“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows
Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
“When He spoke these words, Jesus was in the court of the temple specially connected with the services of the Feast of Tabernacles. In the center of this court rose two lofty standards, supporting lampstands of great size. After the evening sacrifice, all the lamps were kindled, shedding their light over Jerusalem. This ceremony was in commemoration of the pillar of light that guided Israel in the desert, and was also regarded as pointing to the coming of the Messiah. At evening when the lamps were lighted, the court was a scene of great rejoicing. …
“In the illumination of Jerusalem, the people expressed their hope of the Messiah’s coming to shed His light upon Israel.” The Desire of Ages, 463. This is an important statement in light of the fact that Ellen White says we are just like the Jews, who could be deemed the seventh-day adventists of the first advent.
The Jews had been taught that when the Messiah came, He would deliver them from pagan Rome and establish them as the leading nation of the world. Thus when Jesus proclaimed that He was the Light of the world and if they would come to Him, they would receive eternal life, they did not understand.
Paul, however, did understand. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God” (II Corinthians 4:4).
Jesus is the One who formed the new covenant, the plan of salvation, with the Father from the foundation of the world. “Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin—sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and His Son. Christ would reach to the depths of misery to rescue the ruined race.
“The plan of salvation had been laid before the creation of the earth; for Christ is ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8).” Patriarchs and Prophets, 63.
“In the words, ‘I am the light of the world,’ Jesus declared Himself the Messiah.” The Desire of Ages, 465. This was just six months before His crucifixion.
These people had the Messiah standing right in the midst of them when He said, “I am the light of the world,” “I am the Messiah” but they did not recognize him.
When Mary was brought before Jesus by the cruel and heartless priests and rulers she thought her life was at an end. She was found in sin and brought in by the leaders of the church and condemned, waiting for the first stone to hit her. For her, the world was coming to an end (John 8:3–11). Then she heard those beautiful, soul-inspiring words from Jesus, “ ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’ ” (John 8:11). Jesus sent her away free from sin. “This was to her the beginning of a new life, a life of purity and peace, devoted to the service of God.” The Desire of Ages, 462.
“In His mercy, Jesus had pardoned her sins, He had called forth her beloved brother from the grave (John 11:43), and Mary’s heart was filled with gratitude. She had heard Jesus speak of His approaching death, and in her deep love and sorrow she had longed to show Him honor. At great personal sacrifice she had purchased an alabaster box of ‘ointment of spikenard, very costly’ (John 12:3), with which to anoint His body. But now many were declaring that He was about to be crowned king. Her grief was turned to joy, and she was eager to be first in honoring her Lord.” Ibid., 559.
Six days before His death, Mary anointed Him as an expression of her love for Him as the Messiah, the One who had freed her from sin. The Light of the Sun of Righteousness shone upon her and she went home rejoicing because He had removed her burden of sin and she now had a new life of purity in Jesus. She had, by experience, learned what Jesus could do for her.
As the priests and the rulers read Jesus’ writing in the sand (John 8:6–8), they “began to go away one at a time” (verse 9) in shame still carrying the burden of their own sins. They saw in Jesus only a man from Nazareth, who, in their estimation, was a troublemaker. He had interrupted the Passover when He first cleansed the temple of the money changers (John 2:13–17). He had created a disturbance on Sabbath by healing the man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:5, 6). They saw nothing in Him worthy of consideration.
At Simon’s feast (Mark 14:3), there were two groups represented. One group had left Jesus with the burden of sin on their shoulders. The other, represented by Mary, went away forgiven, purified, and cleansed.
Today, we do not have Jesus physically in our presence, but we do have the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, which are His representatives to us today. When you look to these sources of instruction, do you see something that cuts across your dress standards, your diet, or something that hinders your work in the world or interferes with your desire for entertainment and pleasure? Are you like the Pharisees, who walked away with their burden of sin? When you study the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, does the Holy Spirit open to you the way into the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary? Jesus is in the most holy place of the sanctuary in heaven today and He is waiting for you to confess your sin so He can take it from you. He has shed His blood on the cross and He is using it in the atonement today in the heavenly sanctuary. He will do to each one of us the same as He did for Mary, who went away free from sin.
The New Testament prophecies reflect light on the ministry of Christ in the sanctuary of the new covenant. Revelation 1 tells about the inauguration of Christ to begin his work in the daily service that continued for about 1800 years. Revelation 4 and 5 focus on the opening of the sanctuary in heaven. It was the New Testament that was to prepare the church for the opening of the most holy place in 1844. However, during the Dark Ages, the church had inserted man as an intercessor between men and God, thus stepping off its Foundation. As a result, when Christ opened the most holy place, they had lost all knowledge of the heavenly sanctuary and did not even know where the true sanctuary was.
“Jesus was the light of His people—the Light of the world—before He came to earth in the form of humanity. The first gleam of light that pierced the gloom in which sin had wrapped the world, came from Christ. And from Him has come every ray of heaven’s brightness that has fallen upon the inhabitants of the earth. In the plan of redemption Christ is the Alpha and the Omega—the First and the Last.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 367.
Christ is the Source of all light shining from the sanctuary above. There is no other source of light for this fallen world.
“Since the Saviour shed His blood for the remission of sins, and ascended to heaven ‘to appear in the presence of God for us’ (Hebrews 9:24), light has been streaming from the cross of Calvary and from the holy places of the sanctuary above.” Ibid., 367, 368. We receive light by looking to the cross where the ratification of the covenant occurred, and then to the sanctuary, where the blood that was shed on the cross is applied to our confessed sins.
John the Baptist connected the Lamb of God in the Old Testament to the great High Priest in the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven. “The prophet John was the connecting link between the two dispensations. As God’s representative he stood forth to show the relation of the law and the prophets to the Christian dispensation.” The Desire of Ages, 220.
Just as Jesus qualified John the Baptist for his work, He will qualify us for our work if we connect ourselves to Him as John did.
“With the first advent of Christ there was ushered in an era of greater light and glory. … The brightness of the Father’s glory, and the excellence and perfection of His sacred law, are only understood through the atonement made upon Calvary by His dear Son; but even the atonement loses its significance when the law of God is rejected.” The Signs of the Times, August 25, 1887.
The disciples did not initially understand why Jesus died on the cross, but when He explained on the road to Emmaus what the Law and the prophets said about the Messiah, their minds were enlightened to the understanding of that truth.
We know how that truth changed their lives, once it was understood. That truth can do the same for us in the second advent movement and the latter rain. In the latter rain everybody in the world will hear the truth so plainly that all will be able to make an intelligent decision as to which side of the controversy they choose to be on.
The people of God have been given the true sanctuary message. They understand that Christ can take care of their burden of sin in the heavenly sanctuary. All will have a choice as to whether they will go to Christ and have their sins taken away or keep their sins like the Pharisees did and walk away.
The people of God are directed to the Scriptures as their safeguard against the influence of false teachers and the delusive power of spirits of darkness. It is the Scriptures that will give spiritual discernment to identify false movements like spiritual formation, which is sweeping the churches today. Those who are successful in meeting the issues ahead are those “who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God,” though they “will be opposed and derided.” The Great Controversy, 593. We saw that in the first advent of Jesus.
“They can stand only in God. In order to endure the trial before them, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His word; they can honor Him only as they have a right conception of His character [pure, without sin], government [the sanctuary in heaven, the kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory], and purposes [to free us from sin], and act in accordance with them.” Ibid.
A knowledge of these things without corresponding actions will do you no good. The Jews had the sanctuary service; they offered the morning and evening sacrifices; but they did not have the experience to go with it—they did not act upon it correctly.
“None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict.” Ibid., 593, 594. The Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy are going to be our anchor.
In the chapter in The Great Controversy called “In the Holy of Holies,” page 423, is the important truth that we must carry to the world. “The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844. It 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.” [Emphasis added.]
A “complete system of truth” is contained in the true understanding of the sanctuary message. “Now in the holy of holies they again beheld Him, their compassionate High Priest, soon to appear as their king and deliverer. Light from the sanctuary illumined the past, the present, and the future.” Ibid.
Most in the Protestant world today have no idea where Jesus is now. They hold a false gospel. The true gospel knows that Jesus is in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. It is the sanctuary message that tells us what is going on today and how we can gain eternal salvation. It is the sanctuary message that is going to carry us through the latter rain and right through to the kingdom of glory after the millennium. This is the foundation and central pillar of our faith.
In the chapter of The Great Controversy on the investigative judgment entitled “Facing Life’s Record,” 497, there is complete detail on how our record is going to be reviewed. This investigation is occurring right now, although we do not know when our lives are going to be reviewed. We are not going to be there in person but the complete record of our life is there.
It is when our life’s record is reviewed that the blood of Jesus shed on the cross is applied to the confessed sins of the faithful believer and atones for them. We will then be qualified to go to the world and call a people out of Babylon. If you cannot tell them where to get rid of their sin, they can never get out of Babylon. We need that experience in order to give the true third angel’s message.
“Those who would share the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God. The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the word of truth. The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need 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. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face. How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot, at the end of the days.” Ibid., 488.
Notice that unless you are devoted to the study of the Bible and grounded in the sanctuary message, you will not be able to fill the position that God requires to be part of the last work to call people out of Babylon.
“All who have received the light upon these subjects are to bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed to them. The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. … It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects and be able to give an answer to everyone that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them (I Peter 3:15).
“The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross.” Ibid., 488, 489.
Although we hear a lot about the cross today, the cross is only half of the plan of salvation. Christ’s work in the heavenly sanctuary is the critical other half. Otherwise the gospel is out of balance. Are we giving a false gospel or a balanced gospel? Are we giving a gospel that says, just come to Christ and He will take care of your sins when He comes because He did it all at the cross? Or are we giving a balanced message that the new covenant was ratified at the cross and that He atones for our sins with His blood in the heavenly sanctuary? That balanced truth will save people.
“By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven.” Ibid., 489. The heavenly sanctuary is the very center of Christ’s work. It is impossible to give the gospel aright without including the heavenly sanctuary message and the third angel’s message.
It is our privilege to join with the third angel to point people to the greater Light Who is ministering now in the most holy place of the sanctuary in heaven.
When we give the true third angel’s message, we are to tell about Jesus in the most holy place. If not, we are giving a false third angel’s message. “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.” Early Writings, 256.
When the pioneers of the Advent faith heard the sanctuary message, they could not stop talking about it and Christ’s ministry there. “We found Him in the heavenly sanctuary” was the essence of their message. Why isn’t that the prominent feature of our message today? What has happened to the sanctuary message in the second advent movement? Has Satan again stolen a march on us, as he did on the Jews and on the Protestants who rejected this life-saving message? That was the experience at the beginning of the second advent movement.
“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.
To keep from being swept away in the delusions that are coming during the latter rain, you must know the sanctuary message. Now is the time to become firmly anchored in the knowledge of Christ and His ministry in the most holy place. This is the true third angel’s message.
What we are going to do we must do quickly, for that light may not be with us very long. “Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.’ ” John 12:35, 36.
At the Feast of Tabernacles when Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world” very few people put their trust in that Light. Mary and a few disciples did. How many in the second advent movement will put their trust in the Light, in the work of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary?
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” I John 1:7. In that verse you have a complete sanctuary message—Christ’s ministry in the most holy place to purify us from sin. If we walk in the light of that sanctuary as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. In other words, that will bring the unity required for the latter rain. It is the understanding of the sanctuary message that is going to bind us together in the unity of those who give the latter rain message.
“The world lies in darkness. There are all around us souls going down to ruin and to death. As Christ sheds the light of His love upon His followers, they are to reflect this light upon others.” The Review and Herald, January 24, 1882.
We are to learn and experience the sanctuary message and to share it with those around us. When people see Jesus and what He has done for them, it has the power to lift them above sin. That is the only power that will lift them above sin; knowledge will not do it. The Jews had lots of knowledge. They conducted the sanctuary service but they did not have the experience of meeting Jesus. We need to point the people to Jesus and to His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. He is the great Light.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14–16.
The following is a story of interest found in The Review and Herald, January 24, 1882, about the Calais lighthouse.
“The zeal and steadfastness of the light-house keeper, in his efforts to save men from temporal destruction, put to shame the faith and devotion of many a professed Christian.
“The watchman at Calais light-house was boasting of the brilliancy of his lantern, which can be seen ten leagues out at sea, when a visitor said to him,
“ ‘You speak with enthusiasm, sir, and that is well. I like to hear men tell what they are sure they have and know; but what if one of the lights should chance to go out?’
“ ‘Never, never! Absurd, impossible!’ replied the sensitive watchman, in consternation at the mere supposition of such a thing. ‘Why, sir,’ he continued, and pointed to the ocean, ‘Yonder, where nothing can be seen, there are ships going by to every port in the world. If, tonight, one of my burners were out, within six months would come a letter, perhaps from India, perhaps from Australia, perhaps from some port I never heard of before—a letter, saying that on such a night, at such an hour, at such a minute, the light at Calais burned low and dim; that the watchman neglected his post; that vessels were consequently put in jeopardy on the high seas. Ah, sir,’ and his face shone with the intensity of his thought, ‘sometimes, in the dark nights, and in the stormy weather, I look out upon the sea and feel as if the eye of the whole world were looking at my light. Go out? Burn dim? That flame flicker low or fail? No, sir, never!’
“Shall Christians, shining for tempted sinners, allow their light to fail? Forever out upon life’s billowy sea, are souls we see not, strange sailors in the dark, passing by, struggling, it may be, amid the surges of temptation. Christ is the light, and the Christian is appointed to reflect the light. The ocean is vast, its dangers are many, and the eyes of far-away voyagers are turned toward the Calais light-house—the church of Jesus Christ. The church is set to be the light of the world. Are its revolving lamps all trimmed and brightly burning?”
(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: email@example.com.