Then Shall the Sanctuary Be Cleansed

Chapter Seven


As a people we have been content to see in the prophecies the sum total of our place in the Christian world. Once we became a "church" we were able to carve out a niche for ourselves and overcome those less skilled in the scriptures, and this has become our "ego" stronghold.

But this intellectual strength has in it the seeds of defeat, for the "time of trouble" must ultimately involve a confrontation with "self" that "the man of sin" might be revealed. For this reason the last conflict of the people of God, just before Christ's second coming, has been compared to Jacob's experience. Through humiliation, repentance, and self-surrender, this sinful erring mortal prevailed with the Majesty of heaven and the supplanter became a prince with God. In the audience chamber of the Most High he became a victor. His confrontation was with himself. His ego was laid bare and his guilt was swallowed up before the One against whom he had sinned so grievously.

We must understand that God was not wrestling with Jacob but Jacob was grappling with God. God could have crushed the supplanter at any given moment. Jacob perceived God as his enemy because in the light of His presence Jacob's guilt and sin became illuminated and he was virtually undone. This has been the sad history of God's every endeavor to draw nigh to man. It began in the garden of Eden. As God approaches, man flees and hides. When will a group of people without fear hold their ground and face their sin, fully unveiled in God's presence and then fully embrace their Creator God instead of in suspicion wrestling with Him?

But for now the time of trouble is still future and we are content with intellectual strength. This has enabled us to fashion replicas of the priest's robes tailored to the finest detail and to build marvellous miniatures of the sanctuary building. We know exactly how many cubits long and how many cubits wide the structure was. We know the color of the curtains, the height of the walls, the glory of the ceiling, the splendor of the ark overlaid with gold. We know about the shovels, the basins, the fleshhooks, the firepans. But the question is, do we understand God's purpose in giving the tabernacle service to His people? Does the remnant comprehend the irreconcilable conflict between sin and righteousness which is displayed in the sanctuary service? Do the words of the true Lamb mean very much to us, when He said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Luke 5:32)?

We need to see that it was people, human beings like ourselves, that held the interest of God and His Son. The entire human race provided a reason for the sanctuary service, for all are sinners. Israel of old needed to understand this and this is the need of modern Israel, for we too have confused "acts" with basic sin. Along with our spiritual ancestors we are burdened with old covenant concepts. The service God gave was concerned with the "blotting out" of sin and this remains the heart problem of man "for out of the heart proceed evil" (Matthew 15:19).

We have been given much counsel about the work that Christ is doing at this time. We are cautioned to become intelligent about this vital part of the plan of salvation:

The significance of the Jewish economy is not yet fully comprehended. Truths vast and profound are shadowed forth in mysteries. Through a knowledge of the plan of redemption, its truths are opened to the understanding.1

The great plan of redemption, as revealed in the closing work for these last days, should receive close examination. The scenes connected with the sanctuary above should make such an impression upon the minds and hearts of all that they may be able to impress others. All need to become more intelligent in regard to the work of the atonement, which is going on in the sanctuary above. When this grand truth is seen and understood, those who hold it will work in harmony with Christ to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God, and their efforts will be successful. By study, contemplation, and prayer God's people will be elevated above common, earthly thought and feelings, and will be brought into harmony with Christ and his great work of cleansing the sanctuary above from the sins of the people. Their faith will go with him into the sanctuary, and the worshipers on earth will be carefully reviewing their lives and comparing their characters with the great standard of righteousness.2

This call to the church remains on hold. While we have been concerned with building up an impressive organizational machine that deals with statistics and public relations, we have overlooked the "truths vast and profound" which have been placed in our hands. When the "grand truth" of "the atonement, which is going on in the sanctuary above . . . is seen and understood," God's people "will work in harmony with Christ to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God, and their efforts will be successful." If we think Nicodemus was dull of comprehension, what are we by comparison in the end-time?

Real Sin and Guilt

Sin came into the world in a disguised, mysterious way. It did not come with some terrible overt act, nor was it even by a spoken word. Sin became real, the carrier of death, when a created being surrendered to the love of "self" and unconsciously proposed to take the place of the Creator. "I will exalt my throne," my place, my domain, my influence, my power—"I will be like the Most High" was the secret intent of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:14). It was this same covenant with "self" that brought Adam under the dominion of sin. He did not understand the full significance of his exaltation of "self" or it would have proved fatal immediately. There was something he did understand; he had a terrible sense of "guilt." This guilt was precisely the burden God did not want him to have.3

This anguish of guilt caused him to flee from before the Lord's presence. He was convinced that God had become his enemy and he had no desire to see Him, for "self" had sought to take the Creator's place. Consequently, any plan of redemption that God might make for man would have the problem of eradicating the "knowledge of guilt" from his mind. This would involve also causing him to know what brought the guilt complex into his thinking.

The tree which the Lord had warned against was the tree of knowledge, of good and evil. Knowledge can only reside in the mind. This means that in the event of disobedience and sin, it would be the mind that would become involved and become corrupted. Once man chose to serve "self" instead of the Creator, he would know something he had not known before. What he came to know by his rebellion was guilt.

This guilt has caused the human race to invent countless different cults and philosophies. It is the cornerstone of every pagan concept of God and the root of all the expiation doctrines of appeasement and vain hope of placating deity. It plagues the life of every unrepentant sinner and creates the desire for freedom from the oppression it brings. It is the root of much physical and mental suffering and plays a prominent part in producing neuroses. This mental suffering of guilt was the reason Adam charged his wife with his transgression. The one he loved most dearly became the object of his accusation, for his guilt burdened his mind and pressed down his soul (Genesis 3:12, 13). His beloved Eve was caught in the same trap and sought to relieve her anguish of soul by accusing the serpent.

This longing for freedom from guilt has pushed the human race to search unceasingly for the right things to do in order to be freed from this complex. This guilt has become the engine of driving force to create "righteousness by works." It is an insatiable motivation as long as guilt remains. This is where the gospel becomes the cure. The freedom which the gospel brings is by a confrontation with it. It is the power of God, and the power of God forgives, cleanses and sustains the human soul.

However, "religion" was not invented by God. His plan was to talk face to face with His children. This relation could not continue because man desired to "be as God" and take His place. So man was embarrassed. This means that the problem facing God is to get man to see the enmity that absorbs him. This predestines a repentance and confession of the alienation that exists. In seeing himself as he really is, man will know that his own "righteousness" leaves him "naked," and in need of the clothing from the Source which provides "white raiment," the righteousness of Christ.

Adventists are not accustomed to consider all this when they think of being church members. Too often the chief concern is getting to heaven. To a large degree the sin problem is ignored. The hope is to be "good enough" to appease an angry God, but this is the same thinking that motivates pagan religions. The principle that man can save himself by his own works is the basis of every heathen religion and provides no barrier against sin. But it has an ancient history among God's people and in our modern times it has only become more refined. The church will not sing the song of Moses and Christ until they are willing to surrender their own assurance of salvation in order that God's name might be vindicated. Their ultimate desire will be reborn and lifted up from their own egotistical concerns, and placed on those that have value for the entire universe.

Israel of old had a hope that Messiah would come. He would free their nation from oppression, and their name would be vindicated before all the world. This would prove that God was on their side and they would be freed from guilt. The disciples of Christ had a similar outlook and motivation. The same idea is seen on every hand in our church today, for almost every public prayer closes with the thought: "when You come in the clouds of heaven, we pray that we may, without the loss of one, have a place in Your kingdom."

Does God need this constant reminder? Is He not acquainted with a verse of scripture which clearly says it was God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten? Could such prayers be the expression of guilt though perhaps an unwitting expression? Selfish trust prevails that in spite of everything to the contrary, God will somehow grant us a place where the cares, the burdens, the taxes and the toothaches of this life will be at an end. In fairness we must ask, is personal gain the goal of being a Christian and taking the name of Christ? Perhaps it is, until we recognize that sin is not the obstacle that stands between us and reward, but rather sin is the burden of pain and suffering that stands between God and a cleansed universe. The cleansing of the sanctuary is God's remedy for the problem.

This may give insight into Paul's sermon on Mars' hill as he described God's patience: "The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). Why are we called to repent? Is there some particular vice—repent of what?

This same call to repentance was sounded by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2). It was enlarged and repeated by Christ immediately after His baptism and temptation in the wilderness. It was here that Christ, who "came in the flesh," did not yield to the temptation of rendering worship to "self" but proclaimed that all should "worship the Lord thy God" (Matthew 4:10). It was here that Christ in a very special way began to prove to humanity that sin could be overcome by God's word, if man was willing to live by faith. Jesus knew whereof He spoke when He called man to repent of serving "self" and the desire to have God's place. He had had that very place but considered that "to be equal with God" was not something to covet or grasp or hold on to (Phillipians 2:6). He was susceptible to conviction and had a willingness to face the selfishness of the soul as evidenced in Gethsemane. In this way the supreme law of the universe was proved valid. God was not party to a detour around the cross.

But Christ's call for repentance went unheeded. Man had to prove to himself the root of his sin, his desire to take God's place, his will to kill Him. And so at Calvary the evidence was established for eternity. This is the sin facing the church and calling for repentance. This is the hidden source of all the other transgressions. The realization of this situation is still in the future, and so guilt remains.

Recording the Sin

When we understand and appreciate that "real sin" is the will to kill God, then we will know that the sin of man was indeed laid upon Christ. He took our sin. Without a murmur the Saviour accepted the supreme evidence of hatred. He not only bore the sins of mankind, but He bore mankind's sin of the murder of God displayed before the universe. As a lamb He came to the slaughter and we slew Him. When we come to see and understand that sin, we can truly repent. When we sense that it is in this way that the sanctuary was defiled, we will understand the work facing the church.

Boldly this stands in contrast to the idea of appeasement. The heavenly Father was in partnership with the Son in showing us the depth of sin in our hearts. It was God who so loved the world that He gave. There was no way to show us how deeply sin was buried in our hearts, how unconscious we were of it, until we actually saw the blood flow. With the eyesalve of heaven granted us to see this, we would understand that "without the shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified," [with the blood of animals,] "but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices" even the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:22, 23).

For millenniums the Jews had seen the blood of animals flow and it was but a form, an old covenant fact of life. They had yet to understand the new covenant and experience the meaning of this flowing blood as it would become a part of their life in going to the cross with the true Lamb. This remains a future experience for modern Israel. Until this experience can reach our hearts and purge our consciences and bring repentance, God can do nothing further. Heaven has nothing more it can give to awaken our consciences.

Our act has been recorded in a "book." If in eternity there should ever be any question, one look at the "book" will suffice; the matter will be settled. For those who live and reign with Christ, face to face in His presence, there will never be any doubt. With deep repentance they will agree they made the record in the "book." They will never cease to confess their sin. Since Christ is the Word that became flesh, the complete description and expression of God to man, He is likewise the "book." It is in this "Lamb's book of life," that the true people of God are written. We have been told, "like Aaron, who symbolized Christ, our Saviour bears the names of all His people on His heart in the holy place."4 Thus the redeemed freely and frankly admit their sin against God and confess the mark of the nails as being the result of their enmity—their sin against God recorded for all eternity in the "book."

On the other hand, the lost will believe that God has been appeased sufficiently and vented His wrath on His Son enough to cool His anger, and thus allow the faithful-in-name to pass judgment. They are content with the idea that "God's remnant church will be made perfect only at the second coming of Christ."5 In the meantime sin is not all that bad, for God already has taken His vengeance so we need not be concerned. Really there is not much calling for repentance—surely not anything as bad as killing God! They refuse to confess any part in such an act, for this would be beneath the dignity of their "self." They are happy that God has taken His vengeance on Jesus instead of on them. For them there is little need to cleanse the sanctuary.

But the record is in the "book," in Christ, by the print of the nails and this settles the matter forever and sets the redeemed apart from the lost. With deep humility and repentance they admit their sin, having driven the nails because of their hatred. But even more than a mere admission, the final atonement will include an internal conviction reaching the unconscious mind so deep and absolutely sincere that the full weight of this truth will bring complete reconciliation of man to God. No longer will he flee to hide; no longer will there be embarrassment in God's presence; all enmity has been washed away. At last there is unfettered contentment that the veil has been rent, that his sin has been fully exposed and he can stand before God unashamed, with love unbounded.

This whole experience will make the true people of God, the remnant, "the very elect," understand and confess that it is their sin which has defiled the sanctuary. By their hand the Lamb was slain and it is His blood which is sprinkled before the veil in the holy place and thus by the pattern given the sin is recorded.

Crosier told the early Advent believers: "The necessity of cleansing the heavenly things, is induced by the atonement being made therein by the blood of Christ for the remission or forgiveness of sins and purifying of our consciences."6 In this way man's sin was recorded at the ascension of Christ and stands on the record. That sin, recorded with the blood shed by us, awaits its removal. It has not yet been blotted out. However, since 1844, in harmony with the type, that work was to have been completed and it is now past time for the final cleansing of sin as required on the Day of Atonement.

What has Christ been doing? We are told that He has been carrying on His work in a special way in behalf of fallen man.

His intercession is that of a pierced and broken body, of a spotless life. The wounded hands, the pierced side, the marred feet, plead for fallen man, whose redemption was purchased at such infinite cost. "And the counsel of peace shall be between Them both." The love of the Father no less than of the Son, is the fountain of salvation for the lost race. Said Jesus to His disciples, before He went away, "I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father Himself loveth you."7

The truth expressed here is the very opposite of pagan and papal ideas. Who needs to know of the broken body? Man. Who needs to recognize the wounded hands? Man. To whom is this pleading? Clearly we are the ones that need to know. But why us? Because the Father is well acquainted with the whole episode and He does not need to be convinced or to be prayed to about the situation—not even by Jesus.

This plan provided that from the time of the cross and the gospel commission to the year 1844, the message was to go to the world. Then, at the end-time in 1844, a new work was to start. The hour of God's judgment had come and something that had never happened before was now to take place. God's judgment was to be made on the basis of the everlasting gospel which the second angel said had become corrupted in the hands of Babylon as "she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Her wine, her false doctrines, had been accepted by all nations in place of the true gospel. The whole world needed to be warned of this terrible perversion of truth. This unique final judgment of God would not be an outward act of wrath and vengeance. Rather it would be a final overwhelming inward conviction of God's people without any misconception of His character and justice. It would end wickedness and vindicate His name.

Real Sin Conquered by the Third Angel's Message

The third angel's message is all that the Seventh-day Adventist church has proclaimed it to be. It may be much more than has been proclaimed thus far. It has already been mentioned that it is this very message "which shows the way into the most holy place." But Babylon and all her daughters, popular evangelical Christianity, scorn and repudiate the whole idea of this plan to deal with sin and therefore cannot be benefited by this work of cleansing the sanctuary. This rejection by popular theologians creates a serious deception which we have been warned about:

I saw that as the Jews crucified Jesus, so the nominal churches had crucified these messages, and therefore they have no knowledge of the way into the most holy, and they cannot be benefited by the intercession of Jesus there. Like the Jews, who offered their useless sacrifices, they offer up their useless prayers to the apartment which Jesus has left; and Satan, pleased with the deception, assumes a religious character, and leads the minds of these professed Christians to himself. . . . He also comes as an angel of light, spreading his influence over the land by means of false reformations. The churches are elated, and consider that God is working marvelously for them, when it is the work of another spirit.8

The warning of the third angel about rendering worship to the beast presents a critical situation. If the nominal churches do not know what Christ is doing now and consequently accept "false reformations" as being genuine and offer up "useless prayers" and have their minds led by Satan himself, surely the deception approaches the climax and the "very elect" stand in danger. But more seriously, if the nominal churches "cannot be benefited," it means that without compunction and completely content, they go on in the sinning/forgiveness cycle so that God's plan "to cleanse" and to "blot out" sin is thwarted. They are willing to invoke the gospel as they understand it to insulate themselves from the consequences of their acts, but not from the acts themselves. Consequently the purpose of the gospel to make an "end of transgression" is defeated.

It is time to realize that the beast, spoken of by the third angel, is far more than a system symbolized by Rome. It is every false doctrine known to the world, from the serpent's lie in Eden to Nimrod's Babel of paganism, which centuries later was to become the corporate body of the papacy, even on down to our present day. The corrupt system was merely a means to an end, a method of the enemy to present a united front against the government of God after He had sent His Son.

This baptized paganism has by its hierarchy produced one of the most mystical rituals perpetuated in modern society. Mystery must always surround and cloak a system that obscures the unconscious mind and keeps it buried and isolated from consciousness. The outward evidence of the inward corruption of the human heart is manifest in the celebration of Mass, when mysterious words are said to bring forth a little god of flesh and blood. In this is performed a mirror image of the basic sin of man killing God, but equally diabolical, for in both instances the true God is obliterated. The motive for desiring to kill God and the motive for wishing to create a god by man speaking a word as is done in the Mass, are manifestations of the same apostate spirit. Both aberrations have roots in the same motive which places man above God as the ego reigns and supreme homage is paid to self. This is not a sin particular to Rome but exemplifies the human heart whenever it sets up anything in opposition to the true God.

Jesus tried to get His people to see the foundation of His kingdom when He said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23). The religion of the Enemy has extracted the cross as a principle and put in its place a mere emblem, a sign, a talisman that feeds the ego of man and promotes works for salvation. Increasingly the cross as an emblem obstructs the true gospel and blocks the very experience it is supposed to represent. The struggle to which the cross points is the very one it is invoked to shield against. The result, let Jesus bear the cross alone!

The false teachings of the beast have permeated all society. "All nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Every major tenet of true Christianity has been corrupted and tainted with paganism. The third angel's message is to sound the warning against all this falsehood and counterfeit faith propagated by the beast. This message is to show the way into the most holy place. This message of the third angel is the message of justification by faith in verity and the rejection of this message brings the fallen condition among the churches of the world that labels them "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit."9

This means that unless the Seventh-day Adventist Church makes this message of the third angel known clearly, without compromise, in distinction from a "social gospel," or as Paul warned in Galatians, "another gospel,"—there is nothing to prevent time from continuing indefinitely. In relation to the "true tabernacle" it means that the cleansing cannot be completed until there is a group of people willing to be cleansed.

For this reason the church awaits today the fulfillment of the statement made many years ago:

The latter rain is to fall upon the people of God. A mighty angel is to come down from heaven, and the whole earth is to be lighted with His glory. Are we ready to take part in the glorious work of the third angel? Are our vessels ready to receive the heavenly dew? Have we defilement and sin in the heart? If so, let us cleanse the soul temple, and prepare for the showers of the latter rain. The refreshing from the presence of the Lord will never come to hearts filled with impurity. May God help us to die to self, that Christ, the hope of glory, may be found within!10

The latter rain "will never come" as long as the people of God are content with present conditions and fail to understand what the cleansing of the sanctuary really means. These two blessings from heaven, the latter rain and the cleansing of the soul temple, go hand in hand. This idea is from heaven:

Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell on the disciples on the day of Pentecost.11

Increasingly over the years, emblems, logos, and sculptures of the three angels have appeared in Adventist society. But this presents a danger, for whenever or wherever the truth loses it potency, identity and status must be confirmed by outward regalia and ceremony. These symbols can never take the place of understanding the work of the three angels any more than displaying the cross can make the gospel plain. Until this is appreciated, that other angel of Revelation 18:1 cannot fulfill his appointed task for he must follow the three angels with his complementary work. This means that the completion of the end-time judgment/cleansing is contingent upon the work in the sanctuary being carried out as God planned. Every true church member is involved in this cleansing work.

The Real Intent of the Gospel

The Bible clearly teaches that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. This means that with the shedding of blood there is a sinless condition and this sinless condition is the very nature of God Himself. With reverence we may ask, why is this true and how is it that God is sinless? The answer is given in the Word. The shedding of blood goes back to the inception of sin when eternity was shattered and time became a factor in the universe. At this beginning the contingency was covered, for we are told that the Lamb was "slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation13:8; Hebrews 9:22). This provision for the salvation of man was conceived in love as there was no way for man to comprehend the vast implications and the depth of his sin in Eden. This understanding had to wait to be revealed at Calvary.

This "mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations," began to be unfolded when Christ gave Himself into the hands of His enemies at the cross. From eternity God had laid aside His own plans, His own desires, His own "self," and He took up His cross. He has told His children this is the foundation of His kingdom and everyone who would be a citizen there would do the same thing, that is, deny self and take up his cross and follow. This is the principle that Lucifer rejected and this is the principle that nominal Christianity rejects. Popular Christianity is willing to stand with Lucifer and let Jesus bear the cross alone and "Christians" go free. Let Him be the substitute so that self may escape and the ego not be cast down. But the intent of the gospel is that we should "consider Him" and not "be wearied and faint" for we "have not yet resisted unto blood" (Hebrews 12:3, 4).

It is the high destiny of this end-time-generation to have full and complete knowledge of these eternal matters and to reveal them to the world. The faithful down through the ages have been few in number compared to the unfaithful hordes in history. Only Enoch and Elijah were translated, and some few were raised at the time of the resurrection who have been counted worthy to abide in God's presence. But these cannot be the Bride of Christ. It remains for a whole generation of individuals living simultaneously to fulfill the plan of the ages. God has "provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Hebrews 11:40).

This end-time church will set the norm under the most adverse conditions in all time. They will prove that the gospel is the "power of God" and display "righteousness by faith." They will be translated without seeing physical death. Thus the "investigation" is to find a people from among every nation who appreciate the true meaning of the cross. This search makes clear what the "investigative judgment" is all about. God does not need to be informed, but a people must be found who are willing to follow in the footsteps of Christ. They will confirm the truth of the gospel in all ages. Christ's ministry is to them; He stands at their door now!

Our key text, Daniel 8:14, has a much larger meaning than "cleansed." After the fulfillment of the time in 1844, His sanctuary was to be restored to its rightful place, to be consecrated again, to be purified and returned to the original state. Then the truth of God's government, the gospel itself, would be manifest to the whole universe. Christ will have imparted to "finite man the attributes which man would ever have possessed had he remained loyal and true to God."12 Then it will be proven that the High Priest has ever had a work dealing with the heart of man and the blotting out of sin from that heart. Then it will be seen that God has not changed but man has been recreated. Then it will be understood that sin in reality is the will to kill God, and righteousness by faith truly equals the will to die to self. Then it will be plain that God has from eternity been willing to lay down His life for His children, and His children will be willing eternally to lay aside their self and proclaim, "worthy is the Lamb." Thus sin will not rise the second time.

"The central theme of the Bible," according to Ellen White, "the theme about which every other in the Bible clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God."13 This means that heaven as a reward fades away and the real goal of God's people becomes the vindication of His name before the universe. This is the ultimate harvest of the gospel and God has ever looked to this accomplishment, which is for Him the driving force of John 3:16.

This sets the true God apart from all false gods that man has ever devised. This proves that God has a faith in man that works by love. This sets the God of the universe apart from all pagan deities who by their very nature demand appeasement. Thus in contrast to all heathen concepts, the Creator proves His character and confirms His righteousness by His faith in mankind. But more than this, we may understand that the righteousness of God's character is because of His manifest faith in man. This provides an equation befitting the cosmic battle between truth and error. It means that God's faith in man expresses His righteousness while man's faith in God expresses his righteousness.14 This provides the practical result of cleansing the sanctuary. This mutual faith supplies the bond of love that precedes the marriage of the divine Bridegroom to His Bride, the church. This is the reason He continues to knock at the door of His Bride, even though to a large degree His love has thus far been spurned. His love confirms His righteousness which constrains Him to persist, and when the Bride responds without reserve, the "faith of Jesus" will have been verified.

The Gospel Revealed in the Sons of God

The daily service in the earthly sanctuary was for the recording of sin, a kind of continual intercession. The once-in-a-year Day of Atonement was for the blotting out of sins and for banishing them to the wilderness. It remained for the sin of man to be recorded at the cross and the true Lamb to begin His continual intercession. A way was provided for every known sin to be confessed and put right. The mind of man was to be freed and his conscious guilt washed away. But at the close of the 2300 days, after 1844, a different and much larger work was to be accomplished. Now the atonement would remove not just conscious guilt and allow man to function in spite of sin but he would be granted the ultimate revelation of this heavenly work which would illuminate the deepest recesses of the unconscious heart or mind to the complete overcoming of sin. Thus there was to be gathered out a unique group of people never before seen in the universe. This group was to be a body of "144,000" souls made ready to be the Bride of Christ. They would stand before the throne "without fault."

The three angels' messages are to call out a people from every nation who know that Christ stands ready to do more than simply grant pardon for sin. With all the glory of this provision, it is not enough. For a people to sin, confess and repent, sin, confess and repent in a continual round of futility is to belittle the gospel and count it as of none effect. We may be grateful for God's patience but after 1844 a new thing was to happen. We have been told:

The eyes of the mind need to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit, that they may discern between good and evil. . . . Repentance for this or that particular act is not sufficient. The heart must be cleansed. Wrong-doing is the outflowing of the fountain of an unclean, unconverted heart.15

The forgiveness of sins is not the sole result of the death of Jesus. He made the infinite sacrifice, not only that sin might be removed, but that human nature might be restored, rebeautified, reconstructed from its ruins, and made fit for the presence of God.16

The work of Jesus and the gospel is to save His people from their sins. This stands in stark contrast with a false gospel that proposes to save in sin.

When we are told in Jeremiah 17:9 that the "heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked," we have a preview of Christ's word in Matthew 15:19, that "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." A grim catalog of horrible crimes that never actually take place except that they exist in the mind. This tells us that the cleansing of the sanctuary must deal with far more than meets the eye.

"The books of heaven," Ellen White tells us, "record the sins that would have been committed had there been opportunity."17 Therefore sin is much more than an act; it is a condition of the mind. This means that the 144,000 are spiritually mature and understand that the root of sin must be eradicated. Not only the conscious mind will be restored and rebeautified, but the "inner sanctuary of the soul," the deepest recesses of the human heart, the very unconscious mind of this remnant must be purged. This select group will stand in the same relation to sin as Christ stood when He said, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me" (John 14:30). This company of individuals will be spiritually mature in every sense of the word and thus be the sons of God, for "they shall be like him."

The remnant church desperately needs to re-examine the major teaching which makes us a people. We cannot continue to consider the sanctuary truth as merely a doctrine without specific application to the life of the church as a corporate body. The whole life of ancient Israel centered around the sanctuary service and with good reason. It was a dispute over the sanctuary service at the gate of Eden which precipitated the first physical murder in the universe. The child whom Eve hoped would be the Saviour proved to be the first murderer because he rejected the service God gave as the answer to the sin problem. The roots of Israel's existence, indeed the whole human race, go back to that plan God gave in the beginning and which in the end-time is to bring complete salvation and rid the universe of sin. Therefore each day there was confession of known sins. This daily service was to take care of the symptoms of sin. On the yearly Day of Atonement these sins were to be blotted out. This service was to cure the disease. This was the grand prelude to the end-time work to be completed at the close of the 2300 days. "Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."

From the cross to 1844, for over 1800 years, Christ ministered His blood in the holy place and the human race through faith in Him had access to this salvation. The gospel provided for every known sin, when confessed, to be forgiven. There was a work done for the conscious mind of man. The blood of Christ provided this. However from 1844 onward a new and different work was to be done, just as surely as the ancient Day of Atonement was different from the daily service. After 1844 "the sins that would have been committed had there been an opportunity" were to be understood and the unconscious enmity against God was to be revealed. It is because Laodicea does not "know," that it remains in its wretched condition. When we come to "know," there will take place the repentance of the ages and sin will be blotted out. So the work of Christ in the holy and in the most holy involves a work that deals with the conscious mind and a deeper work of cleansing the unconscious mind. Thus, when the work on the Day of Atonement is completed, God's people will be prepared to see Him without fear or guilt when He shall appear, for "we" shall be like Him.

This means that the 144,000 will come to understand fully what had not been known by any previous generation. The secret sin of desiring to take the life of God would be revealed and the root of sin would be expelled. Guilt would be purged and without remorse these ones "without fault before the throne of God" would sense their place in the royal family as sons of the Most High. Such a work could not have been done nor understood by any previous generation for no former people had the three angels' messages. The cleansing and restoring of the heavenly sanctuary could not take place until the time had been fulfilled, not because God was unwilling but because man was unready.

The Bride, the corporate body, must have an understanding which appreciates the experience of the Son of Man. For this reason we have much counsel indicating that when Christ ceases His ministration in the most holy place, the sealed of God will stand without a mediator. Here is a sample:

Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above, are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort, they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of the penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God's people upon earth.18

The Bride will have an experience complementary to that of the Groom in His hour of trial. In each case there is no mediator; in each case there is no sin. The Lord's messenger makes the following comparison:

He had kept His Father's commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who will stand in the time of trouble. It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ.19

With our limited powers we are to be as holy in our sphere as God is holy in His sphere.20

Some may question why such an exalted standard is set before the remnant? Why should people have characters "purified," "spotless," with "no sin," holy "as God is holy," having the "Father's name written in their foreheads"? This is not "perfectionism." This is but the logical fruit of accepting sacred history for what it teaches and only puts the last generation in their unique place in the human race. The more light and experience given a people the greater the responsibility. Circumstances demand end-time proof of the gospel as all mankind plunges into moral bankruptcy. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. There is more than ample reason for such a standard in the last generation.

This work could not be undertaken until the great day of the final atonement and that had to be after 1844. No previous generation had the three angels' messages and these messages are bound up with the sanctuary cleansing. Truth itself is a type of information and this must be taught; it does not just happen. The three angels' messages are the culmination of all information at the end of the ages concerning salvation, and this is mankind's graduation day. Even the prophets of old with all their honor did not have the end-time understanding, for they did not have the three angels' messages and so "they without us should not be made perfect" (Hebrews 11:40). Only by faith could they anticipate our day, but there was no way for them to have the accumulated evidence of all truth of all ages that is in our hands.

But more than this. No previous generation has had anything that remotely compares with the detailed instruction found in the Spirit of Prophecy given to the remnant church. Not only is there instruction for all the practical aspects of living for Christ but what is to be expected in the future and how to meet it has all been unfolded. What more could be done to convince God's people of His supreme regard for them and His purpose that they truly be sons of God?

The Tabernacle of God With Men

The second coming of Christ has been imminent ever since the year 1844. The end has been near since the 2300 years were fulfilled because this prophecy is the last before the second advent wherein time is a factor. Therefore since 1844 all points of time have been equidistant from eternity in that the end of time was constantly imminent dependent upon the course which the remnant church would choose. The end could have come years ago had the church truly desired such and fathomed the terrible ongoing struggle there is against the government of heaven and the significance of the final atonement now in progress. It will come now when the church truly desires it and awakens to the truth of the situation.

Therefore when the Spirit of Prophecy makes repeated reference to the end being near or the "end is near," it is simply stating truth, the ultimate fulfillment resting in the hands of the church. The end will come at any moment when human minds grasp the issues portrayed in the truths revealed since 1844. There are those who would strongly object to the idea that the "end" is a matter dependent upon the church, or that time can continue indefinitely. They consider such a concept incredible and contrary to what some would call the inscrutable providence of God. However, such a viewpoint carried to its logical conclusion is tantamount to acknowledging, "My Lord delayeth His coming," and ultimately charging sin back upon God. Futhermore, even a sovereign God will not override His love and respect for His Bride and her freedom to choose. He will not force her to get ready for the marriage.

To explain this even briefly means to consider that if God gave His Son because He loved the world and wished to free His children from sin, it is only reasonable to believe that He has a profound interest in seeing the "end" come. If this "end" is dependent upon something that God must do, the dilemma immediately presents itself as to why He has not already done what He will eventually do for surely His heart must be torn as He sees the human race wallow in the mire of sin and suffering.

But more than this. If Jesus is the divine Bridegroom and His church is the Bride, every evidence which man is able to understand in such a nuptial relationship points to the fact that Jesus must have an inexpressible longing to have His Bride with Him. Therefore if there is anything further that He could have done, He would have done it.

Added to this, if the Spirit of Prophecy is correct in stating that the church could have been in the kingdom before now the total answer is only made more positive. Time will continue, the fruit of sin will become increasingly more bitter, "signs" will become ever more impressive that the "end" is near—but it cannot come until the church truly desires it.

This is completely in harmony with the statement of Christ, "That day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mark 13:32). There is good reason that not even the Son knows. He returned to heaven as a member of the human family ever to remain one with them. But in His statement there is a promise that One knows and the human race may take courage that the present confusion and dismal uncertainty will not continue indefinitely. The sanctuary shall be cleansed. The human heart of God's people will be cleansed. The gospel will prove that it is the "power of God."

But the Adventist conscience is troubled. It searches for an answer—when will this work be completed? We have been told, "the work of judgment which began in 1844, must continue until the cases of all are decided, both of the living and the dead; hence it will extend to the close of probation."21 But when will probation close and how canall cases be decided? There is an answer and it magnifies the divine destiny of the Adventist Church. An event of the past can make this very clear.

The Investigative Judgment Vindicated

For many decades the athletic world wondered if any man would ever run a mile in four minutes. Numerous outstanding runners had come close to breaking the record but always there was a failure of a few tenths of a second. However, in 1954 an Englishman by the name of Roger Bannister did the "impossible" and ran a mile in less than four minutes. Athletes around the world took special note of this accomplishment. His feat was considered so unique he was knighted in 1975. But his record did not rest alone. Since the year 1954, it has been broken dozens of times by no less than eight different nationalities. In the year 1957, the four-minute mile became so commonplace that a runner actually beat the once unattainable record and finished no better than fourth.22

The achievement of Roger Bannister and all the others who stand with him have settled the question forever—a man can run a mile in four minutes. They are sealed in their victory and have passed judgment forever on all previous athletes who ever tried, both living and dead. They have set a standard that cannot be denied.

In a similar way, the last generation of God's people will pass judgment on the entire human race of past ages as well as all the living. They will verify there is no reason for failure and sin. They will prove the truth of the cleansing of the sanctuary and confirm that a people can stand before God without embarrassment, having come up to the standard outlined for Adam before the fall. All cases will be decided when Laodicea, the last church, comes to see herself as she really is. Then the repentance of the ages can take place and she be granted the "white raiment" and spiritual discernment that has long been proffered. Probation can close when, in humble repentance, the church accepts the wedding garment and opens the door to her Divine Lover. The wedding will be consummated. The Heavenly Bridegroom can say then, "It is done."

And what will follow this? "I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Revelation 21:3). In that day the "true tabernacle" will indeed be cleansed and restored and God's abiding place will be with His people. Then the vision of John will be a fact: "I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it" (Revelation 21:22). No building will be needed. God will dwell in His people and they in Him, bound in a union of genuine love that will forever prove the falsehood of Satan's charges and eternally vindicate the truth of the gospel and the character of God.


  1. Ellen White, Christ's Object Lessons, p. 133, italics supplied.
  2. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 575, italics supplied.
  3. Ellen White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 214.
  4. Ellen White, Christ's Object Lessons, p. 148.
  5. See: Helmut Ott, Perfect in Christ, (Washington, D.C., 1987) pp.114, 74, 102, 147-148, 161.
  6. O. R. L. Crosier, Day-Star Extra, Cincinnati, Ohio, February 7, 1846.
  7. Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pp. 416, 417.
  8. Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 261.
  9. Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 390; Revelation 18:2, 3.
  10. Ellen White, Review and Herald, April 21, 1891. It is of interest to note that this article is from a sermon to workers at Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sept. 25, 1887, which was just over one year before the Minneapolis General Conference. Is it coincidence that she pleads for the workers to "prepare for the showers of the latter rain" which the Lord wanted to give in 1888?
  11. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 214.
  12. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol 6, p. 238.
  13. Ellen White, Education, p. 125.
  14. See: Romans 3:3, 21, 22; 1:16, 17; 2 Corinthians 5:21.
  15. Ellen White, Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p. 22, italics supplied.
  16. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 537, italics supplied.
  17. Ellen White, Signs of the Times, July 31, 1901.
  18. Ellen White, Great Controversy, p. 425.
  19. Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 623.
  20. Ellen White, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 155.
  21. Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 436.
  22. Information Please Almanac 1958, p. 875; The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, p. 66, 1983.

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