While the Seventh-Day Adventist Church is firmly rooted in the prophetic roots of the Millerite movement and stands or falls upon the veracity of our interpretation of Daniel 8: 14: : "Unto two thousand three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed"; our understanding of the Sanctuary message has become increasingly blurred to the point that few of our Pastors now have a comprehensive understanding of it. Consequently the knowledge of our lay people suffers; for the people rarely rise above their leadership. This is, I believe, generally symptomatic of the Church at large, for when was the last time you heard a Pastor speak about the Sanctuary? Perhaps we are tiring of preaching the imminent return of the Lord, for how soon is soon? For just as Noah warned of the coming deluge for one hundred and twenty years and then it came upon the antediluvian world suddenly - for the antediluvians continued in eating and drinking and giving in marriage until they were lost; so also have Adventist's from the time of William Miller been declaring the soon return of the Lord. Over one hundred and seventy five years have now passed and has led many to wonder, how long, O Lord, do we wait? Why have you delayed your return?
William Miller first began to speak about his convictions in 1831, after studying the 2300 `days' of Daniel for the previous thirteen years. At this time a Scottish preacher who resided in London and was named Edward Irving began to preach the soon coming of the Lord with power and eloquence of speech, for Irving had translated into English the three volume work "The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty", which had been written by the Chilean Jesuit Manuel de Lacunza in 1790. Lacunza had written under the pseudonym of Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra; thus giving the impression that the author of this work was a Messianic Jew.
In the very same year that Miller first began to publicly present the 2,300 day/year prophecy in America, so also did Irving begin to present Lacunza's theories in London, which gained him audience at Powerscourt House and brought him to the attention of John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren, who is wrongly credited as the father of modern Dispensationalism and Futurism. Lacunza's work contained within it the seeds of what later became Dispensationalist and Futurist theology; which are the counterfeits of the `1888' message and the 2,300 `days' of Daniel. Sadly, aspects of this teaching found its way into the denomination via Louis Conradi in the early nineteenth century, and Dr. Desmond Ford in the early 1980's, when Antiochus Epiphanes IV was posited as the `little horn' of Daniel chapter 8 - which then led to the rejection of the Sanctuary message by all who imbibed his theology. Dr. Ford's theology appealed to many Adventist's who had been brought up to fear the `Investigative Judgment' in a mindset of `grit your teeth and bear it; for Christ was just like us, and you must be just like Him - perfect if you want to go to heaven'. No wonder the denomination was abandoned in droves by those who sought after greener, non-legalistic pastures! Dr. Ford's theology must have seemed like a breath of fresh air to those who did not know any better. What a sad legacy this has left us, solely through the rejection of that `most precious message'!
One clear statement by Ellen White which has been misunderstood and misinterpreted has exacerbated this fear of the judgement:
"When the third angel's message closes, mercy no longer pleads for the guilty inhabitants of the earth. The people of God have accomplished their work. They have received the "latter rain," "the refreshing from the presence of the Lord," and they are prepared for the trying hour before them . . . . Then Jesus ceases His intercession in the sanctuary above. He lifts His hands and with a loud voice says, "It is done:" . . . . When He leaves the sanctuary, darkness covers the inhabitants of the earth. In that fearful time, the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor." (`The Great Controversy', E.G. White, 1911, pp 613, 614.)’
Ellen White was no Trinitarian; but as this statement has been interpreted in a Trinitarian sense by Trinitarians for decades, then naturally all who read and believe it unnecessarily fear the judgment. Yet the `beloved disciple' of Christ informs us in one of the most poignant passages in the Bible that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment:
`Herein is our love (agape) made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love (agape); but perfect love (agape) casts out fear [of the judgment]: because has torment. He that fears in not made perfect in `agape'.' (1 John 4: 17,18.)
As more Adventist's come to realize that one aspect that is critical to understanding the doctrine of the `Investigative Judgment' is the true identity of the Holy Spirit, so also are they coming to clearly understand that the `Investigative Judgment' is not only about the vindication of the character of God and the removal of sin from the Sanctuary itself, but it is also about the cleansing of the soul temple from sin, and this is what prepares our people for translation! But if we think that we can do this by examining our robes to see if they are spotless, then castigating ourselves for our sin, and then making promises to the Lord that we will be `good' and `we won't do that again' - then surely this is the most tragic mindset that we can have, for this subtle reliance upon `self' continues to alienate us from our Lord and Saviour. We cannot do it ourselves! We simply can't save ourselves, though many have tried! We cannot change our sinful nature, for it must instead be exchanged for the sinless life of Christ and be crucified with Him at Calvary. Although we can talk about this and give mental assent to it; just how do we do it?
A deeper study of Biblical truths that have built upon the `1888 message' of Jones & Waggoner are revealing `present truth' in relation to the outpouring of the `agape' of Christ to His people who deign to remain faithful to Him; for the `agape' of Christ is presented to us in the Biblical truths of Christ inheriting the Name of His Father, the Divine Nature of His Father - and the fact that Christ dared to die the `second death' for those who least deserve it. "For God so love the world (that's us), that he gave His only begotten Son to us" forever! How we should live in awe at the impact of what these words truly mean!
A more intensive study of prophecy in light of this is revealing how Rome exalts herself by a false conception of the character of God - which the Greeks called `Eros' and is based upon the minding of `self', the exulation of `self' and salvation by `self'. A literal translation of Daniel 8: 11 reveals that the pagan Hellenized conception of salvation by `self' and the exaltation of `self' was `lifted up' into the early Church; at which this `abomination of desolation' ensured that these most precious truths were lost - thus obscuring the true character of the Father and Son. For when the `beloved disciple' wrote `God is love' - he described the essence of the character of God. For he wrote God is agape!
The Biblical truth of the true character of God could not be fully recovered and thus comprehended until 1844, for the platform upon which the Biblical truths of the true character of God rests had not been recovered during the Reformation. This was vital truth which testifies to a correct understanding of the ontological relationship of the Father, Son and their Holy Spirit; the Sabbath, the conditional immortality of the soul, and Messiah in His Sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. As it is these truths which are the canvass upon which `agape' is painted, then a corrseponding loss of any or all of these doctrines lead to a corresponding obscuring of the `agape' of Christ, and we descend into darkness.
For instance - if you are a Trinitarian who believes that the soul is naturally immortal, then Jesus dying the `second death' for us makes absolutely no sense to you at all, and the knowledge of the giving of the dear Son to us for eternity is lost to you, for you simply cannot comprehend the `breadth, and length, and depth, and height [of] the `agape' of Christ, which passeth all knowledge' - which was revealed to us at Calvary when Christ was given to humanity in human form for eternity, and where He died the "second death" for us. Certainly, Martin Luther recovered `justification by faith'; but this was not sufficient to prepare a people for translation. A recovery of deeper truths which lead to a heart-felt appreciation of the salvation which our Messiah has already wrought for us was needed. Genuine sanctification (which is lacking in the doctrines of the Lutheran Church) could only be made manifest by the recovery of the true knowledge of the `agape' of the Father and His Christ.
This began when Elders Jones and Waggoner presented simple Bible truths that described the true nature of God at the watershed Minneapolis Conference. While their works never mention the word `agape', and they may have never even have known of the word; nevertheless, their writings and Ellen White's writings are permeated with this. The Minneapolis conference heralded the "beginning of the latter rain", when these awe inspiring truths which describe the true character of God were first presented to our people. What a tragedy that this light was rejected at Conference level, and men such as Le Roy Froom and Elder Daniels subsequently looked to the denominational acceptance of the Trinitarian Holy Spirit as bringing to us the outpouring of the Latter Rain. Certainly our acceptance of this unholy Spirit has led to the outpouring of a spirit, but it is the unclean spirit of frogs which catch their prey with their tongues, which is described in Revelation 16: 13. Can there be any doubt at all that Pentacostalism catches its prey with the speaking of tongues?
In a deeper sense, when Daniel cried out to the Lord to `shine your face upon your sanctuary that is desolate' (Dn. 9:17), this prayer could not be answered completely until the end of the vision of Dn. 8 saw the 2,300 days terminate in 1844 - which then paved the way for a greater understanding of the character of God, and the recovery of the principle of `Agape' in 1844, which began with the recovery of the doctrinal truths outlined above. For the archaic language of the K.J.V does not really give a precise translation of the word `cleansed'; in the manner in which Daniel 8: 14 is translated. A more precise translation is "For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful place" (E.S.V.); thus indicating that not only would the Sanctuary be cleansed of sin, but the knowledge of the character of God would be restored to its rightful place. This could only take place with the recovery with the right doctrine which testifies of this, and reveals Jesus ministering for our sins in the Most Holy Place.
One aspect of this which is critical to our understanding of the work of `Messiah in His Sanctuary' is His true identity - and is the reason why Lucifer has provided a counterfeit of salvation through the auspices of the Trinitarian Holy Spirit; for according to the Nicene Creed - which is the doctrine of the Trinity; the Third Person of the Godhead mediates between man and God:
`And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.'
This blasphemous statement informs us that the Holy Spirit `is the Lord and Giver of life' - which is the sole province of Jesus alone, and is worshiped and glorified as God; which is a statement which contains within it the seeds of Pentecostal worship as found in the legacy of Edward John Irving, and John Nelson Darby. It contains within it the seeds of the neo-Pentacostalism which is found in some quarters of Adventism today - and is solely responsible for our imbibing of Pentacostal styles of worship. For when coupled with Acts 8: 26 - `the Spirit itself makes intercession for us'; the ministration of Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary is obscured by this Trinitarian Holy Spirit (the mysterious `Third Person of the Godhead') who purports to make intercession for our sins. Which isn't needed anyway, If we believe in the legacy of the `cheap grace' which Dispensational Trinitarianism has left us!
Moses is an object lesson of the `agape' of Christ, for just as Moses was prepared to have his name blotted out of the `Book of Life', and thus die the `second death' for his people (Exodus 32: 32); so also did Christ suffer this for His people, notwithstanding the fact that He was raised on the third day by the Holy Spirit of His Father (Romans 8: 11).
After Christ had died the first death which we all die (for it must be that He is an example in all things for those whom He calls brethren), and had been resurrected to eternal life by the Holy Spirit of His Father (Romans 8: 11), he appeared to the disciples and instructed Thomas to feel the nail-prints in the palms of his hands so that he would know that we worship a risen Saviour(John 20: 25). Christ had previously instructed the disciples that He would not leave them comfortless, but that He would come to them personally by the mighty agency of His Holy Spirit (John 14: 18). Jesus could not be with them personally in flesh and blood, as He had not yet ascended to His Father to begin his ministration for our sins in the Holy Place. In His place, He would send Himself in Spirit, to convict us of sin! The `1888 message' taught of our Saviour being `near' to us. How much nearer can Jesus be to us, than coming to us personally by His own Holy Spirit, which He shares with the Father?
Agape is a faith that works by love (Galatians 5: 6). But it is not cheap sentimentalism! Nor is it cheap grace, for it will cost you everything you have - which is yourself; if you choose to follow Jesus; for `by beholding, you `are changed into the same image [of Christ] from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord' (2 Corinthians 3: 18). It is only when we come to the same experience that Moses had - that our only concern is the salvation of others; to the point that we would be willing to have our names blotted out of the Book of Life so that others might be saved, that paradoxically we also are saved; for with this type of faith there is no sin in us:
`But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.' (Galatians 5: 22-26.)
It is this type of faith which will allow us to stand boldly in the Day of Judgment, because "as He is, so are we in this world". It is this type of faith which also prepares a people for translation - the reproduction of the character of the `agape' of Christ in His people.
There is another reason why Ellen White's `end of probation' statement has been so widely misunderstood, and that is because few Adventists comprehend that when probation closes, judgment has finished, the character of God's people has been perfected by His `agape' love, and the pronouncement is made:
"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous let him be righteous still: and he that is holy let him be holy still." (Revelation 22: 11.)
God's people have been made perfect in love, for perfect love not only casts out all fear, but all sin as well. There was no sin in Christ, for in His human incarnation Christ was made perfect in love and sin could not find an entrance by which He might be overcome. For Jesus was not only "made of a woman, made under the law"; He was also "born of the Spirit" with the perfect mind of `agape' (Galatians 4:4, John 3:5, Philippians 2: 5). To fail to comprehend that Christ was "made under a woman, made under the law" results in falling into `cheap grace'. This was the legacy of the theology of Des Ford. To fail to comprehend that Christ was also "born of the Spirit" results in falling into legalism. This was the legacy of the theology which ensued after our corporate rejection of the `1888 message'. Both aberrant positions ultimately fail in us simply letting that mind be in us, which was in Christ Jesus, for by beholding Jesus, instead of ourselves, we are changed!
This is the true nature of the cleansing of the soul temple in the `Investigative Judgment'. Judgment has closed, but as Jesus still dwells in His people through His Holy Spirit - Jesus keeps them from sinning while they live in the sight of a Holy God without an intercessor. Thus they can have `boldness' in the Day of Judgment, as they await their Saviour. This beautiful truth can only be understood by a non-Trinitarian people, for the outpouring of the "latter rain" is the infilling of the Spirit of Christ in His people - the infilling of the `agape' of Christ which brings them to the point that His love casts out all sin by His Holy Spirit. `Agape' crucifies `self' - the `old man' of sin.