CLEANSING THE SANCTUARY
By Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
June 4, 2018
KJV: then shall the sanctuary be cleansed (KJV);
NASU: then the holy place will be properly restored
RSV: then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state
NIV: then the sanctuary will be re-consecrated
HEBREW: wa-ni-tsa-daq (then shall be made righteous)
1. WILLIAM MILLER’S CLEANSING THEORY
“At the end of 2300 prophetic years, on October 22, 1844, Jesus Christ will return to the earth-sanctuary, rescue true believers and cleanse the earth with fire (Daniel 8:14 per William Miller).
CLEANSING EARTH WITH FIRE: William Miller, a Baptist farmer-preacher, had concluded from his study of Daniel 8:14 and many other prophecies that Jesus was returning to the earth-sanctuary to remove true Christians and destroy the earth with a cleansing of fire. The group which later became Seventh-day Adventists, were disciples of William Miller. See The Great Controversy, An American Reformer, chapter 18.
2. THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS’ CLEANSING THEORY
Daniel 8:14 At the end of 2300 prophetic years, on October 22, 1844, Jesus Christ moved from the Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary into its Most Holy Place. He then began officiating as High Priest by “cleansing” and removing atoned sins of believers which defile the sanctuary in heaven. See The Great Controversy, What is the Sanctuary?, 417-422.
CLEANSING GOD’S DWELLING PLACE: The “cleansing” involved reading the life record of every professed believer since Adam to make a final atonement for those who remained faithful by confessing every sin (The Great Controversy, chapter 28, Facing Life’s Record, 479-491; especially 483).
3. ADVENTIST CONFUSION ABOUT THE CLEANSING OF DANIEL 8:9-14
CLEANSING FROM THE LITTLE HORN’S DEFILEMENT: In 1960, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, “little horn” and “abomination,” agreed with most denominations which teach that the little horn (not the sins of the saints) defiled and desolated the sanctuary [in 8:9-12] which required cleansing in 8:14. While these SDA statements are correct, they are very definitely NOT what is taught by Seventh-day Adventists.
The Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Dictionary, 1960, “little horn,” p656. “In chapter 8 at the close of the specified period of time the sanctuary is ‘cleansed’ of the ‘transgression of desolation’ erected in it by the little horn (vs. 13, 14).” “In chapter 9:26, 27 the same power destroys Jerusalem and the Temple, causing “the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” and desolating the sanctuary. In chapter 11:30, 31 the same power enters “the glorious land” — Palestine (vs. 16, 41, 45), stands up against “the prince of the covenant” (vs. 22), pollutes the sanctuary and takes away the daily sacrifice, sets up the “desolating abomination” (vs. 30, 31), and conspires to obliterate the worship of the true God (vs. 30) — all for a “time, times and a half (12:7).”
4. CLEANSING REQUIRING A NEW DEDICATION FROM
DEFILEMENT BY DESTRUCTION; DANIEL 8:9-10.
PAGAN ROME: In their explanation of Daniel 8:9-10, SDAs teach that the cleansing of a sanctuary was necessary because the little horn of pagan Rome (the WHO) had literally destroyed the Jerusalem temple in A. D. 70 (the WHAT) with its army (the HOW). If this is the correct interpretation (which is doubtful), a completely new temple would have to be built and that new temple would require the cleansing, anointing and dedication of a NEW building. Most important, it would NOT require a Day of Atonement cleansing ritual only for believers.
The “new” dedication cleansing required from the SDA interpretation of Daniel 8:9-10 was definitely NOT the same as the cleansing ceremony required for the Day of Atonement. The dedication of Israel’s the wilderness sanctuary is described in Exodus 29 and 30. (1) The priests were consecrated first with the blood of sin offerings (29:1-20). (2) Both blood and anointing “oil” were sprinkled on the priests (29:21). (3) Seven (7) days were required to consecrate the priests and the great altar (29:22-42). (4) Atonement for the altar of incense only occurred once a year (30:1-10). (5) Beginning with the Most Holy Place, everything was anointed with oil (30:23-32). Anointing oil was NOT used on the Day of Atonement.
The “new dedication” cleansing was also appropriate for Solomon’s temple, for Ezra’s re-built second temple in 515 B. C. and for Ezekiel’s temple. The cleansing was essential because it existed “in the midst” of sinful people (Lev 16:16; Numb 5:3; Deut 23:14).
5. CLEANSING REQUIRING A RE-DEDICATION:
VARIOUS DEFILEMENT BY UNBELIEVERS; DANIEL 8:11-12
PAPAL ROME: In their explanation of Daniel 8:11-12, SDAs teach that a cleansing of the sanctuary was necessary because papal Rome (the WHO) spiritually defiled the temple in heaven (the WHAT) with its theology and the confessional which replaced Christ’s high priestly ministry (the HOW). However, if this were the correct interpretation, no cleansing of the sanctuary would be necessary because blasphemy does not defile God’s throne. Also, presumptuous sins like blasphemy were litigated by the judges and not the priests. There would be no Day of Atonement cleansing required.
CLEANSING FROM NON-DESTRUCTIVE DEFILEMENT: However, a required cleansing from defilement from pagans and un-atoned sins is the correct interpretation of Daniel 8:9-14 because of Antiochus IV. In 167 B. C. Antiochus IV sacrificed a pig on the altar, thus defiling the temple and requiring it to be later cleansed, or restored, in a non-Day of Atonement ritual. Again, in 68 B. C. Roman General Pompeii entered the Most Holy Place to see Israel’s God. Offering strange fire (Lev 10:1-2), touching lizards and spiders (Lev 11:44), touching dead humans (Lev 21:1-3; Numb 19:13) and drinking gnats (Mt 23:24) also defiled the sanctuary which required a cleansing ceremony.
In fact, on any day of the year many offences could have forced the necessity of a “cleansing” re-dedication of the sanctuary. Such re-dedication would require the high priest to cleanse the entire sanctuary — always beginning at the Most Holy Place. Though still incorrect, the SDA explanation of Daniel 8:11-12 is closer to the truth than their explanation of 8:9-10 or 8:13-14.
While SDAs spend many long sermons and books describing the horrible sins of the papacy from Daniel 8:11-12, their explanation of Daniel 8:14 removes any reason to even discuss pagan and papal Rome except to mask their error in explaining 8:14. For example, the SDA accusation that the papacy changed the Sabbath does not affect the fact that Jesus defiled the sanctuary in 8:14 using the atoned sins of believers. Ellen G. White does not discuss Daniel 8:9-12 in The Great Controversy.
6. CLEANSING REQUIRING A DAY OF ATONEMENT CEREMONY: DANIEL 8:14
The worst single hermeneutical error in Adventism was caused by totally ignoring the context of Daniel 8:9-12 in explaining 8:14. The important issue is not whether Daniel 8:9-13 describes pagan and papal Rome. Rather, the important issue is whether context is followed and the sanctuary of 8:9-13 is the same sanctuary of 8:14. While it is absolutely clear that Daniel 8:9-14 is a unit, SDAs refuse to interpret it as such. This basic fundamental hermeneutical error was blindly inherited from William Miller and has insured that Seventh-day Adventism will remain a false cult.
Totally unseen and absent from Daniel 8:9-12, the 180-degree about-face from blaming pagan and papal Rome to blaming the saints is the error of a false cult. This horrific error causes SDAs to lose any hope of credibility.
While the nearest antecedent to the word “sanctuary” in 8:13 is 8:11, the SDA interpretation of Daniel 8:14 has no relevance to the literal temple in 8:11; 9:17 or 9:26. The SDA objection that 8:11 uses “miq-dash” and 8:14 uses “ko-dash” is irrelevant because, if one part of the sanctuary were defiled, all of it was defiled. Conversely, if one part of it was cleansed, all of it was cleansed at the same time in one day. Yet, for no biblical reason whatsoever, SDAs teach that the heavenly Most Holy Place has remained defiled (by Jesus’ transferring blood) while the remainder of the heavenly sanctuary has been undefiled and functional.
7. CLEANSING WORDS FROM DANIEL AND LEVITICUS
Because of the KJV word in Daniel 8:14 is “cleansed,” SDAs ignore the context and shift the focus from the context of Daniel 8:9-14 to the Day of Atonement ritual of Leviticus 16 and 23. While 8:9-10 and 8:11-12 demanded a cleansing from unholy pagan defilement, the SDA Day of Atonement in 8:14 requires a cleansing of atoned sin of believers.
“CLEANSED” IN DANIEL 8:14: If Daniel 8:14 is so crucial for teaching a pre-advent Investigative Judgment, one would expect our Omniscient God to use Day of Atonement terminology from Leviticus 16 in Daniel 8:14. The KJV “cleansed” in 8:14 is the translation of the Hebrew tsa-daq. The NASU reads “properly restored”; RSV “restored to its rightful state” and the NIV “re-consecrated.” Tsa-daq is a very common Old Testament word meaning “justify,” “just,” “justified,” “justice” or “righteous.” The last half of “Melchi-zedek” is “tsa-dag.” “Tsa-deg” is also the Canaanite god of justice, Jupiter. Tsa-daq’s only other occurrence in Daniel 12:3 is “righteousness.” In fact, Daniel 8:14 is the only time (in 41 occurrences) that tsa-daq is translated “cleansed” in the KJV! It does not appear that God wanted us to connect Daniel 8:14 with the Day of Atonement ritual in Leviticus 16 and 23.
“CLEANSED” IN LEVITICUS 16: In the Day of Atonement ritual of Leviticus 16, “cleanse” is the Hebrew word, ta-heer, not tsa-daq. “Cleanse” is ta-heer in all 15 occurrences in Leviticus. This very strongly indicates that Daniel 8:14 does not refer to the Day of Atonement.
8. CLEANSING FROM TRANSFERRED ATONED SINS
Seventh-day Adventists seriously mis-apply basic atonement theological principles by blaming the defilement of the heavenly sanctuary on the “transferred” atoned sins of the saints (GC417-421). Incredibly, the SDA explanation actually makes Jesus the worst defiler between pagan Rome (8:9-10), papal Rome (8:11-12) and the defiler of 8:13-14. It is bad enough to change the villain from pagan and papal Rome. However, in fact, SDAs have changed it from the little horn of 8:9-12 into Jesus Himself in 8:14. Ellen W. White stated six times in five pages that Jesus (the WHO) “transferred” (the HOW) atoned sins of believers (the WHAT) into the heavenly sanctuary and defiled it and requiring cleansing — GC418 (3x), GC420 (1x) and GC321 (2x).
The truth is exactly opposite what SDAs teach. (1) Common sense affirms that nothing can defile God’s Most Holy Presence and survive (Ex 33:18-22; 2 Thes 2:8). (2) Atoned sins were the only sins which did not defile the earthly sanctuary (Heb 9:22). (3) When God’s Word says that “priests bore sin,” it means they bore the “ritual ministry of atoning for sins” (Heb 9:28). Contrary to what SDAs teach, “bear sins” does NOT mean that priests carried sins (atoned or otherwise) into the sanctuary. The physical act of placing blood on the horns of the altar or sprinkling blood before the inner veil was a recording or proof-of-atonement that the price of a shed life had been paid (Jer 17:1).
9. CLEANSING UNCONFESSED RESIDUAL SINS OF THE RIGHTEOUS:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
A. “How can God allow a believer into heaven with unconfessed sins?” This question is at the heart of the SDA reason for cleansing the sanctuary. Several answers are offered among denominations.
B. ROMAN CATHOLICS teach the doctrine of Purgatory which only applies to believers. A believer who dies with unconfessed mortal sins cannot be saved. However, the believer who dies with unconfessed non-mortal sins must spend unspecified time in Purgatory to have the penalty for those unconfessed sins paid by suffering. This allows God to eventually permit them to enter heaven as sinless without fear of contamination.
C. METHODISTS, Charismatics and the Church of Christ teach that believers can fall from a state of salvation (grace) because of sins committed after justification. Unlike “SDAs, they do not teach that God will re-store previously forgiven sins.
BAPTISTS teach that God forgives the guilt portion of all sins at the moment of justification (Jn 3:16; 4:14; 5:24; Rom 5:1; 8:1; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). This includes unconfessed sins which only cause a break in fellowship and not a break in relationship (1 Cor 3:13-15; 1 Jn 1:9). Calvinists (Presbyterians, Reformed) teach a similar doctrine but base it on predestination and election.
D. BAPTISTS teach that the guilt of every sin of believers is forgiven the instant one accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Sins committed after justification only cause one to fall from fellowship and not relationship (Jn 3:16; 4:1; 5:24; Rom 3:21-26; 5:1; 8:1; Eph 2:8-10; Phil 3:9-10; Tit 3:5).
10. SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS: UN-CONFESSED AND UN-FORGIVEN SINS CAUSE NAMES TO BE BLOTTED OUT OF THE BOOK OF LIFE
A. GC483: “When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance.” Also GC486.
B. Seventh-day Adventists must seriously disagree with every other denomination’s explanations of “cleansing” on the Day of Atonement. First, neither Baptists nor Methodists teach a second atonement for the same sins. Second, neither teach that unconfessed minor sins are sufficient to cause one to fall from grace (GC479-491; esp. 483). Accepting either the Baptist or Methodist explanation of the Day of Atonement would leave no reason for Seventh-day Adventism to exist.
C. If sacrificial blood defiles the heavenly sanctuary by transferring sin into it, common sense would be to teach that the heavenly sanctuary was first defiled when God forgave Adam’s first sin (Rev 13:8). SDA logic would also demand that Jesus is even today continually defiling the sanctuary as He continues to apply his atonement for sins of new believers after 1844 (GC417-421).
11. CLEANSING UNCONFESSED RESIDUAL SINS OF THE RIGHTEOUS: THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CULTIC DOCTRINE
A. GC420: “A substitute was accepted in the sinner’s behalf, BUT the sin was not cancelled by the blood of the victim. A means was thus provided by which it was transferred to the sanctuary. By the offering of blood, the sinner acknowledged the authority of the law, confessed his guilt in transgression, and expressed his desire for pardon through faith in a Redeemer to come, BUT he was not yet entirely redeemed from the condemnation of the law (The Great Controversy, Ellen G. White, page 420).
B. Seventh-day Adventists have a faulty atonement principle. They have a problem explaining how God finally disposes of both atoned sin and residual unconfessed sin. For SDAs, sins which have been previously confessed and forgiven are not completely atoned. If they had been completely atoned and forgiven, there would be no reason to store them in the books of record in heaven for future re-consideration.
C. For SDAs, the “cleansing of the sanctuary” on the Day of Atonement included both residual unconfessed and unatoned uncleanness among God’s people — plus previously atoned and confessed sins. Somehow the very same sacrificial blood of Christ which both atoned for sin and also defiled the temple all year long only cleanses it during the Day of Atonement.
D. This is the cultic cleansing doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary” (which only SDAs teach). It is the removal of atoned defiling sins from the very most holy place of the entire Universe — God’s Presence. Furthermore, SDAs teach that it did not begin until October 22, 1844 (William Miller’s third date) when Jesus supposedly moved from the heavenly Holy Place into the heavenly Most Holy Place. It involves reading the books in heaven containing the life history of every believer, beginning with Adam, and making a final determination whether or not to re-create Adam as a living soul in order to reward him or punish him almost instantly in the eternal lake of fire (GC479-491).
E. God does not require double-payment for the same sins. As the Hebrews brought sacrifices on a daily basis, their sins were fully atoned and forgiven at the entrance of the sanctuary the very instant the sacrificial animal died (Lev 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5:18; 6:7; Heb 9:22). At the end of the religious year, nine days prior to the Day of Atonement God required every Hebrew to “afflict” his/her soul (Lev 16:29, 31; 23:27, 32). For nine days every Hebrew brought sacrifices for previously unconfessed sins which they then could recall.
F. However, since all sins could not be recalled and confessed, a residual remained. Therefore, since only unatoned sins can defile, the sanctuary was still defiled though never by holy sacrificial blood. First, the sanctuary on earth was defiled by remaining unconfessed sins of atoned believers and, second, by the sanctuary’s mere location “in the midst” of sinful persons (Lev 16:16).
G. The Day of Atonement ended the holy year with complete atonement for every believer — even from residual forgotten sins as in the last phrase of First John 1:9.
11. CLEANSING THE ENTIRE SANCTUARY
Lev 16:16 [also 16:33] And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
A. ALL OR NONE: Even if Daniel 8:14 did actually refer to the Day of Atonement cleansing, in their 1844 scenario, SDAs restrict it to only the Most Holy Place, while the cleansing always began at the Most Holy Place and included the entire sanctuary. By their very inaccurate application, SDAs teach that part of the sanctuary could function even though part of it remained defiled — therefore, Christ could minister in the cleansed Holy Place while the Most Holy Place remained defiled beyond 1844 until immediately prior to His return to earth. This would have been completely impossible in Old Covenant reality.
B. This SDA error is forced from working backwards. Since SDAs at least concede that Christ began ministering inside the Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary after His ascension, He must have already first made some kind of cleansing with His blood (per Heb. 9:23).
C. However, this SDA solution creates at least three problems. (1) How could Christ present His blood and only cleanse part of the heavenly sanctuary? (2) Why did He not cleanse ALL of the heavenly sanctuary on the same day as was done in the “patterned” reality of the earthly sanctuary? (3) How can His blood defile the sanctuary with atoned sins every day of the year and cleanse it on the Day of Atonement?
D. The biblical facts are clear: (1) The entire earthly sanctuary received cleansing on the Day of Atonement, not just the Most Holy Place (Lev 16:16, 33). (2) On the yearly Day of Atonement, the “daily sacrifice” had never ceased and was still offered to begin the day (Ex 29:39-43). (3) Since the sacrificial blood on the Day of Atonement cleansed the Most Holy Place in one day, then Christ must have followed this correct pattern. (4) On the Day of Atonement, the Most Holy Place was cleansed “first”; in the SDA scenario, its final cleansing will not occur until almost immediately before His second coming.
12. CLEANSING AND SITTING DOWN
A. Soon after the Old Testament cleansing on the Day of Atonement, Israel began repeating every holy seasonal cycle (Heb 10:1-4).
B. Christ’s New Covenant cleansing supersedes and replaces the Old Covenant pattern (Heb 10:7-22).
C. After Christ had fulfilled the Day of Atonement judgment of Calvary, He has been located at the right hand of the Father in heaven immediately following his ascension in the first century. Incredible as it seems, this fact is denied by Seventh-day Adventists who teach that Jesus only entered the outer holy place until 1844 (Acts 2:33, 34; 3:31; 7:55, 56; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet 3:22).
13. CLEANSING THE DAILY
A. Exodus 29:38-43 reveals yet another SDA inconsistency. The “daily sacrifice” was offered, or restored, before the other dedications, anointings or cleansings could proceed. By taking away the “daily sacrifice,” the entire sanctuary service was forced to cease. Likewise, by first restoring the daily sacrifice through ritual cleansing and re-consecration, the entire sanctuary could then be restored. Even on the Day of Atonement, the “daily sacrifice” never ceased and always preceded (and followed) the other rituals. This means that the altar of burnt offering was used “first” and “third” for the daily sacrifice even on the Day of Atonement. “First” for the evening (‘ereb) daily sacrifice, “second” for the Day of Atonement cleansing and “third” for the morning (boqer) “daily sacrifice.”
B. While SDAs offer many different descriptions of “daily,” none explain the fact that the real “continual” daily offering both preceded and followed the Day of Atonement ritual.
14. CLEANSING FOR ONE DAY, ONE YEAR OR MANY MORE
A. CLEANSING OF ONE DAY: Since none can deny that the Day of Atonement was prophetic, Seventh-day Adventists should loudly insist on applying their prophetic “day for a year” principle to it.
B. However, since doing such would require teaching that the fulfilled Day of Atonement would only continue for one YEAR, SDAs remain silent of this great prophetic day.
C. Daniel 8:14 cannot possibly be considered as the same formula found in Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6. It does not contain the Hebrew word for day (yom).
D. Numbers 14:34 does NOT originate a prophetic principle of “one prophetic day equals one literal year” as SDAs teach. Read the text carefully in its context. It is God’s penalty for Israel believing the 10 spies who gave a negative report! God told Israel that they would not enter the Promised Land for forty years. Israel knew very well when that period arrived and began moving towards an eastern entrance as the forty years came to an end. A forty-year penalty for presumptuous sin not prophecy!
E. Neither does Ezekiel 4:6 originate a prophetic principle that “one literal day equals one prophetic year” as SDAs teach. The periods refer to the past and not to the future. If anything, Ezekiel 4:6 reverses Numbers 14:34 “forty years are reduced to 40 days.”
F. Daniel 9:24-27’s prophetic years are not derived from the formulas of Numbers 14:34 or Ezekiel 4:6. Daniel 9’s interpretation can stand on its own unique Hebrew wording.
F. SDAs twist Scripture with their imaginary “day for a year” principle and only use it to suit their purposes. They do not convert Israel’s 400 years of Genesis 15:13 into a much longer period. They do not convert Jonah’s 3 ½ days of Matthew 12:40 into 3½ years. Worse yet, the papacy did not “wear out the saints” for 1260 years. During most of the 1260 “years” from 538 to 1798, the papacy was a vassal of the current dominant nation and had to beg for their protection.
15. CLEANSING SINS OF DECEASED BELIEVERS
A. Although SDAs might appear at times to teach that multitudes will be saved who professed Christ before they died, no explanation is given how God allows believers into heaven who died having unconfessed sins. EGW is careful to state that true believers must have confessed all known and unknown sins and remained faithful.
B. Facing Life’s Record, the chapter which describes Christ’s extremely meticulous examination of the lives of deceased believers, will frighten even devout SDA believers into asking “Who will be saved? Will anybody be saved? How can I possibly be saved?” (The Great Controversy, Facing Life’s Record, Ellen G. White, pages 479-492).
C. There is a serious change in theology in Facing Life’s Record which is not pointed out by SDAs. In chapter 23, What is the Sanctuary?, pages 409-422, only confessed and forgiven sins of believers have been transferred into the sanctuary by Jesus to defile it. However, in chapter 28, pages 479-491, every sin committed by believers has defiled the sanctuary and must be removed. No mention is made concerning how the un-confessed sins got there. Unconfessed sins condemn the believer and cause his/her name to be blotted out of the book of life (GC483).
D. In GC479-480, Ellen G Whit quotes Daniel 7:9-14 and changes the judgment “of the little horn” to the judgment “of God’s saints” which began in 1844.
E. In GC480-481 the extremely close scrutiny of the books of heaven is the final necessary act of Jesus before He returns to earth. Since it determines who has remained faithful, none are in heaven yet and, since a final atonement must made, the first must have been incomplete (GC420). It is also confusing how the books in heaven formerly used only to judge atoned believers are identical to the books of Revelation 20:11-15 — “describing the same scene.”
F. In GC481-482, it seems impossible for anybody to be saved. Although the Bible does say that every secret thing, purpose, motive, idle word and every hidden thing of darkness will be judged, SDAs seem to have no theology of faith in Jesus Christ which declares believers sinless through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (Rom 3:21-25; 5:1; 8:1).
G. GC482: “Every man’s work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel.”
H. Having written this, EGW says “The law of God is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment” (Eccl 12:13-14; Js 2:12). If this were true, nobody could be saved because the Law concludes that none are righteous and sinless (Rom 3:19-20). Also, contrary to what SDAs teach, one’s relationship to Jesus Christ is the New Covenant standard of judgment (Jn 1:12; 3:16; 4:14; 5:24; 16:8-9; Rom 1:16; 10:9, 10).
I. The “law of liberty” (James 2:12) is NOT the Old Covenant law.
Rom 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”
J. In GC482, EGW repeats John 5:29 as if to teach righteousness by works — “they that have done good” shall come forth “unto the resurrection of life.” For her “doing good” is obeying the law. There is no reference to faith in the imputed righteousness of Jesus from John 5:24-25 in her 1888 book.
K. GC483: Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance. The Lord declared to Moses: “Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.” Exodus 32:33. And says the prophet Ezekiel: “When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, . . . all his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned.” Ezekiel 18:24. Note: This is repeated on page 486.
L. This is the single most incriminating statement which proves that Seventh-day Adventists do not understand the doctrine of justification by faith. This explains why God did not forget atoned sins and transferred them to the sanctuary; He would un-atone many when the books were opened.
M. According to this, any deceased believer who died with unconfessed sins will have his name blotted out of heaven’s book of life. And his good deeds such as accepting Christ as Lord and Savior will be erased; they will not be mentioned.
N. Who, then, can be saved? Everybody has forgotten sins and sins of ignorance. This indicates the immediate loss of salvation every time a person commits a sin of ignorance and does not confess it. The texts from Exodus 32:33 and Ezekiel 18:24 refer to the book of the living and physical life; they do not refer to the book of eternal life for those who have been born again. Except for Joshua and Caleb, all Israelites over the age of 20, including Moses, were “blotted out” (physically died) because of presumptuous unforgiven sin. Missing from The Great Controversy is a chapter on God’s plan of salvation (Jn 3:16; 4:14; 5:24; Rom 3:21-25; 5:1; 8:1).
O. “GC483: All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life. “
P. This favorite SDA quotation ignores EGW’s preceding quote on the same page that “un-repented of and un-forgiven” sins result in the blotting out of names from the book of eternal life. Notice that previously forgiven sins will not be blotted out until after 1844. No assurance of salvation is possible while alive. When SDAs remind us that Isaiah said God “will not remember thy sins,” he was speaking of the time then present; yet, SDAs and EGW says this will only happen after the books have been closed. EGW’s description of an “overcomer” is a believer who dies have no unrepented-of sins of any kind.
Q. GC484: Jesus does not excuse their sins, but shows their penitence and faith, and, claiming for them forgiveness …” Notice that Jesus only excuses sins which have been repented of and forgiven. This quotation does not delete “When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance” (GC483).
R. GC485: “Thus will be realized the complete fulfillment of the new-covenant promise: “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Only SDAs apply Hebrews 8:13 to evens immediately preceding the second coming of Christ.
S. GC485-486: “As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin.” Another part of the SDA cultic doctrine of salvation is that Satan becomes the ultimate sin-bearer instead of Jesus Christ (compare 2 Cor 5:21).
T. GC486: “Sins that have not been repented of and forsaken will NOT be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but will stand to witness against the sinner in the day of God. He may have committed his evil deeds in the light of day or in the darkness of night; but they were open and manifest before Him with whom we have to do. Angels of God witnessed each sin and registered it in the unerring records. Sin may be concealed, denied, covered up from father, mother, wife, children, and associates; no one but the guilty actors may cherish the least suspicion of the wrong; but it is laid bare before the intelligences of heaven. The darkness of the darkest night, the secrecy of all deceptive arts, is not sufficient to veil one thought from the knowledge of the Eternal. God has an exact record of every unjust account and every unfair dealing. He is not deceived by appearances of piety. He makes no mistakes in His estimation of character. Men may be deceived by those who are corrupt in heart, but God pierces all disguises and reads the inner life.”
U. GC486-487: How solemn is the thought! day after day, passing into eternity, bears its burden of records for the books of heaven. Words once spoken, deeds once done, can never be recalled. Angels have registered both the good and the evil. The mightiest conqueror upon the earth cannot call back the record of even a single day. Our acts, our words, even our most secret motives, all have their weight in deciding our destiny for weal or woe. Though they may be forgotten by us, they will bear their testimony to justify or condemn.
V. On page 488, EGW again says believers who have unrepented of and unforgiven sins will not escape the judgment. Believers are even condemned for not doing what they could have done in life. This should mean that nobody can be saved — not even Sabbath-keeping Seventh-day Adventists. The sinless imputed righteousness of Christ is nowhere to be seen.
W. GC488: “Those who would share the benefits of the Savior’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God. “
X. In GC488-489 EGW begins openly sounding like a perfectionist who believes it is possible to attain sinlessness apart from Christ’s righteousness. She wrote “The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God.” Without this knowledge, “it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill.” In other words, much more will be expected from those living when Christ returns. Unfortunately though, the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment is the one SDAs understand the least.
Y. In GC490 EGW wrote “Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” While this would have been an excellent place to discuss imputed righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ, not a word is found.
16. CLEANSING SINS OF SAINTS LIVING AT THE RETURN OF CHRIST
A. The cleansing which occurs the moment one accepts Christ’s righteousness in place of his own is not known in Seventh-day Adventism. The official copy of The Great Controversy, originally copyrighted in 1888 has 42 chapters and 719 pages. It does not contain a single page describing the sinless imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ by faith alone. Its “Scripture Index” does not contain any of the following salvation texts: John 3:5; 4:14; 5:24; 16:8-9; Acts 2:38; Romans 3:21-26; 5:1; Galatians 2-3 all; Ephesians 1:1-13; 2:8-10; Philippians 3:8-10; Colossians 3:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:14. John 3:16 is only quoted to prove how much the Father loves the world.
B. Since early Seventh-day Adventists expected the Investigative Judgment to be very short and expected Christ to return in their lifetime, The Great Controversy, chapter 39, The Time of Trouble, and chapter 40, God’s People Delivered, applied to their “now.”
C. In these chapters, Ellen G. White has not retracted her statement from page 483 saying “When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance.” “Faith” in the imputed sinless righteousness of Jesus Christ is not found in 1888 SDA theology. For EGW, “faith” means faith that Jesus will keep His promise and forgive every confessed sin. Unconfessed sins are not covered by faith and cause believers’ names to be blotted out of the Lamb’s book of eternal life.
D. There is no “cleansing” of the sins of the redeemed who are caught up to be with Jesus at the close of the great tribulation (called the Time of Trouble by SDAs) because they have no further sins to be cleansed.
E. GC613-614: “An angel returning from the earth announces that his work is done; the final test has been brought upon the world, and all who have proved themselves loyal to the divine precepts have received “the seal of the living God.”
F. The 144,000 is also an SDA doctrine. To EGW, 144,000 SDAs have proven that they can perfectly obey the Law of God. They have confessed every sin and have received “the seal of the living God.” This means they have stopped sinning and can stand before God without a mediator (also GC425). The doctrine of righteousness by faith is nowhere to be seen (GC648-649).
G. In GC620, EGW again repeats here statement from page 483, “All who endeavor to excuse or conceal their sins, and permit them to remain upon the books of heaven, unconfessed and unforgiven, will be overcome by Satan.” These words should terrify most Seventh-day Adventists because EGW is speaking to them.
H. In GC622-623, the cleansing “experience” needed to endure the “time of trouble” is not the experience of being born again. Rather it is to maintain the pinnacle of having every sin confessed and not henceforth sinning because Christ has ceased mediating sins to return to earth. Just as Jesus did not yield to temptation by even a thought, even so “This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble.”
I. In her description of resurrected saints in GC637-638, EGW says “All who have died in the faith of the third angel’s message come forth from the tomb glorified, to hear God’s covenant of peace with those who have kept His law.” At least here “saints” are limited to Sabbath-keepers who knew the third angel’s message and died before Christ returned. They have earned resurrection, not because they have been bon again and have faith in Christ’s imputed righteousness, but because they “have kept the law.”
J. Gc639-640 “Now they are condemned by that law which they have despised. With awful distinctness they see that they are without excuse.” Sunday-worshipers cannot and will not be saved when Jesus comes! Finally, with another reminder that EGW thinks the wicked are condemned by the law, we look at John 16:8-9, John 16:8-9 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me.”
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD