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Seventh-Day Adventists/Sins committed under the New Covenant

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QUESTION: Hi Marty,
Do SDA's believe that today when we confess our sins, are our sins literally laid upon Jesus before they are transferred to the heavenly sanctuary?
And also, does Jesus take fresh sins upon Himself when confession of sin is made to Jesus asking for forgiveness?

ANSWER: I don't know any Adventists who believe that sins are literally laid upon Jesus, at any time. I have a hard time seeing what that would look like. Now, if you want to suggest or teach that the Cross itself is the laying on of sins, I am quite able to imagine that. As for a continuing exercise of fresh sins being placed on Jesus, I don't see that either.

Two things, John 1:9 says, The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

John the Baptist knew what the Lamb represented, and he knew What Jesus as the Lamb would do. Lambs were sacrificed to remind us that God had a plan to take away, or do away with sin and all its problems. And Jesus was that lamb and His sacrifice was the means of doing in or away with sin.

Revelation reminds us that there will come a time where sin will be no more. That means that the Lamb was victorious. I often suggest to people who think deeply about these things, that Jesus did everything He needed to do at the Cross. Some folks suggest that Jesus did everything at the Cross. I ask those folks if Jesus is still doing anything now. Of course He is, He is still ministering on our behalf and angels do as well. So Jesus is not finished ministering to us; the Cross does not put an end to the ministry of Christ. In fact, the Cross made all ministry possible, an astounding feat in itself.

So yes, Jesus is active and busy dealing with sin and sinners, but He dealt the death blow to sin(Sin) on Calvary. He accomplished everything He needed to do there.

I know Hebrews suggests that we crucify Him afresh----If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. Hebrews 6:6

Look at that text in various translations and you will find it's meaning to be controverted. I don't think it means we have a new Crucifixion every time someone who was a believer falls away and then comes back and sins. In other words, we only needed the Cross once. We need it's effects everyday, but the Death and Resurrection of Christ just once.

But we need His forgiveness every day, it seems, don't we? Focusing on Christ's provisions may not clear up every question we can express, but it will provide the power to see our way into the abiding presence of our Friend and Savior. He died for you and me and a whole lot of other folks.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Marty,
I'm sorry I rated you lower than I should have... You answered my question in the first paragraph, the rest of your answer went into some other areas that were helpful in broadening your answer, but seemed to defend the SDA position.
Please answer one other question so I can rate you higher (because I couldn't edit my rating ... Again I'm sorry :(

What do SDA's mean when they say, concerning the heavenly sanctuary service , that 'sin', or 'Sin' is placed upon Christ and then transferred to the so-called heavenly sanctuary?

It seems you focused on my word 'literally'; what does it mean at all?
Does this, in whatever context, take place still today? (even if you simply answe yes of no I'll still give you a much higher rating b/c you deserved that the first time)

ANSWER: Yes, I answered your question literally. Perhaps I was trying to steer you toward a principle of interpretation, take everything literal in Scripture until you can't take it literally.

If we were sitting in a coffee shop somewhere, I would have some advantages to answering your questions that I don't have in this site. I enjoy serving in this site, but it has it's limitations. One of which is, just because we put words to the screen, doesn't mean we really know what we want to communicate.

That makes me just a bit crazy because it means I have to do a lot more work at finding out what the questioner really is trying to get at. Sometimes I just don't have the time for it. Sometimes I think it's not worth it because minds are just made up to start with and I don't much care for arguing my position or trying to understand your position in such a non personal way. I'm sure it works for others, or it seems to anyhow. But for me, once we start digging down to the questions revolving Atonement, Judgment, Covenants, both Old and New, we are in the deep end of the pool. I have no problem with that if we were two friends meeting in a coffee shop to talk over what Scripture says, in fact I do it a lot, just last night in fact. This just is not the most successful place to do it.

So I'll give it another try with you Brent. Here's what you can do for me. Tell me if you have a question that will help you understand the Adventist Message better and tell me what's behind your asking that question. That does a lot for me, then I know better where you are coming from. It's really quite fine if you have a different view or position than I do. I am used to that. But it helps me a lot to know what it is we really are disagreeing about so that I can know how to respond.

Let me take a stab at it, not to put you in a corner, but to try to figure out what we are talking and interrogating about.

Your title, Sins committed under the New Covenant, seems to indicate a position or philosophy that I am unclear about. Do you think sins are different under the Old Covenant, that the people of the Old Testament or any people prior to Christ's life have a different path to Salvation than those in the New Testament period? I personally see the two periods the same, Salvation is no different for either group. The short reason for that is the simple need to know who Christ was, through lamb and sanctuary or Christ and His crucifixion.

I might have a knack for making simple things more complex, sorry bout that. Hope that does not discourage you from responding. I also ask lots of questions when I am given the chance. Someone told me recently that I was too Socratic. I'm still laughing about that one. But questions about complex subjects help me simply them and provide answers in the end.

So go back to your question and give me some background as to why you asked it? If you think we come from different backgrounds than give me some of yours and I'll be able to respond better. At least I think so. Adventists are Armenian for the most part. Free Choice and all that. Not so Calvinistic, although I continue to be amazed at Calvin's scope and comprehension of Scripture and his ability to systematize it. Adventists also put a great deal of value in understanding the Sanctuary of the OT because we see it as a illustrated prophecy of Jesus and His first and second comings. I share these things as a little bit of background so that we can differentiate what we are talking about.

Now you're questions about the Sanctuary Service in heaven certainly deserve good answers. I'm going out in a few minutes and I'll spend some time thinking about how to respond and if there are a couple of sites with good answers that I can link to and share with you. A quick and dirty answer is this, it really is all about Christ, every part of it. He has a plan to deal with sin and all the mess that has come as a result. And that plan is detailed in the sanctuary. Gotta go. ttyl

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Okay Marty,
Appreciate your response and your patience...
I've found that trying to pin down Adventists to a simple answer on this sanctuary question can be challenging. My thoughts are that it is because the answers are not as clear as maybe they could/should be... And to your point replacing Facebook conversations w online experts probably is not the best way to go... But really I don't necessarily disagree with the Adventist position, I'm having trouble trying to get a real Adventist person to tell what they believe as it pertains to beliefs I thought they shared... i.e. this that talks about the Adventist development, The Great Controversy...

Anyway it would seem if sins are laid on Christ and then transferred to the heavenly sanctuary, then new sins committed are still today laid on Jesus at confession...
If not what then does this mean from The Great Controversy page 421:
"in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary"

I wouldn't have a big problem with the continuity of the argument as you read through the chapter; just if I ask an Adventist right out, it seems that, i guess most, don't don't believe as the author seems to be spelling it out... This is mostly why I asked you, thinking you'd know best how to lay this one flat for me from the Adventist perspective...

Thx again

Answer
The OT Sanctuary was a very literal illustration of an ongoing spiritual reality. The daily death of a lamb was an invitation to believe in a complete atonement for the sinner. The events of the sanctuary and it's yearly cycle of feasts and offerings all taught spiritual truths in physical ways.

That Sanctuary experience was literal, the Heavenly one is Spiritual and symbolic. The seeds for this idea can be seen in the parallel of Babylon. The OT says that Babylon will never be again. Yet Revelation teaches that it is again. The OT physical, Revelation spiritual.

The same can be understood when it comes to Christ's ministry. The OT gave a concrete, touchable, constant example of what Christ would do when He came to earth, and in fact, what He was already doing on behalf of the sinner, even before He was born as a human. According to Hebrews, the earthly sanctuary is patterned after the heavenly sanctuary. So the physical descriptions of His ministry as evidenced in the sanctuary are taking place in the heavenly sanctuary and those ministrations are spiritual in nature, physical as well in their consequences and blessings. But we are not killing any more lambs, are we? His death on the Cross was all that is needed in that regard.

There are two very important factors that are related to the Sanctuary. Ex. 25:8 makes it clear that God wanted Israel to build and worship at the sanctuary so He could dwell among them. And remember Christ's name is Immanuel, One who Dwells amongst us, loosely translated. So the sanctuary is a means of getting man and God together.

The other great factor is that the blood of the offerings was the device used to bring this relationship between God and man together. Without blood there is no remission of sins. In fact, sin continues to hold sway over us without blood. You can see some of what I'm talking about on page 417 and following of the Great Controversy. Here is a little sample that goes toward answering your question.

Day by day the repentant sinner brought his offering to the door of the tabernacle and, placing his hand upon the victims head, confessed his sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the innocent sacrifice....The blood, representing the forfeited life of the sinner, whose guilt the victim bore, was carried by the priest into the holy place and sprinkled before the veil, behind which was the ark containing the law that the sinner had transgressed. By this ceremony the sin was, through the blood, transferred in figure to the sanctuary.

Notice the word figure, used twice and the word representing. The blood was a type or figure, Jesus blood was the anti-type, or the first of the type, or the real thing you might say.

Look a little further down and she gives the Biblical explanation for the cleansing of the sanctuary. pp 418,419

So think about this for a minute. God cannot live in sin or the presence of sin, do you agree. But we are sinful and sinners? So how does He associate with us? By cleansing us from sin and all unrighteousness. The sanctuary is the tool, device, set of object lessons that teaches us this. Every altar, Abraham lifting his knife against his only son, every lamb that was slain, all teach one thing, there is a precious fountain we can be washed in, the blood of Jesus. Not only will it cleanse us of sin, but the tragic affair with sin that we have been enslaved by.

So I don't track well with the idea that new sins are laid on Jesus because it sounds like He has to go through the whole thing again. I think once is enough. More than enough in fact. But does He deal with our sin daily and ongoing? Of course. He has promised to do so, hasn't He? 1 John 1:9.

Jesus has always taken responsibility for dealing with our sin. We often think it is our job to fix our sin problem. The truth is, it is Christ's job. We can't do it. Our job is to show up at the gate of the sanctuary, at the foot of the Cross, listening to the still small voice of the Spirit of God as He tells us of Christ's love. And in the end, Christ changes us, transforms us really because we behold Him. By beholding we become changed.

Are there literal windows and concrete blocks in heaven making up the sanctuary? I doubt it. But the ministry of the sanctuary goes on every second of every day. The blood is applied to my life and I am accounted by God to be in His presence. Take one look at the colors of the inside of the sanctuary and the reflections on the golden walls. They will all point you to the great time that is yet to come when we gather round with the angels and other creatures at the throne of God and toss our crowns on to the sea of glass, singing Worthy is the Lamb.

Have a great week. Blessings

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Marty Thurber

Expertise

Questions about the Adventist Church and it's history. Bible Related questions about our teachings.

Experience

I've volunteered here before,enjoyed it, took a break for a while. Ready to get back in and help clarify the Adventist lifestyle. I am an Adventist pastor and have been since 1984.

Publications
Signs of the Times Ministry Magazine

Education/Credentials
Theology degree from Southwestern Adventist.

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