The Sanctuary Truth Under Fire [CIHS9]

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While there were those who saw clearly the binding claims of God’s law and began to observe the Seventh-day Sabbath as set forth in the law of God, they encountered strong opposition. Of this and the reasons for it, Ellen White explains: {CIHS 9.1}

“Many and earnest were the efforts made to overthrow their faith. None could fail to see that if the earthly sanctuary was a figure or pattern of the heavenly, the law deposited in the ark on earth was an exact transcript of the law in the ark in heaven; and that an acceptance of the truth concerning the heavenly sanctuary involved an acknowledgment of the claims of God’s law, and the obligation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Here was the secret of the bitter and determined opposition to the harmonious exposition of the Scriptures that revealed the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary.”—The Great Controversy, 435. {CIHS 9.2}

It is little wonder that those in subsequent years defecting from the Seventh-day Adventist Church should make the sanctuary truth a point of opposition. It was so with Elders Snookand Brinkerhof, conference officers in Iowa, who withdrew in the middle 1860’s, and with D. M. Canright, an influential minister, who left the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1887 to become a bitter enemy and critic. Nor is it strange that the pantheistic views at the turn of the century, espoused and advocated by both medical and ministerial workers, should strike directly at this fundamental doctrine. It was in this setting that Ellen White in warning words wrote on November 20, 1905: {CIHS 9.3}

“To those medical missionaries and ministers who have been drinking in the scientific sophistries and bewitching fables against which you have been warned, I would say, Your souls are in peril. The world must know where you are standing and where Seventh-day Adventists are standing. God calls for all who have accepted these soul-destroying delusions no longer to halt between two opinions. If the Lord be God, follow Him. {CIHS 10.1}

“Satan, with all his host is on the battlefield. Christ’s soldiers are now to rally round the bloodstained banner of Emmanuel. In the name of the Lord, leave the black banner of the prince of darkness, and take your position with the Prince of heaven. {CIHS 10.2}

“‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.’ Read your Bibles. From higher ground, under the instruction given me of God, I present these things before you. The time is near when the deceptive powers of satanic agencies will be fully developed. On one side is Christ, who has been given all power in heaven and earth. On the other side is Satan, continually exercising his power to allure, to deceive with strong, spiritualistic sophistries, to remove God out of the place that He should occupy in the minds of men. {CIHS 10.3}

“Satan is striving continually to bring in fanciful suppositions in regard to the sanctuary, degrading the wonderful representations of God and the ministry of Christ for our salvation into something that suits the carnal mind. He removes its presiding power from the hearts of believers, and supplies its place with fantastic theories invented to make void the truths of the atonement, and destroy our confidence in the doctrines which we have held sacred since the third angel’s message was first given. Thus he would rob us of   our faith in the very message that has made us a separate people, and has given character and power to our work.”—Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, pp. 16, 17. {CIHS 10.4}

It was in the setting of this pantheistic crisis that Ellen White, attending the General Conference session of 1905, declared in words significant to us today: {CIHS 11.1}

“In the future, deception of every kind is to arise, and we want solid ground for our feet. We want solid pillars for the building. Not one pin is to be removed from that which the Lord has established. The enemy will bring in false theories, such as the doctrine that there is no sanctuary. This is one of the points on which there will be a departing from the faith. Where shall we find safety unless it be in the truths that the Lord has been giving for the last fifty years?”—Counsels to Writers and Editors, 53. {CIHS 11.2}

The pantheistic views, so earnestly advocated by some, Ellen White declared, would “do away with God” (Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p. 16) and invalidate the sanctuary truth. {CIHS 11.3}

At about the same time one of our ministers, whom we will identify as “Elder G,” espoused the view that when Christ went back to heaven after his ministry on earth, He went into the presence of God, and that where God is, must be the most holy place, therefore on October 22, 1844, there was no entering into the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary as we believed and taught. These two concepts, both of which struck at the doctrine of the sanctuary as we held it, led Ellen White several times to refer to the soundness and integrity of this point of faith. In 1904 she wrote: {CIHS 11.4}

“They (the children of God) will not, by their words and acts, lead anyone to doubt in regard to the distinct personality of God, or in regard to the sanctuary and its ministry. {CIHS 11.5}

“We all need to keep the subject of the sanctuary in mind. God forbid that the clatter of words coming from human lips should lessen the belief of our people in the truth that there is a sanctuary in heaven, and that a pattern of this sanctuary was once built on this earth. God desires His people to become familiar with this pattern, keeping ever before their minds the heavenly sanctuary, where God is all and in all. We must keep our minds braced by prayer and a study of God’s Word, that we may grasp these truths.”—E. G. White Letter 233, 1904. {CIHS 11.6}

The Reality of the Heavenly Sanctuary Affirmed

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EGW Writings

Repeatedly we find in the Ellen G. White writings statementson the reality of the heavenly sanctuary, its furnishings, and its ministry. One such was penned in the 1880’s as she described the experience of the Advent believers following the disappointment: {CIHS 13.4}

“In their investigation they learned, that the earthly sanctuary, built by Moses at the command of God, according to the pattern shown him in the mount, was ‘a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices;’ that its two holy places were ‘patterns of things in the heavens;’ that Christ, our great High Priest, is ‘a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.’… {CIHS 14.1}

“The sanctuary in heaven, in which Jesus ministers in our behalf, is the great original, of which the sanctuary built by Moses was a copy…. {CIHS 14.2}

“The matchless splendor of the earthly tabernacle reflected to human vision the glories of that heavenly temple where Christ our forerunner ministers for us before the throne of God. {CIHS 14.3}

“As the sanctuary on earth had two apartments, the holy and the most holy, so there are two holy places in the sanctuary in heaven. And the ark containing the law of God, the altar of incense, and other instruments of service found in the sanctuary below, have also their counterpart in the sanctuary above. In holy vision the apostle John was permitted to enter heaven, and he there beheld the candlestick and the altar of incense, and as ‘the temple of God was opened,’ he beheld also ‘the ark of His testament.’ [Revelation 4:5; 8:3; 11:19.] {CIHS 14.4}

“Those who were seeking for the truth found indisputable proof of the existence of a sanctuary in heaven. Moses made the earthly sanctuary after a pattern which was shown him. Paul declares that that pattern was the true sanctuary which is in heaven. John testifies that he saw it in heaven.”—Spirit of Prophecy, 4:260, 261. {CIHS 14.5}

Earlier she had written with emphasis on the furniture: {CIHS 14.6}

“I was also shown a sanctuary upon the earth containing two apartments. It resembled the one in heaven, and I was told that it was a figure of the heavenly. The furniture of the first apartmentof the earthly sanctuary was like that in the first apartment of the heavenly. The veil was lifted, and I looked into the holy of holies, and saw that the furniture was the same as in the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary.”—Early Writings, 252, 253. {CIHS 14.7}

Last-Day Delusions Will Involve Vital Truth

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It is clear that our adversary, Satan, will try to unsettle the faith of God’s people in the doctrine of the sanctuary in these “latter days.” Ellen White wrote: {CIHS 15.5}

“The Saviour foretold that in the latter days false prophets would appear, and draw away disciples after them; and also that those who in this time of peril should stand faithful to the truth that is specified in the book of Revelation, would have to meetdoctrinal errors so specious that, if it were possible, the very elect would be deceived. {CIHS 15.6}

“God would have every true sentiment prevail. Satan can skillfully play the game of life with many souls, and he acts in a most underhanded, deceptive manner to spoil the faith of the people of God and to discourage them. … He works today as he worked in heaven—to divide the people of God in the very last stage of this earth’s history. He seeks to create dissension, and to arouse contention and discussion, and to remove if possible the old landmarks of truth committed to God’s people. He tries to make it appear as if the Lord contradicts Himself. {CIHS 16.1}

“It is when Satan appears as an angel of light, that he takes souls in his snare, deceiving them. Men who pretend to have been taught of God, will adopt fallacious theories, and in their teaching will so adorn these fallacies as to bring in Satanic delusions. Thus Satan will be introduced as an angel of light, and will have opportunity to present his pleasing fables. {CIHS 16.2}

“These false prophets will have to be met. They will make an effort to deceive many, by leading them to accept false theories. Many scriptures will be misapplied in such a way that deceptive theories will apparently be based upon the words that God has spoken. Precious truth will be appropriated to substantiate and establish error. These false prophets, who claim to be taught of God, will take beautiful scriptures that have been given to adorn the truth, and will use them as a robe of righteousness to cover false and dangerous theories. And even some of those who in times past the Lord has honored, will depart so far from the truth as to advocate misleading theories regarding many phases of truth, including the sanctuary question.”—Manuscript 11, 1906. (Emphasis supplied.) {CIHS 16.3}

A few weeks later she added these words on the importance of a correct understanding of this truth: {CIHS 16.4}

“I know that the sanctuary question stands in righteousness and truth, just as we have held it for so many years. It is the enemy that leads minds off on sidetracks. He is pleased whenthose who know the truth become engrossed in collecting scriptures to pile around erroneous theories, which have no foundation in truth. The scriptures thus used are misapplied; they were not given to substantiate error, but to strengthen truth.”—Gospel Workers, 303

A Truth Established by the Witness of the Holy Spirit [CIHS 6]

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The visions given to Ellen White, while not running ahead of Bible study, confirmed the soundness of the position that an important phase of Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary was entered upon on October 22, 1844. Gradually the breadth and depth of the subject opened before the Advent believers. Looking back on the experience in later years, she recalled their study and the manifest evidences of God’s guiding hand: {CIHS 6.1}

“Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce,* Elder [Hiram] Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with them, and we studied and prayed earnestly. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light and studying the Word. Again and again these brethren came together to study the Bible, in order that they might know its meaning, and be prepared to teach it with power. When they came to the point in their study where they said, ‘We can do nothing more,’ the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shallenter the City of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me. {CIHS 6.2}

“During this whole time I could not understand the reasoning of the brethren. My mind was locked, as it were, and I could not comprehend the meaning of the scriptures we were studying. This was one of the greatest sorrows of my life. I was in this condition of mind until all the principal points of our faith were made clear to our minds, in harmony with the Word of God. The brethren knew that when not in vision, I could not understand these matters, and they accepted as light direct from heaven the revelations given .”—Selected Messages, 1:206, 207. {CIHS 7.1}

The realization that Christ had entered the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary to begin His closing ministry in our behalf, typified in the sanctuary service observed by Israel of old, solemnized the hearts of our pioneer Adventists. The truths were so clear, so grand, so vital, that it was difficult to sense that upon them rested the responsibility of imparting this light to others. Ellen White wrote of the certainty of their position: {CIHS 7.2}

“We are to be established in the faith, in the light of the truth given us in our early experience. At that time one error after another pressed in upon us; ministers and doctors brought in new doctrines. We would search the Scriptures with much prayer, and the Holy Spirit would bring the truth to our minds. Sometimes whole nights would be devoted to searching the Scriptures, and earnestly asking God for guidance. Companies of devoted men and women assembled for this purpose. The power of God would come upon me, and I was enabled clearly to define what is truth and what is error. {CIHS 7.3}

“As the points of our faith were thus established, our feet were placed upon a solid foundation. We accepted the truth point by point, under the demonstration of the Holy Spirit. I would be taken off in vision, and explanations would be given me. I was given illustrations of heavenly things, and of the sanctuary, so that we were placed where light was shining on us in clear, distinct rays. {CIHS 7.4}

“I know that the sanctuary question stands in righteousness and truth, just as we have held it for so many years.”—Gospel Workers, 302, 303. {CIHS 8.1}

The pioneers of the movement saw the sanctuary truth as basic to the whole structure of Seventh-day Adventist doctrine. James White, in 1850, republished the essential portions of the first presentation of the subject by O. R. L. Crosier, and commented: {CIHS 8.2}

“The subject of the sanctuary should be carefully examined, as it lies at the foundation of our faith and hope.”—The Advent Review (special combined number). {CIHS 8.3}

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