Letters to the Churches, The Heavenly Ministration of Christ

“Letters have been coming in to me, affirming that Christ could not have had the same nature as man, for if He had, He would have fallen under similar temptations. If He did not have man’s nature, He could not be our example. If He was not a partaker of our nature, He could not have been tempted, as man has been. If it were not possible for Him to yield to temptation, He could not be our helper. It was a solemn reality that Christ came to fight the battles as man, in man’s behalf. His temptation and victory tell us that humanity must copy the Pattern; man must become a partaker of the divine nature.” Review and Herald, February 18, 1890.

We were appalled to learn that in some way these evangelical clergymen have had enough influence over our leaders to cause the Voice of Prophecy and Signs of the Times to trim their sails to “avoid charges that have been brought against them by evangelicals.” This is terrifying news. These organs are instruments of God, and it is unbelievable that the leaders should permit any outside influence to affect them. In this great sin against the denomination has been committed that can be blotted out only by deep repentance of the guilty parties, or in lieu of this, that the men concerned, quietly resign from holy office.

Our members are largely unaware of the conditions existing, and every effort is being made to keep them in ignorance. Orders have been issued to keep everything secret, and it will be noted that even at the late General Conference session (1958), no report was given of our leaders’ trafficking with the evangelicals and making alliances with them. Our officials are playing with fire, and the resulting conflagration will fulfill the prediction that the coming Omega “will be of a most startling nature.”

Seven times, I have asked for a hearing, and I have been promised one, but only on condition that I meet privately with certain men and that no record be given me of the proceedings. I have asked for a public hearing, or if it is to be a private one, that a tape recording be made, and that I be given a copy. This has been denied me. As I cannot have such a hearing, I am writing of these messages which contain, and will contain what I would have said at such a hearing. Can the reader surmise the reason why the officers do not want the hearing I ask?

I am a Seventh-day Adventist, and I love this message that I have preached for so long. I grieve deeply as I see the foundation pillars being destroyed, the blessed truths that have made us what we are, abandoned.

According to the minutes of the Board of Trustees at the White Estate, it was on the first day of May, 1957, when two men, members of the committee which had been appointed to write the book which came to be known as Questions on Doctrine, were invited by the board to meet with them to discuss a question that had received some consideration at a meeting the previous January. It concerned statements made by Mrs. White in regard to the atonement now in progress in the sanctuary above. This conception did not agree with the conclusions reached by the leaders of the denomination in counsel with the evangelicals.

At these conferences with the evangelicals, they objected to our teaching on the Investigative Judgment which Dr. Barnhouse characterized as “the most colossal, psychological, face-saving phenomenon in religious history.”

Dr. Barnhouse reported that he and Mr. Martin heard the Adventist leaders say flatly, that they repudiated all such extremes. This they said in no uncertain terms. Some of their earlier teachers taught that Jesus’ atoning work was not completed on Calvary, but instead that He had been carrying on a second ministerial work since 1844. The Adventist leaders also stated that they did not believe this teaching.

About the time when the two men first visited the vault, a series of articles appeared in the Ministry, which claimed to be “the Adventist understanding of atonement, confirmed and illuminated and clarified by the Spirit of Prophecy.” In the February issue, 1957, the statement occurs that the “sacrificial act on the cross (is) a complete, perfect and final atonement for man’s sin.” This pronouncement is in harmony with the belief of our leaders as Dr. Barnhouse quoted them. It is also in harmony with a statement signed by a chief officer in a personal letter: “You cannot, Brother Andreasen, take away from us this precious teaching that Jesus made a complete and all-sufficient atoning sacrifice from the cross. . . . This we shall ever hold fast, and continue to proclaim it, even as our dear venerated forefathers in the faith.

It would interesting if the writer would produce proof of his assertion. The truth is that our forefathers believed and proclaimed no such thing. They did not believe that the work on the cross was complete and all sufficient. They did believe that a ransom was there paid, and that this was all-sufficient; but the final atonement awaited Christ’s entrance into the most holy in 1844. This the Adventists have always taught and believed, and this is the old and established doctrine, which our venerated forefathers believed and proclaimed. They could not teach that the atonement on the cross was final, complete and all sufficient, and yet believe that another atonement, also final, occurred in 1844. Such would be absurd and meaningless. Paying the penalty for our sins was, indeed, a vital and necessary part of God’s plan for our salvation, but it was by no means all. It was, as it were, placing in the bank of heaven, a sum sufficient and in every way adequate for any contingency, and which could be drawn on by and for each individual as needed. This payment was “the precious blood of Christ, as of the lamb, without blemish and without spot.” I Peter 1:19. In his death on the cross, Jesus “paid it all;” but the precious treasure becomes efficacious for us only as Christ draws upon it for us, and this must await the coming into the world of each individual; hence, the atonement must continue as long as people are born. Hear this:

“There is an inexhaustible fund of perfect obedience accruing from His obedience. How is it, that such an infinite treasure is not appropriated? In heaven, the merits of Christ, His self-denial and self-sacrifice, are treasured up as incense, to be offered up with the prayers of His people.” General Conference Bulletin, vol. 3, 101, 102, Fourth Quarter, 1899.

Note the phrases: “inexhaustible fund,” “infinite treasure,” “merits of Christ.” This fund was deposited at the cross, but not “used up” there. It is “treasured up” and offered up with the prayers of God’s people. And especially since 1844 is this fund drawn on heavily as God’s people advance to holiness; but it is not exhausted, there is sufficient and to spare. Here again, “He, who through His own atonement, provided for them an infinite fund of moral power, will not fail to employ this power in their behalf. He will impute to them His own righteousness. . . . There is an inexhaustible fund of perfect obedience accruing from His obedience. . . as sincere, humble prayers are sent to the throne of God, Christ mingles with them the merits of His own life of perfect obedience. Our prayers are made fragrant by this incense. Christ has pledged Himself to intercede in our behalf and the Father always hears His Son.” Ibid.

When we pray, this very year of 1959, Christ intercedes for us and mingles with our prayers “the merits of His own life of perfect obedience. Our prayers are made fragrant by this incense . . . and the Father always hears His Son.”

Contrast this with the statement in Questions on Doctrine, 381: “(Jesus) appeared in the presence of God for us. . . . But it was not with the hope of attaining something for us at that time or at some future time. No! He had already obtained it for us on the cross.” [Emphasis his.] Note the picture: Christ appears in the presence of God for us. He pleads, but He gets nothing. For 1800 years He pleads, and gets nothing. Does He not know that He already has it? Will no one inform Him that it is useless to plead? He Himself has “no hope” of getting anything now or at any future time, and yet He pleads, and keeps on pleading? What a sight for the angels! And this is representative of Adventist teaching! This is the book that has the approval of Adventist leaders and is sent out to the world to show what we believe. May God forgive us.

Thank God this is not Adventist doctrine! Hear this from Sister White, as quoted above: “Christ has pledged Himself to intercede in our behalf and the Father always hears His Son.” This is Christianity and the other is not!

Shall we remain silent under such conditions? Asks Sister White.

“For the past 50 years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us . . . especially concerning the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. . . . Do you wonder that when I see the beginning of a work that would remove some of the pillars of our faith, I have something to say? I must obey the command, ‘Meet it.’” Series B, No. 2, 58.

Again: “The enemy of souls that has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church would be discarded. The fundamental truths that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. . . . Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement.” Ibid., 54, 55.

“Shall we keep silent for fear of hurting their feelings? . . . Shall we keep silent for fear of injuring their influence while souls are being beguiled?. . . My message is: No longer consent to listen without protest to the perversion of truth.” [Emphasis ours.] Ibid., 9, 15.

Ellen White makes definite pronouncements in regard to the atoning work of Christ now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary. For example, “At the termination of the 2300 days, in 1844, Christ entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, to perform the closing work of atonement, preparatory to His coming.” The Great Controversy, 422. “Christ had only completed one part of His work as our Intercessor to enter upon another portion of the work, and He still pleaded His blood before the Father in behalf of sinners.” Ibid., 429. At “the opening of the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary in 1844, (as) Christ entered there to perform the closing work of the atonement, they saw that He was now officiating before the ark of God, pleading His blood in behalf of sinners.” Ibid., 433.

“Christ is represented as continually standing at the altar, momentarily offering up the sacrifice for the sins of the world. . . . A Mediator is essential because of the continual commission of sin. . . . Jesus presents the oblation offered for every offense and every shortcoming of the sinner.” Manuscript 50, 1900.

These statements are definite. It was at the end of the 2300 days, in 1844, that Christ entered the most holy “to perform the closing work of the atonement.” He had ONLY COMPLETED ONE PART OF HIS WORK as our Intercessor” in the first apartment. Now He “enters upon another portion of the work.” He pleads “His blood before the Father.” He is “continually standing at the altar.” This is necessary “because of the continual commission of sin.” “Jesus presents the oblation for every offense and every shortcoming of the sinner.” This argues a continuing, present atonement. He offers up “momentarily.” “Jesus presents the oblation offered for every offense.” “He ever liveth to make intercession for them..” Hebrews 7:25.

It is presumed that when the two men stated that they had “become acutely aware of E. G. White statements which indicated that the atoning work of Christ is now in progress in the sanctuary,” that they had read the quotations here given and perhaps others. In view of this knowledge, what did they suggest should be done? Would they change their former erroneous opinions and harmonize with the plain words of the Spirit of Prophecy? No, on the contrary, they “suggested to the trustees that some footnotes or Appendix notes might appear in certain of the E. G. White books clarifying very largely on the words of Ellen White, our understanding of the various phases of the atoning work of Christ.” Minutes 1483.

The claim which Questions on Doctrine makes, that she means what she does not say, effectively destroys the force of all she has every written. If we have to consult an inspired interpreter from Washington before knowing what she means, we might better discard the Testimonies altogether. May God save His people. [Months later when the vote was taken by the White Estate Board, the request mentioned above was not granted.]

The men who visited the vault on May 1, stated clearly that they had discovered that Mrs. White taught plainly “that the atoning work of Christ is now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary.” On the other hand, the Ministry of February, 1957, stated the very opposite. It said that the “sacrificial act on the cross (is) a complete, perfect and final atonement for men’s sins.” Questions on Doctrine attempts to reconcile these opposing views by stating that whether one “hears an Adventist say, or reads in Adventist literature—even in the writings of Ellen G. White—that Christ is making atonement now, it should be understood that we mean simply that Christ is now making application,” etc., 354, 355. It is clear that if the atonement on the cross was final, there cannot be a later atonement also final. When we therefore, for one hundred years, have preached that the day of atonement began in 1844, we were wrong. It ended 1800 years before. The hundreds of books we have published; the more than a million copies of Bible Readings we have sold; the millions of handbills we have distributed saying that it was “court week in heaven,” were all false doctrine; the Bible instruction we have given the children and the young ministry and which they have imbibed as Bible truth, is a fable. Uriah Smith, Loughborough, Andrews, Andross, Watson, Daniells, Branson, Johnson, Lacey, Spicer, Haskell, Gilbert, and a host of others stand convicted of having taught false doctrine; and the whole denomination whose chief contribution to Christianity is the sanctuary doctrine and Christ’s ministry, must now confess that we were all wrong, and that we have no message to the world for these last days. In other words, we are a deceived and deceiving people. The fact that we may have been honest does not alter the fact that we have given a false message. Take away from us the sanctuary question, the Investigative Judgment, the message of the 2300 days, Christ’s work in the most holy, and we have no right to exist as a denominated people, as God’s messengers to a doomed world. If the Spirit of Prophecy has led us astray these many years, let us throw it away.

But no! Halt! God has not led us astray. We have not told cunningly devised fables. We have a message that will stand the test and confound the undermining theories that are finding their way in among us. In this instance, it is not the people that have gone astray except as they have followed the leaders. It is time that there be a turn-about.

It is now more than four years ago that the apostasy began to be plainly evident. Since that time there has been a deliberate attempt to weaken the faith in the Spirit of Prophecy, as it is clear that as long as the people revere the gift among us, they cannot be led far astray. The time for action has come. The time to open up the dark corners has arrived. There must no longer by any secret agreements, no compact with other denominations who hate the law and the Sabbath, who ridicule our most holy faith. We must no longer hobnob with enemies of the truth, no more promise that we will not proselytize. We must not tolerate leadership which condones tampering with the writings entrusted to us, and stigmatizes us as belonging to the lunatic fringe, those who dare disagree with them. We must no longer remain silent. To they tents, Oh Israel!