The second advent era of prophecies began in about A.D. 1845 and continued to about A.D. 1915. The purpose of this era of prophecy is to prepare the world for the close of probation and the restoration of the kingdom of glory. The spirit of prophecy in the second advent movement places much emphasis on the purification of God’s people and the putting away of sin. It gives a detailed account of the day of atonement process in the most holy place of the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven and the application of Christ’s blood to atone for the confessed sins of His people.
We have seen how Satan led the Jewish church to misapply the Old Testament prophecies. We have seen the successful attack Satan made against the “daily ministry” of Jesus in the holy place.
In the second advent movement, in our day, Satan is continuing his all-out war against the ministry of Jesus in the most holy place of the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven.
Revelation 12:17 says, “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
Today Satan is making his final attack against the sanctuary message. The devil is prowling around “like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8. He is destroying the faith of the people in the testimony of Jesus—the spirit of prophecy—as revealed in the life and writings of Ellen G. White, and misconstruing the whole sanctuary message. We know that the remnant —“the woman,” the church—obey the sanctuary message because they obey the commandments of God which are located in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. They have gone to Jesus, have confessed their sins, and Christ has given them power to obey the truth. Notice what Ellen White said about this warfare in a morning talk at Battle Creek, Michigan, January 29, 1890:
“We want [need] to understand the time in which we live. We do not half understand it. [In 1890 she says the people did not understand 50 percent of the time in which they live.] We do not half take it in. [How much do you understand of the sanctuary message today?] My heart trembles in me when I think of what a foe we have to meet, and how poorly we are prepared to meet him. The trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the second coming of Christ.” The Review and Herald, February 18, 1890.
What happened to the Jews at the first coming of Christ? They did not accept Jesus as their Saviour and His ascension to open the holy place of the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven. We have the same attitude today in the second advent movement as the Jews had during the first advent. They should have understood the work of Jesus in the daily service. We should today understand the work of Jesus in the most holy place of the sanctuary in heaven.
In 1844 the sanctuary message was not understood. But Daniel 8:14 says that it will be restored to its rightful state, and that has been fulfilled.
Daniel 8:14 RSV says, “And he said to him, ‘For two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.’ ” The New American Standard Bible (NASB) says: “And he said to me, ‘For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.’ ” This has been completely fulfilled. Many today do not know much about the heavenly sanctuary.
Today we have a complete record of the pioneer’s research on the sanctuary message and what they believed. The Great Controversy has four full chapters on this message:
Chapter 23, pages 409–422, “What is the Sanctuary?” is a record of the development of the pioneer’s understanding of the sanctuary. Chapter 24, pages 423–432, “In the Holy of Holies,” completely explains Christ’s ministry in the judgment. Chapter 25, pages 433–450, “God’s Law Immutable,” outlines the pioneers’ understanding as to what is involved in the sanctuary message. They understood that the Three Angels’ Messages were a warning to the world not to reject the teaching regarding the ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary. Chapter 28, pages 479–491, “Facing Life’s Record,” presents crucial information regarding our records that are being reviewed in the most holy place during the investigative judgment in our day.
In addition, much more information about the sanctuary is given throughout The Great Controversy. Additional information is found in Patriarchs and Prophets, 343–358; 634–637; The Desire of Ages, 785–801; Acts of the Apostles, 38, 39, 593–602 and Early Writings, 54, 55; 232–236; 237–239; 250–260 which include the first, second and third angels’ messages.
Why should we be in trouble with our understanding of the sanctuary message when all of this information concerning the ministration of Jesus in the sanctuary in heaven is available to us? We are told that Satan is conducting a war against this message. (See Revelation 12:17.) The following is a list of some of the battles he has directed in his effort to destroy these precious truths.
- The 1888 General Conference in Minneapolis. This is more tragic in light of the fact that in 1888 the first complete addition of The Great Controversy was published. At that conference, the book was available which contained these four chapters and all of the other information. It was their privilege to make plans to distribute this precious truth to the world at that conference. But this did not happen.
- By the turn of the century pantheism was introduced into the second advent movement. Dr. Kellogg began to teach pantheistic concepts to the sanitarium staff. The significance of this is important when you understand that the sanitarium staff had a larger business than the General Conference. It had more people, more employees and more finances than the General Conference itself. The Battle Creek Sanitarium also had a wider sphere of influence. Through Dr. Kellogg’s writings and through students who were trained under him, pantheistic theories spread everywhere. Pantheism teaches that God is in everything. He is in the book, the pew, in nature and in ourselves—all we need to do is to improve the god within us and we will be like God. Thus pantheism obviates the need for an intercessor and makes Christ’s role as high priest pointless. The church was so confused on the sanctuary message that they could not fight the battle, so God took it into His own hand and in 1902 burned down the sanitarium. They could not understand why it burned, so they planned to rebuild it. The officers of the General Conference asked Dr. Kellogg to write a book on medical missionary work to raise funds for a new sanitarium but on one condition. He was not to put anything in there about pantheism. This resulted in the book, The Living Temple.
Ellen White was instructed to tell the leaders not to print that book. Against her counsel, the manuscript was sent to the Review and Herald for publication; they set the type and were ready to run the presses. On December 29, 1902, the Review and Herald Publishing Association burned down. God was fighting the battle Himself to get His church back on the right foundation. Dr. Kellogg was not to be defeated; he went to another publisher in Battle Creek and had the book published himself.
- The church had not recovered from this battle when, in 1905, A. F. Ballenger came from England with a whole document on the sanctuary to present to the General Conference. In that document, he asserted that there was no sanctuary in heaven and that the atonement was completed at the cross.
In 1905 Ellen White wrote, “I declare in the name of the Lord that the most dangerous heresies are seeking to find entrance among us as a people, and Elder Ballenger is making spoil of his own soul. … There is not truth in the explanations of Scripture that Elder Ballenger and those associated with him are presenting. The words are right but misapplied to vindicate error.” Manuscript Release No. 760, page 4.
That is exactly what the Jews did in the first advent; that is exactly what the Protestant churches did in the early advent awakening. They accepted error; they misapplied the Scriptures. The article continues,
“God forbids your course of action—making the blessed Scriptures, by grouping them in your way, to testify to build up a falsehood.
“Let us all cling to the established truth of the sanctuary. … The men who have lost their hold on the truths of the sanctuary question … had better pray more and talk less. I testify in the name of the Lord that Elder Ballenger is led by satanic agencies and spiritualistic, invisible leaders.” That was written in 1905. Ellen White died in 1915. Her battle was over, but 15 years later a statement of 22 fundamental beliefs was written in 1931 containing men’s explanations of the Scriptures. It was changed quite a few times, but in 1980, it became an official document of the Seventh-day Adventist church. This document, with the church manual, has become the equivalent of a creed, just like the rest of the Protestant churches have and this statement of beliefs has been changed quite a few times since then.
- During this same time Desmond Ford attacked the sanctuary message. He asserted that the atonement was completed at the cross. He basically denied the whole sanctuary message with the same end result as A. F. Ballenger.
However, that was not the end of Satan’s battle against the sanctuary message.
- The Evangelical Compromise – Dr. Walter Martin, an Evangelical Christian apologist, published a book in 1955 on cults, in which he indicated his opposition to Adventist teachings in a brief paragraph in the inaugural edition of his book The Rise of the Cults (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1955). Word got to the General Conference that Seventh-day Adventists were being presented to the public as a cult. They did not want that to happen. They wanted to be considered a mainline church. Negotiations were started with Dr. Walter Martin and Dr. Donald Barnhouse on how to state the fundamental beliefs so that the church could be accepted as a mainline church. In his book, Our Evangelical Earthquake (Harvestime Books, Altamont, Tennessee, 2009), Vance Farrell has documented these negotiations and the whole history of that apostasy and fundamental beliefs.
The whole idea of Christ’s blood to atone for sin in the heavenly sanctuary had to be deleted to become a mainline church because of the Evangelicals’ objection to that doctrine and to the first angel’s message.
- Spiritual Formation – Today we are in the midst of the worst apostasy yet. Spiritual formation is sweeping the churches. Seventh-day Adventist universities and ministers are being trained and offered degrees in these spiritualistic teachings, which goes directly against the sanctuary message and Christ’s work in the heavenly sanctuary.
We are in a swirl of apostasy today. But we can claim the promise that the sanctuary message will be restored.
“For the past fifty years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us, to becloud our minds regarding the teaching of the Word—especially concerning the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and the message of heaven for these last days as given by the angels of the fourteenth chapter of Revelation. … But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved as God has signified through His Word and through the testimony of His Spirit.” Ibid., 7.
No matter how bad the apostasy gets, there will be a remnant that will preserve the new covenant and sanctuary messages.
“He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority. Manuscript 44, 1905.” Ibid.
“The third angel closes his message thus: ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus’ (Revelation 14:12). As he repeated these words, he pointed to the heavenly sanctuary. The minds of all who embrace this message are directed to the most holy place.” Early Writings, 254.
“The third angel was pointing them to the most holy place, and those who had had an experience in the past messages were pointing them the way to the heavenly sanctuary. Many saw the perfect chain of truth in the angels’ messages, and gladly received them in their order, and followed Jesus by faith into the heavenly sanctuary. These messages were represented to me as an anchor to the people of God. Those who understand and receive them will be kept from being swept away by the many delusions of Satan.” Ibid., 256.
This anchor—this “perfect chain of truth,” the sanctuary message—is the foundation and central pillar of the Christian faith. Cling to this “perfect chain of truth”—lay hold on that anchor.
These truths “opened to view a complete system of truth, connected and harmonious, showing that God’s hand had directed the great advent movement and revealing present duty as it brought to light the position and work of His people.” The Great Controversy, 423.
“The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise 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.” Ibid., 488.
If you do not have a clear understanding of the sanctuary message, begin to study it diligently now, because you cannot be a worker for God in the time of the latter rain without understanding it. It is that critical.
The sanctuary message will be restored and will be the center and focus of the latter rain.
“Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise. To all the testing time will come.” Ibid., 625. “As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. … Then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed.” Ibid., 624.
This is the great final test. We will not have time to get the message straight after the close of probation. We need to get on the right foundation now while Christ is still our Mediator in the heavenly sanctuary.
This is urgent, because we are told that probation will close sooner for the faithful believers, before the loud cry. Those who stand on the true foundation of the new covenant and its sanctuary are sealed at the beginning of the loud cry when the latter rain—the power and glory of the Holy Spirit—is poured out in full measure on the true people of God.
“The light that was shed upon the waiting ones penetrated everywhere, and those in the churches who had any light, who had not heard and rejected the three messages, obeyed the call and left the fallen churches.” Early Writings, 278.
“The time of God’s destructive judgments is the time of mercy for those who have no opportunity to learn what is truth. Tenderly will the Lord look upon them. His heart of mercy is touched; his hand is still stretched out to save, while the door is closed to those who would not enter. Large numbers will be admitted who in these last days hear the truth for the first time.” The Review and Herald, July 5, 1906.
“While the door is closed to those who would not enter” refers to the foolish virgins that come up to the time of the latter rain and find they are not on the foundation of the sanctuary truth. They do not know what it is about, and they have misconceptions about the sanctuary message.
There is a powerful false sanctuary message today. The difference between the true and the false is simply an understanding of the atonement process during which Christ blots out the sins of His repentant people in the heavenly sanctuary.
The false message talks about Christ’s ministry in the holy place. It may even talk about His ministry in the most holy place and the cleansing of the sanctuary, but it does not talk about the need for confession and separation from sin now. Probation is soon to close and there is little time to get ready. The third angel’s message is all about the new covenant—the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12). We need to give the true third angel’s message that points people to the heavenly sanctuary. If you have not been to the heavenly sanctuary and confessed your own sins, it is impossible to give the third angel’s message. I plead with you today to get on the right foundation with Jesus Christ—the foundation of the new covenant and the sanctuary of the new covenant, Christ’s ministry in the most holy place—and the seven pillars of the faith that rest on this eternal truth. These truths provide an anchor for you, and this anchor will hold during the time of storm soon to break upon us.
The third era of prophecy has been given to help the people in the second advent movement prepare for the time when their name will come up in the judgment, for the close of probation and for eternal life. Each era of prophecy fulfills a specific purpose in the great plan of salvation.
(Emphasis in quoted references has been added. Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New International Version.)
Maurice Hoppe is Director of the Steps to Life training programs and a member of the Steps to Life Board. The Training Program for Ministers and Church Leaders is a correspondence course that prepares individuals to serve as pastors or Bible workers. Preparing for the Final Conflict is a correspondence course for the laity. Both of these courses teach present truth that will be an anchor for the soul during the storm of opposition and persecution just ahead. He and his wife also have a correspondence course offered through Revelation Ministry. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.