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.

Revelation 1; In Jesus’ Hands

I am writing today from the Beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.  Revelation 1:20

How comforting it is to know that Jesus holds the gospel minister in His hands! And as far as Jesus is concerned, all who are united in His effort of saving the lost are ministers or priests. See verse 6. Angels in the Bible are messengers, either celestial or terrestrial. As Jesus dictates His letters to the seven churches we see that the angels John is writing to are those who minister in the churches. Isn’t it wonderful to know that if you are a sincere worker for Christ, that you are in His hand and not in the hands of the enemy?

  God’s ministers are symbolized by the seven stars, which He who is the first and the last has under His special care and protection. The sweet influences that are to be abundant in the church are bound up with these ministers of God, who are to represent the love of Christ. The stars of heaven are under God’s control. He fills them with light. He guides and directs their movements. If He did not, they would become fallen stars. So with His ministers. They are but instruments in His hands, and all the good they accomplish is done through His power. 

     It is to the honor of Christ that He makes His ministers a greater blessing to the church, through the working of the Holy Spirit, than are the stars to the world. The Saviour is to be their efficiency. If they will look to Him as He looked to His Father, they will do His works. As they make God their dependence, He will give them His brightness to reflect to the world.  {Gospel Workers, p 13- 14}

Acts 20-24; The Life of The Gospel Worker

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves [with him].  Psalms 126:5-6

When God sends you out to work in his vineyard, as He did Paul, there is much joy but also amid much sacrifice and sorrow. It is not only a sacrifice for the gospel worker, but for their family and friends as well. Still, the love of Christ who left all for us, compels us to leave all for Him.

So to the apostle Paul, praying in the temple at Jerusalem, came the message, “Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” [Acts 22:21.] So those who are called to unite with Christ must leave all in order to follow Him. Old associations must be broken up, plans of life relinquished, earthly hopes surrendered. In toil and tears, in solitude and through sacrifice, must the seed be sown.   

     Those who consecrate body, soul, and spirit to God, will constantly receive a new endowment of physical, mental, and spiritual power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of His own Spirit, the life of His own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth His highest energies to work in heart and mind. The grace of God enlarges and multiplies their faculties, and every perfection of the divine nature comes to their assistance in the work of saving souls. Through co-operation with Christ, they are made complete in Him, and in their human weakness they are enabled to do the deeds of Omnipotence. 

     The Redeemer will not accept divided service. Daily the worker for God must learn the meaning of self-surrender. He must study the word of God, learning its meaning and obeying its precepts. Thus he may reach the standard of Christian excellence. Day by day God works with him, perfecting the character that is to stand in the time of final test. And day by day the believer is working out before men and angels a sublime experiment, showing what the gospel can do for fallen human beings.  –Gospel Workers 112-113.

John 7; It’s a Conspiracy!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

John 7:19 Did not Moses give you the law, and [yet] none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? 

 7:20       The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? 

Either the group talking to Jesus here, were ignorant of the conspiracy to kill Him or they were two-faced. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5 that we are not to be paranoid about conspiracies, but to cast all of our care upon Jesus. At the same time, Peter acknowledges that the devil is out to get us.

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 

 5:8         Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 

 5:9         Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 

In John 7 the multitude had mixed opinions about Jesus. However His conduct is what validated His words and works.

While people are telling Jesus that He is crazy for thinking someone wants to kill Him, the Pharisees send out a group of conspirators to get Him.

7:45        Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? 

 7:46       The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. 

The officers who were sent to take Jesus reported that never man spake like this man. But the reason of this was that never man lived like this man; for if he had not so lived, he could not so have spoken. His words bore with them a convincing power, because they came from a heart pure and holy, full of love and sympathy, beneficence and truth. There is eloquence beyond that of words, in the quiet, consistent life of a pure, true Christian. We shall have temptations as long as we are in this world, but instead of injuring us, they will only turn to our advantage, if resisted. The bounds are placed where Satan cannot pass. He may prepare the furnace, but instead of working injury, it will only consume the dross, and bring forth the gold of the character, purer than before the trial.  {Gospel Workers 1892 P, 244}

No reason to be paranoid about Satan’s conspiracies. Just keep living for Jesus!

The Acts of The Apostles-A Liberal Church

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 32

This Chapter is based on 1 Corinthians 9.

God’s chosen messengers, who are engaged in aggressive labor, should never be compelled to go a warfare at their own charges, unaided by the sympathetic and hearty support of their brethren. It is the part of church members to deal liberally with those who lay aside their secular employment that they may give themselves to the ministry….But when, through the selfishness of men, their rightful support is withheld, their hands are weakened, and often their usefulness is seriously crippled.  {AA 340.1} 

  The displeasure of God is kindled against those who claim to be His followers, yet allow consecrated workers to suffer for the necessities of life while engaged in active ministry. These selfish ones will be called to render an account, not only for the misuse of their Lord’s money, but for the depression and heartache which their course has brought upon His faithful servants. Those who are called to the work of the ministry, and at the call of duty give up all to engage in God’s service, should receive for their self-sacrificing efforts wages sufficient to support themselves and their families.  {AA 340.2} 
     In the various departments of secular labor, mental and physical, faithful workmen can earn good wages. Is not the work of disseminating truth, and leading souls to Christ, of more importance than any ordinary business? And are not those who faithfully engage in this work justly entitled to ample remuneration? By our estimate of the relative value of labor for moral and for physical good, we show our appreciation of the heavenly in contrast with the earthly.  {AA 341.1} 
     That there may be funds in the treasury for the support of the ministry, and to meet the calls for assistance in missionary enterprises, it is necessary that the people of God give cheerfully and liberally. A solemn responsibility rests upon ministers to keep before the churches the needs of the cause of God and to educate them to be liberal. When this is neglected, and the churches fail to give for the necessities of others, not only does the work of the Lord suffer, but the blessing that should come to believers is withheld.  {AA 341.2}

The above quotes from Acts of The Apostles, reminds me of a devotional I wrote back in 2006:

And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, [is it] not evil? and if ye offer
the lame and sick, [is it] not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will
he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. 
Malachi 1:8

This morning I was reading Malachi for my morning devotional and this
verse caught my eye. The lord is asking why His people are giving him the
“scraps” from their flocks when He asked for the very best. And shouldn’t
He have the best? After all He gave His only begotten son, He gave the
very best He had. Still His people were keeping the best for themselves
and giving the least they could to God.

What caught my eye was that this is not just a money issue. It is also a
time issue. Just as God asked for the best of the flock for a sacrifice
and today asks for our firstfruits for offerings and not just what’s left
over after we pay our bills and buy of all our luxuries, so He also wants
the best of our time and our day. Do we give God the firstfruits of the
day, the morning moments? Do we make consecrating ourselves to Him our
very first work? Do we give Him the primetime of our day or is primetime
for TV? At the end of the day have we given God the best part of our time
and day, or just whatever “scraps” of time we have left?

Doesn’t “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,”
deserve the best of all we have, including our time?

In Malachi when the people did not give their best of the flock, the
offerings were lame and defective. When we give God less than the best our
offerings are just as "lame".

Your Christian servant,

William
Look for more devotionals and studies at In Light of The cross.