Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lesson 12: Jesus in Jerusalem

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Luke
Lesson 12: Jesus in Jerusalem

The Gospel of Luke portrays Jesus presenting Himself to Jerusalem as their King and His desire to cleanse the Temple. Our Sabbath school lesson asks us to dwell on what this means for us today: "Christ spoke to them, but they didn't listen. Or maybe they listened, but what He said went so much against what they expected that they blocked it out. How can we make sure we aren't doing the same thing when it comes to biblical truth?" [1] There is important truth opened to our understanding by the prominent themes of the 1888 message. This present truth is practical day-to-day heart work which brings alive what Jesus did two millennia ago. The 1888 message relates Jesus' royal coming to Jerusalem, and His cleansing of the Temple, as parallel to His coming to us--the Laodicean church. This dynamic goes unrecognized and unappreciated in our quarterly.


Up to this point in Jesus' ministry He had stayed away from Jerusalem to avoid a head-on confrontation with the religious authorities, and end His work prematurely. But as the time drew near for His sacrifice, He must make a public demonstration of the true nature of His Messiahship in order that all could make up their minds about where they stood.

So he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, indicating His royal mission, and received the accolades from the people. His entourage consisted of the people He had healed and saved from Satan's bondage. He went straight to the Temple and found it in the same condition as His earlier visit when He first cleansed it of the moneychangers, only worse. The commercial atmosphere was such a distraction from the true meaning of worship and truth. That which should have portrayed the sacrifice of the Lamb of God to reach repentant hearts and reconcile the people to God, was instead turned into a lucrative economic gain for the priests and authorities. The truth had been lost upon those who should have been sharing it with others.


Our Lesson author asks a very important question: "What important lesson about false expectations can we take from this account?" [2] Here's what our history teaches us which is unrecognized. Christ came to the leadership of His church in 1888 to a duly elected session of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference. Christ sent "delegated messengers." Ellen White said, "If you reject Christ's delegated messengers, you reject Christ." [3]

Through these "messengers" Christ came into the midst of His Laodicean Church as their King. He came to us as a gentleman, knocking at our heart's door, as a bridegroom would come to his bride to propose marriage. He came with a message of righteousness by faith which would bring revival and reformation to the people. It was "the straight testimony of the Laodicean message." As such it is a unique understanding of justification by faith, which is parallel to and consistent with the idea of the cleansing of the sanctuary truth. In other words, the gospel in harmony with the Ten Commandments. It is the gospel which makes the believer righteous.

There's a fascinating story in Psalm 118 of "the stone which the builders refused" when they were building Solomon's temple. It was the most important of all the stones, yet the "builders" despised it and left it lying out in the bushes in the heat of summer and freeze of winter (vss. 22, 23). Jesus applied this story to Himself. "And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them" (Luke 20:19), but the principle applies to the "most precious message" of Christ's righteousness which "the builders" in the Advent Movement "refused," which is yet to become the "headstone of the corner." That is, "the message of Christ's righteousness," which alone can lighten the earth with glory (Rev. 18:1-4). This message alone is a "perfect fit" to meet the needs of the world church today, and it will be "marvelous" when all at last realize, "This is the Lord's doing."

Christ applied David's psalm as a prophecy to Himself (Matt. 21:42). As a principle it applies to God's work in these last days. No "stone" can become the "headstone" of the "temple" unless it is first "rejected by the builders"! In other words, a repentance on the part of "the builders," the leaders of "the church of the Laodiceans," must precede the finishing of the great gospel commission (Rev. 3:14, 19; 18:1-4). The Good News is that it is certain; and it will be "marvelous in our eyes." Thank God for eyes that can see it--for a life redeemed from the accident wreckage! And you? If you but knew it, you too are "alive from the dead."

The 1888 message was intended by its Divine Author to be the beginning of that light which is to lighten the earth with its glory--the beginning or initial outpouring of the latter rain. It complemented that which was first understood thirty-two years before to be the Laodicean message. Accepted, it would have grown in beauty and power until it finished the work of God in the earth, and prepared our brethren themselves for translation.


The Minneapolis message was an invitation from the Bridegroom to the one whom He loved to prepare herself to be His sympathetic and understanding Bride. But she had put off her coat; how could she put it on? She had washed her feet; how should she defile them? In His divine and tender persistence, the disappointed Lover put in His hand by the hole of the door. But the Bride was not ready, still unwilling, still undecided. When at length, belatedly, she ventured to open to Him the door, He had withdrawn Himself; the invitation of the ages must now be deferred until in the fullness of time her heart is sick of love. Thoughtful and reverent students of the Holy Scriptures have discerned for centuries what we have not yet seen the clear reference to the Laodicean message in the Song of Songs (5:2-6).

Prominent in the 1888 message is this idea of ceasing to resist our Lord. Not until after the 1888 Conference did Ellen White state it so 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." [4] To stop resisting Jesus--that's the essence of this cleansing of the sanctuary idea. Apparently Ellen White picked up the idea from Jones and Waggoner.

It's Good News better than most Adventists have ever thought it is. In early 1890 Ellen White was moved to write a series of articles for the Review that linked together this idea with the work of Christ in the Most Holy Apartment. And she directly linked it all to the 1888 message (Jan. 21 through April 8), for example: "Christ is cleansing the temple in heaven from the sins of the people, and we must work in harmony with Him upon the earth, cleansing the soul temple from its moral defilement" (Feb. 11). "When we meet unbelief in those who should be leaders of the people, ... our souls are wounded" (March 4). "They oppose they know not what" (Feb. 25). It is clear that the "leaders" did not believe in righteousness by faith which delivers from sin "cleansing the soul temple." For them the investigative judgment was heavenly bookwork and not the High Priest's cleansing "heart work" wrought in the cooperative soul.

It seems that no one in Battle Creek grasped what she was saying. Guess what her reward was for these articles in the Review? "Exile" to Australia the next year (Waggoner shortly thereafter was sent to England).


The difference between Christ's ministry in the First Apartment and in the Second is what He does in His believers. Up until 1844, it was preparing believers to die so they could be "accounted worthy" to come up in the first resurrection. And that is a great work for our High Priest to do. If any of us are called to die, may we be prepared! But when looked at in context, His ministry in the Second Apartment is intended especially to prepare a people to be translated without tasting death. While they are still in the flesh, they must see Jesus, must meet Him face to face, which only "the pure in heart" can endure. These must be "alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord. ... and shall be caught up together with [the resurrected saints of all ages] to meet the Lord in the air." [5]

The Seventh-day Adventist Sanctuary message makes special sense in the light of Christ's Matthew 24 sermon. It was Heaven's purpose that the second coming be within the "generation" of those who saw the last of the celestial "signs" of His near return--the falling of the stars. That's how the pioneers understood it, and that's what the words of Jesus actually say. The otherwise inexplicable delay is the result of "resisting our Lord in His office work." The gospel commission in the light of Revelation 18:1-4 could have been accomplished within a few years of 1888. [6] The delay in finishing the work of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary is not due to computer backlogs in the heavenly offices, or to any angelic inefficiency. The problem lies with "us."


When Jesus "took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:19-20). He was making reference to His death.

The 1888 message view is that Christ accomplished for "all men" a legal justification, which is the "judicial verdict of acquittal for all men" that the New English Bible renders Romans 5:15-18 as teaching (and which all responsible translations also say). This is why God can treat "all men" as though they have never sinned, why He can send His rain on the just and on the unjust. "All men" have enjoyed the benefits of Christ's sacrifice whether or not they believe, because our very physical life is the purchase of the cross. Seen in this light, every meal becomes "a sacrament"--the Lord's supper, in reality. "Every man" is already totally in debt to Christ for all he has; and heart-conversion is a response to God's much more abounding grace, not a grasping for eternal life. It's saying "Thank You" for that eternal gift already given "in Christ."

Can you think of any greater tragedy in the end of history than for a disappointed Christ to stand before "the door" knocking in vain and ultimately turning away in the humiliation of defeat? That is what the devil wants! Why should we give in to him by default? The picture we see in Scripture indicates complete success. By virtue of the infinite sacrifice on Calvary we must choose to believe that the Laodicean message will fully accomplish its objective.

The Laodicean church is the new covenant church. Not for her own intrinsic goodness will the Lord remain loyal to her, but because He has to be a covenant-keeping God. "Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but ... [that] the Lord your God ... may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (Deut. 9:5). That covenant aspect of Christ's character is the assurance that the message to Laodicea will not fail.

--Paul E. Penno

[1] Sunday, June 14, p. 97 (p. 151, Teacher's Edition).
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 97.
[4] Steps to Christ, p. 27 (1892).
[5] 1 Thess. 4:15-18.
[6] General Conference Bulletin, 1893, p. 419; The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1130.

Note: "Sabbath School Today" and Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson are on the Internet at: http://1888mpm.org

Raul Diaz