Have you ever been deceived by having a false hope? Jesus taught that many people in the last days will believe they are saved, will but come right up to the end of the world and find out that they are lost for eternity. Don’t let it happen to you! Find out what is involved in gaining eternal life.
Whether a person has life or death in this world depends upon his or her choices. That is true not just for this temporal life alone but also for eternity. Whether a person receives eternal life or eternal death is dependent on the choices made in this life. The apostle Paul said, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27 KJV. All in this world, whether they are righteous or wicked, whether they are Christian or non-Christian, whether they are good or bad, will die unless they are still alive when Jesus comes. But this death is not the death about which you need to be concerned. There will be many people who will be resurrected and then die again the second death. The Bible talks clearly about the second death in Revelation 20 and 21.
One wonders why somebody would choose to die the second death. In I John 3:4 KJV, it says that sin is the transgression [or the breaking] of God’s law, and in Romans 6:23, it says, “The wages of sin is death.” Paul here is referring to the second death and not to the first death. The wages of sin is death, that death that will go on forever. A person who suffers the second death will never be alive again; they will be dead forever. They will be blotted out of existence. You can read about that in both the Old and the New Testaments—in Obadiah, Jeremiah and Revelation. There is only one way that you can escape the second death, and that is for your sins to be removed from you. The Bible says that we have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and that the wages of sin is death.
The only way for sin to be removed is to have your guilt transferred to somebody else whose righteousness or innocence could be transferred to you to remove any guilt. The Bible teaches that this is exactly what happens in the plan of salvation. The apostle Paul said, “For He made Him [that is, God made Christ] Who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” II Corinthians 5:21. Jesus did not know any sin. It says, in I John 3:5, “In Him there is no sin.” He knew no sin. He was righteous, but the One Who was righteous took upon Himself our sins. Our sins were transferred to Him, and His righteousness was transferred to us. This is clearly taught in both the Old and the New Testaments.
If your guilt can be transferred to somebody else, then he has to pay the penalty of your guilt, allowing you to escape the penalty. Notice how truly this is stated: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5, 6. So, the iniquity, the sin, the transgression, the guilt can be transferred. If it could not be transferred, it would be impossible for you to be saved, and you would have to die because the wages of sin is death.
In the beginning, the accusation that Satan brought against the government of God was that He could not be just and also forgive sin. But God can be both just and righteous while also forgiving sin. The death of Christ on the cross proves that God could both forgive sin and also be righteous and just. At the cross, justice and mercy met, the penalty for sin was paid. God can also be merciful and forgive those who accept the sacrifice that was made on their behalf. “Whom God set forth as a propitiation [that is, to pay the price] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:25, 26. Now, there is only one way to be saved, and that is to believe in Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 9:15 makes it very clear that those who lived under the Old Covenant are saved by the same sacrifice as those who live under the New Covenant. In fact, God gave to the children of Israel a picture of the plan of salvation, a picture of the everlasting covenant by which a person can be saved from their sins. This picture is called the Old Covenant, and it is centered in the earthly sanctuary service that was given to the children of Israel to explain in detail the workings of the plan of salvation. Under the Old Covenant, when a person sinned, he brought an animal sacrifice to the sanctuary where he had to place his hands on the head of that sacrifice and confess his sins (Leviticus 4, 5). There had to be repentance and confession of sin. Repentance is being sorry for sin and turning away from it.
David said, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. Once the sins were confessed over the head of the animal, it had to be killed. By this act the lesson was to be learned that the wages or consequence of sin is death. They also understood that the sacrifice was a symbol, or that it pre-figured the fact that some day in the future the seed, a descendant of Eve, was going to come and pay the price of their sins if they would confess and forsake them.
They understood also that the guilt from their sins could be transferred to the animal sacrifice. Paul said that the animal sacrifices could not take away sin, but that it was a symbol for them to understand how it worked. Their guilt was transferred symbolically to the sacrifice. When their guilt was transferred to the sacrifice, and because the wages of sin is death, the sacrifice had to die. They were forgiven and they could be free.
They understood that someday Somebody was going to come Who would be their substitute. Their guilt would be transferred to Somebody else. “The life of the flesh is in the blood and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11. The blood represented the life, and when the animal was sacrificed, it was a substitute for the life of the sinner. Their sins were transferred in figure, in type, as a symbol to the animal sacrifice. The animal sacrifice became the sin bearer. The animal sacrifice, usually a lamb, was also symbolic of the real substitute that was to come.
Who is the real sin bearer?
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ ” John 1:29. Jesus is the true sin bearer, the only One Whom your sin can be transferred onto and Who can take it away. Since the blood represents the life, it is the blood that takes away the guilt. In other words, your guilt is transferred to the substitute, and the life of the substitute is sacrificed in the place of your own life. The guilt of your own life is transferred onto His life. Your guilt is transferred from your blood to His blood. In other words, His life, His blood receives the pollution, receives the defilement from your guilt. Remember, God has made Christ to be sin, Who knew no sin (II Corinthians 5:21).
Why is He sin when He didn’t know any sin, and never sinned?
The Bible is very clear, over and over again, that Jesus never sinned. In fact, He once said to the Jews, “Which of you convicts Me [or convinced Me] of sin?” John 8:46. They couldn’t answer. The Bible says over and over again that He did no sin, and there was no sin in Him. But God made Him to be sin, because your guilt was transferred to Him. In Hebrews Paul spoke about this very fact, of how sin is forgiven: “According to the law almost all things are purified [or purged] with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22. The blood of the sacrifice, which had become defiled by the guilt of the repentant sinner, was taken into the sanctuary, representing the fact that God has a record in His sanctuary of every sin that has ever been committed. The sanctuary then became defiled from the defilement of God’s repentant people, and it had to be cleansed in type, and this cleansing of the earthly sanctuary, in type not in reality, happened once a year on the Day of Atonement. And it was clearly necessary because of the uncleanness of the transgressions, the sins of the children of Israel.
Describing the cleansing of the sanctuary, the Bible says, “So he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel and because of their transgressions, for all their sins. And so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. … He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his fingers seven times, cleanse it, and sanctify it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.” Leviticus 16:16–19 literal translation. The sanctuary became polluted because of the defilement that had been registered there by the confession of sins throughout the year. Daily, the people were forgiven and their guilt was transferred, by the blood, into the sanctuary. It was appointed that once a year, on the Day of Atonement, they were not just forgiven, but cleansed from all defilement. “For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” Leviticus 16:30. All year long you could go and confess your sins, sacrificing your lambs, but if you did not participate in the Day of Atonement, you were cut off from the children of Israel. It was absolutely a vital necessity that you not only be forgiven but that you be cleansed, that is, to have your sins taken away from you, and that was symbolized to happen on the Day of Atonement.
Paul says, in Hebrews 8 and 9, that everything that happened in the earthly sanctuary is a symbol or type of what happens in the heavenly sanctuary. When is the heavenly sanctuary cleansed? As was the earthly sanctuary, the heavenly sanctuary also has to be cleansed. Concerning this cleansing we read, “It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience. … But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the holy places once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:9, 11, 12 literal translation. Paul goes on to say that just as the earthly sanctuary had to be cleansed, also the sanctuary in heaven has to be cleansed. “Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these.” Verse 23. In other words, it was necessary for the earthly sanctuary to be purified with the animals—the type. But the heavenly things themselves, that is the sanctuary in heaven, the holy places in heaven, with better sacrifices than these—the sacrifice of Christ. “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood of another.” Verses 24, 25 literal translation. The cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary would be cleansed once, not every year as in the earthly system.
Holy places are a more correct translation than either holy place or most holy place as many translations have. Paul says that it is not once a year like it was in the Old Covenant. He makes it very clear, in verse 26, that this will happen in the end of the ages; it is in our time, the last days when the sanctuary is cleansed—when the sins of the people are taken away. When sins have been confessed, they are forgiven, but they are not taken away from you. But the plan of salvation involves not only forgiveness of sins, but having the sins actually taken away from you, or as Peter describes it, blotted out. “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, Who was preached to you before, Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:19–21.
Peter, like Paul, indicates that the blotting out of sin, the taking away of sin, occurs in the end of the world. This was also taught by the prophet, Daniel. Paul says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Notice how Paul links the concept of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary with the judgment; then he continues, “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Hebrews 9:27, 28. When Jesus comes a second time, He will not come as the sin bearer. He came the first time to bear your sins to the cross and to pay the price for your sins. John the Baptist said, “Behold! The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29.
When Jesus comes a second time, He will not be coming as a priest. He will not be coming as a sin bearer. He will be coming as the King of kings, and Lord of lords; He will be coming apart from sin. That simply means that when Jesus comes again, unless your sins have already been taken away from you, you cannot be saved. He is not coming to save you then. He is coming to save the people who have already been saved by His grace. He is not coming to offer sinners an opportunity or a second chance. Those who have rejected the plan of salvation will be lost. Jesus is not coming a second time to offer the plan of salvation. When He comes again it is to take the people home, those who have already accepted the salvation He provided at His first coming. He has nothing else to offer that was not available by His one sacrifice.
The apostle Paul goes into detail about this in Hebrews 10. He says in the first verse that “the law was a shadow” (that is, the Old Covenant) and that it can never, with those animal sacrifices that were offered, make the worshipper perfect. It cannot really take your sins away from you, because if it could, then they would cease to be offered. That is not hard to understand. If, after the Day of Atonement, the people’s sins really were taken away from them, they wouldn’t be sinning anymore, and if they weren’t sinning anymore, they wouldn’t be bringing a sacrifice to the sanctuary, and if they weren’t bringing sacrifices to the sanctuary, there wouldn’t be anything to atone for the next year. But in the Old Covenant it happened every year, because the blood of bulls and goats can’t really take away sin. You can read that in verses 3 and 4. But Paul goes on to show that it is not enough to have your sins forgiven. That was covered by the daily service in the earthly sanctuary. Before you can go to heaven, your sins have to be taken away, or blotted out; they have to be removed from you. And this is done, as Paul says, in the end of the world (Hebrews 9:26).
According to Zechariah 3, it will happen in one day. And when that happens, there will be no more offering for sin (Hebrews 10:15–18). Why? The plan of salvation is over. Some people are already saved; their sins have been taken away. Others are still living in sin, and they will never be saved. When the plan of salvation is over, if you are living in sin, you are lost. When your sins are taken away, then there is no more offering for sin. The plan of salvation is over. You don’t need it anymore. Jesus says, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.” Revelation 22:11, 12. If you are righteous, Jesus said, “Let that person be righteous still. He can remain righteous and holy. His sins have been taken away.” But if you are still living in sin, you are unrighteous. Then you are unjust and not holy. You are either unjust or filthy. When this pronouncement is made, you will stay that way, because the plan of salvation is over. You are either saved or it is too late to be saved.
This is where our world is headed. There will be only two classes of people left—those who are saved; those who reflect the image of Jesus (I John 3), and those who are not saved; those who reflect the lawless character of Satan. In which group are you going to be? This world is headed for its climax, and soon it will be too late to change your mind. “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served … But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15.
Bible texts are NKJV unless otherwise stated.
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.