Christmas in Light of the Cross, Day 14 (Sanctification in Christmas Carols)

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy-Published by William B. Sandys in 1833. Author unknown.

There is some good theology in these older Christmas carols as well as some of the new.

The writer of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” knew the power of the gospel when he (or she) wrote, “To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.”  By coming to live and die for us, Jesus did way more than just save us from the penalty of sin. He saves us from the power of sin.

The author of “Away in a Manger” (Author unknown) Speaks of sanctification as well as justification.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, And fit us for heaven, to live with thee there.

That’s what sanctification is, fitting us for heaven and saving us from Satan’s power. (Some newer versions of this song say “take us to heaven” instead of “fit us for heaven.” Why the change? Conspiracy? LOL!) Today as Seventh-day Adventists study and share the sanctuary message, many scoff at us when it comes to the holy place and most holy place, where sanctification takes place. They want the sanctuary to end in the courtyard where justification takes place, and not go any farther. Yet years before the Adventists ever discovered the “cleansing of the sanctuary” message, these and many other Christmas hymns had an understanding of the complete gospel, and a comprehension of all that Jesus accomplished by His life and death on the cross, and what He can accomplish in our hearts today!

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from [From not in!] their sins.” Matthew 1:21 NKJV

This Christmas Season let’s take some time to enjoy and appreciate the wonderful Christmas hymns, celebrating everything Jesus accomplished for us from the manger to the cross!

From Disappointment to Discovery!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and while he thought he was finding a short cut to India what he found was a whole “new world.” Now granted, the millions of people already living there already knew about it, and there is evidence of visitors well before Columbus. Still that does not change the point of this story. The fact is that while Columbus’ calculations were off, and his trip a “disappointment” as far as finding a new way to India, he still discovered for himself a whole new world!

In 1844 a group of Bible students also had some miscalculations, but even though they had a disappointment they still discovered something very new to them.

So I went to the angel and told him to give me the small scroll. “Yes, take it and eat it,” he said. “It will be sweet as honey in your mouth, but it will turn sour in your stomach!” So I took the small scroll from the hand of the angel, and I ate it! It was sweet in my mouth, but when I swallowed it, it turned sour in my stomach.Revelation 10:9-10

Seventh-day Adventists understand this passage to be referring to the great disappointment in 1844, when the Millerites expected Jesus to come. The scroll is the book of Daniel which contains the 2300 day prophecy, and the sweetness was the expectation of his coming in 1844 and the bitterness is the disappointment.

Some believe that the seven thunders (see Revelation 10:4) actually told John about the great disappointment, but when he went to write it he was told not to. If you go with this theory, then you understand that some things must be learned through experience. Sometimes that is the best way to learn, and it is not that God had not already told us that we do not know the day, or the hour of the second coming. There was enough Biblical evidence already in the Scriptures to prevent the great disappointment from happening. Sometimes we have to take our lumps for not appreciating what Biblical evidence is already there, and learn from experience.

Remembering that there were no chapter divisions in the original Scriptures, the first two verses of Revelation 11 give us a strong clue as to what actually happened in 1844.

Then I was given a measuring stick, and I was told, “Go and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count the number of worshipers.  But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations. Revelation 11:1-2 NLT

What these Bible students discovered after their great disappointment was the wonderful truth about the investigative judgment and cleansing of the sanctuary!

Still, that did not take away the sting of the great disappointment.

Here is the account of one of the Millerites, Hiram Edson of that great disappointment when Jesus did not return in October 22, 1844:

“Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before. It seemed that the loss of all earthly friends could have been no comparison. We wept, and wept, till the day dawn.” -Christ and His sanctuary, Page 4.

Many people mocked Hiram and his friends while they were already grieving. Does that make any sense to you? Making fun of hurting people, just because they made an honest mistake in misunderstanding the Bible?

1844 was not the first time such a thing happened. After the crucifixion, God’s true followers, the disciples, were severely disappointed. Of course their disappointment came from their misunderstanding of Jesus’ clear words. Still pain is pain, and there was no reason to make fun of them while they were hurting. And their mistake in misunderstanding and not comprehending the Scriptures regarding the cross, did not stop them from still being true disciples of Jesus! They were still God’s people even though they still had a lot to learn, some of which they would have to learn by going through bitter disappointments, and even what they (both the disciples in A.D. 31 and A.D. 1844) perceived as public embarrassment, in addition to grief.

I want to make two points here.

  1.  We should never make fun or mock people who misunderstand the Scriptures. Since 1844 other people have set dates for the second coming and been sorely disappointed, and I hear Adventists joking, poking fun at them for not realizing that Jesus says nobody knows the day of the hour of His return. So they should have known better, so should William Miller and the Bible students of his day. Still, why are some Christians, more eager to mock people’s pain rather than sympathize with them! Telling someone “You should have known better” does not ease the pain. It only makes it worse. When the shepherd finds the lost sheep, and binds up his wounds, I don’t recall the shepherd ever telling the sheep “Hey you made a mistake! This is your own fault!” Such words would bring no healing for the wounds. We are told to cry with those who cry, instead of making fun of them.
  2. Hiram and his friends were heartbroken when Jesus did not return. He wrote, “our fondest hopes were blasted.”Is Jesus coming soon your fondest hope? Would you rather be with Jesus than with all your friends on earth? Dare, I ask, are some of us even relieved that Jesus has not come yet? Do some of us find a delay, whether real or apparent, as no disappointment whatsoever?  Is the second coming of Jesus your fondest hope, or are you relieved instead of disappointed that He has not come yet?

On the cross, there was a thief who was mocking Jesus and making fun of all of His claims. This thief was belligerent and would have just as easily mocked Jesus’ followers. But somewhere in the midst of that dark afternoon, this thief stopped mocking Jesus and started looking at his own heart. When he did, an amazing revival took place. Maybe it would be a good idea for us, instead of mocking the claims and theology of others, to take a good look at our own hearts, and our own attitudes about meeting Jesus one day soon.

You may explore this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Understanding the Sanctuary

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As we continue studying this quarter’s Sabbath School lessons, on the sanctuary, people are telling me that there is so much they don’t understand or even know yet about the sanctuary. I say, do not be discouraged. Remember the sanctuary is a model of the plan of salvation. This is something we will be studying and looking into for all eternity.

 You may study that love for ages; yet you can never fully comprehend the length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of the love of God in giving His Son to die for the world. Eternity itself can never fully reveal it. Yet as we study the Bible and meditate upon the life of Christ and the plan of redemption, these great themes will open to our understanding more and more. -Ellen White, The Faith I Live By, Page 43.

I have to admit, I grew up Adventist never really understanding a lot of the themes of the sanctuary or cleansing of the sanctuary. Instead of my teachers teaching it to me, they just told me I knew it. Interesting teaching method there! So, in my early twenties I still had lots of questions but did not dare ask because I was already suppose to know it all. Well I realized I was not going to learn any younger so I started asking questions anyways and reading and studying the sanctuary and the plan of redemption. I would like to share some books that have really helped me. Just click on the title for a PDF format of the book online, or info on how to purchase the book.

1844 Made Simple 

1844

In his book 1844 Made Simple, Clifford Goldstein does a remarkable job of making the judgement and cleansing of the sanctuary so….well…simple! He also makes it very clear how Biblical this teaching is, though it is unique to Seventh-day Adventists.

The Cross and it’s Sadow

the-cross-and-its-shadow

Stephen N. Haskell brings alive all of the imagery of the sanctuary and brings understanding to their applications. The feast days are also clearly explained. While some wonder why many Seventh-day Adventists do not celebrate the feast days, Elder Haskell helps us see that we are observing the literal feast days. For example, ever since 1844 we have been in the literal day of atonement.

The Sanctuary Service

sanc-service

In M.L. Andreason’s book, The Sanctuary Service, he illustrates how the sanctuary service illuminates Christ as our High Priest, Sacrifice and Intercessor.

Then Shall the Sanctuary be Cleansed 

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When I was in my early 20’s and began studying the sanctuary this book, by Donald Short, brought many things to life for me! it also helped me understand the work our High Priest is doing in the sanctuary of my heart.

Jack Sequeira also has some wonderful study guides illustrating the sanctuary message and the plan of salvation.

Happy studying!

William

Jesus as the Sanctuary, in Light of the Cross

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In Numbers 21:1-9 God has Moses set a brass serpent on a pole so that if anybody was bitten by a serpent, they could look at this serpent on a pole and be healed. Now as real and literal as this serpent was it was only symbolic. There was no magic in the brass or the pole. This brass serpent was to point forward to Jesus dying for us on the cross and curing us form the snake bites of that old serpent the devil. Still some people started worshiping the brass serpent because they could not see past the pole and get the big picture. 2 Kings 18:4 tells us, finally Hezekiah destroyed the brass serpent because people were worshiping it instead of God. The problem was they saw the brass serpent as the end of their theology instead of looking beyond the pole to what it represented.

Today some say there is no literal sanctuary in heaven, while the Seventh-day Adventist Church continues to teach what I understand to be true, that there is a literal sanctuary in heaven. See Hebrews 8:-12. However, if your theology stops at either the literal sanctuary on earth or the literal sanctuary in heaven your theology still falls short. Just like the brass serpent was real and literally existed, those who could not see beyond the brass serpent still fell short in their theology. Yes there is a real sanctuary in heaven but even the real and literal sanctuary in heaven is not the end of our theology.

When Jesus came to this earth He referred to His body as a temple. See John 2:19. A temple is a dwelling place. Today we dwell in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. See Ephesians 2:6. Jesus was the most the Holy Place and his humanity was the veil shielding us from the glory so as not to destroy us.  As real as both the earthly sanctuary is, and as real and literal as the heavenly sanctuary is, neither sanctuary is the goal of our theology. Jesus is the goal of our theology!  For years while I have been writing and preaching about the sanctuary and making Jesus the center of my preaching and writing, I have had people call upon me and remind me that there is a real sanctuary in heaven. That is nothing that I have ever refuted. I teach there is a real sanctuary in heaven. I just don’t make the real sanctuary building in heaven the goal. I make Christ the goal. Still people want to remind me that there is a real sanctuary in heaven. That makes about as much sense as someone reminding me about the brass serpent when I teach about the cross! Yes, I know there was a real brass serpent but that real brass serpent was not the goal. The cross of Christ is the goal. In the sanctuary message Christ is again the goal.

Everything in the sanctuary points to the goal and end of our theology, which is Christ.

Christ is the Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 NLT

Christ is the light of the world that lightens every man.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 NLT

Christ is the living bread who came down from heaven to give us eternal life

Yes, I am the bread of life!  Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”John 6:48-51 NLT

Christ is the mercy seat (propitiation), through whose redemption we have salvation full and complete

Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.  For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past. Romans 3:24-25 NLT

Christ is our intercessor against the accusations of Satan

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.1 John 2:1 NLT

By the way, when we join Satan in making accusations, we fire Jesus as our advocate and hire Stan to replace him! Jesus can plead your case without making accusations against other people. Accusing others is Satan’s game plan.

Christ is the curtain that bore our sins in His flesh

 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death,Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. Hebrews 10:19-20 NLT

The Sanctuary Revealed the Fall and Restoration of Man.  In Adam, humanity sinned, was defiled, and condemned to death. In Christ, the same humanity was reconciled to God, cleansed from all defilement, and justified to life.

Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Romans 5:18 NLT

Through faith in Christ, sinners experience salvation.  This is the good news of the gospel and the truth of righteousness by faith. All this was revealed in the Sanctuary model given to Moses:

The Sanctuary was where God met sinners

I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there I will give you my commands for the people of Israel. Exodus 25:22 NLT

Today He meets us in Christ

 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT

The Sanctuary was where God revealed Himself to sinners

and they will know that I am the Lord their God. I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them. I am the Lord their God. Exodus 29:46 NLT

Today He reveals Himself to us in Christ

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!  John 14:9 NLT

The Sanctuary was where God accepted sinners

Lay your hand on the animal’s head, and the Lord will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him.Leviticus 1:4 NLT

Today He accepts us in Christ

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6 KJV

Whenever I am preaching, giving a personal Bible study or writing for SSNET.org, I always have this quote from the book Evangelism in mind:

The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption–the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.—Ellen White, Gospel Workers, p. 315.

Friends, the foundation for the discourse on the sanctuary message is not the literal temple on earth or in heaven. Yes, there is a real sanctuary up in heaven, I know. However, according to our prophet, in Gospel Workers page 315, the foundation of the sanctuary message is the sacrifice of Christ Himself. Just like the brass serpent on a pole pointed us to Christ, likewise the literal heavenly sanctuary points us to Christ.

You may study this week’s SS lesson on the sanctuary here.

The Sanctuary In Light Of The Cross-With New Living Translation

New England Churches 100

You may download a printable version of the In Light Of The Cross Bible Study Guides –NLT here.

The Sanctuary

 

Brief overview:  There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. 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. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. 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. (Heb. 8:1-54:14-169:11-2810:19-221:32:1617Dan. 7:9-27;8:13149:24-27Num. 14:34Eze. 4:6; Lev. 16; Rev. 14:6720:1214:12;22:12.)

 

Why it is important to understand the truth about the sanctuary:

The Sanctuary gives us a model of the complete plan of salvation and redemption. The Sanctuary helps us see how the cross Justifies, sanctifies and glorifies us.

Justification took place when I lived a perfect life in Jesus. Jesus counts His perfect life as my prefect life, thus saving me from the penalty of sin which is death and not eternal torment in hell. Justification is my title to heaven. We do no work on the Sabbath as a sign that we are justified by the faith of Jesus and not by our works. John 3:16Romans 6:23 Galatians 2:16-20 Hebrews 4:1-9

Sanctification takes place as Jesus lives His victorious life in us. Thus we are being saved from the power of sin as God Himself writes His law of love in our hearts. By living in us, God is transforming us and preparing us for heaven. We rest on the Sabbath as a sign that it is God who sanctifies us and not our works.Exodus 31:13 Hebrews 8:10

Glorification is when Jesus returns and saves us from the presence of sin. Those who love God and life will live in paradise never again seeing the results or consequences of sin, while those who love sin and death will be forever put out of their misery and will be no more. We will continue celebrating the Sabbath in heaven as a sign that it is God who justified, sanctified and glorified us and not our works. Proverbs 8:36, Revelation 20&21, Psalms 100:3Isaiah 66:23

 

Why it is important to understand the sanctuary in light of the cross:

Everything in the Sanctuary Pointed to Christ

  • Christ is the Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world [John 1:29].
  • Christ is the light of the world that lightens every man [John 1:9-128:12].
  • Christ is the living bread who came down from heaven to give us eternal life [John 6:32-51].
  • Christ is the mercy seat (propitiation), through whose redemption we have salvation full and complete [Romans 3:2425].
  • Christ is our intercessor against the accusations of Satan [Hebrews 7:25].
  • Christ is the veil that bore our sins in His flesh [Hebrews 10:19,20].

The Sanctuary Revealed the Fall and Restoration of Man

  • In Adam, humanity sinned, was defiled, and condemned to death.
  • In Christ, the same humanity was reconciled to God, cleansed from all defilement, and justified to life [read Romans 5:18].
  • Through faith in Christ, sinners experience salvation.

This is the good news of the gospel and the truth of righteousness by faith. All this was revealed in the Sanctuary model given to Moses:

Further Study on the Sanctuary

 

What was to happen at the end of the 2300 days?

 The other replied, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the Temple will be made right again.” Daniel 8:14 NLT

And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.  Daniel 8:14 KJV

Note: The Bible refers to two sanctuaries, one on earth and the other in heaven.

After what, was Moses to build the sanctuary?

 “Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them.  You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you.  Exodus 25:8- 9 NLT

Where is the location of the original?

Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle,the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. Hebrews 8:1-2 NLT

They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:5 NLT

How many apartments did it have?

Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.Exodus 26:33 NLT

When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties.  Hebrews 9:6 NLT

How frequent was it in the second apartment?

But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:7 NLT

When did the high priest do this?

“On the tenth day of the appointed month in early autumn, you must deny yourselves. Neither native-born Israelites nor foreigners living among you may do any kind of work. This is a permanent law for you. Leviticus 16:29 NLT

What was he doing?

On that day offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the Lord’s presence from all your sins. Leviticus 16:30 NLT

How did he do it?

Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel.  Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord.  Leviticus 16:7-9 NLT

What did he do with the blood?

“Then Aaron must slaughter the first goat as a sin offering for the people and carry its blood behind the inner curtain. There he will sprinkle the goat’s blood over the atonement cover and in front of it, just as he did with the bull’s blood.  Through this process, he will purify the Most Holy Place, and he will do the same for the entire Tabernacle, because of the defiling sin and rebellion of the Israelites. Leviticus 16:15-16 NLT

 

What did he do with the sins?

 “When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place and the Tabernacle and the altar, he must present the live goat.  He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land.  Leviticus 16:20-22 NLT

Note: The live goat represents Satan who is responsible for introducing sin to the people. The goat was led into the wilderness which represents Satan roaming the world for a thousand years while the planet is uninhabited, and gets to think about where his rebellion has led to. While Jesus atones for our sins by dying our death, Satan atones for his shared guilt by dying eternally. For more on this, see the study on the Millennium

 

What were the people to be doing?

“Be careful to celebrate the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of that same month—nine days after the Festival of Trumpets. You must observe it as an official day for holy assembly, a day to deny yourselves and present special gifts to the Lord.  Do no work during that entire day because it is the Day of Atonement, when offerings of purification are made for you, making you right with[the Lord your God.  All who do not deny themselves that day will be cut off from God’s people.  Leviticus 23:27-29 NLT

What happened to those living in sin?

All who do not deny themselves that day will be cut off from God’s people.  And I will destroy anyone among you who does any work on that day. Leviticus 23:29-30 NLT

Note: Jesus has begun the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary or the blotting out of the record of confessed sins there, as well as from our lives here.

What pronouncement will Jesus soon make?                                                              

 Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.” “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. Revelation 22:11- 12 NLT

 

What happens to those still sinning willfully?

And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels,  in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 NLT

What happens to the righteous?

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NLT

Which group will you be found in?

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Matthew 7:21-27 NLT

What should we be doing in this time of judgment?

“Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”  Revelation 14:7 NLT

What assurance do we have?

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT

1st and 2nd Thessalonians: The Messiah Part 2

I am writing tonight from the dark and stormy Tampa Bay area.

Several years ago, I was showing a set of Christian books to a lady. There were several hardbound books in the set, which also included beautiful art work. The lady loved the books, and asked how much they were. I told her, “Four-twenty-nine.” She was delighted, and exclaimed, “Is that all!” I said, “Yes.” I  went on to explain the payment plans, of cash, credit card, or down payment of 15% and then 12 monthly payments. She looked confused, and then disappointed when she realized, that by four-twenty-nine I meant $429.00 and not $4.29.

The lady was like most all of us. We hear what we want to hear. We read the Old Testament Prophecies that depict Jesus’ sacrifice, like Isaiah 53, and wonder why the Jews did not understand, that the Messiah was coming to die for our sin and not set up an earthly kingdom. The Jews were looking for a Savior from Roman tyranny because they read  prophecies,  such as Isaiah 52:13, “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” And also Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” They thought Jesus would come and set up an earthly kingdom. The prophecy in Daniel 2, and rock carved out without man’s hands, should have made clear to them, what Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36

Even the disciples misunderstood and heard only what they wanted to hear as well. Jesus told them in Matthew 16 amongst other places, that He would be crucified, but Peter and the others simply refused to hear of it. The weekend of the crucifixion they were devastated. It was a great disappointment. There was nothing wrong with the prophecies. The prophets were right on. The Jews, the disciples, the lady I was trying to sell  books to were all just like us. We hear what we want to hear. Crucifixion weekend was not the last time God’s church would endure a great disappointment. In 1844 another group of people, misunderstood Daniel. Daniel was right on. Again God’s Church just heard what it wanted to hear, this time regarding the cleansing of the sanctuary in Daniel 8:14. They thought the sanctuary was the world and Jesus was coming back to cleanse the earth with fire and create the New Earth. Nowhere in the Bible does it call the sanctuary the earth. Also we know Jesus said nobody would know the day nor the hour when He returns. Some scoff at them for not knowing better, but are we any better than they are? Do we not make the same mistakes? For example, When asked for a sign from the Jews, Jesus gave them the sign of Jonah. Jesus said, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40 For years now, people have been trying to fit Jesus in the tomb for three nights. To do this some have even backed up the crucifixion to Wednesday while others explain that part of a day counts as the whole day, but that still does not put Jesus in the tomb for three nights. The confusion is quite simple. Nowhere in the Bible does it say the tomb is the heart of the earth. When Jesus said, “For God so loved the world,” He wasn’t talking about the dirt. He was talking about the people. When Jesus said the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, He was not talking about the dirt, He was talking about the people. Take a day for a year in Bible Prophecy and for three days you have Jesus ministering in the heart of the earth, where the population was, not in the dirt. The sign of Jonah, was simply that while Gentiles, publicans, and sinners were believing in Jesus, the Jews who should have believed were not. Just like the story of Jonah where a wicked city like Nineveh believes, but the prophet Jonah who should have believed and obeyed did not want to.

The sign of Jonah is just one example of how today, we may get the time right but the place wrong. In 1844 they had the time right but the place wrong, and in Jesus’ time, many had the time of the Messiah right  from the book of Daniel, but they had the place wrong. Jesus’ kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. We look forward to a New Heaven and a New Earth.

Jeremiah 23:6 promises to save the kingdom of Judah. “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  . This led the people to dream of a kingdom prosperous and above all others. However the text also promised righteousness for the people.  It seems the people were not so interested in the righteousness as they were in the prosperity. That is just like us today. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says,” But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Many today are seeking the kingdom and all those other things that will be added to us, but how many of us are seeking His righteousness? How many of us today are taking up our cross daily and following Him? How many of us just want the prosperity? Even if we are seeking a heavenly kingdom above an earthly kingdom, we are still just being materialistic, unless we are really seeking His righteousness.   Could we today be like the children of Abraham, dreaming only of prosperity, and forgetting that God once asked father Abraham to sacrifice his son and future prosperity?

When Paul was reasoning with the Jews, showing them that Jesus was the Messiah, he had his work cut out for him.

Just a side note before I go. Last year many people were making fun of and ridiculing a famous pastor in the United States for saying that Jesus was coming in April of 2011. I heard many Adventists making fun of him. Seeing how we make mistakes too, in our understanding, and how we have had great disappointments ourselves, should we be making fun of people when they make mistakes? I don’t think so. At the crucifixion the disciples were devastated and hurting. In 1844 God’s people were devastated and hurting. God looked past the mistakes of His people and saw the pain. We should be just as sympathetic. Whether it is towards the Jews 2,000 years ago, or a mistaken preacher today, let’s all take heed lest we fall.

Check out the current Sabbath School study guide here.

Colossians; Two Mysteries

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Paul continues illustrating the power of the gospel, in the book of Colossians. Remember in Romans how powerfully chapter 3 verses 23-24 brought out that we have already been justified? “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” In Colossians we see that not only has Jesus justified us, all by Himself but is also sanctifying us all by Himself. Not only has he given us salvation from the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin! “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:12-14

In Revelation 10 John tells us that the cleansing of the sanctuary, which began in 1844 accomplishes the mystery of God. Paul tells us just what that mystery is. “[Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

The mystery of iniquity is, how did Lucifer, a perfect person in a perfect place become sinful? The mystery of God is, how can a sinful person, in a sinful world, become perfect? It can only be explained as the work of God as He becomes ‘Christ in you the hope if glory.”

I encourage you to study the book of Colossians and see what treasures you may find.