded to do.

Now according to the levitical law, when the congregation of Israel or a ruler or anyone of the common people had sinned they had to offer some atoning sacrifices for their sin. By these sacrifices their sins were forgiven, for at the end of the description of each sacrifice that had to be offered and of the atonement that had to be made by the priest we read the following words: “So the priest shall make atonement for them [the children of Israel], and it shall be forgiven them” (Leviticus 4:20 – NKJV; “So the priest shall make atonement for him [one of the rulers] concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him” (Leviticus 4:26 – NKJV); “So the priest shall make atonement for him [anyone of the common people], and it shall be forgiven him” (Leviticus 4:31 – NKJV). As you can see, in all the above mentioned cases it is written that the sin was forgiven him who offered the sacrifice prescribed by the law for his sin. We should bear in mind that this atonement could be made by a priest because the blood of the animal sacrifice, which was offered for the sin, was not to be brought behind the veil, that is, inside the Most Holy Place. That’s what happened every day. However, there was a day on which the High Priest had to offer some animal sacrifices for his own sins, and for the sins of the people, and had to bring the blood of those animals inside the Most Holy Place to sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. On that day, which was the tenth day of the seventh month, the High Priest made atonement not only for the sins of the people, but also for the sanctuary, for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar (cf. Leviticus 16:33). What do Adventists say about the blood which was offered daily and the blood which was offered on the day of atonement? They say: ‘When the blood was sprinkled, the sin was recorded in the sanctuary. …. The sins of the Israelites, recorded in the sanctuary by the shed blood of the sacrificial victims, were removed and totally disposed of on the Day of Atonement’ (Questions on Doctrine, page 432). In other words, they say that through the blood of the sacrificial victims which were offered daily the sins were forgiven and also recorded in the earthly sanctuary; while by the blood which was shed on the day of atonement those sins were not only forgiven but also blotted out. And inasmuch as Adventists affirm that the daily service performed by the priests represents the heavenly ministry which Christ performed from His ascension to 1844, and the day of atonement represents the true day of atonement which began in 1844, they reach the conclusion that prior to 1844 sins were forgiven but not yet blotted out for they were recorded in the heavenly sanctuary which was represented by the man-made sanctuary, while from 1844 on Christ, the High Priest, having entered the Most Holy Place, is able to blot out the sins of those who believed on Him prior to that date as well as of the sins of those have believed in Him since the year 1844. However, as we saw before, their sins have not yet been blotted out for the blotting out of all the sins will be completed at the end of the investigative judgement.

Let me tell you first of all that the above mentioned interpretation according to which by the blood which was offered for the sins daily or occasionally sins were forgiven and at the same time recorded in the sanctuary, while by the blood which was offered on the day of atonement sins were blotted out, is not supported by the law. In other words, nowhere does the law say or teach that the effect of the atonement made on the day of atonement was different from the effect of the atonement made on the other days of the year. Both atonements were efficacious toward those who offered the sin offering. There is no indication whatever that the atonement for the souls of those who offered the sin offering happened only on the Day of Atonement. Otherwise God would not have said about the atonement which was made daily or occasionally for the congregation of Israel: “So the priest shall make atonement for them [the children of Israel], and it shall be forgiven them” (Leviticus 4:20 – NKJV). We really do not understand why the sprinkling of the blood of the daily or occasional sacrifices, which were offered by the priests for the sins of the people, transferred the sins to the sanctuary, whereas the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifices which were offered by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement took away those sins and blotted them out. If things were as Adventists teach, then, we should come to the conclusion that neither the animal which was offered as a sin offering daily nor the animal which was offered as a sin offering on the day of atonement foreshadowed the perfect sacrifice of Christ, for only the blood of those animals which were offered as sin offering on the day of atonement could blot out the sins of the people whereas the blood sprinkled daily could not blot out the sins of the worshipers. However, if we reached this conclusion, we would be wrong. Instead, we say that the atoning sacrifices spoken of in the book of Leviticus are a shadow of the perfect sacrifice of Christ which had to be offered in the fullness of the time: no matter if they were offered daily or occasionally or on the day of atonement, they were all a shadow of the sacrifice of Christ. For we should never forget that all the atoning sacrifices which were offered under the law could not blot out the sins of the people, for “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4 – NKJV). When the Scripture says ‘the blood of bulls and goats’ it refers also to the blood which was offered for the sins of the people on the Day of atonement. If, then, not even the blood which was shed on the Day of atonement could take away sins, why did God appoint that day? He certainly appointed that day for a purpose: according to what is written in the epistle to the Hebrews we believe that the distinction between the sprinkling of the blood before the veil (that is, in the Holy Place) and the sprinkling of the blood within the veil (that is, in the Most Holy Place), was made by God under the law to show this, that the way into the Most Holy Place “was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing” (Hebrews 9:8 – NKJV), and that one day Christ, the future High Priest, instead of entering the Most Holy Place of an earthly sanctuary with blood of animal sacrifices, would enter heaven itself with His own blood, and there would be no more need to offer sin offerings.

As you can see, the investigative judgement is based on a mistaken application of the Old Testament sacrificial system to the work of intercession of Christ.

 

Let me explain some passages of the Scripture quoted by Adventists to support the investigative judgement

 

In the Holy Scriptures there are several passages which speak of judgement, but no one of them refers to the investigative judgement which – according to Adventists – Christ has been conducting since 1844. I say it again, no one of them refers to the investigative judgement.

However, as it happens in such cases, Adventists take some of them and give them wrong interpretations to make them say what actually they do not say. In other words, instead of taking captive their thoughts to make them obedient to the Word of God, they take captive the Word of God to make it obedient to their strange thoughts.

Let us now consider some of the passages of the Scripture which are taken by Adventists to support the investigative judgement.

● Peter says: “For the time has come for judgement to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17 – NKJV).

Adventists see in these words of Peter the investigative judgement; as far as we are concerned, we do not see the investigative judgement in the words of Peter, and we are sure that all those who see spiritually don’t see the investigative judgement in the above mentioned words either. The judgement of which Peter speaks is mentioned by Peter a short time before when he says: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12 – NKJV). The judgement of God consisted in trials that the saints had to face because of their faith. Those trials were judgements of God whose purpose was to make the saints partakers of the holiness of God, that is to say, they were corrections inflicted by God upon His elect. To confirm this I remind you of the following words Paul wrote to the Corinthians: ““For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32 – NKJV).

● Daniel says: “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:9-10).

These words do not refer to any investigative judgement, but rather they refer to the judgement which will take place on that day.

● John says in the book of Revelation: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:6-7).

These words have nothing to do with the investigative judgement taught by the Adventist Church, for they refer to the judgement to come which is to take place on that day. These words follow these other words which John heard from the twenty four elders when the seventh angel sounded: “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18). Has the wrath of God come? No, it hasn’t, therefore the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that God should reward His servants the prophets and the saints, and should destroy those who destroy the earth, hasn’t come either.

● Jesus said: “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:23-35).

Adventists quote this parable of Jesus to show from the Scripture that there is a difference between the forgiveness of sins and the blotting out of sins. Here is what they say in Questions on Doctrine: ‘Scripture clearly illustrates the difference between forgiveness and the blotting out of sin. Take, for example, Matthew 18:23-35. Here reference is made to a servant who owed his king ten thousand talents. Having nothing wherewith to pay, he begs for mercy, the king forgives him the debt, and he goes off greatly relieved. However, he finds a fellow servant who owes him a mere hundred pence. This second man likewise has nothing with which to pay, and begs for mercy and for time to pay what is owed. But although the first servant has been forgiven, he now acts in unkindly and brutal fashion toward his fellow servant, shows him no mercy, and casts him into prison. When the king hears this, he is wroth, and casts the servant whom he has forgiven into prison till he shall pay all his debt. Here is a case where forgiveness granted was withdrawn” (Questions on Doctrine, pages 439-440). However, Adventists wilfully forget that Jesus did not tell this parable to explain that there is a difference between the forgiveness of sins and the blotting out of sins – for such a difference does not exist – but to explain that if we refuse to forgive men their sins, neither will our heavenly Father forgive our sins. Did Jesus not say: “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15 – NKJV)? How can one deduce from this parable that there is a difference between the forgiveness of sins and the blotting out of sins, for the former takes place when one repents and believes while the latter will take place after an investigative judgement? I think that anyone who doesn’t understand the meaning of this parable is blind.

 

The live goat for Azazel

 

Adventists say that when the investigative judgement closes, the Lord will come out of the Most Holy Place, where He is at the moment, and will place the sins of all men upon the head of Satan, and then He will return to earth, and His reward will be with Him to give to every man as his work shall be. They apply to Christ what the high priest did on the Day of Atonement, for they say that just as Aaron, after he had made atonement for the sins, came out of the Most Holy Place and placed his hands on the head of the live goat and confessed over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, putting all their sins upon the head of the goat, and then he sent it away into the wilderness (cf. Leviticus 16:20-21), so when Christ comes out of the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary He will put the sins of all men upon Satan (for the live goat for Azazel stands for Satan) who will have to bear them for a thousand years upon the earth. This is the last phase of the investigative judgement.

First of all it must said that no one knows exactly the meaning of the word Azazel mentioned in the book of Leviticus. Some say that Azazel refers to Satan, and others suggest that it designates a wilderness demon. Now Adventists are sure that Azazel means Satan; however, as we have seen, they also affirm that the live goat for Azazel is Satan. I would like to ask them the following questions, then, ‘If Azazel is Satan and the live goat for Azazel, which had to be sent away into the wilderness with the sins of all children of Israel upon its head, stands for Satan, what is the point of saying that the second goat was Satan and was sent to or for Satan?’ If you read carefully the words concerning the goat for Azazel, you will see that it is written: “But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat” (Leviticus 16:10 – NIV), which means that the live goat, which was not to be killed and which was for Azazel, also was to be used for making atonement for the sins of the children of Israel. And bear in mind that this goat had to be without defect like the male goat which was offered on the other days to make atonement for the sin of a ruler (cf. Leviticus 4:22-24). As things are, therefore, how can you say that the male goat without defect for Azazel is Satan? I say to you: Do you not realize that by saying that the live goat for Azazel is Satan you make people believe that Satan in some way makes atonement for our sins (for you implicitly affirm that Satan plays an indispensable part in the blotting out of sins) in that Satan must bear all our sins in order that the atonement of our sins might be accomplished?’ Yes, it is true that you say: ‘Satan makes no atonement for our sins. But Satan will ultimately have to bear the retributive punishment for his responsibility in the sins of all men, both righteous and wicked. Seventh-day Adventists therefore repudiate in toto any idea, suggestion, or implication that Satan is in any sense or degree our sin bearer. The thought is abhorrent to us, and appallingly sacrilegious. Such a concept is a dreadful disparagement of the efficacy of Christ and His salvation, and vitiates the whole glorious provision of salvation solely through our Saviour’ (Questions on Doctrine, page 400), and we do not doubt what you say. However, it is also true that by saying that one day Christ will put all sins upon the head of Satan, you make people believe that Satan in some way will make atonement for our sins, for according to the law the live goat for Azazel was used for making atonement for the sins of the children of Israel! I ask you the following questions: Is it not written in the book of Isaiah: “The LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. ….. he shall bear their iniquities….. he bare the sin of many …” (Isaiah 53:6,11,12)? Is it not written in one of the epistles of Peter that Jesus Christ Himself “bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24 – NKJV). Why then should Satan bear all the sins he caused us and all the others to commit? We believe that Christ bore all our sins once for all, therefore there is no need for Him to place our sins on the head of Satan. How can you affirm then that Satan will bear the sins we have committed?

The Scripture says that Satan will be punished and bear his rebellion forever, but it does not say that Christ will put upon the head of Satan all the sins he has caused both the righteous and the wicked to commit. Why don’t Adventists learn to keep silent when the Scripture keeps silent, instead of producing all these allegories which contradict the truth? As you can see, the teaching that Satan will bear the sins of all men is based on a wrong interpretation given to the goat for Azazel spoken of in the book of Leviticus. We believe that since the law has a shadow of the things to come, the goat for Azazel, even though it was not killed as the goat which was for the Lord for it had to bear all the sins of the children of Israel, represented the atoning work of Christ, who, by His own blood, has removed our sins from us. However, we don’t teach that the goat for Azazel was Satan; for the Scripture does not authorize us to state such a thing.

Furthermore, you must bear in mind that according to the law, on the Day of Atonement, when the high priest came out of the Most Holy Place, he had to confess over the goat for Azazel “all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins” (Leviticus 16:21 – NKJV) before sending it away into the wilderness with all the iniquities upon its head. Therefore, when Jesus comes out of the heavenly sanctuary (at the close of the investigative judgement), He will begin to confess all the sins the believers have committed prior to and after their conversion!!! Then I would like to ask, ‘How can the divine promise “their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12 – NKJV) agree with all this?’ Don’t you think that if Jesus, just before His return, confessed all the sins of His disciples He would set aside the promise made by God?’ But He is the Faithful, and He will keep the Word of God; therefore we believe that He will not confess the sins He has forgiven us. To Him be the glory now and forever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

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