I’m sorry this one lacks the passion, conviction and intensity of last week’s video, but I have to admit that Adventist teaching on Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary is not a subject that has ever gotten me all fired up. For some Adventists and former Adventists it’s a real test of faith — either the doctrine that makes it impossible for them to stay in the church, or the doctrine which absolutely must be believed if one is to call oneself a Seventh-day Adventist — but I’ve never been able to give that kind of weight to it. Any speculation about when the judgement begins or about what might or might not be happening in heaven right now (I’m more likely to get distracted by questions like “Where exactly is heaven? Is it on a planet? Orbiting what star?”) seem pretty irrelevant to the way I attempt to live the life of faith.
So, having tried to briefly explain the doctrine as I understand it in the video above, I’m going to reproduce the statement of belief here and perhaps someone in the comments will come along to tell me why this teaching is of such vital importance to them. I was quite disappointed last week that I didn’t hear more in comments from those who support the traditional point of view, but perhaps this week will be of more interest to commenters. Engaging in dialogue is what really interests me about this process.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that …
There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.