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No Sanctuary Ministry Before Christ

One of the strange ideas which exists among many Seventh-day Adventists, is the belief that Jesus has always been a minister in the heavenly sanctuary. They insist that even before Jesus became a man, even during the age of the old covenant, Jesus was already ministering in the heavenly sanctuary on behalf of the human race. Of course, this belief is simply a natural extension of the idea that everything which Jesus came to give to the human race was already available from the foundation of the world, long before Jesus became a member of the human family. However, there is an abundance of scriptural evidence which demonstrates that this illogical teaching is also contrary to the word of God. Jesus never had a ministry in the heavenly sanctuary until after his blood was shed.

In Heb 8:3, we read:

For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. (Heb 8:3)

Here we are told that in order for someone to be a high priest it is necessary that that person should have something to offer. Obviously in the context of the ministry of the sanctuary, the required offering was blood. Until he died on Calvary, Jesus had nothing to offer, his blood had not been shed, but after he was offered then he became a high priest because now he had something to offer.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Heb 9:11-12)

This is when Jesus began his ministry as high priest in the heavenly sanctuary.

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. (Heb 8:6)

Don’t forget the word, NOW! That ministry was not obtained before his blood was shed. The word NOW does not apply to any time, before Christ died.

One Scripture which lies at the foundation of this erroneous teaching is Revelation 13:8. This verse says,

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8)

The suggestion is made that Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world in the mind and purposes of God and, as a consequence, all the benefits which he would make available later, were already available from the foundation of the world. However, the meaning of this verse is distorted by a faulty translation. Christ was not slain from the foundation of the world. This translation exists ONLY in the King James version and can easily be proven to be faulty by simply comparing it with Revelation 17:8. Look at both verses below:

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8)

The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Rev 17:8)

In chapter 13:8, it suggests that Christ was slain from the foundation of the world, but in chapter 17:8, it shows clearly that the phrase, “from the foundation of the world,” has to do with the time when names were written in the book of life, not to the time when the Lamb was slain. As I said, every other translation has it correct, except the KJV. Later translators recognized the mistake and corrected it. So the verse should really say,

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. (Rev 13:8)

Those who love to quote that mistranslated verse, apply it to mean that in effect, Jesus did not need to come to die in AD 31, except to fulfill the legal necessity, because all that his death accomplished was already accomplished from the foundation of the world. In effect, they use the verse to deny that there was a great change in the circumstances of God’s people after Christ came.

While it is true that by faith men could take hold on the PROMISE of salvation and by faith have the assurance of eternal life, it is also important to understand that eternal life is not simply a legal status where one is forgiven. Eternal life in essence is the experience of receiving the very life of Christ and becoming a part of his body through the experience of the new birth. That is the aspect of salvation which nobody could experience before Christ came, regardless of the fact that they were justified and had the assurance of eternal life.

The spirit of God was present with men, and even in men before Christ came. The same spirit worked mightily through the disciples even before Jesus died and the Comforter came. But was this a salvational experience? Notice that the spirit worked mightily in Samson and also changed Saul’s nature, but this did not bring about any significant change in the moral character of either of those men. The heroes of the Old Testament age had the righteousness of Christ IMPUTED to them, but the lives they actually lived revealed a different measurement of righteousness and it was that of the law. This is why we find people described as “perfect,” such as Noah, Abraham, Job etc. when we, from our understanding today, can see many ways in which they were not perfect.

All who lived by faith were COUNTED as righteous. It was IMPUTED to them, but not imparted (they were righteous according to the law, but not according to the righteousness of God). Since Christ came and CREATED the saving life, it could not have been present before he created it in himself. If people could have received the saving life of Christ before Christ came here and lived as a man, then we have to redefine what salvation means, and to question whether or not Christ’s incarnated life was absolutely necessary. The impartation of the life of Christ to those Old Testament believers will have to await the resurrection.

This is what Hebrews 11:39,40 is addressing. Notice that Enoch, Moses and Elijah are all included in this statement:

“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” (Heb 11:39-40)

What “promise,” did they not receive? It is the promise of being “made perfect.” The following two verses make it clear:

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. (Heb 7:19)

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Heb 10:14)

(Source: Restoration Ministry)

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