Friday, December 27, 2013

Lesson 13: "Exhortations from the Sanctuary"

Sabbath School Today
> With the 1888 Message Dynamic
> The Sanctuary
> Lesson 13: "Exhortations from the Sanctuary"
> The sanctuary truth has immense practical significance. A true heart-appreciation of what Christ accomplished on the cross that goes beyond both Calvinism and Arminianism is what the 1888 message sees. The message motivates immediately to true repentance, confession, a total change of lifestyle, the new birth, reconciliation, yes, "good works"--all under the "constraint" imposed by being under grace, not under a sense of fear of the wrath of the law.
> The 1888 message illuminates the experiential implications of the sanctuary truth: Sin is unmasked; lukewarmness is seen to be sin; there is a deeper conviction of sin; unbelief is seen as a re-crucifixion of Christ--it was "we" who crucified Him.
> At the same time comes a deeper conviction of righteousness--Christ is already our Saviour, He has died our second death; if we stop resisting His grace (His ministry in the Most Holy Apartment) He will prepare His people for His soon return. [1] Cleansing the heavenly sanctuary is His job, and we are to "work in harmony with Him," to let Him do it.
> Christ has elected us each one personally, individually, to eternal salvation; so if we "let" Him have His way, He will prepare us for eternal life. Only if we cherish unbelief can we fail to "overcome." We stop worrying about whether we will individually, personally get our reward, and we become free to be concerned for the honor and vindication of Christ.
> Thus the message is an "under grace" and not "under the law" motivation. We find something more important to live for rather than saving our own poor little souls. It's His grace, not fear of being lost, that teaches us to say "No!" to ungodliness and worldly lusts.
> Thus the agape of Christ constraineth us henceforth to live unto Him who died for us and rose again because "we thus judge, that if One died for all, then all were dead," that is, if He had not died, we would be dead. Therefore covetousness (worldliness, selfishness) is killed at its root, we yield ourselves to Him.
> The bridge that spans the last chasm between us and full fellowship with Christ is the surrender of the will in precisely the same way that Christ, in our flesh, surrendered His will. "By that will [God's] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10).
> Therefore we have "boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh" (Heb. 10:19, 20). As He surrendered His will to the Father, He fulfilled that love. As we surrender our will to Him, that same love is forthwith fulfilled in us. The way to boldness is through His flesh. [2]
> Anxiety and the "Fear of Death": Anxiety is basically what the Bible calls the "fear of death." What we have called "death" the Bible calls "sleep." Few fear that. Our "fear of death" is that of the second death, a fear of the nakedness, aloneness, forsakenness, the horror of great darkness, that comes when one is forever separated from the life and light of God and His great universe of joy. This buried anxiety touches every aspect of our waking life and even intrudes upon us in our dreams. We have seen that only as we sense the dimensions of Christ's sacrifice on the cross can we possibly come to grips with that problem of naked anxiety.
> "Full Assurance of Faith": Just how does one get this most precious "full assurance of faith" (or "full assurance of hope unto the end") that Hebrews speaks of (10:22; 6:11)? It would be nice if we were not constantly hounded by fear lest we won't be saved at last. And, on the other hand, we have enough common sense to realize that "many" in the last day will come up to Christ expecting entrance into His kingdom and He must say, "I never knew you" (Matt. 7:23). How do we "balance" this important issue of true versus false assurance?
> Although there are billions who must settle this issue, the Father being infinite is concerned about you as if you were the only person on earth (Matt. 10:29-31). Come into His presence and address Him as your personal heavenly Father, just as Jesus did (Matt. 7:6). This is step one--believe it.
> The Father wants you to be saved eternally, and His Son "gave Himself a ransom for all," which means--including you (1 Tim. 2:3-6). He did His job faithfully. It follows that the only way you can end up lost is to impede, resist, reject the will of your heavenly Father, and of course, of Christ. In other words, do as Esau did, the man who had the birthright already but who "despised" it and "sold" it. This is the second step--believe this truth that is such good news.
> This will mean that you do not trust yourself; your fear will not be that the Lord may turn away from you; your fear will be that you may forget Him. He has promised to "hold" you by "your right hand" (Isa. 41:13). You can be like a spoiled, rebellious child and wriggle yourself out of His hand. Choose to let Him hold you. Realize, you're lost if you don't. This is step three--believe it.
> Scripture says, "draw near with a true heart." That is, simply be honest. All the angels in heaven plus the Holy Spirit can't make you honest if you choose not to be. The decision is yours. "Draw near." This is step four--"draw near."
> The Conscience: The "conscience" of those who believe in Jesus is to be "purged," a deep work never before fully accomplished until the grand day of atonement. Let's draw near to the Most Holy Apartment, "our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience" (Heb. 10:22).
> Hebrews 9 and 10 describe His High Priestly ministry as cleansing the hearts of His people, "putting away sin," "purging the conscience," preparing a people to "receive the promise of eternal inheritance," "purifying" hearts and minds and lips, to "make the comers thereunto perfect," to render obsolete any "conscience" or "remembrance of sins," to "take away sins," to "perfect forever them that are sanctified," to write His "laws into their hearts ... [which are] sprinkled from an evil conscience," to "provoke [motivate] unto love and good works," to "believe to the saving of the soul."
> He naturally wants His people to understand why what He is doing is so incomparably important, and second, He would appreciate our cooperation because He can accomplish nothing without you. Your cooperation means you stop interposing a rebellious will to counteract what He is seeking constantly to do for you!
> In other words, through His Vicar (the Holy Spirit) Christ as High Priest is constantly pressing upon His people the conviction of sin buried deeper than they had imagined it to be; and when the conviction is welcomed and the sin is gladly surrendered and put away, the heart is more closely reconciled to Him. This process is called "atonement," or becoming at-one-with God. In Romans 5:11 it is "receiving the atonement" or "reconciliation." Thus the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is a "final atonement."
> Only the gospel can produce a truly converted people who will pass the test of the mark of the beast. They will be genuine gold through and through with no known or unknown sin.
> --Paul E. Penno
> Endnotes:
> [1] Cf. Review and Herald, Jan. 21, 1890.
> [2] "In His coming in the flesh--having been made in all things like unto us, and having been tempted in all points like as we are--He has identified Himself with every human soul just where that soul is. And from the place where every human soul is, He has consecrated for that soul a new and living way through all the vicissitudes and experiences of a whole lifetime, and even through death and the tomb, into the holiest of all, at the right hand of God for evermore. ... And this 'way' He has consecrated for us. He, having become one of us, has made this way our way; it belongs to us. He has endowed every soul with divine right to walk in this consecrated way; and by His having done it Himself in the flesh--in our flesh--He has made it possible, yea, He has given actual assurance, that every human soul can walk in that way, in all that that way is; and by it enter fully and freely into the holiest of all" (A. T. Jones, The Consecrated Way, pp. 87, 88, Glad Tidings ed.).
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SST 13| "Exhortations From the Sanctuary" | Paul Penno (+playlist)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"The Cosmic Conflict Over God's Character"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
The Sanctuary
Lesson 12: "The Cosmic Conflict Over God's Character"
When a prominent leader we trust is arraigned in court, the case attracts front-page or prime-time TV coverage. Can you think of a case that would attract more attention than the trial of the century? What kind of publicity would there be if God Himself were on trial?
Prophecy calls for a message to rivet the attention of the billions who "dwell on the earth." The phrase implies that while mundane matters absorb people's attention, an announcement will startle them and command their attention: "Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come" (Rev. 14:6).
Whose Judgment? Ours, or His? We have long thought it was only ours, and have seen the message as bad news, a stern warning of being taken to court unless we shape up. We tremble with terror at the idea.
But the original language of the first angel's message allows a different understanding. The "hour of His judgment" can also mean the hour when God Himself is to be judged. Rather than being the Accuser, He has become the Accused in the dock. And He needs a defense.
The idea of God being on trial is not as wild as it may appear. It's no secret that the vast majority of those who "dwell on the earth" are angry with Him. It's natural, because they have a carnal mind which "is enmity against God" (Rom. 8:7). They blame Him for their troubles, and especially for the horrendous injustices that plague the world at large. Our very legal terminology describes killer earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, tidal waves, and other natural disasters as "acts of God."
Alienated People Are a Problem to God. He could act as boss and zap them out of existence, but He is fair and even generous to subject Himself to their accusations and to stand trial on their charges. Any other solution to the problem would be unwise, for it would foment further rebellion.
It has often been said that God won His case in court when Christ died on His cross 2000 years ago. In a sense He did. But humanity has kept on suffering and sinning ever since. If God completely won the war at the cross, why does the agony go on and on? If Christ would only come the second time, He could end all this misery. Even the saints, who aren't supposed to be angry with Him, can raise serious questions in court: Why does the Lord wait so long to come? Doesn't He feel for the world's woes? Why doesn't He do something?
The only way that God can defend Himself against a charge of indifference is to plead some circumstance beyond His control which has delayed His intervention. Such a circumstance exists; the problem is for Him to prove it in court. The cosmic prosecution and jury, the world's inhabitants and the unfallen beings of the universe, yes, even the devil and his cohorts, must see the evidence and be convinced.
Paul saw that God will have to go in the dock, and was confident "that You may be justified in Your words, and may overcome when You are judged" (Rom. 3:4). Goodspeed says, "And win your case."
If all that's important is their own case, people might go blithely on, unconcerned about their appearance in court, nonchalant, indifferent to their own personal fate. But they will sit up and take notice when God goes on trial. They will realize that they are character witnesses in His trial, the greatest court case of all history. Thus an entirely new motivation will transcend the hitherto supreme concern they have felt for their own personal security (the root cause of lukewarmness). They actually find it possible to be concerned for Him. That would be a miracle!
The good news in the first angel's "everlasting gospel" is, therefore, much better news than we have thought. It gives every believer in Christ something all-absorbing to live for--he/she can make a significant contribution to God's acquittal. We need not enter the judgment shrinking in terror because of our own insecurity, but go in joyfully honoring Him. To "fear" Him is not to cower in dread of a confrontation with Him, but to thrill with tingled delight that our individual testimony for Him will be effective evidence in court. Only this can "give glory to Him."
How Can God Be Vindicated? The sacrifice of Christ on the cross was complete in that it guaranteed a final victory. But that victory has yet to be realized and demonstrated in His people. What is the problem?
Satan and millions of people press the point that God's professed people are little better than those who make no profession of devotion to the "third angel's message." He can say that they are still lukewarm (that's true; their lukewarmness is sin); they are often worldly and self-caring; their divorce rate is almost as high as that of the world; and they do not demonstrate any significantly higher motivation of love than do the religious adherents of "Babylon." Satan thinks he has a case.
Every one of us is in a special sense an exhibit in God's great trial, giving either glory or shame to Him. Not one of us can evade the merciless spotlight of the cosmic TV lens. The serious problem that God faces is that Laodicea's continued lukewarmness 2000 years after the cross tells the world and the universe that something doesn't work. Legally or theoretically, His plan of salvation is OK; but practically, it fails. Sin itself is not being vanquished.
Suppose we kid ourselves into thinking that everything is fine. Then the alternative charge comes into focus: Why is Christ so slow in coming the second time? If God's people are as ready as they will ever be, why doesn't He come? They continue to sin and Christ as High Priest continues to "cover" for them. Satan charges that this has become unfair, and hundreds of millions of Muslims protest that the Christian doctrine of substitution is unethical and even immoral. But Revelation 3:17 says that Laodicea seems satisfied with this and apparently "has need of nothing" while God in the dock must blush with shame. Meanwhile, the world's misery keeps getting worse.
In fact, Jesus says that the situation with the seventh and last church is so serious that it makes Him so sick at His stomach that He feels like throwing up (that's what verse 16 says in the Greek). If we could see His face as it really is, we would not see the frozen smile of mindless approbation that artists paint; we would see a divine face that registers the acute pain of nausea. How can we bring healing to Him?
The answer is not a more rigid works program. Neither is it a fear-oriented spiritual terrorism--straighten up or else face the plagues. We've heard that for decades, too. Neither will it help any longer to anaesthetize our spiritual nerve, blocking out the Holy Spirit's painful conviction that something is terribly wrong. Jeremiah reproves the false shepherds who tell the people that "all's well, all's well, when all is not well" (Jer. 6:14, Moffatt).
The Bible says that the answer is a special message of much more abounding grace, a message that has the power built into it that delivers from the addiction of continued sin, self-centeredness, and worldliness. Rightly understood, "the gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation" here and now, salvation from sin (Rom. 1:16). And the message of the three angels about "the hour of God's judgment" has that power inherent within it, for it is to produce a people who truly (not supposedly) "keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." They "are without fault before the throne of God" (Rev. 14:12, 5).
By supplying a wholly Christ-centered motivation, the third angel's message in verity accomplishes what has never been accomplished by any generation of saints in history. "All these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us" (Heb. 11:39, 40). A far clearer understanding of the message must come when "another angel," a fourth, comes "down from heaven having great authority" so that the earth can be "illuminated with his glory" (Rev. 18:1).
Only then can "another voice from heaven" speak with heart-convincing authority to the millions of honest souls in "Babylon," "Come out of her, My people" (Rev. 18:4). They will respond, in numbers far beyond our present comprehension. Once the great court case is settled and God has clearly won His case, the gospel commission will be quickly finished.
When Will Such a Message Come? The proper question is not in the future tense, but past. Not when will it come, but when did it come? According to Ellen White, its "beginning" came in the 1888 message of Christ's righteousness. Only God, not the angels, knows when Christ will come. Consider then how, over a century ago, they hoped for the final victory in the crisis in the government of God, and how disappointed they were that His people on earth "in a great degree" rejected that "most precious message." Untold suffering has been the result for billions of people. And no human mind can imagine the suffering that has accrued to the heart of God.
A profound insight was recognized by Ellen White during the 1888 era: "Something great and decisive is to take place, and that right early. If any delay, the character of God and His throne will be compromised" (An Appeal to Our Ministers and Conference Committees (1892). There has been a delay of a full century: the crisis could not be more serious.
Can we be content to be indifferent? Is it enough to remain little children in understanding and experience, willing for more decades to grind by through the 21st century while these great issues remain unresolved?
What is the 1888 message? How does it differ from what we think we already understand ("I-am-rich"?) of the gospel? Is it the same message of "justification by faith" proclaimed by popular Sunday-keeping Evangelicals? Or is it somehow uniquely Adventist? Does it have power to deliver from self-centeredness and lukewarmness? How can it arrest world attention so that the world can be lightened with its glory?
"The hour ... is come." Thousands of loyal Seventh-day Adventists worldwide are discovering the power of the much more abounding grace inherent in that message.
--Robert J. Wieland

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

SST #11 | "Our Prophetic Message" | Paul Penno

"Our Prophetic Message"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Sanctuary
Lesson 11: "Our Prophetic Message"
Our prophetic message is the three angels of Revelation 14:6-12. As history's sun of 6000 years finally goes down, "the last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love." [1] At the sunset of earth's history the Lord Jesus sends a message of "the everlasting gospel" to the ends of the earth (vs. 6).

The gospel is the glad tidings of the work of Christ as the sacrifice for sinners and His atoning ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. In 1888 this message alerted Ellen White. Almost immediately she recognized in it "showers of the latter rain from heaven" and "the beginning" of the light of the fourth angel of Revelation 18. [2] At no time before 1888 had she recognized any such clear light. [3] The "everlasting gospel" is the clearest understanding of Christ's saving work in all history. Hence it is the 1888 message. Justification [forgiveness] by faith is "the third angel's message in verity." [4]
What is the meaning of the cross? What is the divine mandate of Seventh-day Adventists? Which gospel has the Head of the church authorized us to proclaim to the world? Does it differ from the Protestant churches? Or is it the same as what Martin Luther and the Reformers taught? In what way is the Lord's 1888 message of justification by faith (which "in His great mercy He sent" us) different from that of the Sunday-keeping churches? Herein lies the continental divide issue for Seventh-day Adventists for 125 years since 1888.
Although Martin Luther "clearly taught" "the great doctrine of justification by faith" [5] for his day, "yet he did not receive all the light which was to be given to the world." [6] Ellen White said that Luther did not preach all of the gospel: "The message of salvation has been preached in all ages; but this message [the third angel's message which in essence is justification by faith] is a part of the gospel which could be proclaimed only in the last days, for only then would it be true that the hour of judgment had come." [7]
Why is this true? Because since 1844 we have been living in the cosmic Day of Atonement. The "new light" and "new truths" she speaks of must include a clearer understanding of justification by faith which is parallel to Christ's "new" work (since 1844) of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary. What wasn't true in Luther's day is true today--this is the heavenly Day of Atonement, and of judgment.
There is an understanding of the gospel of justification by faith that is "new light" for these last days, a message that must include "showers from heaven of the latter rain," and "the beginning" of the loud cry that must yet lighten the earth with glory. That is the 1888 message. How does it go beyond the Reformers?
Ask Mr. John Calvin, What did Christ accomplish on His cross? Answer, He saved those for whom He died, but the atonement is limited to God's preselected elect.
Ask Mr. James Arminius, for whom did Christ die? Answer, He died to make salvation available to everyone in the world. Only those whodo something by believing in Jesus are saved.
Ask the 1888 message, What did Christ accomplish on His cross? The answer, He "taste[d] death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). He paid "the wages of sin" which "is death"--the second death (Rom. 6:23).
Christ actually saved the world by His death on the cross. As Paul states it, "The judicial action, following upon the one offence [of Adam], issued in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following upon so many misdeeds, issued in a [judicial] verdict of acquittal. ... The issue of one just act [the cross] is acquittal and life for all men" (Rom. 5:16, 18, NEB).
Writes E. J. Waggoner: "God has wrought out salvation for every man, and has given it to him; but the majority spurn it and throw it away. The judgment will reveal the fact that full salvation was given to every man and that the lost have deliberately thrown away their birthright possession." [8]
The 1888 message helps us to see in Scripture what is missed by Calvinism and Arminianism. What Christ accomplished on His cross is God's pardon given to everyone. Salvation is effective to those for whom Christ died (Calvinism), and Christ died for everyone (Arminianism) irrespective of whether they believe or not.
The prevailing view of Protestants and Evangelicals and Catholics is that death is the door to heaven. Thus the "gospel" of justification by faith as understood by them cannot see that Christ died the second death for everyone. Christ gives to every person the gift of forgiveness and eternal life because He took our penalty of death for sin and literally went to hell for each and every soul.
When an honest heart recognizes this ultimate truth of what happened on the cross, "the love [agape] of Christ constraineth" (compels) the soul to live "henceforth" only for the One who died our second death for us. The results, in God's plan, are phenomenal: All old covenant, egocentric motivation is transcended. The Sabbath truth, for example, comes into its own. In the final loud cry yet to come, for which the 1888 message was an advance billing, "the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. ... A large number take their stand upon the Lord's side." [9] That glorious climax to the gospel commission was what the Lord intended "us" to see in the 1888 era. But rejecting ("in a great degree") the beginning of the latter rain could lead to a spiritual abortion.
The old covenant motivation of fear will not figure in this closing work. "The grace of God that brings salvation ... teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." Why this ultimate power in soul-winning? The "grace" points to the cross: "Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, ... gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:11-14, NIV).
According to Ellen White's divinely inspired prophecy in The Great Controversy, our denominational evangelism has yet to come fully into its own. "The everlasting gospel" has not as yet been proclaimed in all its clarity to Protestant and Catholic alike, much less the non-Christian world. When we are willing to embrace the full truth of biblical justification by faith we will have a message that will startle modern Evangelical churches. Then the thrilling prophecies of Revelation 18:1 and The Great Controversy will be unfolded.
--Paul E. Penno
Endnotes:[1] Christ's Object Lessons, p. 415.
[2] Special Testimonies, Series A, No. 6, p. 19; Review and Herald, Nov. 22, 1892. See her series of articles in Review and Herald from January 21 through April 8, 1890. She saw the message of Jones and Waggoner as a call to follow Christ by faith into the Most Holy Apartment. There is the heavenly center whence the experience of justification by faith is ministered to earth's last generation, resulting in a growth in grace that will prepare a people for the final crisis and translation.
[3] "It was the first clear teaching on this subject from any human lips I had heard" publicly presented (Ms. 5, 1889). The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 349.
[4] Ellen G. White, "Repentance the Gift of God," The Advent Review And Sabbath Herald, April 1, 1890, p. 193.
[5] The Great Controversy, p. 253.
[6] Ibid., pp. 148, 149.
[7] Ibid.p. 356.
[8] The Glad Tidings, p. 14 (Glad Tidings ed.).
[9] The Great Controversy, p. 612.
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"The Eschatological Day of Atonement"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Sanctuary
Lesson 10: "The Eschatological Day of Atonement"
This week's lesson poses the question (Sunday), "None of us is immune to the danger of trying to play God. How might you, however subtly, be doing the same thing?" This serious question should be pondered frequently both by individuals as well as our corporate church.
The eighth chapter of Daniel uses the Hebrew word gadal (Strong's 1431) to describe the actions of four powers that enlarge themselves and assert their power and wills over others. The word connotes self-pride and disregard for the rights of others in favor of self-interests. This spirit of gadal is most specifically described in reference to the little horn power (Dan. 8:9-14). The chapter also attributes it to Lucifer's attitude which caused his fall to the earth (vs. 10). When Lucifer gave in to thoughts that he would ascend to heaven and raise his throne above the stars of God, he decided to make himself like the Most High (Isa. 14:13-14). In his heart of hearts, Lucifer must have known he didn't have the power to create, but as his ego strengthened, Lucifer cast logic aside in favor of asserting himself over others. With this, he produced an entire system of self-deception that rebels against the simple logic that God is God and He alone creates.
A system that substitutes anything in place of God, regardless of its logic, is exhibiting this spirit of gadal. Paganism makes no apologies for teaching that man must do something to attract and manipulate the gods. The subtly is that while men are not capable of doing what the gods require, they are capable of manipulating the gods to do it for them.
The Bible teaches that "there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12NASB). Even though we objectively know the way of Jesus is the only way, we are easily tempted to look to ourselves and our behavior to assure us of salvation. Even our beloved Seventh-day Adventist Church has had difficulty understanding this. Very sincere and respected teachers have fallen into a works trap, fearing that grace will always give way to license. There are those who have taught that works are produced by beholding Jesus and being influenced by His great love for us as manifested by the cross. That allows Him to give us a "graced in ability" to keep His law, and it is our law keeping that entitles us to heaven. Thus, we think that we have maintained a proper "balance" between grace and works. We have done our part, (satisfying our gadal) and God has done His, and our flesh is now holy by our combined efforts.
Since gadal is a trait common to all, God gave Israel the sanctuary system to demonstrate His and our roles in the plan of salvation. The sinner must humble himself and bring a sacrifice which bears his sins after he confesses them. After he kills the sacrifice, the remainder of the process is carried out by the priest. The sinner is not even allowed to watch once the priest takes the sacrificial blood within the veil of the Holy Place. This ritual was carried out by the priests on a continual basis throughout the year. This reinforced that confessed and forever forgiven sin was constantly transferred into the throne room of God, symbolized by the Most Holy Place.
Wonderful as that is, David asked for more: "According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin" (Psalm 51:1, 2). Even John contemplates more than just a forgiveness transaction, if I confess, He forgives (1 John 1:9). God wants to go way beyond just forgiveness, He wants us to cleanse us. How does the sanctuary symbolism portray this? We have already looked at the continual priestly functions, assistance with the sacrifices, renewing the lampstand, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense, but a special service took place once a year called the Day of Atonement,Yom Kippur. This required participation by each person in the camp. The idea was that both harbored and hidden sin rendered the camp "corporately" unclean. A cleansing on a corporate scale was required.
The process is described in Leviticus 16 and 23. Time and space prevent us from exploring the significance of each detail, but it is rich in showing us the mind of God. The continual sacrifices demonstrated Christ's willingness to be the sin bearer for all sin. The special rituals of the Day of Atonement signify the final cleansing process. Israel has long understood this to have end time implications rather than just an annual event. When the Seventh-day Adventist Church passed through the Great Disappointment in 1844, they began to understand its role in the end time events as participants in the process Israel referred to as "afflicting the soul."
Most people are afraid of this process because they believe it will reveal yet another thing they must overcome. They are right, but the only reason to dread this is because they think they must do it themselves. Christ used the metaphor of putting on a wedding garment, which He supplies to describe the cleansing of our characters before His coming for His bride. It is only the spirit ofgadal that prefers our filthy garments, because that's the best we can muster.
Why can't God just let us keep sinning until He comes and then resolve everything? What if the church never corporately becomes willing to submit? Christ answered the latter question when He said that "no one" knows the day nor the hour except the Father (Mark13:32). This is a statement of hope, because the Father retains His omniscience and can see the future. The end will come.
But again, why is this cosmic Day of Atonement necessary? We find an example in the world of sports. For many years it was considered impossible that the record of running a mile in four minutes would never be broken. Then, in 1954 Roger Bannister did the impossible, he beat the record. 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 that 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. [1]
--Arlene Hill
See Donald K. Short, "Then Shall the Sanctuary Be Cleansed,"chapter 7, "The Cleansing of the 'True Tabernacle'" (especially p. 78).
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Sanctuary
Lesson 9: "The Pre-Advent Judgment"

I thought the prayer before bedtime, "Lord, forgive all my sins," took care of my record in heaven. Doesn't God say, "I am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins" (Isa. 43:25)?
Now comes the problem of understanding what Peter says in Acts 3:19: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Peter says that "sins may be blotted out" at "the times of refreshing." Are we not finished with sin at the time they are confessed? Why are they still hanging around by the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the future "latter rain"?
God is true to His word. He has "cast all their sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19). Then why have an investigative judgment? Because just as in the ancient earthly tabernacle type the penitent sinner went away from the sanctuary actually forgiven, his sin was recorded therein awaiting its final disposition on the annual Day of Atonement.
Clearly, there has to be a judgment before Jesus returns; then it is that the sins of God's people, forgiven all along in the past, will be finally "blotted out." Peter writes: "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17).
The heavenly record books are an accurate picture of our lives. Everything that we have ever said, done or thought; both known and unknown, is accurately recorded in the mind. And so now in the judgment our life-history coincides with its legacy. Our final biographical sentence is written with a "period." Do you really want your sins "deleted"?
Let a lesson from your computer illustrate the point. As you go along there are documents that you remove from sight by putting them in the "trash can." But the record is still there just in case later on you decide to go back to your old ways and retrieve it.
So when you confess your sins, they are indeed forgiven; but sinful humans can sometimes go back to their old ways like the dog that Peter says returns to his vomit (2 Peter 2:22). And the Lord doesn't want to take anybody to heaven who secretly is sorry that he ever repented and he really wants to go back to the devil.
So there finally comes a time when the accumulated "trash" needs to be emptied. But wait a minute! A little message pops up, "Do you really want to delete everything?"
As we near the coming of Christ, there has to be a final investigation: "Are you reallysure you want your sins forever forgiven? Are you really sure you don't want to go back to your old selfish, lustful, worldly ways, ever?" Well, I hope you're ready to click yes on that. You click on "Yes." Now all the "trash" is gone forever, irrevocably.
The good news of the 1888 message is that our Advocate, Jesus is standing up for us in the investigative judgment opposing the prosecuting attorney. Zechariah saw this portrayed in vision. Representing the sinful people was "Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD" who is our defense attorney, "and Satan [the prosecutor] standing at his right hand to resist him" (Zech. 3:1). The result of the judgment was Joshua's "filthy garments" were removed and he was clothed "with change of raiment" (vs. 3).
To change the metaphor, in 1888, the Bride's Husband proposed marriage by giving the remnant Seventh-day Adventist Church the "wedding garments."
Jesus taught the pre-advent judgment through a parable. The king invited guests from all walks of life to a wedding. "When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless" (Matt. 22:10-13). He was cast out.
Here the "king" inspects the "guests" as to whether they are wearing the "wedding garment" which he has given to each one. In this case a "friend" has neglected to put on the garment and is left "speechless." Here is presented the concept of a judgment before the wedding.
1888 is the invitation to the wedding. Speaking of the 1888 message, Ellen White emphasizes some wonderfully good news: "We are in the day of atonement, and we are to work in harmony with Christ's work of cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of the people. Let no man who desires to be found with the wedding garment on, resist our Lord in his office work" (The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Jan. 21, 1890).
The One who will accomplish that amazing task is the High Priest of the heavenly sanctuary. His business is being a Saviour from sin. It is His job to cleanse the sanctuary, not ours; but it is our job to cooperate with Him, to let Him do it, to stop hindering Him "in His office work."
The 1888 message is the clearest understanding of justification by faith which is parallel to and consistent with the cleansing of the sanctuary truth. When the hearts of God's people on earth are cleansed then shall the sanctuary in heaven be cleansed. Justification is not exclusively expunging the record of sin in heaven. Our "high priest make[s] an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord" (Lev. 16:30).
That precisely is the purpose of the investigative judgment--not to condemn God's people, but to cleanse them so they can meet Jesus in person when He returns.
There is sin, conscious and unconscious, that must be discovered, repented of, "overcome" (Rev. 3:21), so that those who follow the great High Priest in His closing work of Atonement may not be consumed by the brightness of Jesus' coming. That's going to be a serious moment!
The High Priest doesn't want to condemn you; He wants to vindicate you--that's the only judgment He wants to make in your case.
Don't stop Him, don't hinder His on-going work!
--Paul E. Penno

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SST #9 | "The Pre-Advent Judgment" | Paul Penno

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Christ, Our Priest"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Sanctuary
Lesson 8: "Christ, Our Priest"

Many people wonder, What is Christ, our High Priest, doing now in the heavenly sanctuary? Is He on vacation, or absorbed in work in some other corner of His great universe? Is He serious that "the tabernacle of God is [to be] with men" (Rev. 21:3)? The 1888 message idea of the cleansing of the sanctuary relieves minds of this perplexity.
The initial, rock-bottom, foundational idea that permeates "1888" simply put, is something that never crossed the minds of Luther, Calvin, or the Wesleys, or any Sunday-keeping Evangelicals of the 1888 era, or it seems, has yet to penetrate the consciousness of ourSunday-keeping brethren and sisters of today. Maybe we haven't told it in a way that grips their interest. It's the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, the ministry of our great High Priest in the second or Most Holy Apartment. The context of "1888" is the cosmic Day of Atonement. We've been living in it since 1844. Time at last to understand justification by faith!
Ellen G. White wrote: "The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ's work in behalf of men [justification by faith]. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time and revealing the triumphant issue of the contest between righteousness and sin. The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith" (Evangelism, p. 222, 221).
She continued, "The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844. It opened to view a complete system of truth, connected and harmonious, showing that God's hand had directed the great advent movement, and revealing present duty as it brought to light the position and work of His people" (ibid., p. 222).
From 1844 on, Christ's main work was no longer to prepare believing people to die and go in the grave to await the first resurrection (a preparation wonderful enough if you have to die!). But now in this great Day of Atonement our High Priest must prepare a people to be ready for translation without tasting death.
But how is justification by faith more fully grasped in these last days, than it was by Luther and Calvin in the 16th century? Didn't they proclaim it clearly? Yes, they did--for their day. But they lived before"the time of the end" when "knowledge shall be increased" (Dan. 12:4). Their work, which the Lord gave them, was to prepare a people to die and come up in the first resurrection (see Luke 20:35; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17), and they were faithful to the light they saw.
Now, in this "time of the end," we are living in the great cosmic, antitypical "Day of Atonement." God is preparing a people to be "accounted worthy ... to stand before the Son of man," to be translated at His second coming (Luke 21:36). And there is no power in heaven or earth that can accomplish that objective except "the gospel of Christ." It alone "is the power of God unto salvation" (Rom.1:16). It's what Peter says is "the present truth" (2 Peter 1:12). That clearer understanding of "the everlasting gospel" (Rev. 14:6) will teach God's people to sing "a new song" that "no man" can "learn but the 144,000, which [are] redeemed from the earth," in whose "mouth [is] found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God" (vss. 3-5). There is not a progression of truth involved, but there is a progression in the comprehension of truth. "Knowledge shall be increased."
A change in character is involved. The legally imputed righteousness of Christ becomes His practically imparted righteousness, when the Bride of Christ "has made herself ready" for the long-delayed "marriage of the Lamb." For the first time in the long ages of the great controversy, she is "arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the [imparted] righteousness of saints" (Rev. 19:7, 8; Greek). Now the Bride is more concerned for His honor and glory than even for her own salvation; that's biblical justification by faith. She overcomes "even as [He] also overcame" (3:21); self at last is crucified with Him. That will be the fruitage of Christ's work as the world's great High Priest in His closing work in the Most Holy Apartment of His heavenly sanctuary (see Heb. 4:14-16; 7:259:23-28; 10:18-25; 11:39, 40; 13:20, 21).
But the 1888 idea of the cleansing of the sanctuary is not that God's people do the work. The High Priest does it; His people cease resisting Him "in His office work" (to borrow Ellen White's expression). They let Him do it. Never does the Bible say that the ancient Israelites had to cleanse the sanctuary on their annual days of atonement. Their high priest always did it!
But some ask why Jesus as our High Priest has to "make intercession" for us before the Father (Heb. 7:25). The word "intercession" implies that somebody is not happy and has to be interceded with on our behalf. Christ "is at the right hand of God," Paul says, "who also maketh intercession for us" (Rom. 8:34). John adds his insight when he compares Christ to "an advocate with the Father," the word "advocate" being parakletos in the Greek (1 John 2:1). Vine says the word "was used in a court of justice to denote a legal assistant, counsel for the defense, who pleads another's cause."
In other words, Jesus is a defense lawyer pleading a case "with the Father," John says. It seems that the Father is the Judge and that we are on trial before Him, and that we would lose our case if it weren't for Jesus being there in our behalf. This is 100 percent true; we would indeed lose out if it were not for our divine Lawyer working on our side.
The Father, as well as the Son, hate sin. But in accordance with the agreement between them Both, Christ became the representative Adam for the human race and paid the penalty as the sinner's Substitute and Surety, having tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9). Thus God's wrath against sin was experienced by Christ on His cross. He suffered the curse of God which was the condemnation of the second death. His shed blood qualifies Him as mankind's Advocate with the Father. It makes it possible for the Father to shower his blessings of life equally on both the just and the unjust.
But who is He "pleading," "interceding" with? Who needs to be "persuaded" to accept us? Does it make sense to say it's the Father? Wasn't it He who took the initiative to "so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son" for us? How could He be against us, needing Jesus to "intercede" for us? Does the Father have a club behind His back, about to let us have it, and then Jesus steps up and says, "Look, Father, at the wounds in My hands, etc. Please be nice to these people!"? No, that doesn't make sense. The Father loves us just as much as the Son loves us! Then who is Jesus interceding with?
Is He interceding with the devil? Will he or his angels ever be persuaded to be nice to us? Hardly! Then who has to be persuaded to "accept" us, to stop condemning us? The good angels? No, they are "all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for" us, not against us (Heb. 1:14).
Then who is left who needs to be "persuaded," interceded with to "accept" us, except we ourselves? We are the ones who need to hold our heads high, to join Paul in being "persuaded" that nothing will ever "separate us from the love of God" (Rom. 8:38, 39).
Prominent in the 1888 message is the idea of ceasing to resist our Lord. Not until after the 1888 Conference did Ellen White state it clearly: "The sinner may resist this love, may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus ... in repentance for his sins" (Steps to Christ, p. 27). Therein is the essence of this cleansing of the sanctuary!
The great Day of Atonement ministry is the most important activity going on today in the heavenly universe. Keep in tune with it.
--From the writings of Robert J. Wieland

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