You are on page 1of 9

lesson five

APRIL 28–MAY 4

Christ in the Heavenly

Sanctuary

“God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2:9, 10, NIV).

lesson five APRIL 28–MAY 4 Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary “God exalted him to the highest

As the waters of time move on, Jesus our Light works in our favor in the heavenly sanctuary. The Bible illuminates this work, echoing throughout these waters of time.

Rom. 8:3

Introduction

sabbath

APRIL 28

Christ the Bridge

In the Garden of Eden, our first parents (Adam and Eve) committed the first sin (Genesis 3). The decision they made on that day affected the entire human race. Humanity would have to bear the consequences of disobedience to God’s commandment. Today, each person born into the world bears the burden of sin. Sin brings pain, anguish, and death. The subsequent children of Adam and Eve had to suffer and eventually die. The impact of sin spread to the environment as well. The land, given to Adam and Eve to enjoy, turned into something they would use for their survival (verses 17–19).

The deal is far from done.

Even so, God planned to bring humanity back to Himself and to His kingdom. How could this happen? There had to be a bridge to link hu- manity to God again. Jesus provided the only means by which humanity could go back to God after sin. The blood of animals offered as sacri- fices could not bring humanity back to God. It is only the blood of Jesus that would make this possible. Since we live in a world of sin, the process of cleansing us continues even many years after the death of Christ. After His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection, Christ continues as an Advocate for sin- ners. God hates sin, but He loves sinners and wants them back in fel- lowship with Him (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 1:9). The only way a sinner can access God’s mercy is through Jesus. For that reason, the Bible urges sinners to repent and accept Christ as a personal Savior. In heaven, Christ serves as our Advocate. He has all the files regarding your life. When you commit sin and repent in His name, Christ takes your file to God and asks for forgiveness on your behalf. The prayer on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) is still as relevant in our time as when Christ first said it. Many people think that after His resurrection and ascension, Christ completed the work of saving sinners. However, in light of what He does as our Advocate, the deal is far from done. Christ remains an important link between God and humanity, always interceding for the forgiveness of sins. This week we discuss the role of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, what He does for us in the Most Holy Place in heaven. These lessons are important to understand in the end times.

sunday

APRIL 29

Logos

The Great Work of Mediation

Rom. 8:3; Heb. 7; 9:22–24

The Ultimate Sacrifice of Christ (Rom. 8:3)

Christ is the only means of redemption. In all of heaven and earth, not an angel nor beast could restore the broken relationship between God and hu- manity. Although sacrifices were offered for various purposes (Leviticus 16; Gen. 22:3), they could not redeem humanity from sin and its effects. The sacrifices had their limitations. First, the people offering them were earthly priests that could die like any other person. Second, the blood of ani- mals was ineffective to assure forgiveness of sins. The coming of Christ brought perfection. He fulfilled the will of God by obeying every commandment to the letter. He fulfilled all righteousness by showing perfect obedience, perfect love.

Christ has entered the Most Holy Place in heaven with His own blood.

Therefore, only through Christ could God save humanity. “Jesus Christ came as the perfect embodiment of obedience to the law of God, and with the purpose of inspiring others with the same spirit and leading all who trust in Him to the same obedience from the heart to the law of God.” 1

The Holy and Blameless Sacrifice

We need to know something about the person of Christ. The author of Ro- mans writes that Jesus came “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3). By this statement, Paul implies that while Christ had flesh like sinners, He was never sinful. In order to save humanity from sin, God had to come in the form of sinners. Christ came to the world to provide atonement for sin. He did not come to condemn sinners but to take away the dominion of sin. His death was the greatest sacrifice and greatest gift for humanity to attain salvation (Gal. 3:13).

Christ the Sacrificial Lamb (Hebrews 7)

In the Jewish community the High Priest occupied the highest office in the priestly system. Once a year, the High Priest would perform a sacrifice of atonement and apply the blood in the Most Holy Place. The process involved sprinkling the blood of animals (Lev. 9:15–24) to purify the sanctuary and the people of Israel from the defilement of sin. In the book of Hebrews, the author talks about Melchizedek, also called “King of Righteousness” (Heb. 7:1, The Message). This king meets Abraham and blesses him. Melchizedek typifies Christ the Son of God, who lives to eternity and whose sacrifice is final. Like Melchizedek in the times of Abraham, Christ is our King of Righteousness, Prince of Peace, and High Priest. “But the High Priest of our profession holds his office by the power of end-

48

less life in himself; not only to keep himself alive, but to give spiritual and eternal

life to all who rely upon his sacrifice and

intercession. . . .

This is the believer’s

safety and happiness, that this everlasting High Priest is able to save to the uttermost, in all times, in all cases. Surely then it becomes us to desire a spiri- tuality and holiness, as much beyond those of the Old Testament believers, as our advantages exceed theirs.” 2

The Copy Versus the Real Thing (Heb. 9:24)

In His intercessory ministry in heaven, Christ defends His followers against the accusations of the enemy. At Calvary, Christ personally defeated Satan (Rev. 12:7–10). As His followers, we can equally defeat the enemy when we ac- cept Christ as our personal Savior. In His mediatory service in heaven, Christ personally protects us from our accuser. The earthly sanctuary typified the heavenly sanctuary. Unlike the earthly priest who entered the Most Holy Place with the blood of animals, though, Christ has entered the Most Holy Place in heaven with His own blood. This stands as the final rubber stamp to the sacrifice of redemption. In the heavenly sanctuary, Jesus takes us into the very presence of God (Eph. 2:5).

Earthly and Heavenly Purification (Heb. 9:22, 23)

Because of sin, there is need for purification. In Israel, the priests performed the process of purification using the blood of animals. The practice had a sig- nificant meaning in the Jewish community because it showed the people their extreme need for mercy. It also showed the mercy that God had for sinners.

The author of Hebrews writes of “a shadow of good things to come” (Heb. 10:1). By the earthly sacrifices, God pointed the Israelites to a better sacrifice that God would provide through Jesus. It is written, “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (verse 4). Therefore, “the Son of the living God must take upon him our nature; must

die as an atonement for sin; must enter into heaven with his own

blood. . . .

It

is all necessary for God’s honour; for no less a sacrifice than this would satisfy his justice: and it is all equally necessary for our happiness; since nothing less can bring peace into our consciences, or operate with a transforming efficacy on our souls.” 3

REACT

  • 1. What is the importance of blood in the process of atonement?

  • 2. Why is there no more need for earthly sacrifices?

  • 3. What is the significance of the atonement in the last days?

____________

  • 1. David Lipscomb, A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles (Nashville, TN: The Gos- pel Advocate Company, 1969), p. 143.

    • 2. “Hebrews 7,” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, accessed March 21, 2017, http://www

.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=58&c=7.

  • 3. “Discourse 2304: Use of Typical Purifications,” Charles Simeon’s Horae Homileticae, quoted

in “Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary: Hebrews 9:23,” StudyLight.org, accessed March 21, 2017,

http://www.studylight.org/commentary/hebrews/9-23.html.

monday

APRIL 30

Testimony

Our High Priest in the Heavenly Sanctuary

Heb. 7:24–27

“After the settlement of the Hebrews in Canaan, the tabernacle was replaced by the temple of Solomon, which, though a permanent structure and upon a

larger scale, observed the same proportions, and was similarly

furnished. . .

. “Turning again to the book of Hebrews, the seekers for truth found that the

existence of a second, or new-covenant sanctuary was implied in the words of Paul already quoted: ‘Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.’ And the use of the word ‘also’ intimates

that Paul has before made mention of this

sanctuary. . .

.

“One sanctuary was on earth, the other is in heaven.”

“Here is revealed the sanctuary of the new covenant. The sanctuary of the first covenant was pitched by man, built by Moses; this is pitched by the Lord, not by man. In that sanctuary the earthly priests performed their service; in this, Christ, our great High Priest, ministers at God’s right hand. One sanctuary was

on earth, the other is in

heaven. . .

. “The sanctuary in heaven, in which Jesus ministers in our behalf, is the great original, of which the sanctuary built by Moses was a copy.” 1 “In the temple in heaven, the dwelling place of God, His throne is estab- lished in righteousness and judgment. In the most holy place is His law, the great rule of right by which all mankind are tested. The ark that enshrines the tables of the law is covered with the mercy seat, before which Christ pleads His blood in the sinner’s behalf. Thus is represented the union of justice and mercy in the plan of human redemption.” 2 “Make friendship with Christ today. Put your case in the hands of the great Advocate. He will plead your cause before the Father. Though you have trans- gressed the law, and must plead guilty before God, Christ will present his pre- cious blood in your behalf, and through faith and obedience, and vital union with Christ, you may stand acquitted before the Judge of all the earth, and he will be your friend when the final trump shall sound, and the scenes of earth shall be no more.” 3

REACT

What is the significance of the earthly sanctuary to present-day Christians?

____________ 1. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 412–414. 2. Ibid., p. 415. 3. Ellen G. White, “A Vital Connection With Christ,” Signs of the Times, July 27, 1888.

John 1:29

Evidence

tuesday

MAY 1

The Final Sacrifice

The Bible recognizes Christ as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NIV). In Isaiah 53:7, the prophet writes, “He was op- pressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” This passage comes long before the birth of Christ, whom John recognizes later as the Lamb of God. So what is the link? From the words of the prophet, we see the qualities of a lamb: meek, humble, and submissive to the master. These qualities are evident in the life of Christ, as He was humble and always submissive to God the Father.

Christ meets all the qualifications of a sacrificial lamb.

However, the connection goes deeper. The law of sacrifice has been in existence since the fall of Adam and Eve. The purpose of the sacrifices is two- fold: First, they show the gravity of sin, which requires the blood of an innocent victim. Second, the system foreshadows the final sacrifice for sin that God provides through Jesus Christ. In Leviticus 16, the Bible explains the process of atonement in traditional Is- rael. The sacrifice involved animals (Lev. 16:20) whose blood would purify from sin. When God sent Christ, He took the place of the animals. By His death on the cross, He used His own blood as the final sacrifice for sin. The sacrificial system before Christ was just a representation of what takes place in the heavenly sanctuary. Christ offered His blood as a great sacrifice for the sins of every individual (Isa. 53:6; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). “Jesus did for us what we could never have done for ourselves: he took our place; he became our substitute; he became our sacrifice and his death satisfied the holy justice of God.”* Christ meets all the qualifications of a sacrificial lamb. He is the Lamb of God. He is sinless and unblemished. He is meek, humble, and submissive. He has done away with the old law and set up a new covenant. In His ministry in heaven, He pleads with God in the Most Holy Place in heaven on behalf of every sinner.

REACT

1. What is the difference between the old system of using animals and the new system of sacrificing that Christ initiated by His own blood?

____________ * “Jesus Our Substitute,” BibleAnswers.ie, accessed March 21, 2017, http://www.bibleanswers

.ie/short-bible-studies/64-jesus-christ/158-lamb-of-god.

John Bosco, Rongo town, Kenya

51

wednesday

MAY 2

How-to

The Role of Christ in the Sanctuary

Heb. 8:6

One of the Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is “Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary.” Some two millennia ago, Christ ascended to heaven after His earthly ministry was complete. His death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice to redeem humanity from sin and its con- sequences. However, since we live in a sinful world surrounded with evil, the process of redeeming humanity is not complete yet. Christ, as our Mediator in the heavenly sanctuary, stands between humanity and God to restore the broken relationship. Through Him, lost humanity can have another chance to be reconciled to God. First, Christ is the fitting model of sacrifice through which God can forgive sins. He does not need to beg God to forgive us our sins. God already loves us and is in a constant search for us (John 16:26, 27).

What does Christ do in our behalf in the heavenly sanctuary?

Second, in His mediatorial work, Christ does not change God’s attitude toward us. Christ’s death for humanity is the result of God’s infinite love (John 3:16). Third, God did not move away from sinners; sinners moved away from God. Therefore, Christ does not ask God to reconcile with humanity. As sin- ners, it is we who must go back to God (Gen. 3:9; 2 Cor. 5:20), and we shall surely find Him where we left Him. So what does Christ do in our behalf in the heavenly sanctuary? Christ meets God to help us deal with sin. Heaven is aware that we live in a world full of evil. In the heavenly sanctuary, Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit unite in helping us deal with Satan and sin. The entire Godhead wants us to have the power to overcome sin and to grow spiritually. Christ prays for us. In the heavenly sanctuary, especially as the world moves closer to its end, Christ prays for us so we can develop unwavering faith and so we can remain united in truth and love. Just as He prayed for Peter (Luke 22:32), He wants us to know Him better, to be victorious in Him, and to be bold and courageous. Christ empowers us to be His witnesses. As His followers, Christ wants us to be true witnesses. He empowers us by imparting the Holy Spirit, who provides the power and the benefits of being faithful followers.

REACT

1. What else do you think Christ is doing in the heavenly sanctuary? Please support your answer with Scripture. 2. How long do you think the mediatory service will take?

Mary Brenda Akoth, Kisii, Kenya

52

Luke 9:22

Opinion

thursday

MAY 3

The Intercessory Ministry of Christ

Sin corrupts to the extent that we are unable to tell the difference between good and evil. We walk away from God, taking the opposite direction. However, surprisingly, God does not give up on us. God, in His infinite grace and love, sent Christ to the world as the ultimate sacrifice for sin (cf. Rom. 5:20). Even after Christ had come to save them, people rejected Him. The teach- ers of the Law, the chief priests, and the elders all rejected Jesus. But the love of God outshone their lack of knowledge. Jesus died, and God raised Him back to life.

The sacrifice of Christ was complete—no more to add to or subtract from it.

Today we continue to reject Christ. The world looks so enticing, with every- thing it offers. Even after knowing that Christ died for our sins, we still find it difficult to allow Him to rule our hearts. However, Christ does not give up on us. In His intercessory ministry, He continues to ask God to forgive us. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we gain access to God and can approach Him without fear. “All blessings flow from the continuing efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice. The book of Hebrews highlights its two great achievements: it provides unhin- dered access to the presence of God, and it thoroughly removes sin.” 1 The sacrifice of Christ was complete—no more to add to or subtract from it. This is important for us as a church and as young adults in the church. Especially in this time that the end of the world is near, we need to focus only on Jesus because only He is able to save us. The sacrificial system in the Old Testament was just a representation of the heavenly sanctuary. “Now we know that all the Levitical priests and Aaronic high priests were but prefigurations of the One who is the great High Priest because He is in Himself both God and man ([Heb.] 5:1–10). Now we know that the blood of animals carefully selected so as to be without blemish or spot (e.g., Lev. 1:3, 10), was a symbol of the blood of the Son of God, who would, by dying for us, purify us of sin (1 Peter 1:18-19).” 2

REACT

  • 1. Why is Christ’s intercessory ministry important to us in the end time?

  • 2. If Christ has made it easy for us to approach God, why do we still pray

in Jesus’ name?

____________

  • 1. Sanctuary Review Committee, “Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary,” Ministry, October 1980,

https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1980/10/christ-in-the-heavenly-sanctuary.

  • 2. Ibid.

Joan Omato, Kisii, Kenya

53

friday

MAY 4

Exploration

Heaven Is Real

Heb. 9:24

CONCLUDE

By discussing what Christ does for us in the heavenly sanctuary, we affirm that our salvation is valid. In the heavenly sanctuary, the fate of sin- ners rests with Christ. The service of sanctifying us, of giving us the power to overcome sin, of helping us become better followers, and of reuniting us with our heavenly Father, is vital in the end time. To erase doubt from our minds completely, now we know that Christ is engaged in an important activity to ensure that we benefit from His death on the cross.

CONSIDER

Drawing a figure of the earthly sanctuary, indicating all the sections. Mark the Most Holy Place with a bright color and think of what Christ is doing there for you now. • Being a volunteer mediator between wrongdoers on your campus or in your workplace and the administrative system. Note your experiences and think about taking the penalties on their behalf. Reflect on what Christ is doing for sinners in the heavenly sanctuary. Having in your music library a collection of songs that highlight the power of Christ to save humanity from sin. Include the song “Power in the Blood” by Lewis E. Jones in your collection. Listen to the message in each song, reading and personalizing the words in each line. Making a record of activities that Christ is doing in the heavenly sanctuary. Review your record as regularly as possible, and see how it moves you closer to Christ. Rating yourself on a scale of 1 to10 as a follower of Christ. Based on your level of rating, make a list of what you lack to become a better believer. Say a prayer asking Jesus to give you the power to excel in those areas and to offer an intercessory prayer on your behalf too. • Having a screen saver on your smartphone or computer with 3-D text that says “Christ in the Most Holy Place.” Record the benefits of the inter- cessory work that Christ does on your behalf.

CONNECT

Romans 3:21–26; 8:35–39; Revelation 13:8; 5:12. Ellen G. White, Messages to Young People, p. 254. Morris L. Venden, Never Without an Intercessor: The Good News About the Judgment, p. 140. Raoul Dederen, “Christ: His Person and Work,” in Handbook of Seventh- day Adventist Theology, p. 187.

Bob Collince, Nairobi, Kenya

54